Thursday, June 1, 2000


========June 7, 2000========


Weekly Portal Owner's Diary

Moving the Portal Pluses

New Yahoo Service

Link Popularity and why we're all crazy for not taking advantage of it

Investment Strategy

In the course of a portal owner's human endeavors, there comes a time to reap the fruits of ones labor. This has been such a week. The things that I have accomplished this past week are probably not that big of a deal for a smart person, but for me, it's been a real challenge and it feels pretty darn good to see some of those efforts paying off.
First, the new raid server is up and running like a one-eyed dog in a sausage factory, it's just goin' nuts! We've been in the process of moving portal pluses and pros and testing them all this week and they're all running fine as frog hair.
We have the chat program installed and the e-mail working. The EZ builder is almost ready and it looks FANTASTIC! Pretty as a speckled hen in a wagon rut and slicker than a greased hog, (hope I'm not using too much tech jargon for anyone).
I will probably never forget the gut wrenching I went through back in January when the hard drive crashed, but today I am so grateful that I was somehow able to find the intestinal fortitude to not give up. I feel wonderful! Strong, powerful and today I know that there is nowhere for any of us to go but up from here on out! I could not have done any of this stuff without the incredible support I have gotten from all of you. My triumph is more to your credit than it is to mine and I believe that as each of you reach your own goals with your own portals, when you look back at the road to success you had to travel, you will find just as I did, that you didn't make the trip by yourself. You are only as good as the people that are with you and I'm pretty great!
I've got good news and I've got bad news. Well, actually, I've got great news and bad news.
The great news is that we are moving all the portal pluses starting tomorrow to the raid server. This will give us all more stability, increased speed and more features.
The bad news is that your portals may be down for 2 to 6 hours. I know OUCH, but it's got to be done.
When we move the portal pros it's seamless. No one even knows it ever happened, (we've already moved a few), because we have to move the IP numbers. So the site is up on one server and we don't pull it down until after it comes up on another. However, with the pluses we have to modify the dns numbers and that's a horse of a different color. Now Internic has to propagate the dns numbers and that's a global affair and it takes a little bit of time.
Also, we have to ask you all not to make any changes to your site for about 48 hours to be on the safe side. Any changes you make you run the risk of having to make them again once the site is up on the new server. We have everything loaded into a .tar file so everything including your database all gets moved at once, but if you try to ftp anything while the move is in progress, you are taking the chance of running into problems. We can't just hit a button and poof! they're all there. We have to go in and set up the username and passwords again. So this takes Shane doing back end stuff while Kathi is doing passwords and of course we have no idea in which order they will come in, soooo, we have to ask that everyone just be a little patient with us and give us from 9 am central time on Thursday until 9 am central time on Saturday.
Thank you.
Yahoo is a lot like doctors. Some of us love them and some of us hate them but we all know that we need them. So many people have tried so hard for so long to get a listing in Yahoo with no luck. No response for that matter. It is by far the most difficult and the most frustrating for the most people. It is also by far the best traffic generator.
The value of Yahoo to someone like myself, who owns a top placement service, is extreme to say the least. I've known from the beginning that Yahoo is the big kahuna in terms of what a client is willing to pay and that of course relates to how much profit the company can expect to make. For the last four years we have never been able to get better than a 65% success ratio with getting our clients a first page listing in Yahoo under their selected keywords. Not bad, in fact good enough to keep me making a living for several years, but not good enough to make any kind of guarantee. Well, that's all changed now.
I've spent the last few months focused on Yahoo, and like all the other engines, once I focus on it and commit myself to it, it's just a matter of time. You see, the secret to being successful at guaranteed top search service placement does not lie in finding some new script to cloak something or a new trick to hide text. The secret lies in doing the work it takes and the time it takes to understand each specific service and then learn how to supply that service with what they want and how they want it. Yahoo is no different, just a little harder. The fact that it is so hard is why I only recently decided to devote the time to it.
I know we've all heard stories from people like "I got in in just two hours". Well, that is true in some cases, I mean even a blind hog finds an occasional acorn. The fact is that those people were very lucky. The vast majority of people never get in and never know why. Well now I know why and now I can guarantee placement with confidence. This is going to put Magic-city through the roof!
The work involved in building a site that I can guarantee a first page listing in Y is very labor intensive. Also, the value of that placement may very well mean the difference between success and failure of some sites. Due to the labor costs and the value of the placement, the price will go up accordingly. I realize that this service is not for everyone but I also realize that there is a segment of the market out there that understands the low cost of my fees when compared to traditional advertising mediums such as TV, radio and magazines. Being in the placement business for as long as I have, I know that there are some people who will pay virtually any amount I ask as long as I can actually produce results --- and I can.
