Wednesday, May 02, 2007

This Will Change The Way You Look At Your Site...

The SEO Coach's Newsletter
Must See Video From Former MSN Search Employee

I hadn't planned to send another newsletter until Thursday night, but this is just too good to pass up.

Andy Edmonds used to work at MSN Search (yeah, that one). Now he's a member of the StomperNet faculty, and he's recorded the most amazing video I have ever seen. Andy's one of those extremely useful academic types who actually understands business.

Anyway, he's developed this incredible software that does this eyeball tracking thing with websites... ah, heck. I can't explain it, words don't do it justice. Just go watch the video. You will never look at your web site the same way again.

This is ground breaking stuff, folks, and Andy's showing it in public for the very first time right now. (Oh yeah, there's some other stuff in the video, like a few "Adwords Ninja Secrets" from yours truly).

Get a pen and some paper and get ready to take notes - a lot of them.

(Click Here To Watch)

Still reading instead of watching? Why!?

This is a 33 Minute PURE CONTENT video that introduces a totally geeked-out "Cognitive Psychology-Based" web site design method that will dramatically increase the magnitude of your customer interactivity.

(Yeah, that's a lot of big words all strung together - here's what it means:)

The first part of the video is from Andy Edmonds, StomperNet's Chief Experience Officer and a member of the teaching faculty. Among other things, he teaches a technique of web design based on "Foveal and Peripheral Vision" data.

In this video, they actually measure how the human eye and brain interact with your web site design elements. This is pure science backed up by tons of analytical data.

***This stuff isn't being taught - ANYWHERE, not in any eBook, or any other video.

And then they publish the test results.

If you just change ONE element of your web site based on these results, you could see a 12% increase in conversion. Here's a hint: It's your NAV.

(Click Here To Watch)

--- Then, there are the other 4 parts to this video, each from one of StomperNet's faculty.

--> Leslie Rohde unleashes his white hat technique for structuring Page Rank Distribution by creating separate site navigation for Humans and Spiders. It's called "Follow Your Tail". You would not believe how many huge web sites are already doing this, but Leslie shows you how to find out.

-->Dan Thies (that's me) demonstrates Ninja Ad Words Split Testing techniques that allow you to test huge amounts of creative WITHOUT disturbing your already successful campaigns. If you're running Adwords and you don't know these techniques, it's costing you money... simple as that.

-->Don Crowther introduces the 3 Critical Metrics that you need to analyze to find out EXACTLY where your prospects leave your site and exactly WHAT position your advertising should be in.

-->Jerry West shows how to identify Rank-Destroying Duplicate Content on your site (99% of sites have it) AND exactly what files to drop onto your site to re-capture ALL of your wasted Page Rank, Link Reputation and Link Popularity.

(Click Here To Watch)

That's just Part 1... Part 2 gets released May 2 - 3 more videos from Sherman Hu, Ed Dale, and Dave Taylor plus another member case study that may shock you...

-->A Multi-Million Dollar business case study from a StomperNet member who currently ships more USPS packages to her customers than any other business in Orlando.

She does so much business that the Postal Service is creating a custom box to ship her material in. She'll let you peek inside and tell you the dead-simple strategies she learned in StomperNet to make it happen.

Here's a direct link you can copy and paste:
http://www.stompernet.net/jvp/aw.aspx?A=84


Contact Information
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Publisher: Dan Thies
Phone: 214-550-1359

April 30th SEO Coach Newsletter


The SEO Coach's Newsletter
SEOFS2K7, Creating A Sustainable Business, New Videos Released
April 30, 2007

I spent yesterday at the Renaissance Festival, in my best pirate outfit...

That's my mother in law on the left there - one of the best people you could possibly bring to a party. It was nice to get out and relax, because I have been working a little too much the past few months.

I think you'll be pleased when you hear what I've been up to.

SEO Fast Start 2007 Launches May 3, 2007

OK, OK, I get it!

You all love SEO Fast Start, but the 2004 publication date makes you nervous about following my advice. Everyone has been asking when the new edition will be released.

I've actually been working on it for two years... it just hasn't been finished until today. Besides being incredibly busy working on my pirate outfit, a couple things have held me back.

First of all, the basic strategy of SEOFS still works. That's because the system wasn't designed to exploit flaws in the search engine's algorithms, it's designed to keep working through any kind of changes the industry's players may make.

Second, I didn't want to just tweak a few things for this update, I wanted to make it better than anything else out there. I think I've done that. The step-by-step instructions have been improved and expanded, with flow charts for every step.

There's a whole big philosophy behind it, to make the new system work for beginners, experts, or anyone in between. No matter what your skill level, SEOFS will make you more efficient and effective.

So, why wait until Thursday? Well... there's more to this than just a free book now.

A lot more. I'm committed to spending thousands of dollars every month to bring you the best information I can... and there's one piece to the puzzle that you need to know about.


The SEO Fast Start Community (Don't Worry, It's Free)

Keepingup to date with the latest in SEO can be difficult, to say the least.

Every day, we see thousands of forum and blog posts, news articles, new products, people screaming for attention... raging controversy about the future of the industry, and even the best bloggers can't seem to resist posting pictures of their cats.

When it comes to SEO, the web is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Somewhere in that raging storm of noise, posturing, friendly backslapping, and self promotion... there is actual information. Something you need to know. Something you could act on. Good luck finding it.

