Wednesday, December 1, 1999
=======December 1, 1999==========
Hi again portal kids.
Well, it's about 9:30 pm here now and I started at about 7 this morning, so this is going to be another 16 hour day. Geesh, where I am going to have to take Kathi next time? Paris? She's funny that way. She seems to think I can just stop working every 6 or 7 years and take her someplace.
I got a lot of personal responses last week from the last Portal Stuff. Oddly enough, I didn't get a lot of suggestions on my questions. The majority of responses were telling me how much they liked what I said about my personal relationship with my wife. I must have struck a nerve because I could hear bedsprings squeaking all the way to New Orleans. We had a wonderful time by the way and I truly hope that I was able to get at least a few of you to actually talk to your spouses and kids for a change. Not too much though, don't forget we have work to do.
SEARCHKING BECOMES A GLOBAL FREE PORTAL HOST
Searchking has actually become a global enterprise! This past week we signed up portal partners from Uruguay, Argentina, Russia, Turkey, Malaysia and even a guy from Utah. Add that with our partners in South Africa, England, Sweden and Mexico and we're global. Yeah Baby!
THIS WEEKS LIVE CHAT - (is there any other kind?)
We're back on this week with our chat. Thursday 12-2-99 at 7 pm central and Friday 12-3-99 at 9 am central. The address is different because we're trying out a better chat program. Hopefully no more of those irritating little flashes. The url is www.iwon.net/searchking.
For all your newbies, this is a great chance to get to meet and speak with the founders of the portal program. People like Curt and Rhino, Karen, Kathi, Melvin, Mike, Shane and me. Ask those questions and get them answered by The Man himself. I'm talking about Shane of course. Hope to see you all there.
AN ISSUE I NEED TO ADDRESS
Recently I had a couple of partners ask me a question in regards to changing the SK logo on their front page. Personally, I don't care. As the person responsible for the company, I have to care. Also, the lawyers seem to care.
We now realize that the present graphic we are using is a little oversized. Perhaps a text banner would be better. But the point is that we have what we have and we have it for a reason. I'm sure we can all understand the importance of branding and if I allow one person to change it, I would have to allow everyone to and I can see that as a problem in the very near future.
I feel that with any free program, there has to be some form of compensation for the use of the program. All SK asks is that you leave the logo intact on the front page and link it to SK and that you leave at least the top banner on the interior pages for SK as well. If anyone has a specific need or reason to change any of those things, please let me know and I will try to accommodate, however, I can't do something that I honestly feel is detrimental to either SK or it's portal partners and I feel that losing the branding would hurt us all.
I hope you all understand and I appreciate your support.
HOPE YOU ALL GOT YOUR PORTAL NAME AS AN EMAIL ACCOUNT
Most of you know how much I've encouraged you all to sign up for an email account under your portal name, well now I can tell you why it's been so important.
By sometime today or tomorrow, we are going to start using the e-mail to confirm availability of the portal names. When a new partner signs up, the first thing they will have to do is see if the name is available. They will do that by getting their e-mail account. If it's not been taken it will send them back to the order form, but if it has been taken it will tell them to select another name.
So if any of you have not gotten your portal name as a SK e-mail account, PLEASE do it now. If you don't I can almost guarantee that it won't be too long before we have someone wanting your name and thinking it is available. It will cause you and I both some problems. Secure your portal name! You guys have almost all got some really killer names.
(It's now 12:15 am. I've just spent the last hour and a half on the phone with Mike discussing some really great features we will be offering soon. So now I'm up to a 17 hour day.)
FINALLY - (thunderous applause)
We are in the beginning stages of building a very unique community here. When it comes to marketing your site, my tip of the week is to use that community.
First of all, the forums are really starting to rock. We have some really great moderators who want nothing more than to help you in any way they can. Use them and learn so that you can start sharing with others. That's what a community is all about. If you give them a try, I think you'll find some really nice people there who want the same thing I want, and that is to see you be successful.
The other way to use the community is to use the power of THE DEAL. What I mean is we have fashion.searchking.com, he should be making deals with shopping.searchking.com. We have malaysia.searchking.com, he should be making deals with travel.searchking.com.
All of our portals need content and where better to get that content than from your other portal partners that can give you an advantage? Make a deal! Go to the directory at searchking.com and search for keywords that are related to you and your portal. When you find one, e-mail them. I can almost guarantee that the partner you contact will be willing to bend over backwards to make the deal. Remember we all share the philosophy of the internet golden rule.
The more you give, the more you get!
Right now the one thing we all have plenty of is available space. Inventory. Why not use some of that space to run a banner or put a link to a related portal partner site and have them do the same for you.
I tell you what, let's make this fun. To the person that sends me an e-mail describing a deal they made this week with another portal partner that I determine is the best deal, I will send that person a check for $50! I will then use the e-mail in next weeks letter. That should encourage a few of you at least to get in there and start wheeling and dealing and getting to know your portal partners.
Looky there, someone is going to be making money with their portal already!
YOU KIDS GET TO BED NOW AND QUIT ACTIN A FOOL!
Okay, my eyes are getting a little heavy now and my spelling is probably suffering. I've got to call it a night. Tomorrow is looking a little hectic and I may have to work some extra hours.
Come see me in the forums and don't forget the chat!
Bob "I'm so proud of you all I could just bust" Massa
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======December 9, 1999==========
Hi portal kids.
I hope this holiday season finds you all well. All right, lets get right to the meat.
DEAL MAKER WINNER
In last weeks "Portal Stuff", I announced a little impromptu contest to encourage portal partners to get to know their fellow partners in the hopes of learning more ways of helping each other. To my delight, I get to send a little money out to a portal partner this week. And the winner is:
Frederick of smallbiz.searchking.com
Frederick, send me an address to send the $50 bucks to at email@example.com and I'll get it to you. Congratulations!
I was going to post his e-mail to me explaining his "deal" here, but on second thought I decided to just tell all of you that if you would like to hear an award winning portal partner deal, contact Fred at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANOTHER BRIGHT IDEA
For those of you that frequent the forums, (www.searchking.com/ubb/Ultimate.cgi), you already know but yesterday, the 7th of December, we had 120 sign ups.
That's a record.
We normally average about 5 to 8 sign ups a day, so to get this big of a jump, the only thing I can think of is someone is talking about us. There must have been an article in a newsletter or e-zine. If anyone has any idea of where this spurt my have come from, please let me know. Some of you new kids that signed up on the 7th could maybe drop me a line and let me know where you heard about me. Send a copy if you can.
Now to the problem. It's not really a problem it's more of a procedure modification but what I'm considering is rather drastic and I need your input. I am asking for everyone's opinion of what I am going to propose and I will use that input to make the ultimate decision.
The orders are starting to cause a bit of a strain on my resources. Setting up these programs takes a little more work than you might think. Shane can install the program in a matter of a couple of minutes. Not too big a deal until you start having dozens and hundreds to set up. Then we have to go to our webhost to add the DNS numbers, (this is why your welcome letter tells you one or two business days before you get your access), then I print out the order, create a folder and file it. Only takes a few minutes. Then I also have to forward the order to Shane and Mike, so they have to repeat the same couple of minutes process.
So already I've got about 3 minutes for set up and 3 minutes for file creation times 3 people so that's 12 minutes plus the 3 minutes or so for setting up the DNS numbers that brings us to approx. 15 minutes per order. Well we have been averaging about 56 orders a week so that's 840 minutes or roughly 14 hours. Now we start getting those really good days when we get 120 orders in one day, (we've had another 15 today which is almost double our average), and that takes us to 15 minutes x 120 = 1800 minutes or 30 hours in one day. Well, with only 24 hours in a day, you can see for yourself that it's not too big of a deal when divided by 4 people BUT, you can also see my problem. There is an expense involved here.
Well we knew we would have this expense before we ever decided to offer this program, so it's not a surprise, but the point is that the money I'm having to spend for this, I could in theory at least, be spending on something else. Something perhaps that would be of real value to us all. So, I'm in the position now of thinking of ways to generate income from alternative sources.
This is what I'm thinking. . .
Affiliate Portal Program
I'm considering charging $19 for set up of this program and doing it through an affiliate program where for each $19 the affiliate would make $5. The portal would still be free but the set up would be $19. Mike makes a very good point when he says that $19 ain't free. I have to agree. Mike also thinks that by charging a nominal fee that we would not be getting 120 orders in a day. Now I'm not sure I agree. I think there is the possibility that we could charge the $19 and by the efforts of the affiliates actually see the orders increase.
Of course we couldn't advertise a "Free Portal" any longer, but I think I see a little marketing goodie in advertising:
THE WORLD'S ONLY 19 DOLLAR PORTAL
Of course I could not charge the people that have already ordered, (so that lets all of you off the hook), but that's my idea and I would like to have your input. Please take a few minutes to give me your opinions and suggestions by either sending me an e-mail directly to email@example.com or by posting in the forums. I'll go put a post in the forum as soon as I finish the "Portal Stuff", to start it off.
THE BLIND MAN LEADING THE BLIND
While it's true that there seem to be some people who consider me some kind of an internet marketing guru, that is a dubious title that has been thrust upon me by others. I have never claimed to be any such thing. I'm amazed at my own ignorance of internet marketing on almost a daily basis. Some days I start thinking I'm pretty sharp, only to read another web page or read another press article that makes me think "how could I have not seen that coming"?
I've been in the sales and marketing field since I was about 8 years old. I can hear some of you saying now, "8 years old - BS", but it's true. I started selling when I was 8. I borrowed, (actually leased), my uncles' Yazoo lawn mower and starting mowing lawns. My mother was single and working two jobs and still barely getting by and I wanted a bike and to get to go to the movies, (I still love movies), and knew that if I wanted those things I would have to get them for myself.