I am going to start an affiliate program for this service. I will only offer it to a few people because due to the labor and the problems associated with training new employees, we will not be able to handle more than about 10 new clients a week. I only want people who know the net, know how to place their banners for optimum results with minimum effort and that I can trust not to lie, oversell or mislead the customer. My reputation is everything to me and I will not gamble that reputation on somebody that I can't trust.
I will put up a new page and order form. I will approve banners and text links for the affiliates and I will pay a commission of about $200 for each order that comes through the affiliate site on a set up fee of about $1500. For no more effort than it takes to spread the word and do it honestly, you could be making a very tidy sum of money.
There will be an agreement that you would be required to sign but if you're interested in doing this, just send me an e-mail to and tell me basically why I should choose you. I will only accept about 10 people for this so if you're serious I wouldn't wait too long. It will take me about a month or so to get everything set up so there is no big rush, but I do want to have the affiliates in place pretty soon.
As portal partners, we are all sitting on a placement gold mine. Link popularity.
Virtually every major search service is using some form of link popularity to determine relevancy. It's a confusing issue to many people because there are so many variables involved. Also it's confusing because using most recognized procedures for figuring out a particular engines' algorithms don't really apply the same as they do to just figuring out things like keyword density. I'm going to very basically explain the concept here.
Link popularity simply means that the links coming into your site boost your relevancy for a particular keyword or phrase based on the relevancy and the quality, (as determined by that specific services' criteria), of the site that is linking to you. The basics are still very important. So, that means that just because you get a bunch of sites to link to you, it does not mean you go to the top. You still need your keywords in the title tag, the meta description, the meta keyword tag, (this is becoming much over-rated), a keyword density of about 4% to 7%, keywords in the text title of your links to interior pages, keywords in your alt tags and keywords in your H1 tags. What it does mean though is that assuming you and I both had all the T's crossed and the I's dotted but you had link popularity and I didn't, you would come up on top of me.
Now the next big misconception is over the "quality" thing. Links are hard to get so many people started submitting their site to all these FFA pages and then not understanding why they weren't on top. The only thing that is going to happen if you submit to a bunch of those FFA pages is you are going to get spammed to death! I'm sure someone reading this will say, "hey - I run an honest FFA page and I don't spam!" Well, maybe that's true but even you would have to agree with me that anyone that submits their site to 100 FFA, (oh by the way, FFA stands for Free For All), pages will most likely get 98 pieces of spam for months and months to come with no hope of getting good placements. Why? Because the search services are smart enough to figure this little trick out and they are able to use several techniques to determine that is a low quality link.
Let's look at it in terms of numbers. Let's say that any relevancy rating system is based on 100 points. You get 5 points for the keyword in the title, 5 for hitting the keyword density, 5 for the H1 tags etc., (remember I'm not saying these are the actual points they use, I'm just giving examples). Keep in mind too that most services can also deduct points for a variety of spam reasons. Hidden text, re-directs, keywords stuffed into your meta tags, things like that. Ok, now we'll add in the fact that links to you gain points too. The more quality a site has that links to you, the more points.
Quality is determined by things like how much traffic a site that links to you gets. How long the user stays on the site linking to you on average and how many pages a user accesses on average from the site linking to you. Naturally, this kind of filtering procedure is going to place a great deal of emphasis on sites like Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, a lot of .edus and sites like that. So using our point system, a link form may be worth 1 point while a link from Yahoo is worth 50 points. That's why getting listed in Yahoo is so important. This explains why many people are stumped when they check their link popularity, (which you can do very easily by going to, and see that they are #45 with 120 links but the guy at #1 only has two links. It's because those two links are probably coming in from Yahoo and AOL! Quality sites according to the search service.
All right, now lets move on to themes. The service is going to determine relevancy for the site linking to you just like they will for your site. This explains why many of us are starting to see our sites pop up in good positions under strange keywords. If a site that links to you is highly relevant to shoes for example, then your sock site may very well start popping up under shoe related keywords as opposed to sock keywords. This is a basic flaw in this whole system and I'm pretty sure it will change soon but for now this is the game we're playing. So the idea of this whole little process from the point of view of the search service, is that the only way you come up in the top is if your site is good enough to justify my site linking to you. This of course is going to take a great deal of effort on your part and a great deal of time. They know that and that is exactly why it's becoming so popular with the search services. This is their way of dealing with spam.
