So there has been a lot of talk today about Google shutting down Google Reader. I haven’t really been concerned because years ago, I created my own. I have been calling it “Joe Reader” for years. So now that Google is killing their Reader, I have decided to release mine as Open Source code under the BSD2 License.
The heart of my reader relies on SimplePie to read and parse RSS.
Hope you all enjoy! :)
In July, Yahoo announced that they had hired Google famed Marissa Mayer as their new CEO. Unlike everyone else in the tech sector, I was disappointed. My disappointment stemmed from the fact that for the last several years Yahoo has been the surefire place where things go to die. This made me sad because Mayer has always been at the center of innovation as Google’s Vice President of Search Products and User Experience during the company’s most radical growth period. Yahoo seemed like a step down. But at the same time I have been hopeful that she could turn Yahoo around and build something amazing. Then this weekend something weird happened…
When I saw “Yahoo! Slurp 3.0″ I was shocked and confused. Slurp is the name of Yahoo’s web crawler. Version 3.0 launched in April of 2008. However, almost a year later Yahoo quit crawling the web and replaced their results with Bing. Because of this I was almost certain that someone was spoofing their user agent to hide their identity. In fact many of the commercial scrappers on the market allow you the ability to change your user agent to what ever you want. There is even a handy little browser plugin that does this as well.
I posted a status on Facebook and soon learned that my buddy Meg Geddes has been seeing the same thing in Statcounter.
A buttload?? This got me thinking….so I went back to my Statcounter login and drilled down a bit further and this is what I found:
So this morning I wake up and can’t stop thinking about Meg’s buttload…Its one thing to see this type of behavior in random intervals, its another to have a buttload. (Also, I like repeating the term “buttload”, I am so sorry.) So, to get further to the bottum of this, I sent Meg an email with some questions:
JH: When did you first start seeing Slurp in your reports this year?
MEG: I don’t know when they started, but I probably first noticed around late spring.
JH: Is there ever any Referring URLs?
MEG: No there are never any referring URLs.
JH: How many pages per domain does it typically visit?
MEG: Probably around 50-100 per day across many sites. Interestingly, I don’t think they’re showing up in Google Analytics, so it may well just be a Statcounter thing.
JH: Do your server logs show the same type of data that Statcounter does?
JH: Peanut butter: crunchy or creamy?
MEG: Dude. Extra Crunchy Jif. Sometimes I add MORE peanuts. I’m hardcore like that.
Meg also shared with us this forum posting where Statcounter moderators point out that these might be image crawling bots which are indexing the 1 pixel image Statcounter uses to send visitor data back to their servers. However, last time I checked (just now), Yahoo’s image search still says, “Powered by Bing™” at the bottom.
Yahoo’s alliance with Bing is supposed to continue til 2019, but that doesn’t impede on Yahoo to continue developing their own internal search products. In fact, they could be developing something that integrates with a future product set that is not search related at all.
Either way its fun to think that maybe somewhere on the horizon there is the possibility of a more competitive search landscape with Mayer commanding a serious competitor. If that is ever the case, then shes already got a new fanboy!
So it has been awhile since I last developed a WordPress Plugin for free. Sure I have done dozens for clients, but it has been awhile since I have given one away. But soon all of that will change. Starting April 1st I am entering myself into a two man competition with my buddy Andrew Norcross. Basically I am looking for a fun way to start programming for the public again with a competitive edge for motivation. The original inspiration for this came from Andrew watching one of my favorite movies and tweeting about it.
Here are the rules:
- Contest begins April 1st.
- No rules on functionality, purpose, etc. Just has to be a working plugin.
- The plugin has to be completed and in the WordPress repository by midnight on April 30th.
- Once completed, we will allow a week for voting.
- Loser pays winner $1.
- That’s pretty much it.
Wish me luck! On April 30th Andrew and I will be tweeting and emailing a link where you the public can vote so make sure to pay attention to this blog, Andrew’s blog and both our Twitter accounts. @joehall & @norcross
Something odd happened about 6 months ago. I started buying books on the Kindle. This was odd to me because 1) I am usually against technology with strict DRMs and, 2) I don’t own a Kindle! I have been reading my books on my phone and on my PC. However this morning I wanted to read in bed, but was tired of squinting into my phone. So…. I got to work. I have an old Dell Mini 9 that I got about 4 years ago.
The Dell Mini 9 shipped with an optional Ubuntu OS. Which was one of the main reasons I got it. Overall its been a great netbook. However the model I got only has a 3.8GB hard drive. Which means everytime I update Ubuntu the amount of free space gets smaller and smaller. So to read my Kindle books I opened up FireFox and went to the Kindle cloud reader, which allows you to read your Kindle books inside a web browser. This worked really well for awhile. But I hated having to read on such a small screen, it felt as if the size of text I selected and the orientation of the screen made it so I could only read about 10 lines on each page. But then I remember, YOU CAN FLIP THE SCREEN ORIENTATION in Ubuntu! 90 degrees is all I needed to flip the screen to show more text.
