Some of the Worst Money We’ve Spent

We recently had plans to exhibit at the SES NYC (Search Engine Strategies Expo), but due to a growing staff that needed attention, we had to back out. Unfortunately, their terms tie you in to either half the price of a booth or the entire amount if you cannot make it. I definitely understand the need for contracts and why they do it, but they might consider offering options for people that just cannot make it.

This really isn’t about their stern, “lock you in” contract, it is about a promotional product they offer. Since we were locked into a contract for the full amount, I offered the option to move our booth money into some advertising for the event. Granted I had to offer this option up, they do get credit for allowing us to move our money into advertising instead of just losing it. They said to review what was still available and let them know what we would like to do with our booth money. Anything you do with these expo’s is high priced. For example, a premier sponsorship is over 35k! The visibility is very good and you get many perks, but boy do they make some money.

The two options we selected to use up our paid money were the back cover of a handbook and an “email blast“. We have attended one of these events and the price of a handbook advertisement was worth it because everyone has one in their possession at the event and it follows many home. The email blast was a little interesting due to no real stats being offered and usually email marketing is a big question mark anyway. After our handbook back cover, we only had enough funds for the email blast, so we selected it. Continuous questions regarding how many people actually read the email have still ended up with no answers and reviewing tracking stats today, I think I understand why.

I realize the “visibility factor” could play into the value of an email blast to an event that boasts so many big company names, but after due time, I might consider this the worst money we’ve ever spent. The email ad itself was so short you could barely make sense of a sales pitch if you wanted to and one image was allowed but it could only be your business logo. All things aside, I created a quick and catchy email with our logo and sent it on its way like a school boy on his first day, except, this schoolboy was full of tracking url’s that would give me all bits of info regarding this email. Since no one wants to tell me how many poeple get the email, I figure maybe I can track it myself.

Most are excited to know we have received a total 54 click-thru’s, however, most of them are duplicate ip’s, so it’s tough to tell. Zero of the referrals have turned into any type of lead and;or sell. So my thought of this entry is to be very carefull when purchasing anything that has no upfront numbers or results other than a big fat bill. I’ve asked too many times for proof of advertisements and numbers but have been ignored on my reqeust each time.

The moral of this rant is, if you plan to attent a SES or WWW expo, DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON AN EMAIL BLAST. Ok, i just dozed off at the laptop only to be awakened by a jolt of mysterious electricity run through my arms and legs. Maybe it was another click from our email blast ad that occurred and it sent a jolt of energy through me for a quick second.

Who knows! I believe in this company and what they do, I just don’t quite buy into “EVERYTHING” they do.

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Traffic Tracking Services

One of our future planned services is offering a traffic tracking tool. Currently, it’s a bit far back on the list of things upcoming, but we will eventually offer a product once we are sure it is of top quality.

In the meantime, there are many free services you can use to get the basics of your traffic. We’ve been testing statcounter for a couple of months and they have a nice product. The numbers aren’t real representative of what our server logs say, but offsite tracking seems to have the ability to lose some numbers. Each free service offers the basics then allow one to upgrade for more detailed info. There are also many paid services like Omniture, Websidestory & Webtrends. The best thing to do is have one of their staff give you access to a demo to ensure you get what you are looking for before paying.

Tracking traffic can tell you many things, including a better way to target visitors and convert them. If you do not currently track your visitors, we highly suggest you give it a shot and ask an analytics expert to show you how to read them if unclear.

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Can You Find The HIDDEN TEXT?

This business is always changing and you have to keep up with everything going on to provide a good service to customers. This means reading many sites and bits of info that revolve around search and optimization. This includes Matt Cutt’s blog, which I call “SPAM Cutt’s“; because his job is obviously to find SPAM sites and “Cutt” them from the index.

It seems like a few times a month one of his posts involve sites that have hidden text on their homepage or maybe another internal page. He’ll get before and after screen captures and make a kind of open letter to the webmaster of the site in question.

Well I think people make it WAY too easy sometimes, which made me want to put together a tricky page for anyone that feels they are good at spotting hidden text on a page. If you can locate the hidden text on this page, consider yourself a future Google engineer in the making!

FIND HIDDEN TEXT HERE

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MSN LIVE – Possible Competition Google Isn’t Ready For

We all know that Google is the monster of search. If you don’t know it, stick around, they’ll let you know it by taking your site offline accidently or maybe you did something unbeknownst to you was wrong, but the likes of SPAM Cutts finds it and removes your listing. Google, for the most part, has the top product and definitely most used search product out there. It’s a term I hear on TV, standing in line for food stamps and even in the homeless shelters (maybe not all these places), “I Googled my name..” or “I Googled to see what information I could find…”. It’s a household name these days.

It’s also been talked about how the multi-billionaires that founded Google are targeting Mr. Gates, which there is nothing wrong with. The latest report has Bill Gates still the richest human at $50 BILLION! ! ! Let me put that into zero’s for you: $50,000,000,000.00. Now whether they actually have this target or not, it’s been written in news articles that they are. You know for a fact Mr. Gates himself has heard this from his many little birds that probably suck up to him for a raise.