We also have the confusion over the question of sites like Direct Hit and Google who, once your site is indexed, starts tracking the hits and the time people spend on your site to determine your placement. This of course brings up the question of how does a new site ever get popular if only popular sites get on top? Well the programs these services are running are extremely sophisticated and each service has it's own little way of dealing with it. Like rotating the results for a period of time by putting new sites in a good position and then if it starts getting traffic it stays and if it doesn't it doesn't. This is really not too big of a problem though because the search services that use the results from Direct Hit and Google usually require that you have to select a specific link to bring up those results. At this time only Hot Bot, that I'm aware of, actually just places Direct Hit at the top of their results. Most of the others, like MSN for example, has a link that says something like, "for the 10 most popular sites about this keyword click here" or something like that. As far as the regular search results though, the specific service has their own way of using link popularity, (even Hot Bot).
Ok, I hope you all pretty much get the concept. But Bob, you said you would help us portal partners with this. Actually, that's not what I said. I said we're all crazy for not taking advantage of it. You see, as portal partners we have the unique opportunity of being able to secure quality links by using the power of our numbers.
First of all, you only get credit for links coming into you that are already indexed in that specific engine or directory. Well just about all of us realize the importance of being in the engines, so most of us have submitted our sites to all the majors. In other words, getting those links to us indexed is not a problem, we're already there.
Secondly, we're not running another affiliate banner site or FFA page, we're all running portal sites. Sites that on average attract more traffic, more time spent on our sites and more page views per visitor. The stats are already bearing this out. So as far as the quality of the links, a link from a portal partner is much better than most of our competitors could expect to get. Starting to see what I'm getting at here?
I'm sure that some of you are thinking well just by listing in each other's directory doesn't that get us in? It depends on whether you are all using static pages or not. My guess is most of you aren't because it takes more work and more time to set them up this way. Setting them up with static pages does work and it helps with the theme thing because the keyword is in the url of that category page and the search results page. In other words, if your shoe portal is in my directory in the category business/shopping/clothing/shoes, bingo! The problem here is you almost have to submit every page of your directory because you can't trust all the services to actually spider every page in your site regardless of what they say on their submission page. Just ask Shane. He's got close to 3,000 pages in Searchynx but only 156 pages indexed in Alta Vista.
"So what are we going to do Bob? I want to be in the top under my keywords".
Just settle down there cowkids. I know you want to be in the top and I want you there too. That's why I'm revealing my secrets to you here. You know, I don't even mention it on the portal sign up site but one of the benefits of being a portal partner is you get me telling you all this stuff. I've been in the placement business for going on 5 years now and I'm pretty damn good at it. I've spent a lot of time and a lot of very hard work figuring all this crap out and believe me, I charge a pretty stiff nickel for this stuff and I'm underpaid.
So the answer is this -- Portal Friends. The trick is to set up a master page that every portal is listed on by category, (to save time it would have to be broad categories). Let's say we use for the master list. There would be a link from the front page that said "Visit some of's Portal Friends". This link would go to At the top of the friend's page it would have the company logo and an H1 that said something like, here is list of other great portal sites that we highly recommend. Then there would be the 10 or so categories and then each link would be a text link to your site with the keyword in the link. In other words, the link wouldn't say, it would say "all about socks" and then the link would go to As each new portal came in, it gets put at the top of the list .
Now each portal partner goes and copies the same list and repeats the process on their portal just replacing the info with their own. Every 30 days the list gets updated and resubmitted. It takes on average about 2 to 6 weeks for most of the services to index so within about 6 weeks, everyone that is doing their part all start to benefit from the process. If you don't benefit, then you have not done something right and it's usually that you didn't follow the little process I talked about earlier called the "basics". Or you put the Friends page in a frame or table or something. As long as everyone involved follows the simple little process and spends the 10 minutes or so that it takes to update the page each month, we could all be stepping in high cotton.
Here's the rub. I'm not going to do it for you. It's your portal, your business and my philosophy has always been that I will help anyone who cares about their site. If you don't care enough about your site to do this then I can't help you. Also, this is a golden opportunity for me to start making it worth your while to get involved with the other partners and to show you the power we all possess but only if we all learn to take advantage of the power together. What is good for one of us is good for all of us or it is not going to turn out the way I have always dreamed it could.
So, there ya go. Now what are you going to do? I suggest you guys get into the forums and figure out how to put this thing together. If you don't, I understand. It's a challenge I know but remember I never promised you a rose garden. I can provide the tools but you have to build your house.

