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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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. 188.8.131.52/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