Well back then, you got about a dollar for a huge lawn and that just wasn't enough for me, so I would tell the customer that I would also rake the yard for $1.50 and I would even hand-clip the walk for just another 50 cents, (if they had electric edgers back then I sure didn't know about it). Believe it or not, it wasn't as easy to sell a manicured lawn as you might think. Well I figured out how to cut patterns in the lawn instead of just going back and forth and bingo! I put a couple of clients initials in the lawn and within a few weeks I was mowing more lawns for twice the money than any kid in my neighborhood. Of course that was still when a kid mowed lawns and wasn't beat out by 45 year old men in new pick-ups putting 3 kids through college from mowing lawns.
By the end of the summer, I had two classmates working for me doing the cutting and the trimming and I just went to the customers houses and collected the money. Good idea huh? Well does that make me a marketing guru or just a guy that got lucky enough to learn the internet golden rule even before anyone knew what the internet was? Oh you don't know the internet golden rule?
THE MORE YOU GIVE --- THE MORE YOU GET!
Okay, so taking advantage of this guru crap, I'm going to suggest a way to all of you that I think many, many portal partners could be making a VERY comfortable living with. We have gotten close to 500 portals signed up so far and the vast majority are the same things you can find all over the web.
• web hosting
• internet marketing
• affiliate programs
These are fine businesses with lots of opportunities BUT they are also businesses with incredible competition.
Maybe not very many people are seeing the power of these portals yet, or maybe it's just that we are so wrapped up in what we are doing now that we're not seeing the big picture, which is where I hope I can help.
My promotional company, Magic-city.net is finding that the clients we represent that are making the most money, are the people who have found a way to incorporate offline with online. Most of these people are finding success through advertising on the radio and in newspapers and magazines which is probably a little out of the ole budget for most of us, (I know it is for me), but what about another aspect of offline that could be free?
Now most of you will probably freak out when I tell you that what I am going to suggest will require you to get out of your chair and go outside, (GASP!!!), but I think you may agree with me when I tell you what I'm suggesting.
Portals are a big deal on the internet. Everyone knows of Yahoo and Excite. What about the places that are still waiting for someone to lead them to the net? They need a portal. I realize that all of us that live in a big metropolitan area are already being bombarded by internet stuff daily. In the news, in the papers, on TV just about everywhere. What do you think people who live in smaller towns feel about this? Do you think the Doctor in Shawnee, OK, (pop. 22,000) feels a little left out? What about the pizza joint in Okmulgee, Ok, (pop. 18,000)? These small towns are so ripe for one of these portals it's ridiculous!
What if you took okmulgee.searchking.com? Do you think you might be able to get the local paper to run a story about it? Could you put out some cheap flyers with your url on it at the 4th of July picnic? Could you get the local radio station to trade some banner ads for some spots? A portal for your hometown. I think that would be news. You could become famous for bringing the net to your hometown. A press release, a few radio ads and a few cheap flyers and where do you think wired Okmulgeans are going to go? You should start getting hundreds of hits a day right off the bat. It makes more sense to me than trying to get to the top of the search engines day after day under affiliate programs.
If you took okmulgee.searchking, who do you think everybody in town that doesn't have a web page yet would go to to ask about getting a web page? You maybe? What about web hosting, who could they go to? Starting to see the little light bulb above my head?
This program already has everything you need. Local chat, local forum, local classifieds and a local search engine. Now take that and go to your favorite restaurant and tell them for $100 a month they can sponsor your local restaurant review page. Maybe your focus would be on local sports. Think the printer in your town would be interested in a banner on your high school football review page? Think the mayoral candidates might want a web page about their campaign? Give one free to one candidate and the other is going to have to pay just about anything you ask because now he's got to have one too. You may decide to run for mayor yourself as the candidate who brought the internet to Okmulgee, OK.
I'm being a little far-fetched here only to illustrate what I see as a huge untapped market that is just laying there at your feet, if you are simply willing to get out of the chair and go outside for an hour or two a day and find a way to get offline income into your online business.
If some of you reading this already have some type of income producing affiliate program now, and you would try this type of thing, I'm willing to bet the local portal would produce many times more than the affiliate program. Of course, I'm no guru. I could be wrong.
WHO'LL HELP ME EAT THE BREAD? I WILL - I WILL
I'm concerned that people are going to quickly tire of my weekly gibberish, yet I feel the need to keep our portal partners informed, so I'm offering anyone willing to help, the opportunity to become a famous writer just like me. If anyone would be interested in supplying a weekly column on just about any topic you feel may be of help or interest to our growing community of portal partners, let me know.
Also, if any one has an article they would like to share, again, I would be glad to see it in Portal Stuff with your sig line. Variety is the spice of life you know. Anyone interested or got something for me? E-mail it on over. You know where.
CHAT THURSDAY DECEMBER 9TH 7 PM central at www.searchking.com/chat
YOU KIDS GET IN OR OUT AND QUIT SLAMMIN THAT SCREEN DOOR
Love ya'll BobKing
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======December 15, 1999==========
Hi again portal kids. I hope this week finds you all healthy and happy as we count down the days to Christmas and of course Y2K.
This weeks issue of the "Portal Stuff" is probably going to stir up a little bit of a hornet's nest. I've got some news for you all that I'm willing to bet will get some opinions voiced. Also in this week's issue, I have a little Christmas story that I hope you will find entertaining and last but certainly not least is the addition of a column by Lynne Scott. Lynne has agreed to provide us with a weekly column on portal design tips. We are very fortunate to have Lynne offer this to us all. One look at her site will quickly show you her qualifications. This should be a big help to many of us and I think after reading her column you will agree that the article not only displays a great deal of literary talent, but displays the quality of her character as well. Please let her know how much you appreciate her efforts by stopping by her site and letting her know.
Since Lynne's column is probably the most valuable piece of the "Portal Stuff", I'm going to hide it somewhere in the newsletter, in the hopes that it will force everyone to have to read my rambling contribution too.
AND NOW FOR THE NEWS
My first little announcement is that Searchking now has an advertising department. One of our portal partners, Holly Nelson, has agreed to start the first offshoot industry of the Searchking portal program by forming Networth. Networth will be an advertising agency that Searchking will be using exclusively to handle all our advertising.
Networth will be responsible for developing and implementing policy, pricing and procedure. I spoke with Holly this week and her first project is to set up a sponsorship program for pages, keywords, categories and all other SK property. Holly feels that banner rotation is only one option and that she prefers offering a system to allow interested parties to "lease" buttons and banners on specific pages for a very nominal monthly fee. According to Holly, there will be buttons and banners available for as little as $5 and $10 per month.
The thing I like most about this concept is it will allow advertisers a much more targeted way to advertise on a small budget than simply general rotation banners. By allowing people to lease spots on specific pages such as the kids page, the sports page, the webmaster resource page, or even sponsoring a specific category or sub-category, they are not relying on hoping someone types in an exact keyword for their ad to be seen and yet they are only advertising to people who would be interested in their product or service.
If anyone is feeling like throwing a little money Searchking's way, or if you feel as I do that getting in now could be a very good move for the future, then I urge you to contact Holly at Networth and see what kind of deal you can swing before the official price list goes online. You can contact Holly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her directly at 316-686-2284. After 12:00 pm central is best so she has time to take care of her other clients, (Searchking doesn't pay much and she still seems to insist on making a living).
For those of you that simply want to give me money, just mail one dollar to Bob "I need the money" Massa
TO FREE OR NOT TO FREE
Almost two years ago, I had a person who's opinion I valued a great deal tell me something that took me a long time to understand. This person was Sargeant Hatch. A brilliant young programmer who is almost single-handedly responsible for the development of Searchking and Netflyer mail. He has impressed me, no blown me away, more times than I can count with his insight and ability.
What he told me was that it is almost impossible for a search engine to make money from banner sales. Like most people, I assumed that was how so many people were getting rich was from getting all those advertising dollars that the tv keeps talking about. He said that by the time you compare the cost of software, hardware and bandwidth to the value of banner impressions, it was simply not good business to expect that revenue to meet those expenses. Well in my limited wisdom I was just pretty sure he was wrong so I started doing quite a bit of research and lo and behold, it would appear that he's right.
To my knowledge, the only sites that are actually making money from banner advertising sales are extremely specialized sites that are able to command a higher end price for their banners. The average cost of general rotation banners are dropping like a rock to the point that some sources say the banners are generating less than $1 per thousand impressions. Of course highly targeted banners are much higher but for a search service it is difficult to attract that market because of the vast diversity of your traffic. So even if you can get top dollar for a few pages, there is not enough of those highly targeted pages to make enough to justify the cost of the software, hardware and bandwidth and you're right back where you started. Did you know that most sources claim that over 75% of all advertising dollars spent are only going to less than 3% of the sites?
All right. Once I realized that all the money Yahoo makes is coming from the stock market and other internet properties they are buying and NOT banner impressions, now what? The obvious answer is that we are going to have to develop income producing services outside of advertising. I have always planned on staying on the cutting edge of technology in regards to what Searchking will offer. With the internet moving so fast, I believe that anyone who does not take that approach is doomed to quickly fall by the wayside. Broadband is right around the corner and of course that brings streaming video, streaming audio, voice recognition, real time transactions and who know what else into the realm of features that Searchking will soon become involved in and make available to our portal partners. The problem is that all that cutting edge stuff comes with a price tag so I see a part of my job as figuring out where the money is going to come from to pay for all that stuff.
Okay, okay, I'm rambling here so let me get back to the big announcement I had in mind when I started this little chapter.
Last week I posed a question to the partners about the fact that SK has a cost involved in setting up these portals and if they thought I should or could charge a nominal fee such as $19 for set up and use an affiliate program to be able to share this income with the portal partners. I asked for input and input I got. My e-mail account and the forums have been buzzing with the opinions of various partners. Naturally about half think charging is a good idea and the other half think it's a terrible idea and will be my ruin. Here's just a couple of the responses I got:
I enjoyed reading your newsletter this week. I also thought it was a great idea to perhaps begin charging a nominal fee to sign up for a portal. As your fellow Internet marketer, I think a nominal fee if anything would add value to the service.