This problem is called the "signal to noise ratio," and I think I've finally solved it.

Last fall, I got so sick of reading junk, that I decided to do act. I hired a programmer to create this great tool. Hundreds of RSS feeds are collected into one source, then ruthlessly edited until only the "signal" remains.

First, we remove anything that's completely off topic. Matt Cutts' cats are cute, but off topic. Then we remove a bunch of stuff that's just not useful, pick the most important items to publish, and add our own editorial descriptions.

In the end, what remains is useful, actionable information.

When you register to download SEO Fast Start this Thursday, you'll get more than just a great ebook. You'll also get:
  • A weekly newsletter, with a feature article on an important part of the SEO process, and links to the latest items from my personal news feed
  • A subscribers-only blog, providing updates on strategies, tactics, and tools for every stage of the SEO process
  • Exclusive access to audio podcasts, teleseminars, and video tips and tutorials to help you every step of the wayDid I mention that this is all free?
Some of you might be asking why I would spend thousands of dollars and countless hours to give you all of this, without asking anything in return. My wife asked the same question, but trust me, I'm not crazy - I just have a bigger picture in mind.


What's In It For Me
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I release SEO Fast Start on Thursday, it's going to make a lot of people stand up and notice.

Not only are all of you going to get an invitation, but I'll be appearing on Webmaster Radio to discuss the whole thing with Jim Hedger and Dave Davies on "The Alternative," a great show about the cutting edge of search.

With an audience of half a million webmasters and SEM professionals, Webmaster Radio is the perfect platform to get the word out, don't you think?

I fully expect to get over 50,000 subscribers in the first month, because I will be announcing this thing everywhere. Think I can't get that many? Don't underestimate what we can do together.

Remember, I sold thousands of copies for $29.95 when this thing was just an ebook, and I was a nobody working alone... Now we're offering a whole lot more, it's free, and I have a lot of friends in the SEO community (including you) to help me get the word out.

What can 50,000, 100,000, or more of us do together? With all of these people gathered together into a community, we can influence the market in ways that are impossible for an individual.

The bigger it gets, the better it gets for all of us.

I'll be able to get you great deals on all kinds of information, tools, and events. We'll be able to guide the development of leading-edge tools, because that many people demand attention, and respect.

We'll be able to put on our own live events, and get the speakers we want, because they want to get in front of us. When I imagine the possibilities...

Anyway, you still want to know what I get out of it?
  • I will have something to offer from time to time - home study courses on DVD, for example. If you don't need it, don't buy it! For me, the large numbers make it work no matter what. Those who do buy my products will know that they're getting something great.
  • Because we're getting so many people up to speed on the basics, and bringing cutting edge information to everyone, I expect to build a very large community of street smart marketers in a very short time. Your feedback alone will be priceless.
  • I've told you all about Stompernet before - it's the private membership community that took the internet marketing community by storm last fall. Some of you will join us there, when you're ready to take the next step in building an online business.
The cool thing about this, from your perspective, is that you don't have to buy anything.

You can ride this train for free.

On Thursday, May 3, I will tell you how to get started.


Stompernet Corner - Oh, My!

I wish I could have told you about this sooner, but I was out of town at a private seminar last week, when all this got started:

Stompernet is reopening soon, for a short time, and this time, they're offering a trial membership so those who are skeptical (if you are skeptical, you are smart) can get a look inside without making a huge commitment to get in.

I want you all to know that I truly believe in Stompernet. When they invited me to join the faculty, I jumped at the chance. We are building something here that must be seen to be believed. Heck, you might have to see it to even *understand* what it is.

SN founder Andy Jenkins has been a friend for many years. When Stompernet launched last fall, they had hundreds more members than they ever expected. They could have taken that big windfall to the Bahamas, but they didn't. Instead, they invested in faculty, staff, and systems to help these new members succeed.

There's a big secret there, for anyone who missed it - they could have simply taken the money (millions) and delivered what they sold, but they decided to re-invest and over-deliver, and now they have a great business that will last for years to come.

How do I know? Because I work there, and I get to see what's happening every day.
People are becoming successful and financially independent because of what they learn inside of Stompernet.

Anyway... If you missed the "Going Natural" videos they released last fall, you missed some great information. Fortunately, we've had more than six months to work with Stompernet members, and they've got some great stories to share.

In fact, Andy told me that they have collected *hundreds* of success stories, and they're starting to share them. So I had to ask, you know, when can we see them?

He sent me a link to the first one last week - the email simply said:

"Watch this."

Here's a direct link to the video:
http://www.stompernet.net/jvp/aw.aspx?A=84
This video showed how one of our members literally went from ZERO to $15,000 PER MONTH, working only 2 hours a day... and he is not afraid to tell you how he did it.
Kudos to anyone with that kind of "help others on your way up the ladder" abundance-minded mentality. That's what this thing is all about.

The video is free to watch -- you don't even have to opt-in or anything -- click the link below to see it while it's available:
http://www.stompernet.net/jvp/aw.aspx?A=84

Update: that video I mentioned is actually just the first of a series - they have
2 more online now, and the last one nearly brought me to tears, to think that I can have something to do with changing people's lives like that. When you see it, you'll understand why I was so happy to join this team.

My advice is to watch all of these videos, all the way through. You will learn something from every one.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Contact Information
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Publisher: Dan Thies
Phone: 214-550-1359

Friday, February 09, 2007

Keyword Metrics 3.0?

