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)