Along comes the first real Microsoft push for their own market share in online search. http://www.live.com is a new style of online search that has many similarities, but also it’s own unique features to make it stand out. Over the past year or two I’ve watched Google follow many search standards that Yahoo had, so now I wonder if this same thing will happen with MSN’s new LIVE search. The results are supposed to be on target to the query, but aren’t they all. Give it a test run for yourself and see what you think.

Here are a few points I made on our forum about the LIVE.com

  1. The infinite scroll. No more going from page to page…it’s all on one. So technically, you are on the 1st page for every term!!
  2. In the top right corner of the search results frame, you will see a sliding scale. If you slide it to the left or right, it will change the way the listings appear. To the right will make the option “Search within this site”. If you click it, it then pops up a search box under the listing where you can enter a term to look for on that site. Pretty crafty. Switch to the left and it only shows the title and the website url, leaving out the description.
  3. I like the fact all advertising is on the right. Yahoo and Google sneak the ads on top of the natural listings, which in my mind, taints the true natural organic listings. Separating the paid and natural doesn’t trick the typical user into thinking the very top is the very relevant.
  4. As far as relevancy, I think it probably still needs some work. Just digging through searching for keywords I’m familiar with, the listings appear to be some good some not so good. But overall, I give it a thumbs up.

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LinkWorth SEO Toolbar Version 2.0 ? ? ?

We’ve posted a poll on our form searching to see if we want to put together our SEO Toolbar V.2.0. So if you wouldn’t mind, hop on over and give us your feedback if we should put a new version. The new Google toolbar is pretty nice and I find myself using it more than anything else now, so if a new version of our toolbar doesn’t make sense, we might focus our time elsewhere.

Answer Our Toolbar Poll Here

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Know When to Hold ’em & Know When to Fold ’em

If you are in a sales position where you are soliciting a product or service, there is some advice that might be helpful when speaking to other businesses. There are times during a year that are good times and other times that might not be so good. As I always state in any advice I give, every market is different, so this is more of a generalized theory than anything else.

Rather than get wordy and lengthy in my explanation and reasoning, I’ll give best and worst times:

Best Times for B2B selling:

  • The months of January and February. (First of year numbers start over)
  • Between the dates of the 10th through 25th of any month except December. (Meat of month less bills)
  • Between the 5th and 20th of December. (moves up a bit due to holidays)
  • The last week in December. (Some companies like to dump excess funds to escape taxes)
  • First of January, April, July & October (Typically first of each quarter for quarterly companies)

Worst Times for B2B selling:

  • Any holiday period. (companies may be closed)
  • The week leading up to the tax deadlines. (business owners stressed and sometimes facing big bills)
  • The last week in December. (This is either hit or miss. While it can be the best, it can also be the worst)
  • The end of March, June, September & December. (End of quarter for quarterly companies)
  • Weekends. (This one is obvious, but Saturday and Sunday are probably the worst)

Again, these are generalized timeframes for business to business selling. If it’s business to customer, it’s a completely different ballgame because weekends are great for customers, along with holidays. You should always try to sell 365 days a year in some fashion, but put more emphasis towards the prime, or best selling times.

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Google Pay Per Click Fraud Case Settlement for $90 Million

As I have been reading more and more about this settlement, the more it makes me happy that I didn’t do anything with this enormous book of papers to my side. This book of papers I’m referencing is the documentation to enter into this exact case that was sent to me last year. I spoke with the attorney’s representing the plaintiff’s because I was very interested. At one time I was going back and forth with both Google and Overture trying to plead my case of obvious click fraud only getting the constant run-around from both. Sometimes they would give me a $50, maybe $100 credit even though I was showing them proof from our tracking logs that showed thousands upon thousands of fraudulent clicks. Both companies always gave the same old crappy speach how “they have super techno technology to prevent fraudulent clicking”, of course, I had evidence that proved otherwise.

One of the most shocking statements I read about this settlement is what $90 million dollars is to Google. This is an excerpt from this news story:

Since 2002, Google has generated $11.2 billion in gross revenue, and $7.3 billion in net revenue. So the $90 million settlement would amount to 0.8 percent and 1.2 percent of these sales,” Mahaney wrote in a research note.

Could you imagine if $90 million dollars meant less than 1% of your net revenue? Wow.

Back to why I’m glad I did not actually follow through with joining this case. . .after reading that those involved get the same reward as those who were not involved it made me realize that all the time to spend reading the book I received and doing the work to get involved would have been a waste of time when all I have to do now is submit my log history to Google for a refund.

I strongly urge everyone that feels wronged by click fraud to submit to Google. We need to take their offering and use up all $90 million. Once the suit is finalized, they will provide a method to request a refund from your AdWords account.

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The Art of Silence During Criticism

There is nothing harder than to sit back and read a blog or forum that contains criticism or your product and/or service. It is only the nature of our human brains to get our own points across to debate the negative publicity being plastered for all to read. Of course, you have to be passionate about what you are doing to really get the fire burning. Speaking from my own experiences, I thought I would give a few examples and suggestions in case you ever stumble across this situation in the future.