Dear Bob, Thank you for the above reply. One more comment to add:
With a 'once only' $29 Fee Set-up Fee in future, this leaves your Portal FREE!! (Truth in advertising!). Further, this leaves you with $19 (which is $5 more than you intended) and a $10 incentive to encourage affiliates!
I would not have signed up if it cost $19. Not that I would have a problem with paying this if I knew it was a good deal, but I didn't know that. Just because you say wonderful things about the Portal doesn't mean it's so - maybe it will turn out that load times are really slow & the whole thing is more trouble than its worth. On the other hand, 'free' means (to me) 'why not'?
Think about whether you can set up 2 steps - such as a free portal/$19 portal - with the free portal having less features. Maybe put a time limit on free portals - or an overall limit on the total number you set up.
The 19 dollar portal would still be the best thing going. And people will feel it's more valuable because they paid for it. And people will be more likely to build something worthwhile.
Like many of you said the power of the portals right now is in the word FREE. The fact that they are free has made so many people sign up. Also the fact that they are free has probably determined some of the people write some articles in their newsletter. The fact that they are FREE has ensured that they get some publicity if not a lot of publicity. Nothing on the net grows as fast as something that is FREE.
Accepting that Searchking has costs involved and that has to be addressed and also accepting that I would like nothing more than to be able to offer free portals, here's what I've decided.
Keep in mind that this has no bearing on anyone that has portals now. Any new policy will not effect any one that became involved prior to that policy taking effect. It's not your fault that I had to make changes and I'm the kind of person that if I make a deal, I keep it. I take the attitude that when you signed up, we made a deal and I intend to honor that deal. Now the next guy may make a "new" deal, but that does not change the deal I made with you. (did I use the word deal enough?)
Within the next 30 days or so we will be offering: 1. FREE HOMEPAGES. These will be just like a geocities type page hosted by Searchking. Sets up automatically within minutes even with the most novice of people.
2. FREE PORTALS. These will be a combination of the free homepage program and the hyperseek portal we now offer. It will have basically everything that the portal program has now with the exception of it's own database. It will have a search engine, but the database will be shared by all the other people taking a free portal. The search engine is the one aspect of this program that takes up the time setting up.
The urls for these free portals will be www.searchking.com/yourportal.htm It will be very simple to set up and it will be generated automatically.
THE $19 PORTAL. This will be the exact program we have all come to love, BUT, there will be a $19 set up fee. We will set this up as an affiliate program so that if you signed up as a reseller, the fee would only be $15 and then you could make that back from signing up three people from your site.
The biggest advantage of this program will be the ability to control your own database and set up your own categories, (which is the essence of a portal). Our thinking here is that many people will sign up for the free portal but once we get them involved in the forums and in the "family" they will be able to justify the small set up fee.
PORTAL PRO. One of the problems that we're having now is that some people are signing up for several portals and we're concerned they don't realize exactly what they are getting into. This causes portals just sitting there which is taking up space on our servers for no real reason. The portal pro is for commercial uses. A person can have as many of these portals as they want. We will host these portals for a monthly fee of $49 per month or $39 per month if they sign up as a reseller. Each reseller will get $10 per month for each person they sign up from their site.
These portals will have 200 megs of space, a secure server, a shopping cart, a free homepage program, and their own domain name with their own vanity e-mail. Of course they will also have the Internic fee as well.
The idea of these portal pros is that they are built to make money with. We will have no advertising requirements on these. All we will ask is the logo link to SK to identify it as a portal partner.
(I'll tell you a little secret. Magic-city, (my top search service placement company), has already starting selling portal hosting for our placement clients. We charge a $500 set up fee and a monthly maintenance fee of $179 per month and we're selling them like hotcakes. I also know of two other portal partners that are starting to make a few bucks setting up and maintaining these portals. These portals supply one thing to the search engines and directories that gets them palced in the top. Unique content! Also, our client's sales will go up by adding the increased interactivity with their potential clients through the chats and forums and classifieds.)
Anyway, that's the big news. I bet this will get those ole forums hopping this week.
NOW FOR THE GOOD STUFF
Restructuring Those *** Templates
Getting those Hyperseek templates to look the way we want them is probably the most daunting task that most of us will face while setting up our portals. If you're familiar with html, you've probably figured out that you can do just about anything you want with the templates, as long as you don't mess around with the plugins (they have to go in EXACTLY the way the help files say). If you don't know beans about html, you probably haven't done much with the templates, other than to plug in your portal name. Well, help is here.
The first thing you'll need to do is forget everything you've ever heard about WYSIWYG editors being a tool of the devil. If you don't know much about html, they'll be your best friend while setting up your portal. Once you've done that, log into your hyperseek admin console and select template editor. From there, select the default template. When the page opens, right click in the window that contains all the code for the template, and "select all". Now right click again and select "copy". Open notepad (or whatever text editor you happen to have), right click in the blank window and select "paste". Presto -- the code for the default template is now in notepad. Save this file as default.html (don't forget to specify a folder for your file). Now, go to the file menu and select the "save as" option. Call the file default2.html. Close notepad.
Now, open your WYSIWYG editor. Any flavor will do: FrontPage Express, Netscape Composer, FrontPage 98 or 2000 --whichever one you happen to have. Open your default2.html file and PLAY with it. Don't worry about messing things up -- you've got a backup (default.html) that you can rely on. Don't like the colours on the page? Change them. Want one thing or another moved to a different location? Click and drag them to where you want them. Want some things gone altogether (except the SearchKing logo, of course)? Just delete them. Add in whatever text and links you want. Want a totally different layout? Select everything in the page (except the SK logo) and hit delete. Now you can build the page from scratch, using your colours and layout. To insert the plugins for your directory, search and other features, just follow the instructions in the "plugins" section of the online manual.
Once you've got the page looking the way you want it, hit save and take a look at it in your browser. Some WYSIWYG editors have a "preview in browser" button. If yours does just click on it. If you don't have that feature, just open your browser and select "file" then "open", and tell the browser where to find your file.
If things look good to you, open your default2.html file in notepad and copy the entire thing to the clipboard (edit, select all, edit, copy). Now log back into your hyperseek admin and go to the default template in the template editor. Delete everything in the template window, then paste your new template in and hit save. You'll see a preview of your default template. If you like what you see, click okay. You're almost done.
To test your new template, go to your portal http://yourportal.searchking.com and make sure that everything works the way you want it to. If you haven't already specified changes to any other templates, the portal will automatically use the default template you just installed.
Things work fine and look the way you want? Great! Now just repeat the process for the other templates, and you're away to the races!
Things not quite up to snuff? Don't worry, just paste your backup copy back into the template editor, and try again. Take your time, be patient with yourself -- you will get this.
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Manitoba based graphic design house. She also operates the Graphic Design Portal, and writes a variety of newsletters and articles for publication.
A CHRISTMAS TALE
As I promised at the beginning of this issue of the "Portal Stuff", here's my little Christmas story. This is a true story from my past and I have to be a little careful in recanting the details as I have now lost some of my editorial license. I have finagled my mother into being my editor because my typing is so atrocious and now she will be correcting my typos as well as checking my content for the "facts".
In the mid sixties, I was a young kid of about 10 years old. My father at the time was a Baptist preacher and for some reason unknown to me to this day, he decided to become a skid row preacher. For our younger readers who have never heard the term skid row, that is where what we used to call bums, (now referred to as homeless), lived. Usually the downtown areas of cities.
Have you ever seen one of those old run-down buses with hand painted scribblings all over it saying things like "God loves you" and "Jesus died for your sins" and "follow me to heaven" plastered indiscriminately all over it? It's parked on the side of the street with a man dressed in black pounding his fists on a bible and shouting at every passerby. Quoting scriptures and preaching that old fire and brimstone at the top of his lungs. Congregated with him are usually several people ranging from little babies to senior citizens all banging tambourines, playing guitars, dancing and generally doing their part to attract the attention of the lost? Well that was me and my family.
Mine and my sisters job was to sing all the old church kids songs like "This Little of Mine", "Deep and Wide" and of course "Jesus Loves the Little Children", pass the collection plate, dance, look happy and basically be cute. Well I always did that like a trooper but always felt that there was more I could contribute and just didn't know how.
One day we were preaching in downtown Fresno, California and I had kind of lost interest and found myself hanging around behind the car by myself. All of a sudden there was a man standing beside me asking, 'can you show me how to pray?' I had no idea anyone was even aware of my presence and he startled me. When I looked at him, he was filthy. Filthy clothes, filthy hair, filthy teeth. Wearing two shoes that didn't match and no socks with filthy feet. This man was a bum. It was obvious that he had no place to live, nothing to wear, not much to eat and of course no money.
He could tell that he had scared me and asked again in a softer voice, 'can you teach me how to pray?' I wanted to run away but I knew this was the chance to be more a part of what my family was doing and that I had been saying I wanted. It was time to put up or shut up. I sat down on the curb and as he sat down next to me, I noticed a bottle of cheap after shave sticking out of his pants pockets. I wondered how a man with a bottle of after shave in his pocket could smell so bad. It was years later when I learned that back then you could buy some brands of after shave for like a dime and they contained about 80% alcohol.
He started telling me how his life had slipped away from him and he wanted to ask God for help but didn't know how. He realized how society viewed him and he realized that his future was pretty bleak and that he felt his only hope was to ask God but he didn't know how. He also told me he was embarrassed to ask anyone else and that is why he asked a kid 30 or 40 years his junior.
Being pretty much a typical 10 year old, I didn't know anymore about praying than most kids my age. I did a lot more trouble making than I did praying, but I wanted to help this man. I spent the next two hours knelt down with my arm around this man trying to do my best to teach him how to pray. I repeated the bible stories I had heard my Dad preach about. I told him what I thought God wanted to hear. He cried and I cried with him. I prayed and he prayed with me.
Finally it was time for us to go back home to Turlock and I had to say good-bye to this man. He thanked me over and over and told me how I had changed his life. He never asked me for money. As we drove away I could see him standing on the corner and watching us drive away until I couldn't see him anymore. I felt great! I felt like I had actually given of myself and done some good.