Here at SEO Research Labs, we've been doing keyword research for years. We've already changed the way we report data twice. You can see a description of the current reports here.

It's time to redesign the reports again, and develop a new set of metrics. I'm posting our list of factors to consider here on the blog, to invite your comments on what we should do next.

  1. Search volume forecasting: since the beginning, we have relied on search volume data from Wordtracker for our reports. Over the past two years, we've been monitoring the accuracy of Wordtracker vs. Keyword Discovery, based on actual search count data obtained from partners' pay-per-click ad campaigns.

    We still believe that Wordtracker is the most accurate source when it comes to forecasting the number of searches, but the gap is very narrow at this point, now that Keyword Discovery's premium database has come online.

    Some decisions we need to make include whether to offer a choice of data sources, or to include data from both Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery in our reports. My first impulse is to pay what it costs to include both, but some folks may find the "dueling data sources" confusing.

    The other big decision is whether to forecast the search volumes on the major search engines, based on market share data. The public sources of market share data report a very wide range of scores - depending on who you believe, Google's market share may run anywhere from 28% to 70%. To me, that says "useless information." My first impulse is to eliminate the market share forecasting altogether, since we can't be certain of its accuracy.

    Your thoughts, please.

  2. Click-through traffic forecasting. We have included a traffic forecasting tool in our reports for some time, which I have always found useful. However, this report is often a source of confusion, because its correct use is not well understood. We made some adjustments to the methodolody early on, to make this a more "pessimistic" forecast. We've made changes to the documentation to explain things better.

    The forecast is based on extensive data mining with real web sites. I've been running this analysis every 6 months (it's an expensive process). The last time we ran the analysis, the range of values on expected click-through rate for specific ranked positions was so broad, that I am just about ready to drop this report.

    Since this tool is already based on market share estimates, my first impulse is to stop trying to forecast, and offer a tool that will allow users to input their own estimates, perhaps pre-populated with "default values" from Netratings and our own data mining effort.

    Your thoughts, please.

  3. Competitive landscape - how many competitors? Right now, we use three metrics to report on the number of competitors. Total # of matches for the search term, total # of "in title" matches (search term in title tag), and the number of matches with the search term in the title and inbound links (title+anchor).

    I still like these metrics, but I am not completely happy about how we have to collect the data. Google's API allows us to collect this data fairly easily, although we are not able to collect data for more than 100 search terms in each report. We have frequent requests to collect more data, but it's just not possible.

    We've also included a "KEI" calculation for each search term, based on these metrics. My first, second, third, fourth, and fifth impulses are to stop reporting KEI in any form, since it is completely useless. We included it two years ago because a lot of SEO clients expected to see it, but if the market hasn't gotten any smarter about this since then, maybe we need to stop helping people stay ignorant.

    Other than dropping KEI, my first impulse is to leave this report alone. My second impulse is to stop collecting the data ourselves, and build something into the spreadsheet that would allow users to input their own Google API key and collect their own data. Would the trade-off be worth it? Would users be willing to wait 2-3 hours to collect the data? Would we end up with a tech support nightmare? Would requiring Microsoft Excel be a problem?

    Your thoughts, please.

  4. Pay-per-click bids: we've included bids from Yahoo/Overture, collected by Wordtracker, for years. This hasn't always been perfect because the search term Yahoo uses may not match the exact query found in Wordtracker, and sometimes we get no data on some terms. Now, it's academic. Yahoo no longer publishes this data, so we're dropping this report.

    One of the challenges with PPC reporting is that we can't (OK, won't) "steal" data. We won't screen scrape in violation of a search engine's TOS. So, unless there is a legal way to obtain the data, we aren't going to do it. With that said, it still might be possible to add another metric, for PPC competition. Would it be useful if we could report on the number of advertisers? Any other metrics out there?

    Your thoughts, please.

  5. Link competition: Big report right now. We take the top 10 results from Google, for the 100 most popular search terms, and we present a backlink count from Alexa, which is based on the number of web sites linking in to a ranked site. Sound complex? It's not, but it's a pain to explain.

    A hiccup with Alexa recently has forced us to reconsider this report, even though I like the number they give us. I am not sure we can rely on them. I also think it's just too much information for the average user to digest.

    My first and last impulse is to turn this into a "top sites" report. In other words, we're going to do it... Since we're pulling the Google rankings for 100 search terms, we can "stack rank" the top performing sites in the market fairy well. The current plan for this report is to show the top 100 sites, based on their overall presence in the search results for the 100 most popular search terms.

    Along with each site (listed by domain), we would show the total presence (# of times a page from their site appeared in SERPs), breadth of presence (# of unique URLs that appeared in SERPs), # of incoming links from Yahoo, and the # of sites linking in from Alexa.

    We can also show the same data for the client's URL in this report, so that users can compare their own presence to the top sites.

    Your thoughts, please.
Thanks!
Dan

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

World's Dumbest Link Farmer

"Smart Link Building," he calls it... he charges $1500 for 20 one-way links, embedded in articles that he will create, and post on his web sites. We're assured that these are all on different class C IP addresses, different hosting... at first glance, he sounds like a spammer, but at least a reasonably competent spammer.

There's no way I'm going to buy into it, but I keep reading the sales letter, and he has links to example articles, on his own site. I start to think maybe the guy has a screw loose, because if those are real examples, then he's exposing the identity of several clients. (As it turns out, they are real examples).

