Monthly Archives: December 2008

A New Concept in Social Networking – Pay to Spam

They asked their members what they needed to do to make the venue better. Many ideas were submitted. Many of them had to do with the high amount of spam on the network. A “report this user” button was requested. Complaints flew about private messages that contained nothing but ads, profile posts that had ads in them, and comments that were nothing but ads.

A few weeks later, the company responded with a plan. They said they’d been listening to the community and here was their solution: Free members could not put links into profile posts, and could not email all of the members of the network. Paid members could spam to their heart’s content. If you paid, you could put ads on comments, profiles, and send them to all of the members in an email blast too!

This, they called “listening”. Too much spam, said the members. Instead of taking reasonable and logical steps to reduce the spam, they just decided to charge members to do it. The age old internet marketing answer to everything. Let them do whatever they want, just charge them for it. It is bad if they do it for free, but it is ok if the site owners are profiting from it. Profit again becomes the arbiter of right and wrong.

Google sets a marvelous example of this – penalizing people for paying for traffic, unless they are paying for it from Google. Restricting content on publisher’s sites if they want to put AdSense on their sites, but allowing Advertisers to break the rules. The almighty dollar rules.

The network in question (which will remain nameless in this post) goes on my ever lengthening list of useless time wasters. My account will be canceled as soon as I finish this post. A sad thing, because the network did have some potential. There were opportunities to interact, and ways to participate. But unfortunately, all so bloated with spam that it was an unpleasant place to be. Instead of addressing the problem, the company has decided to institute it as policy, that the problem is acceptable as long as people are paying to make it so. A paying few will drive away the heart and soul of the networking community. The best networkers will run at the sight of it, because they know that networking and advertising are two different things, and they are turned right off by blatant spam.

Not for me. I’ll go where I can associate with smarter people.

The Long Tail, the Ah-Ha Factor, and Saying What No One Else Says

A client asked me today, how to get the long tail search engine traffic. Good question, and a good goal. Getting it has always seemed easy for me, but when I actually started to analyze why so many people fail to get it, and why some people just easily do so, I learned a few things.

First, it is important to understand WHY long tail traffic is so important. Think of a very big fish that dies on the beach, and all the seagulls swarm to it, fighting over that one fish. Hundreds of seagulls, and one fish that happens to look bigger than all the rest.

Meanwhile, all around, there are other fish. Smaller ones to be sure, but still enough. Maybe you have to go catch a few, and that takes a bit of work, but it certainly takes no more work than fighting your way to the front of the crowd to get one measly bite of the big fish.

Personally, I choose not to be a squabling gull. Recent research suggests that less than 6% of traffic comes from the top 10 keywords in a given industry. If you increase that to the top 100 keywords, it still accounts for only 20% of the traffic. So everybody and their dog are fighting over that 20% while the other 80% is pretty easy pickings.

There is a trick to it though. Common marketing instructions say to get it by having lots of content. They leave out some important information though. Because content alone is not enough.

  • If it is reprinted content, it will lack the power. Good long tail content is ALWAYS unique.
  • If it is the same thing everyone else is saying, it won’t work. Good long tail content is interesting… it gives people information they can’t get elsewhere. It has the “ah-ha” factor.
  • If it is egotistical it is as much a waste of your time as the content is a waste of the visitor’s time. It has to speak to the needs of the individual who might want what you have, and it has to do so in a way that other marketers are overlooking.

Everyone who tries to go after the long tail tries to take shortcuts. So it doesn’t work. You have to be thoughtful, and you have to know your customers to get it.

Every VA in the world knows that if they write articles, they can market with them. So every VA in the world writes the same articles – “How a VA can save you money”, “Grow your business with a VA”. BORING! There are 200,000 copies of that same article, written by 200,000 different people, and not one of them says anything that a real prospective client wants to read.