Years later I realized that I didn't change that man's life, he changed mine. That was the day I learned the internet golden rule, the more you give, the more you get. Did I actually get that man to quit drinking? My guess is no. Did I lead him to God? Again, probably not. Did he teach me what that old saying "it's better to give than to receive" meant. You bet he did. Without him I have no idea when I would have truly learned that there is joy in giving. Learning that has changed my life for the better every day since.
The moral of the story is this - As Christmas comes around as it does every year, we all go through these silly little traditional games that in my opinion only take away from the joy that this season should bring us. We all trade names for who we HAVE to buy presents for. We all make little lists of names that we buy the obligatory cheap crap for just in case they show up and have bought us some cheap crap. Do yourself a favor and pick at least one person that you can really help. I don't mean another pair of cheap slippers or another cheap tie. I mean find someone to whom you can truly give. You will find that it is you that get the greatest gift.
Merry Christmas to you all. See You in the Forums www.searchking.com
Bob Massa CEO Searchking, Inc.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======December 21, 1999==========
Merry Christmas portal kids. 'Tis the season to be jolly!
SHORT AND SWEET
This weeks Portal Stuff is going to have to be short and sweet. It's Christmas time and I've got friends and family coming out of the woodwork, (which is just about the only work going on around here). I've got travel plans for the rest of the week, and of course last minute stocking up of the ole Y2K bunker.
There is a lot of stuff going on with Searchking right now. Lots of new programs coming in the very near future. Of course I'm talking about the portal pro and the affiliate programs. The problem is, I just don't have the time right now to go into them. Also, it's a little premature so you'll just have to hold on. Next week, I'll be able to give you some solid details and let you all in on what's in store for Searchking and all it's portal partners in the new millennium.
BOB - YOU DID IT AGAIN
Once again I come to you with my tail tucked between my legs. I did it again. I tried to do a good thing and I bobbed it all up.
Last week I told you all that Holly Nelson of Networth had agreed to handle the advertising for us and of course put her e-mail address in so anyone that wanted could get a hold of her and start wheeling and dealing. Well, I posted the wrong e-mail. I forwarded all the e-mails that you guys sent to me, but my guess is a lot of people just got their e-mail returned and assumed that I was crazy. You were right of course but the fact remains, we're expecting great things from Holly and she's anxiously wanting to hear from you, (guess who let me know I bobbed up the address?). SOOO, if you are interested in what kind of advertising opportunities SK has, you can contact Holly at email@example.com
NOW FOR THE GOOD STUFF
The main reason for putting out the Portal Stuff this week is so that I could get Lynne's article out to you all. Even when I have nothing to say, she certainly does.
LYNNE'S PORTAL TIPS
Putting Graphics Into Your Templates
Last time I talked about modifying your templates to reflect your personality. So now you've all got wonderful text based pages that have all the colours you want, in all the places you want, but somehow things look just a little bare. You need some pictures to brighten things up a bit.
So, how do you get those pictures from your computer onto your portal? The first thing you'll have to do is open up your template in your WYSIWYG editor and decide where you want to put graphics. Maybe you want a logo top and center, or a few small graphics scattered throughout the page. Just place your cursor wherever you want an image, then go to your editor's insert image menu (your editor may say import graphic, or use some other term). Select the image you want and click okay. Presto, your image appears in the template. Now, select the image and right click on it. If you see a "properties" option select it. In the dialogue box that comes up, you will need to adjust the image location to http://yourportal.searchking.com/images/yourimage.gif or jpg. Click okay. Whoops -- your image just disappeared! Don't worry, we'll fix that in a moment.
If you didn't find a properties option when you right clicked on your image, you're going to have to do a little editing in the html code for your page. Don't panic -- it's not as scary as it sounds. Your editor should have an "edit html" function. Click on it. Now read through the code until you see: and change the line to read . Repeat this for each of your images, and save your template.
Now you'll need to log into your hyperseek admin and paste the template into your template editor, just the way you did last week (you DID save last week's Portal Stuff, didn't you?). The images will be broken (all you'll see is a ripped picture - Netscape, or a box with a little x - IE). We're going to fix that right now.
Save your template and exit your admin panel. Now open your ftp program and log onto your portal. Navigate to your public html folder and then tell your program to make a new directory (mkdir, in most ftp programs). Name the directory images. Courage, you're almost done.
Open your images directory and then upload your images from your computer into the directory. Your ftp program should have 2 sections -- one that tells you where you are on your site, and another that tells you where you are on your computer. In the computer side, navigate to wherever your images are stored. Select them and tell the program to transfer them to your images directory on your portal. If your ftp program offers you a choice of transfer modes, make sure you select "binary". Presto, the image files appear in your images directory!
Close out your ftp session, and open your portal in your browser. Everything should be right where you placed it. If you see broken images, try reloading or refreshing the page. If this doesn't correct the problem, you've probably made a small typo in the image source tag. There are two ways to fix this. You can open the html file for your template in notepad and fix the typo there, or you can open the template in your hyperseek admin template editor and make the correction. The second option is much quicker, because you won't have to go through the process of pasting the whole template file back into the template editor!
Whew! You're done! Congratulations, you've just successfully edited html.
Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Manitoba based graphic design house. She also operates the Graphic Design Portal, and writes a variety of newsletters and articles for publication.
Okay kids, that's about it this week. Time to start Ho Ho Hoing. I'll be taking a diabetic holiday and actually get something to eat over the next few days that hasn't been weighed into 3 ounce portions. I better start pacing myself now.
From the bottom of my heart, I'm wishing all of you and yours a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Watch the over-indulging and don't get anything bobbed up for yourself.
Bob Massa Searchking, Inc.
PS: I was kidding about the Y2K thing. We're all going to be fine, I promise.
YOU KIDS QUIT JUMPING ON THEM BEDS OR I'LL HAVE YOUR DAD COME UP THERE!
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======December 30, 1999==========
HAPPY NEW YEAR PORTAL KIDS!!!
WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT
It's now 9:50 am central time Thursday December 30th, 1999. That means that the stroke of midnight January 1st, 2000 is only 38 hours and 10 minutes away. Y2K is here.
Are we going to be sitting in the dark shivering from the lack of heat wondering why the bank won't give us our money and why our computers don't work? Are we going to be living in a 10x10 hole we dug in the back yard eating canned peaches and trying to keep our neighbors from stealing our bottled water? Or is it more likely that all is pretty much the same as it was on December 31st, 1999 with the possible exception that some of our software has to be re-installed? Personally, I'm extremely confident that we're all facing the latter of those possible events.
As far as the technology issues, I'm certainly not one to be giving any advice to anyone. I'm not smart enough to understand even a smidgen of the possible problems with infrastructures, main frames, international data transfers etc. However, I'm confident that there are a lot of people who are much smarter than I that rely on those things to feed their own children and whatever the problems, they will find solutions and for the average net duffer like myself, all I will know is that my car still starts and that Webposition still checks my rank in the search engines.
My concern lies much more with the issues of hi-touch as opposed to hi-tech. What impact will this New Year's Eve have on us not as cyber-geeks, net surfers or as the wired generation, but as people. Husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, parents and children? How are we going to deal with what happens regardless of what happens? Are we going to freak out and make problems worse than they are or are we going to calmly and professionally deal with whatever comes along and try to make things better? Are we going to become distrustful and paranoid or are we going to realize that working together and maintaining faith in the basic good of mankind is the best way? In my opinion, the answer to that question is up to you.
You may be thinking, "Bob, you're nuts. What I do has no effect on the world. I'm just a little guy out here in cyber space doing my thing and nobody cares what I do." If that is what you're thinking, you are so wrong!
I think we would all agree that the internet has changed everything and it is just getting started. The net is not going away. This is not something that came along for a while and then faded into history. The net is here to stay and will have an incredible impact on the lives of every creature on this planet and it will have more impact tomorrow than it does today.
If you don't see yourself playing a role in this, then you simply aren't realizing that you are the internet elite. You are the leaders in this techno revolution. The sheer fact that you had the guts to sign up for this portal program makes you a leader. It means that you have a superior knowledge of the internet over the vast majority of people using it. Most people are in awe of your experience, creativity and ability to control what comes up on these little TV screens.
Now let's consider for just a moment what that means. Let's say that you have what is considered a low traffic site and get only about 20 people a day to your site. That means that over 600 people a month saw your work. You have had an impact on the lives of over 7 thousand people in a year! The degree of impact you had is debatable, but at least the opportunity for that impact was there. Now you multiply that by our 500 partners, (and growing every minute), and now we have touched the lives of over 3 million, 6 hundred thousand people if we each only got 20 a day. WOW! I don't know about you, but that single thought just blows me away! You are a part of that and what you do and how you do it has an impact on every bit of those numbers.
Are you a thief and a liar, or are you a good person that would like to feel as though you contributed? Whatever your answer, that will come through on your website. Your website is a reflection of you. Your personality, your ethics, your sense of self. Everyone that sees that website forms an opinion of you and that is what I'm getting at. You have an impact. What you do is how others will determine what they do and that makes you a leader.
Does anyone remember a man by the name of Don McLean? He is the man who wrote the song "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" in the 70's. The song was about Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and JP Richardson, aka, "The Big Bopper". For those of you who aren't old hippies like myself, those were three men who were rock and roll musicians and entertainers from the mid 50's who were all killed in a plane crash on New Years Eve 1956.The song made a reference to the day the music died and was dedicated to Buddy Holly. Disc jockeys all over the country started playing the song and then following it with a Buddy Holly song.