But it gets worse. At the bottom of the sales letter, he has a list of the domains, IP addresses, and actual links into the article directories. He has actually published the location of every site in his link farm... this is hilarious. Go ahead and give the search engines a map to your link farm, dude. That's awesome.

My advice, when you see a scheme like this, is to just walk way. My advice, when you see a scheme like this, run by the world's dumbest link farmer, is to run, not walk.

Sorry, Jim. Congrats on "winning" a #1 ranking for elursmebble n7v or whatever, but I think this proves you don't need to have the slightest clue, to win an SEO contest.

Wow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My First Ever "Microsoft Sucks" Post

Microsoft is big. Really, really big. So when the folks at Microsoft decide to change the way one of their core applications works, it affects a lot of people.

So here it is - the HTML rendering engine in Outlook 2007 has been replaced with the MS Word rendering engine, removing the Internet Explorer engine used in previous versions.

This is bad, people... although the idiots who were screaming for IE to be removed from MS Windows probably think it's really really super great.

Why is it bad? Well, it's bad because many (most?) email newsletter designs will break in the new version of MS Outlook. Now anyone who is publishing email content (newsletters, for example) with HTML now has to go back and check their designs in the Outlook 2007 / Word 2007 rendering engine...

We all have to figure out redesigns that will work in IE, Mozilla, Safari, Word... oh joy, it's like doing the 1990s browser compatibility nonsense all over again. And we all have to go get Outlook 2007 so we can check them.

The only good thing about Microsoft's dominance (monopoly if you like) in operating systems was that you could count on most applications using IE as the HTML rendering engine. You would think Microsoft would be the last to break with this, but, well, big does not mean smart.

You can read more on ZDNet and SitePoint Tech Times, which contains a reference to Microsoft's documentation of the changes in Outlook 2007... that last one is a depressing read if you have to deal with email design.

My official position as of today: Microsoft Sucks. This does not imply that anything else (e.g. Linux) rocks. Actually, I think Indi rocks, but since it's going to be a commercial product, it probably will only rock as an idea, before being swept aside by something cool and free with open source code.

This isn't evil, just stupid. Really really stupid.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Q&A - Sounds Great, What's Wrong With It?

I've told you all the good things, but you may also like to know...

What's wrong with Stompernet?

So I'll tell you, at least from my perspective.
  1. Some of the SEO content on the "brain transplant" is a little bit basic. Mostly the link building stuff, where they're talking about reciprocal links a bit more than I would. To provide some balance, Leslie Rohde is recording a link building class inside the portal, and I've given them my own advanced Link Building Clinic videos. It's still important for people to understand reciprocal linking, even if it's not a big part of their long term strategy.

  2. Leslie and I found an error in one of the workbooks. It says that using keywords in the title attribute of images and links will help with rankings. As far as Leslie and I can tell, none of the search engines indexes this attribute any more. We've posted our findings in the portal, so nobody has to waste their time with this. I mention this for the sake of complete disclosure.

  3. Leslie and I are like Darth Vader and Yoda. He thinks I don't understand the power of the dark side. He refers to his aggressive SEO methods as "more advanced" than my brand of natural optimization, when it's obvious to me that he just needs to see the light of natural SEO. But hey, it's great to talk with someone who has discovered all of the same advanced techniques that I have, who actually understands PageRank, Latent Semantic Indexing, etc. Now if he'd just put down that light saber and listen to reason...

  4. There is almost too much information. Andy Jenkins has described the initial 15-DVD box set as "drinking from a fire hose," and it's very accurate. All of the new faculty agree, and we are working overtime to collect everything into a more traditional "academic" arrangement, with courses on different topics, for different levels of expertise. It's a good problem to have, and it's why we have so many top-flight instructors.

  5. You actually have to do the work. This isn't a "system" where you push a button and money falls out of the sky. Stompernet won't research a market, build an online store, write your grand opening press release, get you into the right directories, distribute your articles to get links (actually it sort of does), manage your PPC campaigns, run multivariate tests to increase your conversion rate, etc. But, it will teach you how to do all of these things yourself.
That last bit is the most important thing. You can outsource a lot of things, but one of the core principles we Stompers live by is that you should never outsource expertise.
That doesn't mean you would never hire someone to help with your online marketing... but it does mean that you need to develop real expertise inside of your own business. Even though I am an absolute wizard with Adwords, I've still hired other people to manage campaigns. It's easy to train them, if you already know yourself.

Anyway, the launch is tomorrow.

You can visit the Official StomperNet Countdown Page to sign up for an advance notification mailing list.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Club Dan: The Insiders Inside

One of the hardest parts for me about moving inside of Stompernet, to be honest, was "ego adjustment." When you get a bunch of experts together, we don't always agree. When I had my own little coaching program, I didn't have to deal with someone else trying to teach my students something different.

Whether my students were really better off that way, well, in my opinion they were. We discussed alternative approaches, and I'm certainly willing to change my mind...

But now that I am part of something bigger, sometimes I can't have the final say.

There are more than a few (very capable) "black hat" SEO practitioners in Stompernet - and although we've all agreed to check our hats at the door, there's nothing stopping any of us from expressing our opinions, except for forum rules to keep the discussions civil.

It's nice, the members decide... let the best ideas win. In the long run, we're better off that way, because it forces us to be intellectually honest.

One of the cool things about Stompernet, and for me the coolest thing, is that we can actually form our own little groups within the group.