If you want to grab the long tail, and profit from content writing, you have to start thinking out of the box. What are the real concerns of your customers? What are they really searching for online that they can’t easily find?

Forget keywords. Seriously. Long tail keywords happen naturally as a result of good writing, you simply do not have to think about them. If you start thinking about them, you destroy your ability to get them, because the power is in the variety – the happenchance that occurs with good writing.

Think about needs.

If I am considering surgery, I want statistics on morbity rates, but I also want personal stories. In fact, with that target market, personal stories may be the most powerful writing.

If I want a website, and I don’t know much about the technology behind it, I want someone to explain things in simple terms.

If I am looking for insurance, I may want to know what effect my health history may have on rates or ability to get insurance. I may want to know whether there is a medical exam, who does it, and who pays for it and how.

Listen to your customers. What are they asking over and over? What are they most concerned with? Answer those questions in ways no one else is doing. And make sure you give some information in there that gives them a key, or a grain of understanding that they can’t get somewhere else – that is the “ah-ha” factor. The meat in the article that makes them think, “Oh, NOW I get it!”.

The combination of those things – original content, stuff that is interesting and informative to your audience, unique writing with the “ah-ha” factor (that tells them something no one else is saying in quite that way), will bring in traffic and people who are already pre-sold. When you give them something they can’t get from just anyone, you’ll be pulling in people who want to work with you, specifically. And you’ll be astonished at how they found you – it will be something you could not predict.

Unpredictability is part of the power of the long tail. It is what makes it easy to just write, without worrying about doing anything other than creating good writing, and it is what brings them in to you rather than to your competitors who are just aiming at the top spots.

It’s been working marvelously for us – and by getting power in the long tail keywords, we eventually start moving up in the top ones. But I’d be happy if we never did that, simply because those long tail keywords are so powerful, we really don’t even NEED the top ones.

Let the other mindless gulls squawk and squabble. I’m content fishing on the fringes.

AWOL, With Good Cause

Ok, so I haven’t been blogging much lately. And I haven’t been doing much on FaceBook. And I haven’t been posting much on Ryze. Our newsletter has been late once, and completely missed once. A few friends with whom I regularly converse even emailed to ask if I was ok!

I’m just BUSY! Too busy to do anything more than just gasp for breath now and again, and to write a little when I need a break.

We have a major project just going live, one that we have to announce sometime in December, one more rolling out before the first of the year, and the project to end all projects that we are building around the other ones. We have decided to franchise.

That has been a long time coming. I’ve sort of known it was where I needed to go, but I had no idea how to make it work with our unique business structure, and the broad marketing region that we serve. I’ve finally figured out the details – well… not so much figured them out, as realized that all the other bits and pieces of events in our business over the last six months have sort of solved most of the execution problems for me! Suddenly I looked at it in a new way and KNEW how all of the bits needed to come together into one big comprehensive whole.

Pretty awesome. But a big thing. The great thing is, that in all the other things we are doing, if we just polish them off, we’ll have all but a few of the parts we need for the franchise. It takes the Trade Association, the Training Courses, the Kit Websites, and all of those things and pulls it together. It helps us to solve some of our long term staffing problems while also achieving our goal of spreading our skills to other small webmasters.

It is still daunting. Because the number of things which we have to do hasn’t decreased. There still seems like more than I can ever do. But it is also something that can be rolled out in stages. And so we will.

There’s a lesson in it too. You don’t have to know all the details about how to get somewhere. You do have to know how to get to the next bend in the road, and then you have to be willing to survey the landscape there, choose the next route based on the best opportunities, and let your vision expand as you go.

I’ve had an idea of some large goals to begin with. I didn’t know quite how we’d do them all – I still do not. But every few months, new possibilities unfold, and I go back and measure them up against my dreams. If they fit, we seize them and magnify them. If they don’t, we ignore them and keep going until the right ones do present themselves.

Just because you can’t see it all right now, doesn’t mean you can’t do it!

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.