Don McLean was a songwriter, that's what he did. When he wrote the song I'm sure he was not thinking of what kind of impact the song would have on the world, but right off the bat, the heirs to the Buddy Holly estate started getting more money from the sales of his records. Someone heard the song and then decided to make a movie about the life of Buddy Holly. It was a huge hit and even nominated for academy awards. Due to the success of that movie, someone then went and made a movie starring Lou Diamond Phillips named LaBamba, (one of Ritchie Valens big hits), and it too was a success. Now, not even counting the millions of people who saw the movies and heard the songs, just think of all the people this one song effected. Disc Jockeys, movie extras, advertising and marketing people, actors, producers, editors and on and on. Who's to say that someone involved in that whole process didn't make enough money to send their kid to college? Maybe that kid became a scientist or a politician and maybe the kid did something to change the world. All because Don McLean wrote a song.
I'm certainly not implying that your website is going to make people want to make movies about it and that in turn puts some kid through college and then that kid changes the world. What I am trying to say is that none of us know for sure what the future holds and no one can say what impact your site is going to have, but the fact remains that what you do does matter. In fact it matters a lot.
The moral of this story is simply that as we approach the new millennium, we should be willing to accept that we are leaders and we should lead by example. Be proud of your work. If you're not proud of it, do it again and keep doing it until you are proud of it. The pride you take in your work is what determines your own self worth and that is what gives you self-respect. When you can respect yourself, others can then respect you as well. What is the third millennium going to be like? That is up to you and what you do today.
I hope you all have a great time this New Year's Eve but be careful. There will be a lot of nuts out there and the world is going to need level-headed leaders like you.
NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
Last week I mentioned that we had big changes coming for our portal program and that I would let you know what was happening as we went along. Basically, we will be offering three types of portal programs instead of just the one we have now. We will be offering:
THE POWER PORTAL- a totally free portal site. Url - http://www.searchking.net/portal/yourname space - 2 megs Main Features - your own forum - your own chat - your own guestbook - 3 to 5 templates - the SK engine - as fast and easy to set up and maintain as any free webpage service - available instantly set up fee- 0 monthly fee - 0
THE PORTAL PLUS - this is basically the program we all have now. Url - http://yourname.searchking.com Space - 10 megs Main Features - your own search engine - forums - chat- classifieds - ftp access - bannermaster Set Up Fee - $29 Monthly Fee - 0
THE PORTAL PRO - a complete turn key portal that you have full control over Url - http://www.yourname.com Space - 100 megs Main Features - your own search engine - forum - chat - vanity e-mail - bannermaster and no outside ads - full FTP access - secure server - shopping cart - free homepage program Set up Fee - $119 which includes the $70 Internic registration fee for the first two years Monthly Fee - $49
All of these programs have a lot more features that will be added, but in a nutshell that's what it will be. Now as far as the fees, as I've said before, we want to set this up to allow our partners to generate income as well as Searchking, so when you sign up as a reseller, the fees will be discounted. This is the part that may get me into trouble. I have no experience whatsoever with any type of reseller or affiliate program. I don't have a clear idea yet of how to structure the reseller program. I need your help. I'm hoping to get a discussion started in the forums as to how you folks see a reseller program working. I want your input.
My main concern at this point is that everyone understands that there is no official decision yet on how this is going to work. I have gotten myself into trouble too many times in the past by not making myself clear and giving the impression that this is how it is as opposed to this is what I'm thinking. THIS IS JUST A DISCUSSION. I need your help in figuring this deal out. If any of you reading this have experience with setting up reseller programs and have any suggestions or can offer some help, or maybe you have a deal in mind, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. My ears are open.
That's about it for this millennium. Just a couple of little things I want to mention before I close.
Holly Nelson of Networth is proud to announce her first couple of sales. Good Job Holly. She is still very glad to talk to any of you about advertising deals. Contact her at email@example.com. Do it today and avoid the rush.
I'm still inviting any of you that are interested in providing articles to be published in the Portal Stuff to let me know. Just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to get it in.
Anyone that wants can join us in the chat tonight. Chat is every Thursday at 7 pm central time at www.searchking.com/chat. Hope to see you all there.
Finally, I am extremely proud of our forums. They are doing very well. Any questions or comments are welcome there. Also is it an excellent resource for all your questions about how to take the most advantage of your portal. Get in there! www.searchking.com/ubb/Ultimate.cgi
YOU KIDS QUIT RUNNIN THRU THE HOUSE. YOUR MESSIN UP THE RABBIT EARS!
Publisher -- Bob Massa
Monday, November 1, 1999
=======November 3, 1999==========
Hello Portal Partners,
Well here it is, the most exciting news so far. Everything is up and running and seems to be doing well. The new program is installed and you will be excited to see how much better it is. First to access your new admin it is http://yoursite.searchking.com/bin/admin.cgi. The password is admin.
p.s. make sure you change yoursite to your url.
When you log in you will see a configuration link at the top right of the screen. Click this and it will bring up another screen. Change yoursite.com to whatever your url is (example: me.searchking.com) for each one there is. Click save. The rest is the same as before. Everything should work now. Bannermaster, the mailman which allows you to mail all your users. The comments system. The voting the rate-it everything.
Enjoy and if you have any questions please post them in the forum.
We have finally got the servers moved, up and running and stable. I apologize for it taking this long but it's finally done!
The server coming up enabled Shane to go in and install the new programs on everyone's portals. Everything seems to be working really great. From here on, there shouldn't be any more problems to slow you down. I'm hoping to see some of the portals really start coming together.
I've got Mike Rotter working on a new design for Searchking.com which the biggest "new" feature will be the directory. The directory will not be available for submissions from the general public. For the time being at least, the only purpose of the directory will be to list our portal partners. That should be online in about a week or so and start pushing some traffic your way right off the bat.
Speaking of traffic. With the speed issue being resolved on Searchking, our logs are showing a steady increase of traffic to the site. That just means more traffic to your portals, so let's start getting serious with them and let us know if there are any problems. If you do run into problems or have any questions remember to just go to the forums so we can all learn from the answers. www.searchkingportal.com/UltraBoard/UltraBoard.pl Please bookmark the forum so we can see you in there a lot.
One final note. If you have not signed up for a Searchking e-mail account that is the same as the name of your portal, please take just a minute to do that. If you don't I'm just afraid that someone else will go and get it and you will definitely regret having music.searchking.com but someone else having the e-mail email@example.com It's only smart.
We're getting ready to make it mandatory for new portal partners signing up to get the same name for the e-mail account as their portal name. One is the reason I just mentioned and the other is that it is very easy to let a new partner know if the name they want is available. So please, if you haven't already got your e-mail account do it now. Just go to www.searchking.com and on the front page it says Searchking mail with a link that says create a new account. Just click that and fill out the short form. If by some chance your name is already taken, please let me know and we'll figure something out.
Now for this week I'm hoping just to see some portals coming together with some sites added to your databases and some categories being built. Next week I'd like to start sharing some marketing tips for getting traffic to your portal and what you can do with it once it gets there.
Bob Massa CEO Searchking, Inc.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======November 9, 1999==========
Hi portal kids.
I wanted to give you all some tips on how to get your portals listed in the top of the results of the major engines and directories. First I wanted to let you all in on a new development at SK.
As I've told everyone all along, we are going to be shifting the focus of Searchking from the regular search results to a way to push the traffic to your portal sites. Well it's easy to see one way we're planning on doing that. If you haven't been to SK yet today, go take a look. www.searchking.com
You'll see that Mike has done a fantastic job of upgrading the face of Searchking. It's a much cleaner and more professional look. The main feature though is the fact that we now have a directory right at the very top of the page. In checking the stats just from last night, about 1/3 of our visitors went to the categories, (even though there is nothing in them yet). This tells me we are on the right track. Those categories are going to be nothing but our portal partners sites. We are not allowing any submissions to the categories from the public. All listings that will be there will only be the portals that you guys build.
For the time being we will be submitting all the portals ourselves and soon we will have a private add url form for portal partners only. The one thing I do need to tell you is that we are noticing some portals that have not yet even changed the name of their portal yet and we will not list a portal in the directory that has not at least changed the name. We can't be sending traffic to a site that still says "Portal Name" at the top of the page, it would not reflect good on Searchking or you.
We are up to 60 portals now and every main category is represented so over the next few days we will get everyone that has their name changed in there so the traffic is going to start coming, (ready or not) over the next few days. I should probably mention that by getting the results coming up in an average of 3 seconds and by getting it more stable, our uniques have gone from about 1,100 a day two weeks ago to over 1700 last night. I expect this number to do nothing but continue to increase at about the same rate for the near future. Especially after I tell you guys how to get your sites in the top of the other engines as well.
HOW TO GET YOUR PORTAL ON THE TOP OF THE RESULTS OF THE MAJOR SEARCH ENGINES AND DIRECTORIES
Ok, the major search engines and especially the directories like Yahoo and the Open Directory Project www.dmoz.org, are looking for relevant sites as opposed to relevant pages. That is one reason we have set up the portal program like we have. There is not a better way that I know of to make a site more relevant to a specific topic than by having a search engine, a chat room, a forum, a classified site and a ton of category pages with links all ABOUT that specific topic. This alone should provide unique content to the directories drastically improving your chances of getting listed.
Now for the spidering engines, the most important thing is going to be: #1 Titles on the pages with the keywords in it. #2 Meta description tag with the keywords in that once. #3 Meta tags with your keywords in them. #4 At least 100 or so words of text with a keyword density of about 5 to 7 percent. #5 Making sure that all the links on the main page are active and are all named something with the keyword in them. #6 H1 tags. Making sure to include your keywords in the paragraph titles of your text. #7 Having sites linked to you that are related to your topic. (This is one way to use your awards.)
Now, with those 7 steps done, there is not much of a way that any directory or spidering engine would NOT see your portal as being very relevant to your portal name. One thing to avoid is trying to get your portal to come up under everything you can think of. For example, if you have homebusiness.searchking.com and you start submitting that to engines and you try stuffing your meta tags with stuff like: money, contests, affiliate programs, you're shooting yourself in the foot. You're simply making your job much harder and in the unlikely event that you did place under some of those keywords, all you would be doing is making the traffic you did happen to get mad at you and hitting the back button never to return. You would be so much farther ahead if you just be up-front and honest and stick with keywords that really are about your site.