I want to become an investor! The problem is I know very little about the stock market and understand even less. I just don't get it. So, I don't want to invest in the stock market. I want to invest in people. I want to invest in the internet. I want to invest in internet people. That's something I do understand and believe in.
In just over four years, I've made a lot of money on the net. I don't have much now because I keep putting it all back into the next thing I want to do. A friend of mine made me laugh the other night in chat when she pointed out that I've made a small fortune from Searchking. Of course I made it by investing a much larger fortune.
I've also been able to accumulate some considerable assets. Of course these are internet assets and that means that I could use them as collateral to borrow money from the bank as long as I put up $40,000 cash for every $20,000 I wanted to borrow.
I own over 200 domains that are all generating considerable traffic. I've got Searchking doing over 30,000 page views a day. I've got Magic-city doing twice that. I've got over 2,000 portal partners. I've got a newsletter with over 1500 readers and I write weekly columns for a few of the highest regarded e-zines on the net with a weekly readership in the hundreds of thousands.
Now, to start this little empire from recovering from multiple heart attacks and so far in debt I couldn't afford to file bankruptcy, I think is pretty impressive. I'm not an easy guy to impress and I'm impressed. I'm wanting to invest these assets in some internet people.
For example, in the Searchking strategy forum we've been discussing a way to promote Searchking and the portal program by using humor. I think there is a tremendous market for technology jokes and specifically internet jokes. I want to start a bob joke site. Much the same as blonde jokes or Jewish jokes or any other of the dozens of ethnic jokes. I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about.
I've mentioned this to a few friends and I got an e-mail the other day from one of them regarding Bob jokes.
What is the difference between Bob and a monkey with a computer?
The monkey is better looking
the monkey doesn't take as long to train
the monkey is a better typist
(and my personal favorite)
the monkey can get credit
Then yesterday another friend sent this one too. The monkey has a vocabulary of 200 words.
I hope you get the idea. Well, the site would use the portal program and do things like let people add their own jokes and then award prizes for the most popular ones. Allow people to post their joke or cartoon and use their url as a sig and then set it up so that anyone could easily send the joke to a friend and that way promote the artist. I believe that it would provide a real hot spot for everybody to jump on the Bob joke wagon. I see no reason that this couldn't become as popular as blonde jokes and people using this almost as much as people use those free e-greeting card sites. There is a Bob with a computer in virtually every office in the world. We all know a Bob somewhere.
This site would generate income by promoting anything it wants to sell. Like a Yahoo top placement affiliate banner, a portal affiliate banner, outside advertising, as well as possibly selling our jokes to e-zines, newsletters, search engines, and other sites. There are probably a few income producing streams that I haven't even thought of yet.
Also, I'm looking for someone to start an ad agency using Searchking as it's main client. Anyone just dying to get into the ad game?
That's just a couple of deals that I want. I have more and I would love to discuss yours. I got to thinking about this back when we were talking in the PPP about some of the ideas that other partners had sent me. Remember the lady who wanted to do the fast food delivery portal? I wish I had talked with her more because I loved the idea and she never signed up so I guess she just wasn't sure if she could do it or not. I think I could have helped had I been willing to invest some of my assets and gotten behind her.
Don't get the idea that I'm going to help set up the business plan, devise the objectives and strategies, develop the procedures and policies, provide the server space, the marketing and the advertising all for nothing. If you have an idea that you're serious about, then I would like the chance to become a new kind of venture capitalist. I will tell you right up front I'm going to expect an investment from you too. How much? I have no idea. It's all going to depend on what we're going to do, the person I'm going to do it with, what we think we can make and what we think it will cost. I just know that I've got a lot better chance of getting results from you if you're serious enough to put your money where your mouth is.
So any takers?
Sorry about this one being so long, but there is so much stuff I thought you should know about this week. I'm still trying to raise money. I've got domains for sale and last week I forgot to put the url where you all could see them, (that's how good at this stuff I am). So it's
I'm still looking for takers on the 10 keywords for two years for $1000 too. So far we've been running those text banner ads for almost three months now and not one person has cancelled! That should say something about the value AND they ain't seen nothin' yet! The traffic is going nowhere but up.
Last but not least. I want to invite everyone to try out the new chat Thursday night. It's got a new address, (of course we'll provide a link to the new at the old), Thursday, 7 pm central time.
Love Y'all