As I write this, Stomper developers are putting the finishing touches on a new piece of software for the Stompernet portal, which will facilitate this kind of group activity.

Groups will form around common interests, geography (I plan to be active with the local Stompers), or whatever else the members like.

To get back a little of what I've lost by giving up my training business, I will be starting a little something called "Club Dan" - my own little private club, made up of those folks who have joined Stompernet with me.

It will be a place where I can let my hair down, and tell you what I "really think" about the latest information being shared by my fellow experts, the latest changes at the search engines, and whatever else is going on.

Of course, I will also be holding a few private conference calls and doing some other things to keep it fun for the members... as if hearing me rant and rave about Frank Kern's goofy surfer haircut (or lack thereof) isn't fun enough.
If you'd like to be a part of "Club Dan," just email questions(at)seoresearchlabs.com to let me know. I'll make sure you understand exactly what to do on Thursday to secure your spot.
(Do you understand why I am so worked up about this?)

Anyway, there are plenty of other things that I'd like to tell you about Stompernet... but it's better to let them explain a few things themselves. Watch this space, or click here to join the advance-notice mailing list.

Q&A - Okay, How Much?

I'm no good at drama, so I'll just level with you. It's $797 per month, for a year-long program.

Now, that might sound like a lot to some of you, and it is a lot to ask for, "site unseen." (Pun intended).

But you aren't going into this without a guarantee. I'm not sure what the exact details will be this time around (we're still haggling over dates). (Update: There will be a 30-day guarantee this time around...) - time to:
  • Watch the "brain transplant DVDs"
  • Pick the brains of experts and fellow students in the portal
  • Download and watch countless hours of fresh content
  • Work with Brad Fallon and Frank Kern in the "fast track" program for beginners
  • Launch a business or work on an existing business
And after that 30 days, you will still have a chance to say, "no thanks, it's just not for me," and get all of your money back.

So, what happened the last time? A few folks did decide to drop out, and that was the right decision for them. If you find out that you don't have the time or motivation to make the most out of it, then I hope you'll have the good sense to quit before the guarantee expires.

I honestly don't know how much more risk-free they can make it for us...

Among those who stayed (some 1500 members strong), we had some remarkable success stories. From people who managed to get a new business off the ground and start making the $26.20 a day it takes to "afford" Stompernet, to some really fantastic successes, people making thousands of dollars a month starting from zero.

That's really what you need to look at - twenty-seven bucks a day. If you had the right kind of coaching, access to a faculty representing the best minds in their fields, a place to go when you can't decide which way to go, where you can hear from people who have "been there and done that," think about it...

How much more could you make, if you had that kind of support?

Whether it's an existing business, a new venture, or your first crack at getting away from the world of "real jobs," how much of a chance do you have if you're going it alone, compared to working with a group like this?
In fact, some members have found that they can make more than $30 a day just by helping other Stompers - with web design, copywriting, software, and other services.
Just last week, a member posted a great story - he had developed some software to help solve a common SEO problem, posted an ad in the Stomper marketplace, and was earning more than $30 a day by helping others succeed.

(Can you tell that I am enjoying this?)

Is StomperNet for you? I don't know, but I'd be happy to discuss it with you. You can email me, questions (at) seoresearchlabs.com and I'll be happy to answer your questions. If you'd like to discuss it by phone, make sure you include a number where I can reach you.

In my next post, I'll tell you about the really cool part of this whole thing.

Q&A - Dan, What The Heck Is StomperNet?

This will be the first in a series of posts...

I've had a lot of questions about "my new venture." I want to start of by letting you know that it's not my new venture... there are a lot of people involved at this point.

So, what the heck is it?

StomperNet Is:
  • A private membership coaching program
  • A members-only website / portal
  • A year long program, with continuing membership beyond that
  • Free in-person seminars for members, featuring some of the best, most advanced content
  • A support system for entrepreneurs from beginner to advanced
  • A place to learn from the best in the business
  • A chance to learn and grow your online business
StomperNet is NOT:
  • A get-rich-quick scheme, "system," multi-level marketing, or any of that
  • An "information product"
  • A scam
  • A joke
When you join Stompernet, you're joining a group of like-minded entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers, thinkers, and top-flight instructors.

So, what do you get when you join?

The first thing you get is a "box set" of 15 DVDs called the "Business Brain Transplant." The purpose is to give you the basic knowledge and a common language that will enable you to successfully participate as a student.

But even before that big box arrives, you'll have access to the Stompernet portal. Within that portal, behind those closed doors, experts on SEO, PPC, conversion, email marketing, Adsense, blogging, and many other subjects are communicating, networking, and learning from each other via:
  • Our private discussion forums
  • Through our individual "Stomper Blogs"
  • An active classified ad "marketplace"
  • Audio and video recordings, constantly updated
  • The best in-person trainings (4 events per year) I have ever seen
Just a few days ago, we were having a discussion inside the forums on site structure and the pros and cons of Michael Campbell's "mininet" strategies. With me in that discussion? Leslie Rohde, the expert in dynamic linking strategies... and I just found out yesterday that Michael Campbell himself will be joining us soon.

It wasn't too long ago that I would have paid good money to be a "fly on the wall" in that discussion, but now I can dive into it and contribute my own research on the subject, as can all of the other members of Stompernet. They can contribute, ask questions, and get real answers from real experts.