Using the homebusiness.searchking.com example again, if you use keywords like business, home business, home business opportunities, and build your site around those keywords, now you have a much better chance of placing and getting traffic that is glad they found you. They start adding their sites to your engine, they start applying for your award, they start becoming active in your chat room, your forums and then they start buying banners from you and becoming customers and telling their friends about you and now it's working. Try to just get everybody under every keyword you can think of and you'll soon find yourself wondering why other portal sites are making money but you're not.
THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP
Out of the 7 steps I outlined above, the most important is getting some text on your main page. For an example take a look at healthcare-support-groups.searchking.com. Mike has done a very good job of putting text on his main page that is actually relevant to health and health care. Notice the paragraph headings. My bet is this portal will place on Excite, Alta vista and Inktomi. Not to mention that it is easy to see why a reviewer would WANT to list this site in their directory.
SUBMITTING YOUR PORTAL
All you really need to do to submit your portal is submit just the main page. There may be some exceptions if you have specific pages within your portal that deal with a specific subject, but as a rule, almost all of the majors will follow the links from you main page and index them, so as long as you make sure that your links aren't dead, just submitting the main page will do fine.
Now, I have noticed that some of you have entry pages for your main page. That is fine, I love the way they look, however, you will run into some problems with the spidering engines because there are no text and H1 tags. For those people it is better to make the page with your portal name at the top something like http://trivia.searchking.com/index and submit that page as long as there is some relevant text on that page.
As some of you know, I own Magic-city.net, one of the oldest search engine placement services on the net. I've been placing clients sites in the top of the engines for almost three years now and I'm pretty darn good at it. In that time I have done a lot of consulting, I've made a lot of posts in forums, I've written columns for several newsletters and ezines and I've tried my best to help as many people as possible that weren't trying to spam.
The engines and directories are a trip! They are very confusing, frustrating and as soon as you think you finally understand them, they change completely and you're right back where you started.
Due to this fact, almost every time I've spoken about search engine placement to a group of people, someone has a question. I'm sure some of you are asking yourselves questions right now. I'm more than happy, (while we are still small enough), to use this mailman program, (which is available to all of you by the way), as a kind of discussion list. If you have a question about what we've discussed today, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll try to answer as many of them as I can that I feel would help us all as a group in another e-mail.
Keep in mind that I'm new to this group e-mail thing so if I make some mistakes or do something wrong, please cut me a little slack. If some one does not want me sending them these e-mails, just let me know and I will do my best to see that I don't send them to you. I don't have any subscribe or unsubscribe kind of program but I'll do the best I can. My only intention here is to help as many of you as I can make a success of your portal. The whole idea here is that Searchking can not accomplish it's goals if Searchking does not do everything in it's power to see that you accomplish your goals first.
So if I'm doing anything wrong or making someone angry, please, don't get mad at me, just let me know and I'll bend over backwards to do this thing right and still make everyone happy.
Bob Massa CEO Searchking, Inc.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======November 16, 1999==========
Hi portal kids, it's Bob again.
Let me start by saying what a week we've had! David, the publisher of Web Essentials, a nice little pub for webmasters, ran a short story about us to his 5000 or so readers. Thanks to his little story, Searchking is now the largest free portal host in the world with just a little over 200 portal partners!
David does not accept ads for his newsletters, but if anyone would like to drop him a line about your portal and what you see as a vision for the future of your portal, I think he'd like to hear from you. He has taken two portals himself. Remember, don't send him an ad, just let him know how you feel about the program.
ADD YOUR PORTAL TO THE SEARCHKING DIRECTORY
We now have the private submission page set up for all of our portal partners to submit their sites to. Remember, the SK directory will only list the portal sites as results so the add a site page is private. Also, keep in mind that all the submissions have to be reviewed so there is no point in submitting until you have at least changed the name on your front page to reflect YOUR portal name. Without at least doing this, Mike won't accept your site. Please submit to only one category that best reflects your content. Keep in mind that this is the exact same program that all of you have on your sites.
Submit your portal to www.searchking.com/bin/add_url.cgi
While you're there, it's also a good idea to go ahead and submit your site to the main database as well. You just click on the add a site link from the Searchking main page and fill out the submission form. This should help to generate a little traffic to your portal because I'm pretty sure most of you will be getting Yes votes which will move you to the top of the keyword search results and that's in addition to the directory listings.
Ok, with all the new partners, I'm sure there will be a lot of questions. Where to get the answers? The forums! The forums should start picking up pretty dramatically with so many new portal partners. For all you old timers, we need the help. Please visit the forums as often as you can and show all the partners that we're all here to help each other. We're a community here and the only way this whole thing is going to work is by you sending him traffic and he sends traffic to me and I send traffic back to you.
Also, if some of you more experienced partners would like to become a moderator, please let us know and we'll get you set up. Remember, the more you give, the more you get!
The forum url is: www.searchkingportal.com/UltraBoard/UltraBoard.pl
Go there now and bookmark the page. It will come in very handy!
THIS WEEKS LIVE CHAT
Last week we had a great time in our live chat. We didn't get a lot of training done but we sure had a ball. This week the chat will be at the same place on Thursday 11-18-99 at 7 pm central time and Friday 11-19-99 at 9 am central. This is a great opportunity to discuss any problems and share ideas as well as meet Shane, Mike, myself and some of your other fellow portal partners. We look forward to seeing everyone there. 184.108.40.206/cgi-bin/2cpchat/signup.cgi?logo=&sitename=Portal&chatsys=Portal
GREAT IDEA OF THE WEEK
This week's great idea award goes out to Melvin Turbyfil of music.searchking.com
Melvin has run a bluegrass music site for some time now and has been involved in a web ring. Well, now he has put his web ring link to his portal, (which is looking very good BTW Melvin), and now he is pulling traffic from the other sites to his portal. The great thing is that most of the other people in the ring just have plain ole web sites, but when they get to Melvin's portal, he's going to be getting the bookmarks, because his portal gives so much more to the surfer than most of his fellow music lovers sites.
Good job Melvin!
QUESTIONS, GRIPES AND ADVICE
Part 1. Question.
I know that many of you are editors for the Open Directory Project. I would like to know how the ODP feels about listing third level domains. I see many, many doorway pages so I would assume that there is no official policy to not list yourportal.searchking.com but I would like to make sure. Have any of you ever seen any mention of this topic in the ODP forums?
Part 2. Complaints.
It has come to our attention that one of our new partners has replaced our headers on all the pages including the category pages. This is a no-no. All we ask is that we get to keep the headers and the footers on the interior pages of the portal. EVERYTHING else is yours to put all the banners you want anywhere you want. We don't care if it's your banner or if it's a techno surf banner. It's yours to do what you like with. However, it's a little tacky to not allow us to make a dime and yet provide a free site.
The whole thing is that each of these portals needs to generate some income for Searchking. We have expenses like any one else and we intend to continue to provide new and better programs, enlarge our staff for better support, buy new equipment to keep the bandwidth coming. All of those things cost us money and it is not fair or professional to expect to take this free program and then delete the only chance we have of making our money back. We expect you to be able to make money with this program, and we feel it only fair to ask that you show us the respect to allow us to do the same.
If you feel you simply must have all the space, then we will be happy to lease you the portal for $69 per month. Under that lease, Searchking will not run ANY advertising on your site. If you want the program for free however, you may change anything you want on your front page but, you must leave the interior pages headers and footers intact and those will be used by Searchking, Inc. to generate income. To replace those headers and footers without the permission of Searchking is a violation of the rules and you would be subject to having your portal deleted from our servers.
Now, I have no intention of becoming some kind of cyber cop. Please do not put me in the position of having to make decisions like that. Let's just show each other enough respect that it does not become an issue. You do what you agree to and I'll do the same and we'll all come out winners. If we don't act honestly and professionally with each other, we both loose!
Part 3. Advice
I will never tell any portal partner what to do or how to run their own portal. I do from time to time have access to information that often you may not. I feel it is part of my job to pass this information on to you if I think it may help make your job easier. Today I think I have information like that.
I've been getting a lot of e-mails expressing concern over one rule. The add 25 sites a month thing. I'm going to tell you an easy way to find those urls, but first I'd like to share an e-mail with you that pretty much explains my philosophy on the 25 url rule.
Thanks for the two portals by the way. All I need to do now is find some time to design them and add 25 links within the next month or you'll be deleting them - which would be a bit ironic :-)
All the best
Don't worry about the 25 url thing. I have no intention of enforcing that rule with any portal partner that is trying. The only reason I have that rule is to stop anyone that would join for the sole purpose of trying to take advantage of the program. The thing to remember is that if we represent a portal with only say 50 links in their database, that is still so much better to return that portal as a result for a search term than just a list of pages. We would not want to loose a resource like that. What we would want to loose is the person that makes it obvious he is only trying to get the traffic that would come from having a portal site listed better than another type of site in the search engines as well as the traffic that Searchking would generate only to re-direct them to their sales page. That would only diminish the image and integrity of us all and I have to have some recourse available to me to keep this kind of thing from happening.
Now you can see why I can't put that statement on the portal sign up page. Now for the tip I promised about where to find your urls. You're going to laugh when I tell you because it's so obvious.
YOUR PORTAL PARTNERS!
All you need to do to get 25 urls is go to the SK directory and add them to your own search engine. You never know what anyone is typing into the search box. If they type something in that may not be related to your subject matter, where do you want to send them? Somewhere that the web master may not even appreciate the traffic or to someone who works with you in the trenches and is a portal partner. Someone who you know works as hard as you do and is sending their traffic to you just like you're sending traffic to them. All you need to do is add a miscellaneous category and then submit all the portal partner's urls into that. That way those sites will come up in a search. Remember the whole idea is that we all contribute to the success of each other.
Hope to see you all in the chat and forums.
Til next week
Bob Massa CEO Searchking, Inc.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======November 17, 1999==========
I've got a little egg on my face and I owe most of you a very humble apology.