Now the netbook holds like a regular book and is roughly the same size! Looks like I won’t be buying a Kindle anytime soon!
When I first started working in the SEO industry I couldn’t understand why “outing” was such a big deal. In fact (like others in the industry) I felt the inability to talk openly prohibited our industry from growing and handling our reputation. However, back then I was naive and inexperienced. I have now seen the damage that “outing” can leave. And because of that I can’t keep my opinion on this issue quiet while having a clear conscious at the same time.
Before we get dirty with the details, I want to add a disclaimer: I have absolutely no relationship to any of the entities mentioned in this post. I do not have any relationship to any blog/link network or organized spammer.
By now I am sure that most of you have read about the demise of Build My Rank. When I first read that article, I felt sick (that is not a hyperbole). As an entrepreneur I can’t imagine what it must feel like to realize that in a matter of days your company is finished. I don’t want to get into the specifics over this incident, but it appears that Google’s moves against them were a result of a blog post and ensuing public debate that outed them as a link spammer.
Link spamming is not a viable strategy for SEO. Yes, you can see short term results, but by and large, these services aren’t for long term growth. Even though I think these services are a waste of money, I could care less if others use them, as long as they know the full risk involved. Many rave about lobster, but I like crab more, and that won’t stop me from having dinner with them.
But the problem with SEO outing isn’t just a difference of opinion on strategy. The problem with SEO outing is that no one assumes the full consequences of their actions. Let’s take the BMR incident as an example. How much money did they lose as a result of being outed? Do their employees have families? How many of their clients are now seeing revenue lost? How many SEO agencies contracted with them? And how many of their clients are affected? How many innocent business owners that don’t know the risk involved with these networks are now suffering? How many people are now on unemployment?
I mentioned in the beginning that I use to not understand why outing was so wrong. What changed my mind, is meeting client after client that has suffered bad SEO advice and has seen a substantial loss. Outing, only exacerbates this process by raising the level of risk.
When people engage in questionable SEO practices they are taking a risk. Many of them know the risk they are taking, but many of them don’t. Either way, it’s no one’s place to make that risk even greater. If your paycheck doesn’t say “Google” on it, it’s not your job to police the web.
So then what is your job? Your job is to keep a high standard for yourself. Your job is to keep a high standard for those you do business with. Your job is to continue educating the public on what good SEO looks like. That is how we build a better industry. That is how we build a better community. That is how we build a better web. Outing does none of that. What outing does do is create dramatic blog post that allows for the author to take a moral high ground while potentially ruining innocent people’s livelihoods. It makes me sick.
Thanks to Chris Winfield for the inspiration.
Don’t break the chain app: http://dontbreakthechain.com/
HTML Code For Mash-up Page: http://pastebin.com/isFb338D
Earlier today I was running a small SEO audit on a small WordPress site and I noticed that all Feedburner links were 302ing. This means that the search engines only view them as temporarily moved. So I looked under the hood and saw that the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin was installed. Apparently this plugin uses 302s to redirect the feed. So I went in and edited the plugin to handle 301s. You can download my edited version below.
Hope you enjoy!
On Friday July 29th, Senator Dick Durbin (D IL) introduced the “Main Street Fairness Act” which allows for a standardized method for states to collect sales tax for online retailers. I completely disagree with the majority of rhetoric surrounding this issue, including the dialog coming out of Durbin’s office, but I do support this legislation. Others in the internet marketing industry should to.
Here’s what the bill proposes in short:
- No new taxes.
- Applied only to taxes already imposed by the states that are not being collected.
- Provide states with the clear authority to require retailers to collect sales taxes already owed.*
- Treat all retailers equally regarding sales tax collection.
- Release consumers, currently expected to calculate and send in the taxes themselves.
- Exemption for small online retailers.
We need to look past the rhetoric in the dialog and focus on the bigger picture. For example framing this issue as leveling the playing field for offline retailers is ridiculous. Shipping and handling cost often times outweigh sales tax. So to assume that retailers are choosing e-commerce to avoid a sales tax is not grounded. Consumers are using e-commerce more and more for many different reasons. Some are shopping more online because the internet has mastered the “long tail” approach. Some are shopping online because online retailers can offer a completely customized shopping experience. Many are shopping online because they are just lazy.
But like I said we need to look past the rhetoric and move past this issue so that more business owners have the opportunity to succeed online. The only way we are going to do that is a federal solution that lays a ground work for how online retailers collect taxes across the country.