The true experts in every field will agree on some things, and disagree on others. Inside the Stompernet portal, we're having these kinds of conversations all the time, and getting closer to the truth every day. Instead of hearing one "guru" or another give you their best guess on your typical forum, you get a lot of perspectives, and a whole lot better information.

Every day, members share their successes and failures with each other - you learn from everyone else, and everyone else gains from your experiences. In Stompernet, you aren't trying to figure it all out alone.

And that's just what's happening on the forum. The first live seminar took place in Atlanta, GA, over the course of 3 days in November 2006. I walked in expecting to have some fun, meet some people, teach some people (I gave two 75-minute presentations on advanced topics in Adwords and SEO), and of course, yawn through a bunch of sales pitches.

But guess what? There *are* no sales pitches at a Stomper seminar. Why? Because everyone there is a member, and they've already paid to get access to the best information we can give them. As a teacher, these events are very liberating - not only do I get to spend plenty of time on each subject, I get to speak to a group of people who are ready to learn and take action.

(Can you tell I'm excited?)

I'm not just excited for myself, though. I am excited for you, because you will have a chance to join us this Thursday, January 4th.

You're probably wondering how much this all costs... as well you should. It's a bit more than the $495 a month you'd pay for my (now-unavailable) private coaching program. I'll explain more in my next post.

(Click to see a real-life case study and get on our advance-notification mailing list for this limited-time opening)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Leslie Rohde: The Cats Are Leaving The Bag

During my "retirement party" teleclass the other night, I revealed why I am shutting down my SEO training programs... but I wasn't able to tell you about everyone who is joining me, because they hadn't all told "their people" yet.

Well, today I can let you in on a few of the real identities behind those code names I gave you last week.

"Mr. Blue" is none other than Leslie Rohde, developer of the popular Optilink and Optispider SEO tools, and one of the few people in the world I can go to for a serious technical discussion about search engines and SEO. You can read Leslie's announcement for yourself.

"Mr. Paisley" is Frank Kern, a controversial figure to be sure*, but truly one of the smartest people involved with online marketing today. In spite of what you may have heard, Frank is one of the good guys, and I know a lot of people who don't make a move without getting Frank's feedback first.

"Mr. Green" is Sherman Hu of WordPress Tutorials - a great teacher, who has helped a lot of people get their start online. Sherman will help us out with a lot of technical "how to," and also brings a fresh perspective on the challenges and opportunities of today's web.

There are others yet to be revealed. I would love to tell you all about everyone, but I can't until they make their own announcements.

The other cat that's gotten out of the bag is what I am doing in place of my (now closed) training and coaching programs. If you haven't listened to the podcast from my last teleclass, you can get the MP3 and a PDF copy of the presentation here.

Some of you have probably heard of Stompernet already. If you haven't heard of it, listen to my podcast, read Leslie's announcement, or watch this space, because I will be talking about it in more detail soon.

Stompernet was founded in October by my good friends Brad Fallon ("Mr. Pink," who has built an online retail business from scratch to a $10 million+ business) and Andy Jenkins ("Mr. White," who has done the same, and is our "go to guy" for analytics, conversion, multivariate testing, and a lot more).

With over 1000 members today, Stompernet is currently closed to new membership, but we (the new faculty) got them to pry the door open for our loyal readers and students.

I will be posting more over the coming hours and days, as we move toward our "big day" next week, when you will have an opportunity to join us... but watch this space, and register for our announcement list, because we will only be able to hold the door open for about 24 hours.

P.S. If you have any problem getting access to the podcast, just email me, questions(at )seoresearchlabs.com and I will be happy to send you the download link.

*In the online world, sometimes we allow others' perceptions to create our reality. Frank and Leslie have both created their share of controversy over the years. If you knew these guys personally, you would know why I am so excited to be working with them. Please, listen without prejudice.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I Quit: Ending My Training Programs

You know I'm not one for drama ...so there's a good reason for that subject line.

Here's the scoop... A few days ago, I sent an email out to my newsletter subscribers, telling them that I'm closing the doors on my training business.

Ever since then, I've been flooded with questions like,
  • Where are you going?
  • Why are you quitting?
  • What are we supposed to do now?
All of your questions will be answered tomorrow, in fact, I'm going to answer them in person.

Here's the deal:

I'm holding a ONE TIME free "Retirement Party" teleseminar December 28th, from 7-8pm Central time, and you're invited.

Actually, YOU NEED TO BE THERE.

Here's why:

I've prepared an in-depth presentation where I'll be uncovering some of the biggest myths, mysteries, and mistakes we make in search engine marketing today.

...And since I'm getting out of the training business, I'm HOLDING NOTHING BACK. In fact, I've prepared a 36 page presentation that goes along with this teleseminar and you need to go ahead and get it.

You can register for the teleseminar and get your copy of my presentation here:

http://www.seoresearchlabs.com/call

Here's a little taste of what I'm going to share with you:
  • What Internet 2.0 really is ...and how you can profit from the hype and the reality.
  • How 3 of my students went "beyond SEO" to drive profits sky high
  • Why search engine marketing just isn't enough any more
  • How Traffic x Conversion x Community is more than multiplication
  • My biggest SEO secret - so obvious, you'll slap yourself when you see it
The three student case studies I'm going to share with you, by themselves, are worth the time it will take you to listen in on this call.

There will be a podcast available for download later, but if you can join us on the live call, please do - the sound is always better when you listen live.