Today I wrote about a portal that had deleted the banners from the interior pages. I now realize that many of you seem to think I was referring to you. I was NOT. The portal in question had made two banners and obviously had figured out how to manipulate the bannermaster and be able to move the position of his banners AND ours. You are supposed to be able to move the banners so you can leave ours there and still run yours somewhere else, (right below it is a good spot).
Well I now realize that the bannermaster is the problem and not any of you. It is set up to change the banner in the header. That is our fault and no one else's. It is our job to explain this type of stuff and this is one instance where we dropped the ball. You have not done anything wrong if you have banners in the headers. That is the way the bannermaster works right now.
We are going to go in and hard copy the code for the headers on the interior pages as soon as we get time so this problem does not come up again, but for the time being, please accept my apology and know that you are doing nothing but the right thing. I am so very proud of all of you I could just bust and in the future I promise to be much more careful in my criticism. You folks deserve nothing but the highest praise!!
Bob "egg on his face" Massa
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======November 24, 1999==========
Hi again Portal kids.
First let me wish everyone the obligatory Happy Thanksgiving. For all of us in the states, it's one of the years' biggest holidays.
Now, down to business. I would very much like to use this newsletter or whatever it's called, as a kind of discussion list. I want very much to keep all of you involved in the direction this project takes. I want your input, suggestions and ideas. I think it makes it more enjoyable, more educational and in the long run a better search service.
Since I don't know for sure how to do what I'm wanting to do, I'll just tell you the way I see it working for now. I would like to be able to pose questions and comments to all the partners. I'll do it by separating the questions by lines similar to a paragraph. Then if you would like to respond to the question, just hit reply and go to that question and put in a line of stars ************* to separate the question from your answer. Post your answer, be sure to put some kind of a sig tag so we know who you are, (and hopefully send a little traffic your way), and hit send. As I get the answers, I will use the ones that I feel deserve the most attention in the next issue.
What I would like to do with this discussion group is to address some of the many problems that come up. Also I want you all to feel that this is something that you are a part of. The success it sees is your success. Not only do I want you to be involved, I need you to be. This is something new to us all and the more we can work together, the better off we'll all be.
Okie dokie, the first question is this.
I desperately need a programmer. Maybe a better name would be a systems administrator. I have some very good people behind me but they simply can't keep up. Their time is stretched very thin as it is.
I need someone that can not only keep everything up and running but someone who can also write custom scripts for us. For example, right now we are working on a system that would allow us to display a text banner at the top of the results page based on a keyword. It would be above the results but look very much like a results. The reason we want to do this is that we want to be able to offer an alternative to graphic banners. Their click thrus can be dismal, especially compared to the amount of click thrus for the number 1 listing in the results page. Rather than trying to sell these keyword banners by CPM, we want to call them keyword sponsorships. We would offer these sponsorships for a starting rate of like 5-10 dollars a month and then take bids on them after that. It's just a little twist on the combination of rotating banners and pay for placement models we're competing against.
So, I need a script that will tell it where to pull the text banners from, a way to set up the auction for keywords and a way the sponsor could go and check their stats. I don't care if this is in Unix, Perl, Cgi, Java or whatever, I just need someone to get it up and keep it up.
I need to find someone who doesn't mind working for a creative pay scale. I don't have $140,000 a year to pay. I do have advertising space and stock, so I need someone who can see a potential in providing quality scripts and reaping the benefits of those scripts long term.
Does anyone have some ideas on how I find this person? How to word the offer?
Ok, next question.
I need an advertising manager. Someone who knows how to take a site and organize the pages into inventory and then take the challenge of getting each page to produce income. Someone who just quit Lycos would be pretty good but again, I need someone who would be willing to work on a commission basis.
Any ideas where I find this person?
We are getting ready to buy another program to offer as a "beginner's portal". I feel that the program we have is simply incredible in what it will do, but I feel it is too complicated for many people. My marketing strategy is basically to compete with Geocities free pages. If you had your choice of a free web page or a free portal and one was just as easy to set up as the other, which one do you think they would take?
So anyway, this new program will give the person the option of selecting the Portal lite or the advanced version. The portal lite would take about 15 minutes to type in your name, choose you colors, type in your text and done! It would generate everything automatically and the url would be www.searchking.com/beginner as opposed to beginner.searchking.com. Once the beginner became more familiar with the program they could always switch to the advanced, but this should get us all the grandmothers who want a recipe portal, the housewives who want a sewing portal, and the attorneys who want a portal and simply don't have the time to build the advanced.
So my question to all of you is, what features do you feel HAVE to be on the portal lite and what is a good name for it?
I've got a lot more questions but if I get some answers to these, it will be a great start.
Finally, I would like to say something publicly because I'm willing to bet that many of you reading this have a very similar situation and will be able to relate to what I want to say.
For the past several months, I have been working very hard. I tend to be a little self-centered and think sometimes that my problems are the only thing that is important. Many times I find at the end of the day that I have sat for 14 hours or more at my computer. I haven't talked to anyone other than to bark out orders. I haven't listened to anyone. Oh I look at them and nod my head to show my displeasure at being interrupted, but I don't really listen. Basically, I'm lost in my own little cyber world and think that I deserve credit for all this work. Well, when I'm forced at times to really be honest with myself, I realize that I am wrong.
I have a friend. In fact my best friend, who is also my partner. This friend has trusted me when I didn't trust myself. This partner has believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. This friend has taken all my foul moods, all my demanding ways, all my nasty looks of disappointment and everything else a self-doubting, over-achiever does and still done nothing but show me respect, give me support and try to do the very best they could. I owe this friend more than I could ever hope to repay. I'm talking about my wife Kathi.
All that I am I owe to her. When I think I deserve some credit, I'm wrong, the credit goes to her. She works just as hard as I do, in fact much harder and for much less reward. My silly chauvinism makes me think that that's how God intended. I know in my heart that is not true. I want you all to know that if you ever think I did something good, it was probably Kathi that actually did the work. I just answered e-mails and had "ideas".
A few days ago I realized that even though we work together and live together, there were times we might go for days and barely even speak about anything other than my business, (which is actually hers). Tell here I love her, HAH! I barely told her good morning.
I think most of us probably tend to do the same thing to the people in our lives. They probably deserve a lot more credit than we give them at times because we are glued to our own little cyber world and forget that without their support we wouldn't have that cyber world in the first place. It's very easy to let this computer suck you into feeling like nothing else matters as much as what we are doing. I'm here to tell you that they do!
I'm going to be leaving in the morning to take my wife to New Orleans for 4 days. I've been promising to do it for over 10 years as soon as I wasn't so busy. I'm doing it now. We're not going to have turkey dinner with family, we are just going to do something together. Something that gives me the chance to just talk to her. Talk to her like a friend, a partner and a wife. I hope that this little gesture will be able to convince her of just how much she means to me. How much I rely and depend on her and how sorry I am that I neglect her so bad so many times.
Many of you will be going to spend time with friends and family over the next few days. I would just like to remind you that now is a pretty good time to give them some of that credit they deserve. It might just save you the cost of a trip to New Orleans later on.
Now, everybody go outside an play and DON'T SLAM THAT DOOR!
PS: If you don't like what we're doing here -- tell me. If you do like what we're doing here ---- tell somebody else.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
Friday, October 1, 1999
=======October 13, 1999==========
Hi portal kids!
First off, I wanted to stay in touch with all of you but I'm feeling a little guilty about using Jim's forum. He's indicated to me that we have his support but I certainly don't want to take advantage of his generous nature so I thought today I would use the e-mail.
I wanted to address a couple of things. First, the server is up! I'm so sorry about it being down and I promise to do whatever it takes to get it stable and reliable. The server has GOT to work!!
Second, I know we've been having some problems with the forum. Shane is fixing that as we speak. The forums are our best place to be able to work together to make the most of this little project. I'm hoping very soon we can get past the tech problems and start focusing more on how to best market this stuff. I've got some ideas but I would very much like to include all of you before I start making decisions. I respect your opinions as much as anybody on the web and I fully intend to fish in the idea pool as much as possible. The thing I want to keep stressing is that the more people we get involved and caring about their site, the more traffic they will all be sending us. I'd like to se us come up with a "new" type of web ring for example.
Third, I just found out that the SK e-mail account is not automatic like I thought it would be. Originally the idea was to have you get an e-mail account that matched your portal name. This was how we were going to check the availability of your chosen name. It doesn't work like it's supposed to so for the time being I need to get you to sign up for it. I urge you to do this so you can get an e-mail account under your portal name before someone else does. I checked and all the names are available.
Next, I know some of you are having problems getting rolling. I'm so sorry. The idea from the beginning was to make this very simple but as we got into it, we kept finding features that we wanted and of course with each feature a new set of install problems came up. Whatever, it's my responsibility to make this thing user friendly. Most of the general public is not going to be as patient with me as you all are being. So, Shane has put up a page that basically explains very simply how to change your front page. It's at www.searchkingportal.com/start.htm
For those of you that are still having problems, I honestly hope this helps. If not, I need to know. Just remember that all that config stuff is there for you BUT it doesn't have to be changed at all. If you just focus on getting your pages set up and getting sites into your database, everything will start coming together. As we go along we will all teach each other how to get really slick with it.
BTW, Karen, your portal look GREAT! Very good job.
Finally, Mike Stone who has cars.searchking.com and teens.searchking.com has just told me about a little marketing tip that I thought was pretty smart on his part. He already has his cars portal listed in the Infoseek Go directory. He became an editor and his site was in within 24 hours. He said that becoming a go guide is very easy and that he fully intends to start generating a million hits a month to his portal so he can make a deal with double click and start making a buck! If anyone would like to ask Mike about the go guide stuff, you can reach him at email@example.com
Ok, now for the work. I need a little direction here. My question is this: Should I start considering deleting some features to make the set up easier or do you feel like one of the selling points of this program is that it is so comprehensive. If I leave all that it has, how should I best approach getting people with limited experience up and running with as little grief as possible?