Publisher -- Bob Massa

========June 15, 2000========


Weekly Portal Owner's Diary

What About Searchking

Link Popularity Continued

Looking For Ads In All The Wrong Places

I'm actually pretty proud of everyone at Searchking this week. I think we've pulled off a pretty good little trick and I think it just shows that all of the staff is growing and getting much better at this portal hosting thing.
I'm talking about the fact that we got all the portal pluses moved to the new raid server. Moving about 600 portal sites was a little tricky and to be honest I was expecting a lot more problems than we actually had. The credit for this one should go to Shane because while I was continually pressuring him to DO IT NOW, he stood his ground and insisted we do the testing necessary to make sure it was going to work right before we moved 600 sites. He was right and I'm glad now that he forced me to do it this way.
You see, the tricky part was that to put all those portals on another server meant we also had to put them all on another domain. This means that we would have to change all the plus's url's. Not a good option in my opinion. It would have meant that all the's would have to now be With a little help from our friends, we were able to set it up so that all the pluses still show the url yet they are all sitting on without losing any speed.
I now know how those re-directing services do it. Always wondered about that because I always assumed if the url in the location bar said one domain, that's the domain it had to be on. Not so. It just goes to show that this internet thing is pretty darn versatile.
Anyway, we got it done and nobody died. I do want to thank everyone for their patience.
As you all know, for the last several weeks, I've been begging for money trying to raise $20,000 to pay to Oracle and their software development people to get all the unique features of SK working again. I hated spending that kind of money and the sad fact is that I was pushing very hard for the money and the time I was spending on it was causing several other important projects to suffer. After more than a month, I was only half way to my goal and Oracle didn't seem to appreciate how hard I was trying.
Actually, I didn't really see the advantage in just having Oracle as the database. Thanks to some of our more tech savvy portal partners e-mailing and calling me, I learned that mysql would do everything I wanted it to do. The only reason I wanted Oracle was because that was the only way they would allow their software people to work on getting all the features restored and that was really all I wanted.
As with most things in life, cyber and real, if you focus on looking for what you want, you always seem to find it. Well, I think I have found what I was looking for too and that is someone who is able to do what Oracle was promising to do without me having to come up with so much money I simply didn't have. In the course of our discussions as to what exactly I wanted, the programmer asked me to explain, (briefly), the "Searchking dream". I wrote him and e-mail trying to do just that and I felt that if I'm asking all of you partners to link to Searchking that you deserved to know what that dream was as much as he did.
I'm going to post a copy of that mail here so that you may read it too. It doesn't go into great detail but what I hope to accomplish is to give you all an insight into what I feel makes Searchking different. You can't share my dream if you don't know what it is.