I also think that this legislation will put to rest the debate in the affiliate marketing space. With this type of legislation we wouldn’t see Amazon or other large affiliate programs pulling out of states to avoid sales tax.
Ebay is coming out against this bill citing that it would harm small online retailers. I am concerned with that as well. I would be interested in an amendment that take’s the concerns of small business into account.
*I am not a big fan of this provision. I mean that could be like a decade of taxes for some companies. I am willing to bet it was thrown in to appease a state supporter, but Durbin is willing to use it as a bargaining chip if he needs to.
For best viewing, full screen the video.
CORRECTION: Chrome’s “Home” icon is located on the left side. Not the right like I said in this video.
Oh and it looks like CK Chung comes to the rescue!
Ok, so this post will probably make me the odd man out. But honestly I am having a hard time staying quiet any longer.
I have noticed a recent trend with in the SEO community to push Google to take action in several areas that I believe have an adverse effect on SEO. In many cases I see very well respected SEOs pushing Google to in effect make their jobs (and everyone else’s) harder. Here are two examples:
Exact Match Domains So you are upset that some domain that has exact match, ranks higher than you. I get that. What I don’t get is pushing Google to do something about it. Buying exact match domains has to be one of the best ways to aggressively take over a niche. But guess what? If you keep complaining about it, they will do something about it! So shut up already and buy your own!
Content Farms This one completely boggles my mind. Content farms exist because they are highly lucrative. I know that you are tired of seeing them out rank you at every turn. But how about instead of complaining publicly about it, you build your own! I am not saying that you need to spam the results with low quality content. But you can learn a lot about content development, content monetization, and syndication by mimicking content farms. And the greatest thing is that they are cheap to get started, and maintain. Google will even help you monetize them!
There are a whole host of other things SEOs complain publicly about that I wish they would just shut up about. I understand the desire to hold Google to a higher standard, and make sure they deliver on what they promise. But why do that at the expense of making your job/income harder to achieve?? Just shut up already!
Today I did a Google query for “equal housing logo requirements” and a funny looking ad caught my eye.
As you can see from the screen shot, Ask.com is buying ad space for the term “equal housing logo requirements”. When I saw this I thought, I wonder if Ask is getting into the real estate design business. But, I was curious, so I clicked the ad and found that it points to an Ask.com SERP.
Sure, I have seen ads in Google to other search engines, but never to another SERP. Google has always had a long standing policy about including other SERP’s in their organic listings, even if Ask.com has found a way around that as well. So is this something new? Or is Ask.com’s dieing effort to stay relevant?
Probability theory is a branch of mathematics that attempts to understand random events and predicts them so they aren’t that random anymore. For example, some will use probability theory to guess lottery numbers, others will use it to guess flu outbreaks. Some will use it to increase their chances at a desired outcome.
They do this by identifying all of the random variables in a given environment and predicting the outcome based on their relationship to other variables such as size of the environment.
I think a lot about probability theory. In fact I use it to make most of my decisions. Yes, I am crazy like that. Sure, I often am able to throw caution at the wind and take risk. But, isn’t it better if those risk are calculated, first?
Being a good entrepreneur many times means just taking calculated risk. And, probability theory tells us, that the more risks you take the higher probability for success. Which is why there are so many “serial entrepreneurs” out there. They understand that the more risk they take, the more likely they will succeed.
The same goes for blogging. Here is a list of some of the desired outcome that I want from this blog.
More direct backlinks.
More Page Views.
Larger personal brand awareness.
So how do I get all of those things? I take more risk. Or in other words, I blog more often. I used to believe that it was smarter to only blog when you have something really valuable to say. That way your best work stands out the most. But then I looked at some of my favorite bloggers and realized that they have everything that’s listed above because they take more risk.
Sure some of their post aren’t the best out there, but because they took the risk they are closer to being outstanding.
So, because of that, I have decided that I am going to start and take more risk with my blogging. For starters, I am going to try and blog here more often. In a perfect world I would blog everyday, but I don’t think my duties with the company I run will allow for that. But, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.
Remember a few days ago I mentioned that to be productive you need to work your “get things done” items into your “work flow”. Well blogging is no exception. To help me blog more I am now using BlogDesk. BlogDesk is a desktop application for Windows users that allows you to tie in all your blogs and write and post all from one application. Its great because I don’t have to login to my blog to write, I just click the icon in my task menu and start writing and it automatically publishes when I am ready. I have tied all my blogs into it and its been working great. Oh and its free, so that’s cool too!
Next time you are faced with taking a risk, don’t shy away from it. Instead use probability theory to calculate the risk, and go for it. Because risk taking is the path to success.