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======October 16, 1999==========
Hello portal partners. I just wanted to touch base and give you kids a couple of ideas on how to get your portal sites running, (and hopefully making you a buck or two).
I also wanted to welcome the newest members of our little growing family of portal partners. All of you, please welcome:
Jordan Martin youngandmodern.searchking.com
Patricia Krenik vitamins.searchking.com
Sandy Aggarwal realtor.searchking.com (I'm expecting some really good things from this one).
Teresa King advice.searchking.com (I love the name. No, we're not related.)
Susan Bridges truesue's.searchking.com
Mike Rotter 530.searchking.com (Mike is SK's webmaster. He has done a really exceptional job on his portal, take a look. Also, Mike does freelance design work if anyone is needing top notch design he's good and inexpensive. Which is of course one of the reasons why we hired him. Before you decide on any kind of design though, I recommend taking a look at graphicdesign.searchking.com a portal ABOUT design.)
Mike Wood worldoffreestuff.searchking.com
Jay Martin satellite-dish.searchking.com
And last but not least . . .
Daron Babin drugs.searchking.com (Daron is one of the best placement specialists in the business, so if you want to know a little bit about how he plans to do it, keep an eye out for him in the forums. He's a busy guy but a nice guy too whom I'm sure will help us all out.)
For all you newbies, (and old hands as well), be sure to bookmark the forums at www.searchkingportal.com/UltraBoard/UltraBoard.pl
These forums were set up for the specific purpose of providing a training resource as well as a discussion about how best to take advantage of your portal. They can go a long way in helping relieve some of the stress of getting started. They are also there so you can ask specific questions or discuss ideas or problems with other portal partners and members of Searchking's staff.
Tip #1 Getting URL'S For YOUR Database
Mike Mackin had a really good suggestion in the VP moderators forum. His suggestion was to post invitations to submit a url to your database in topic specific newsgroups and discussion boards. This is not spam. The people in the newsgroups are very likely looking for ways of promoting their site and by giving an invitation and NOT trying to sell them anything, this should be a very good way of getting submissions.
Tip #2 Awards
Designing and giving out your portal specific award is a great way to establish yourself as a valuable resource on your chosen topic AND to encourage submissions. It does one other thing too. LINKS. Searchking has been giving the King of the Web award for almost two years now and as a result, we have over 3,000 links to our sites. This of course includes sites that link to us just because we're a search engine, but the concept will work just as well for you. For many of you, there is no other resource available like a portal ABOUT your chosen topic. People with websites that are relevant, where else are they gonna go?
Along this line of thinking, it's not a bad idea to build and link to it from the front page a "link to us" page. Provide the public with two or more graphics like a banner or button that represents your site. You'll be surprised how many people will take you up on it and install your banner, which of course gives you a greatly enhanced image, credibility and link popularity all at the same time.
For an example, take a look at: searchking.com/skmenu.htm. You'll see that it doesn't take much and it provides you with more visible space where you can sell another sponsorship.
If anyone has any question about how to set up an awards or "link to us" page, just post a question in the forums and we'll tell you how to do it!
In closing for today, I just want to say again how proud I am of all of you. We're making internet history here and I truly thank you all for giving me an opportunity to be a part of it.
Bob Massa Searchking, Inc. Where You Rule the Web www.searchking.com
Publisher -- Bob Massa
=======October 28, 1999==========
Hi again portal partners. I haven't forgotten you kids I've just been very busy with the move of the servers and the new programs for Searchking. We have been having access issues for the past two weeks and we've tried several things but the bottom line is we have to get the servers moved. They will be moved this weekend!
I've had some very good questions in the forums lately and it's important that you are all aware of them. So for this week's update I've decided to just use them. Next week I'm going to start including tips to make administering your portal easier. I'll try to give some simple steps each week on stuff like:
• How to change the portal name
• How to use your spider function to make adding sites easier
• How to use your mailman feature to build a newsletter subscriber base
• How to get links to your portal using an award
• How to set up your own chat and forum instead of defaulting to SK
Things like that. Of course I'll always try to base those tips on the questions from the forums and the input I get from our partners.
Anyway, here's the first question from Lynne:
How are things going? I've been checking back regularly, to catch any updates, but haven't found anything so far. I haven't seen any changes in my portal, either. Has progress been made? Is there a timeline for completion? I hope this doesn't sound like pressure, but it would be nice to know these things, so I can plan promotion, advertising, etc. Clues, hints, hard dates, whatever, would be greatly appreciated.
Lynne, I'm very glad to see you haven't given up on us. There is no point in me trying to explain how much focus and effort I've been giving this because you've all been in the same boat. We're pretty much all experienced webmasters here and we've all had the experience of dealing with the internet and of course experience is what we get when we're expecting something else.
As luck would have it, your timing is impeccable. I was planning on sending out another of my little e-mails to all the portal partners today and we ended up having to wait on someone else for a little piece of the puzzle and it's forced me to have to wait until tomorrow.
I will tell you that we have finally made the deal on the new host just tonight and we're planning on moving the servers this coming Saturday. This should eliminate all the DNS problems we've been having for the past two weeks.
Secondly, some of you may have read my post in VP about having to make some hard decisions about how Searchking operates in order to address the speed issue. Well, (this I'm really happy about), go do a search on Searchking now and if you don't get results back within 2 to 10 seconds please let me know! We've been testing now for the past 4 days and are consistently getting results on the average of 3 seconds. YIPPEE! We still have all the instant features as before. We index instantly BUT, we update the static database every 2 to 3 days. So your edits, submissions and votes are all recorded instantly but they aren't displayed for a day or so. This was a hard decision for me but I can't have all of you being represented by a search service that was too slow. In order for the portals to work, Searchking has to work. Now it does!
Finally, we lucked out and made a deal to offer the complete Hyperseek engine to all portal partners. Now every link works, every feature works and much easier. This is the exact same program that gets marketed only to ISP's and such for $25,000 but now we are offering the same program to our portal partners for free!
More news to follow soon. We will be sending letters to all partners the first part of next week to let them know their new programs are installed.
The next question comes from Rod B and is a very good one regarding the promotion of your portal site and specifically promotion using the Open Directory Project.
The standard template comes with a ODP cool site logo. Presumably this needs to be removed or is it still part of the deal? Does anyone have experience of submitting a portal to ODP?
One of my problems with ODP is that so much of the way it works is up to individual editors so that one editor may give you one answer while another says something different.
I have been in contact with one of the editalls discussing this very thing. ODP should have no problem listing your portal. How could a search service help their searchers anymore than by providing links to a whole portal site based around a specific topic? If a searcher is looking for maps, does a directory want to provide a bunch of links to short doorway pages, or to a site with forums, classifieds, chat and a search engine all related to maps?
One of the reasons we set this up like we did is because of my background with Magic-city. I know these portals will place well on most engines by simply naming your interior pages with your topic in the titles. In other words, don't leave the forum or chat page with the title "Forum" change it to "Maps Forum". Insert your meta tags and that should be about all you have to do to gain good placements under your keywords. As far as the directories like ODP and Yahoo, just supply links in your database and provide decent content the same as you would with any site you did and there is not much of a way that any editor could not say that you actually did submit a site with unique content.
Now we may have two problems with ODP due to their unique nature.
#1 You are expected to let one of your competitors decide if your site is good enough or not to get accepted. My problem with this is that while I truly believe that many editors at ODP are honest and more concerned with doing a good job for ODP than simply promoting their own site, the fact is that they are human and many editors are going to see your portal and view it as serious competition for their own. Remember that the whole idea of editors is to get people who know something about their chosen topic and the sad fact is that the vast majority of editors have their own commercial websites that fit into their category. I see a potential problem with the editors wanting to find a reason NOT to accept your site. If this happens, I don't see a lot of recourse for the portal partner outside of spending quite a bit of time trying to go over that editor's head and find an editall or meta editor that will be more objective.
#2. I am totally convinced that once we get this portal thing down to where the set up is as easy as getting a free web page from geocities, we are going to have thousands if not millions of people as portal partners. If I can get the admin stuff developed to a click and paste kind of thing, why would anyone want a free page when they could just as easily have a free site with all the features of the Hyperseek engine? Ok, assuming that I'm right, ODP typically does not like listing affiliates or multiple sites from one domain. They do like accepting the best possible sites for a specific keyword and have no problem with third level domains. So in theory, they should judge each site based on it's own merit regardless of what the root domain is. I mean come on, they got geocities sites in there.
After talking with the editall, I am completely convinced that the portal sites will be accepted. It may involve correspondence with Rich Skrenta himself but there is no reason for ODP to just refuse to review our portals for any reason except for one thing. What's going to happen when we have so many portal partners that there are 15 or 20 portal sites for any given keyword? The one thing ODP is not going to like is listing 15 searchking portals in the top 20 results under any keyword or category. While this may become an issue at some point at least in the beginning there should not be a problem.
Still, my job, (and yours too for that matter), is to convince the world that this is no different than any other free site. These portals are completely independent of SK and are not affiliates of SK but simply people using a powerful tool to provide the internet with the best site the portal partner can provide and due to this fact they should be judged on their own merit and not anything else.
As far as the cool site logo, I really should have Mike either just delete that from the template or incorporate that into the SK logo making it a little more clear that SK is a cool site and not necessarily that particular portal. We do not want to take any action that may be perceived as misleading. The whole basis for all of our success is honesty, quality, fairness and professionalism.
Finally, I would like to say "thank you" to Karen Webber for her kind offer of help last week. I've been having a little problem with this mail to the portal partners and she offered to let me use her as a list server and eliminate those problems. I fully intended to take her up on her offer but before I could, we made the deal with Hyperseek and it includes the Mailman which is a neat little mail tool. That's what I'm using now.
It allows you to set up specific folders with up to 1000 names in each. Then just hit the button and it goes. So I decided to take advantage of this as opposed to imposing on Karen. This does not lessen the degree of gratitude that I have for her generous support. Thanks Karen.
See you kids in the forums.
Bob Massa Searchking, Inc.
Publisher -- Bob Massa