We'll talk soon,

Dan

P.S. Someone asked if this is some kind of promotional gimmick, where I'll "reopen" my classes right after. (They didn't know me very well!)

The answer is no. I *really am* closing the doors on my training program... and that's why I'm letting it all out on this call.

To register, visit: http://www.seoresearchlabs.com/call

Free PPC Video

Hi folks, long time no posts... been buried in work. Two posts for you today - the first is to let you know that I've recorded a free video, that will show you how to boost the traffic from your existing Adwords campaigns without raising your bids or rewriting any ads.

The technique is called "permutations." It's not a secret, but very few advertisers actually bother to do it. The basic concept is simple - you take a list of words and work up every possible combination of phrase and exact match bids.

This gives you a clear edge vs. competitors who are running broad matches, and the data you collect on one word order vs. another will really open your eyes about how people search.

The video uses Aaron Wall's free keyword list generator tool, and runs 11 minutes.

Free Video On Keyword List Permutations for Adwords

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

SES Local Notes & Local Advertising Tip

No, I didn't attend SES Local in Denver, but my friend Mike Belasco did, and he's posted a nice summary and notes on his blog - see Mike The Internet Guy for the scoop.

Speaking of local advertising, one of my students (we'll call him "Jim" because that's his name) has been doing pretty well by using Google Adwords with local targeting, using the contextual advertising network (aka Adsense). He's been signing up students for his martial arts studio, with ads that appear to local residents when they visit major martial-arts related web sites.

This type of campaign is easy to set up, the costs are controllable, and it has the potential to generate a lot of brand awareness, even among those who don't actually click on the ads. If you look at contextual advertising on a CPM basis, it's incredibly cheap in most markets.

Anyway, enough ranting, enough raving... and a word to those trying to reach me lately - keep trying, but be patient. I am supposed to be resting my back, and sometimes the medication gives me no other choice.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

SEO & e-Business: New (free) Video

Andy Jenkins and Brad Fallon are getting ready to launch the new version of their "Stomping the Search Engines" course, which has generated a little excitement around the world of the web already. The official launch date isn't until late in September, but they're releasing some stuff now, including a free online video.

I'm still waiting for my box of DVDs to arrive so I will have a more in-depth review of the material before it's launched. I get to see this stuff in advance, 'cause I am such an important and influential blogger.

At this point, I do know that a small part of what they're putting into the package is the video recording from a 2-day "Boot Camp" I participated in last summer, along with folks like Adwords expert Perry Marshall.

I don't have information on pricing at this point, but I do know it will be a fairly intensive, year-long coaching & business development program, not solely focused on SEO. I also know that I will be participating in some of the live training as part of the program.

Anyway, you can get a look at the first teaser video at http://www.convertlinks.com/seosecrets and get on the mailing list for further updates by following the link at the bottom of the video page.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Marketing: Go Get An Action Plan

Found a great website this morning, via a post by Chris Allen in the LED Digest. Robert Middleton's Action Plan Marketing is primarily focused at service professionals, but a lot of the information in his free samples would be useful for anyone.

I'm looking forward to receiving Robert's newsletter, and the fact that I didn't get an issue as soon as I subscribed reminds me of yet another item that's on my own "to do" list.

Chris Allen's website, BTW, is www.gentlemansemporium.com. A little link love is due.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

SEO: A Solution For Handling Flash Better

Most readers are probably well aware that there are some issues with Flash and SEO... but many folks actually believe that there is some sort of ranking penalty or other major drama that ensues for those who use Flash.

The problem with Flash as "content" for search engines isn't that search engines can't read them. The major search engines can all read Flash files.

The problem is pretty simple: it's all about trust. With Flash, it's not possible for the search engine to easily determine what content is visible to humans and what isn't. As a result, search engines can't rely on (trust) what they find in a Flash movie file, and an "all Flash" web site (no HTML content) will be a problem.

When it comes to SEO on a site that uses Flash, you have a couple of choices:
  1. Use HTML for static elements, and Flash for cool interactive ads, games, and everything else that Flash is good for. In this case, Flash is simply used as an embedded object, much like an animated GIF or PNG image. Users who don't have the Flash plug-in installed will just see a weird looking box.
  2. Provide alternative HTML content for the Flash elements. So for example, if you have a really cool drop-down menu that uses Flash, you also provide an HTML menu so that users without Flash (like search engine spiders and many humans) can still use the site.
Jonathan Hochman has written up a nice summary of seo-friendly Flash design and the reasons why you would want to follow door #2, and the tools that are available. Much of the approach he describes relies on a Javascript toolkit called SWFObject.

If you do have to replace a Flash menu with HTML, you might want to head over to A List Apart, and take a look at some of the cool, groovy, and utterly bitchin' stuff that J. David Eisenberg has to share about CSS, DHTML, and DOM Design Tricks. How cool? How about an explorer-style navigation menu based on HTML lists, that will degrade perfectly in older browsers, and allow spiders to see the entire menu. Sweeeet. There's plenty more to see on that site, and any web designer who isn't aware of it yet is missing a great resource.

Several folks have emailed to ask where the newsletter has been... unfortunately, with a staff of one (1) (me) the newsletter doesn't always go on schedule. Maybe I need a ghost writer. :p

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Link Building: Are Bloggers A Bunch of Morons?

In the first week of my link building class (Flash video), I go over a spectrum of "link types," based on the idea that search engines really want to see natural links of pure love, those that are created by web authors who really like the web resource (site, page) they're linking to.