Through my experience as a placement specialist, I am appalled at all the hoops a webmaster has to jump through to be able to expect even a glimmer of a hope of getting decent placement in a major search service without either spending a lot of time learning the process for each specific service or by hiring someone like me. I also know that the majority of people submitting aren't trying to "trick" anyone they are simply more focused on running their business than web site design and search service placement. Most are honest and simply wanting a fair shot and are more than willing to accept the results their site gets based on content. They also don't have a problem with making changes to their content if they only knew what changes to make.
Sk believes that the major services have their focus on stopping spam to the point of making it so that the only people who can place well are the spammers. This is a basic flaw in the entire search service process. They are assuming that most people are going to try to spam them which causes mistrust and fear between the service and the submitter.
The dream of Searchking is to become known as the most honest and fair service available. SK believes that if you assume people are dishonest, they will act dishonestly. On the other hand, if you assume people are honest, the majority will act honestly. SK also believes that it is unfair to penalize the majority of honest people for the actions of a few dishonest people. The purpose of SK is to educate people on how to be successful on the net by simply being honest. We set up all of our features to make it easy for webmasters to represent their sites honestly and then provide features to educate those webmasters on how to be more effective in their marketing attempts by caring enough about their site and their business to want to honestly represent their content.
To this end, SK wants to provide a series of features to make it easy for people who care enough about their site to very simply get represented well. Here is a list of those features.
Instant indexing.
I had been told that this was one of the main things causing serious problems in terms of speed. If that is in fact true, I don't have a problem with doing an update on a timely basis. At one point right after the crash, Sarge had all submissions going to a page that all I had to do was open it and the database was updated with new submissions. However, it doesn't work! Nothing I've ever updated using that has ever been added to the database. Also, this did not address the issues of updating votes and or edits.
I don't mind having to manually update the database on a regular basis if it does help with the speed. I just need to know how long, (hopefully no more than 24 - 48 hours), to be able to announce the policy to the people submitting. I would much prefer instant if at all possible. Whether it's instant or done manually on a schedule, it should include submissions, edits, and votes.
Becoming a member.
We need to offer each submission the choice of becoming a member. Becoming a member allows us to place a cookie on them to provide security and let them edit their submission at any time. This is the only way they can alter their title, description and keyword/phrases.
If they choose not to become a member, then we can not offer this feature to them because without membership, we would have to allow anyone to access their submission and make changes. Of course, that can't happen. The choice they have is to become a member and then be able to edit their submissions or not become a member and then still be able to get listed BUT, they would not have access to the editing feature.
This is probably a good time to mention that we DO NOT WANT auto submissions. SK is only there for the people who care enough about their site to take the time to submit it properly.
We provide a form used to make submissions that ask for title, description, area code, and keyword/phrases. Once indexed the only thing that pulls up their listing is an exact match for the keyword/phrases they CHOOSE. Keyword/phrases need to by separated by commas. Therefore, if you choose shoes, womens shoes, black shoes: your site would come up if anyone typed in any of those three terms. However, if someone typed in black womens shoes, it would not come up.
Once submitted, we automatically add enough relevancy points to every submission, (XXXX points that number may need to be increased by increments of 10 for example, periodically as our database gets larger), that we can be reasonably sure that their site will come up in the top 20 of the results for at least some of their keyword/phrases. Once indexed, the only thing that will move the listing up or down is the click thrus on the title and description and the yes or no votes the listing gets from the public based on how relevant the listing was according to them based on the keyword they used to find them.
Once a listing gets a click thru or a vote based on any one keyword/phrase, it adds or subtracts relevancy points to the site across the board. The idea is simply to get the webmaster to select nothing but relevant keyword/phrases for their site. This eliminates a webmaster trying to get placed highly on keywords that don't apply to their site. For example a shoe site trying to come up under the keyword business. In theory, the site may be highly relevant to shoes, but because they tried to spam us with the keyword business, the public will quickly know that the site is NOT relevant to that keyword and vote no. Since the no votes carry more weight than the yes votes, he gets yes votes moving his site up under shoes, but the no votes for business start pulling his site down. His only choice would be to either accept the lower listings until he moved down into oblivion, or edit the offending keyword out of his listing.
In order to make it easy for the public to vote, we bring the site to them. Most services give you a series of links for a keyword search and when you click a link it sends you to that site. With Searchking, when you click a link, SK will get the site and bring it to you. This allows us to place a small window at the bottom of each page with the voting button always present. This is to encourage our surfers to use the power that SK puts in their hands, because only they are able to determine the placement of the sites in our database.
Notification of votes to webmasters.
This was an extremely important feature to me but for some reason didn't work for very long. It did however work at one time.
Each time someone votes on any site, the webmaster gets an e-mail notification. It lets him know which site got voted good or bad, how many points it added or subtracted and the keyword/phrase used. It also tells them how to fix the bad vote problem and reminds them where the edit page is and how to use it. This is what helps to educate the webmaster on how to pick effective keywords/phrases that keeps his site in the top.
We also offer webmasters the ability to apply for our King of the Web award. If the site submitted gets the award, we place an icon next to the listing assuming the site has been submitted and indexed. This does not add points to the listing BUT, it does help the listing in the respect that visitors can see the icon and they know that someone from the SK staff reviewed the site and found it to be of high enough quality to justify the award. This should help in click thrus which do add points.
Admin Panel.
Everything on the admin panel should be fine if we can just get it working. My main concern is of course the banner administration and the ability to edit and delete sites from the index.
I would like to pay attention to the add an award feature. This is not working and it needs to be because the awards is an important part of our marketing efforts and also, if we can't add that little icon, we can't say we will. The icon goes a long way in helping our reviewed sites to get click thrus which of course moves their site up.
Wish List.
These are a couple of things that aren't there now but I really would like to have and if it's possible, I'd love to see them added.
Keyword tracking.
Since we've started using Curt's java text banners, we have no way of knowing how many times a specific keyword gets searched or how many click thrus a text banner gets. I would like to be able to track the keywords and the click thrus.
Time sensitive ads.
In the banner admin it would be nice if we could have the option of setting those rotating banners by number of impressions OR by date. Since we started doing the try it before you buy it program with ads, we have to check manually to see if the ads have run out and it would be nice to set it up so that we could run the banner from say the 15th of June until the 19th of July and it would maybe notify the webmaster when the ad hit the 15th.
These two things are no biggee but I will have to deal with at least the keyword tracking issue at some point.
That should do it I think. There really never were a whole lot of features to it. I like the idea of being able to do what we need to do with as few features as possible. The fewer features, the fewer things we have to go down.
I'm sure I've forgotten some things and I'm also pretty sure that I have probably not answered all the questions. Just send me anything that comes up and we'll deal with it, however, this should take care of just about everything.