I’m sure you have heard the old cliché, “Any publicity is good publicity”. To a certain point, this is true. If the majority of your publicity is “damn them”, “burn in hell”, “die, die die” . . . then I would challenge the words of that cliché. What people have to understand is, no matter what product you might have, what service you might provide, there will always be critics. It is part of life in the business world. Successful people will always have people that dislike them due to their success, much like successful businesses have people that dislike them for how well the business is doing. Then there are a percentage of people that dislike whatever it is they offer, for whatever reasons.

It comes down to how that person or that business handles the criticism. More than 90% of the time the person or company being criticized should learn the art of silence. Let people have their comments about you, good or bad. Usually, the criticisms are way off the truth and the writers are just looking for attention, but there are also many times where it can be true. If it is on a website or any other type of documented media, just remember, anything you respond with will also be up for all to read. So “IF” you are going to respond, do so in the most generic and apathetic way you can. Consider being apologetic, not too much, but enough to show there was no ill harm intended.

Once a response happens, try and end the conversation at that point. Getting involved in a full fledged conversation with the critic that is documented on their website, could be a complete disaster that gets you saying things you will later regret. Keep your response very brief and stay away from the hot topic at hand.

A couple of examples, including one of my own, will show you how to not handle things. I will go ahead and throw myself under the bus first.

    • My first example dates back to 2004 when LinkWorth first hit the marketplace. Our system was still fighting through bugs and growing through overall design issues. A guy named Philipp Lenssen had created an account and was getting a good feel for it. Philipp and I had spoken a time or two on really good terms and he had nice things to say. Well during an upgrade of PHP, it caused problems with our support software and Philipp already was hot under the collar, so the support issue was the boiling point. He decided to post his issues on his pretty popular blog.When I first came across his post, I was shocked that something that he should have known was a glitch that could happen to anyone would cause such negativity, but as you will see there were a few other things that he was not happy with either. He claims he is fully aware we are new and will work the bugs out and even speaks of our new upgrade to the site, but at that point, he was ready to move on. So then follows my response. It was meant to be explanatory but to say I’m ok with him leaving if he’s unhappy. Well, it didn’t come across too well. Then it turned into what I hoped it wouldn’t be. I became too involved and let my passion for our service get the best of me. “How could anyone not like what I was doing!” 😀 Now this lovely discussion will appear when you search LinkWorth. Lesson learned. I’ve read other critics since that period and no longer respond. Our service and support speaks for itself these days.
    • The next example is one I happened across just recently. It is regarding a guy named Jarrod who is the owner of text link brokers dot com. Seems he stumbled across a website, which I’m familiar with, that called his service greedy and a few other hot opinions. This site has many posts about LinkWorth as well; it is a blog about buying and selling links. Anyhow, Jarrod made a very shocking first response to the webmaster who wrote that. After the fact, he claimed it was someone else that posted it and asked to have it removed. Thankfully it was not removed because if I can’t get my mistake removed, no one else should either. 😀 Later I found another site which seems to be tied into the other where the webmaster spoke of the bashing by Jarrod and then the guilty party chimed in and apologized for his remarks previously (I thought he said it was someone else that posted it?) and the two resolved their issues.

    So this just proves to you, letting your passion and emotions take over can really backfire. Take it from me and Jarrod. I’m sure we both wish things would have just disappeared, but speaking for myself, it keeps me humbled and more responsive to our customer’s needs. I will admit that it taught me a big lesson and had I known the art of silence then, I wouldn’t have been able to write this article. 😀

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LinkWorth Servers Down Over the Weekend

Due to reasons beyond our control Saturday morning, we had a severe power outage that affected LinkWorth servers. While we definitely apologize for any partner sites that were affected using the file inclusion method, we are glad it has forced us to make this update our file linclusion code. A special thanks to “formmail, joeychcgo and noppid” for giving examples and their own versions of replacement code. It’s customers like this that make LinkWorth stronger in times of weakness.

We are in the process of updating all of our file inclusion code snippets with a timeout variable which partners can change to fit their needs. This will prevent any dragging or timing out on the partner websites. In addition, we have a new formatting option for file inclusion which allows one to format how the ads are displayed with a pre-canned setting or customize it with your own code/text that will separate each text ad.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support and business! LinkWorth is currently experiencing our largest month on the books since we first began. With our larger, and still growing, sales staff and a partnership soon to be announced, 2006 proves to be a wonderful year for all involved.

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Sopranos Marketing – Not Very Effective

I’ve developed a new style of internet marketing and was able to give it a name rather quickly. The results from this type of marketing can be out of this world if you know people who know people, especially if any of these people are part of the Soprano family. Their methods are known as “hard hat” SEO, and a late payment could result a few broken bones.

Anyhow, one of Television’s *BEST* HBO Series is coming back with a new season. My marketing technique during this hour each week will be …. kicked back on our couch waiting for who the next main character of the casts is going to get whacked.

Go Tony Soprano!

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