There's another type of link, though, that probably counts for just as much in boosting the authority of a web site, natural links of pure hate. It's just possible that these are actually easier to get.

When a blogger cleverly links to Microsoft's web site with words like "evil empire" in the text of the link, they think they're sticking it to the man, but they're actually passing link love to the man. Which makes it easier for Microsoft to put more pages into search results... and still hasn't made Microsoft the #1 result for 'evil empire.'

When right-wing loons link to Michael Moore's web site with "miserable failure" in the link, they're actually helping Mr. Moore's cause by passing PageRank to his web site. Which makes it easier for him to spread the word about just how nasty US elections actually are and how the greatest losses in the Iraq war are felt by ordinary Iraqi civilians.

But I digress... these are just a couple examples of bloggers helping their enemies in search engine rankings. I could go on for days. Link condoms, anyone? Or are all bloggers just a bunch of morons? Is the blogosphere full of idiots? It's possible...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

SEO: What's Up, Big Daddy?

Posted (and updated) from last week's SEO Coach newsletter:

What's Up, Big Daddy? How Google's latest move affects you, me, and them

With all the talk (and occasional hysteria) about Google's "Bigdaddy" update, I thought readers could use a little help understanding it. There's been a lot of crazy speculation, and the real story is both simpler and more complex than what you've probably heard.

So let me start with what Bigdaddy isn't about:
  • Bigdaddy is not a new data center, people got this idea because it was rolled out in a single data center first and Matt posted a picture
  • Bigdaddy is not a new ranking algorithm, people got this idea because some rankings have changed, I suspect the ranking/retrieval algorithm is not changing much if at all
  • Bigdaddy is not completely finished, because nothing at Google is ever finished
  • Bigdaddy is not Matt Cutts' baby, it belongs to another team at Google, but Matt is sharing a lot of helpful information about it.
So what is Bigdaddy? The answer, straight from Matt Cutts' blog - Bigdaddy is "a software upgrade of our crawling and parts of our indexing." What this means is that Google's crawl/index team has made some changes in how they crawl the web. Mostly, the changes that affect us involve Google's new methods of deciding which pages they will crawl and index.

Because today's search engines rely heavily on the linking relationships between web pages and web sites to determine their search results (rankings), the search engine's picture of the web (what they index) has a huge bearing on who wins and losings in the rankings.

Google's new indexing policies are changing the shape of the web.

When I say that, I mean it literally. When Google's view of the web changes, that affects what pages and sites people find, which in turn affects what they link to. Google's influence on the web is huge, and outside of the SEO world, very much underestimated.

To those of us in the SEO world, Google's changes can have a dramatic impact, positive or negative, for our rankings and long term success. When a page that links to you is dropped from Google's index, or moved from the main index to their "supplemental" index, you lose the benefit of that link.

Beyond this, Google is clearly moving toward a system based on trust. Google has different levels of trust for different sites, and for different links. Although we can't change Google's opinion of the sites that link to us, we can definitely influence Google's trust for our own sites.

If you want to improve your site's reputation with Google, you can do something about it. There are two sides to this coin - the sites that link to you, and the sites you link to. I'll talk about building links in a future article, for now let's focus on your outgoing links.

When you link to untrusted sites, your site loses trust. You should periodically review your outbound links - if you link to a less trustworthy site, your site will lose trust. In particular, be mindful of irrelevant or indiscriminate link exchanges, both on your site and those you link to.

If you sell advertising on your site, in particular if you sell advertising as text links, you can lose trust if you don't add the "rel=nofollow" attribute to those links. Google has zero trust for paid links - whether this can affect your own trust and rankings isn't certain, but I don't know why it wouldn't. To be safe, use nofollow on untrusted or paid links.

Please don't overthink this. If you are linking to 100 web sites, and a couple of them aren't trusted by Google, the impact is likely to be negligible. The biggest mistakes I see people make are:
  • focusing on link exchanges (reciprocal links) - these are worth next to nothing to your rankings and can be harmful
  • automated linking programs - these can actually get you penalized and have long term consequences
  • lack of natural link building and promotion - it's not always easy, but the right strategy can be very profitable even without higher rankings
In the next issue (June 2), we'll talk about better ways to build links and how to keep your pages in the main Google index (assuming they should be there!). Your feedback (as always) is welcome.

Thought for the day: Doing well in SEO isn't about reverse engineering the ranking algorithm any more - that game ended a long time ago.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Adsense: What The Eye Tracks Gets Clicked?

Marketing Sherpa published a very interesting little book called the Ecommerce Benchmark Guide 2006 that contains some interesting information on eye-tracking studies. One of the nice little tidbits contained therein is a study showing that people's eyes are drawn to images, especially images of people's faces.

Not surprising perhaps, but it might be useful. If anyone would like to have some fun with a little test, try putting a picture of your own grinning mug next to an Adsense ad banner or something, as I've done with the page header on this blog - see my face next to the ad up there?

I'd like to hear comments from those who give it a try. Ken Giddens showed me last summer just how much better his Adsense banners did with images aligned above them (as seen at www.mauihawaiihotelsandcondos.com.

Quick tip o' the hat to Ralph Wilson and his Web Marketing Today newsletter for the info on this useful report from MarketingSherpa. Ralph has been putting out that newsletter since you were in short pants, buster, so give him some love.