Well, that's it. Pretty simple stuff huh? I have never wanted to be high tech as much as I want to be hi-touch. Technology is great but I believe the technology is only a tool and the real value is in the people and not the tools they use. While this stuff may sound pretty simple, the fact is that I spent many, many hours struggling with how to set up a search service that was more fair to webmasters and gave the searcher decent results. Then the time, (and money), involved in putting together all the people needed to build these custom features.
I'm not saying that SK is any better than anyone else and I'm the first to admit that I don't have the "perfect" way of determining relevant results anymore than Yahoo or Alta Vista. I am saying that I think allowing webmasters to CHOOSE their keywords and then letting the public decide if it's relevant is just as good an approach as having someone who doesn't know you from Adam decide for you what your site is about or using something as silly as who links to you to determine if your site is good or not.
If you're interested in knowing more about my approach to offering a more honest and fair search service, you can read "The Searchking Story" at
Last week's little article about link popularity definitely set off a spark. Some of you can certainly see some of the power that we all have as portal partners and by learning to work together. There has been a really great thread going on in the SK forums about this issue and I encourage all of you to "get involved". If you guys can get together and pull this off, many of you are going to be VERY happy with the results.
I am still looking for someone to take on the job of Searchking advertising manager. I'm not looking for someone who knows the ad game inside and out. I'm not even looking for someone who knows anything about selling. I am looking for a person that cares about the job they do and that can see the potential in managing a site that has unique opportunities such as SK has. There aren't very many other sites anywhere that could place an ad on hundreds of portals!
This person would be responsible for all aspects of the advertising department. Developing strategies, designing the ad site, negotiating the deals, contacting new leads and dealing with the clients. Basically making it happen.
Anyone interested, send me an e-mail to
Well, that's it for another week portal kids.
C Ya Later
Love Y'all

Publisher -- Bob Massa

========June 21, 2000========


Weekly Portal Owner's Diary

A Different Point of View

Private Strategy Forum

Free Banners For Everybody!

This week has been fairly uneventful. We did get the chat program up and running. The only real complaint we had was that the text was too small making it hard to read. Well, Mike Rotter fixed it for us. He resized the graphic and now the text is about 30% bigger making it much easier to read. I think we're ready now to start setting up individual rooms for the portal partners.
When I started this program I thought chat was going to be too easy. Boy, was I wrong! I've bought a total of 4 different chat programs and spent hours upon hours trying to get them installed and working. It was much harder than I expected finding one that would serve our needs and do what it was claiming to be able to do. I'm glad we were finally able to get this one working because I'm ready to move on. Voice chat is the next step I'd like to see SK take but I've been so frustrated with getting just a regular web chat up and going, I'm scared to death of starting out trying to find another one even more technically challenging.
Like most things I've found out about the web, it ain't as easy as it looks and it is very rarely really "free".
I am still waiting with baited breath, (I never did understand what baited breath means. I just hope that it refers to the fact that "I WANT IT NOW!!"), for the ez builder script and to have SK features operational again. Those are the two big things that are holding up our growth. There are several things I want to do but feel my hands are pretty much tied until I am able to get these two things done.
I would very much like to be able to start offering the portal pluses free again. Does anybody remember the day that we had a small ezine of about 5,000 readers run a short little story about SK's portal program and we had over 125 sign ups in two days? The problem was that within 90 days we had over 700 portal pluses sign up, BUT, we only had about 150 of them actually put up their sites. I'm not saying that the only reason for more people not building a portal is because it's too hard, but I am convinced that had I been able to offer the EZ builder, a much higher percentage would have went in and actually got started. According to my research, 150 out of 700 is actually not too far off from what other free hosts expect. Like Geocities for example. They rely on those free sites going up so they have a place to display their ads. They can be profitable at a rate of about 25%. However, because of their system being able to allow you to very easily build a site, their percentage is much higher. I believe with all my heart, the EZ builder will do the same for us.
Of course giving up the $29 set up fee for the pluses presents a concern from the affiliates. Naturally, I can't pay out commissions on a free service. I plan on addressing this by eliminating some of the features for the free one and then selling upgrades. We have found that so many of the features we offer with the plus are just going to waste. They simply aren't being used. We have also found that many people need software that we don't offer. With this program being so versatile, we want to be able to offer anything a person could need to be able to accomplish their own goals.
With the affiliate program we bought, (maybe the only thing I've done right since I started this thing), we are already tracking new sign ups so that if they upgrade to a pro we can identify the affiliate and make sure they get credit for the sale. We will simply continue doing this and that way if a free plus decides they want vanity e-mail, the affiliate would be paid on that upgrade. We hope that over a short period of time we would be able to offer much more than just the standard stuff like more megs and more transfer. Things like auction software. State of the art classifieds. Voice recognition. Digital signature software. Shopping carts. Streaming audio and video, etc.
This gives us a way to provide custom software only to the people who need it and can use it. A way for the portal partner to only have to pay for what they want and generate income for the affiliates and SK as well.
I'm hoping that we will have a working version of the EZ builder in the next week or two.
As far as the SK features, I've had an advertising campaign planned for months now with the objective being to increase traffic to SK and to the portal directory specifically. I don't see any point in advertising something that doesn't work. While it can be very hard and expensive to attract new visitors to any site, it is much, much more difficult to ever get them back once they come and have a bad experience. For that brief moment in time and space when SK was working, we were growing at a phenominal pace. People loved the prospect of being able to simply CHOOSE their keyword and in the time it took to hit the back button, there they were in the top of the results for their keywords. Even I don't mind bragging a little on this one. It was pretty impressive and could definitely make your day. You walked away thinking, "Searchking's pretty cool". I want people thinking that again!
I'm hoping that we will have a working engine again within the next week or two. : )
Speaking of SK, brings me to an e-mail I got from a partner last week. If you remember I published a letter I sent to the programmer called "the dream". In that letter I basically outlined the way Searchking was supposed to work. In order to show you all as portal owners that not everyone sees the same dream as you, I want to post that e-mail from the partner and then provide a response.

Letter received on 6-16-00 in response to the 6-16 issue of the PPP

Hi Bob,
I usually agree with most of what you write, but I do disagree 100% with this:

This is probably a good time to mention that we DO NOT WANT auto submissions. SK is only there for the people who care enough about their site to take the time to submit it properly.

There are a substantial number, if not the majority, of quality web sites that are SOHO operations with a very limited operating budget. We're the little guys trying to compete in cyberspace with the big budget businesses. For many of us, it's our first venture into business for ourselves. For us, TIME is often the most valuable asset we have because we are working full-time day jobs as we try to grow our home business.
We can't afford search engine placement specialists or staff that simply surf for new places to obtain listings and links like big business can, and we can't afford the time it takes to go to the hundreds of search engines and directories ourselves - especially on slow dial up connections. Our limited time is needed for things like responding timely to email, processing orders, and developing content. I know you'd like to think SearchKing is special enough that everyone should submit manually, but if everyone thought like that the little guys don't have a chance at getting 10% of the listings they can obtain using automated tools.
Investing $200 dollars from a small budget, to me, indicates someone who DOES indeed care about their site and dream. It often means taking money from the household budget to invest in our dream of a full-time home business. That money might have meant sacrificing in some other area of our lives, such as postponing a needed car repair or skipping a few meals.
I think your idea of blocking automated submissions hurts the very people you're trying to help, and only the people you're trying to help - the little guy. The big guys don't care about such things, they can afford to "pay someone to care about their site for them" - us little guys don't have that luxury. I think that's wrong and antithetical to the "Bob" I've came to know and respect via the Portal Partner Press. There's my 2 cents.

First, I want to tell you just how much I appreciate your honesty and candor. Whether I agree with you or not is not important. What is important is that I am aware of how you feel. Once I understand how you feel, we can come to some kind of compromise but without knowing, I'm lost.
Ok, I could not agree more that the majority of quality websites on the net are operated by people who have a limited budget, but that does not change the fact that auto submissions are still the source of the VAST majority of spam that SK got. Once again, the sad fact is that the few have ruined a good thing for the many.
If it were up to me I would offer that perfect solution, I just don't think there is any such thing. The problem of course is that there is no software that I'm aware of that will allow me to pick and choose who can use auto submit software to submit their site to SK and who can't. How do I tell the program, "only let the honest people use it"? I can't . So that forces me to have to make a decision and history has proven that if I let you submit your 10 or 20 good pages, then I have to find the resources to delete the other 6,000 pages that are not good. Now that's just from a strictly portal owner point of view.
From a personal point of view, I still feel strongly that the people with the smallest budgets are the ones who need to avoid those auto submit programs the most. The whole idea of auto submission is to get as many pages as possible submitted to as many engines as possible as fast as possible. Right there, this is a contradiction. In fact, the very statement, submitting 100's of quality pages to 1,000's of quality search engines is an oxy-moron. Even you have to accept that there is no auto submit program that will secure Yahoo or DMOZ for you. Those two services have the potential of sending much more traffic to your quality site than hundreds of others combined.
I'm not comparing SK to those services. I realize that SK does not offer the value of hand submitting that those services do, but that's not the point. The point is that SK is not better than anyone else, it's just different. We require information to index you properly that is not provided for on those auto submit programs. So, the bottom line is that even if I do allow them, it won't work. What does work is getting thousands and thousands of submissions on a daily basis that I can't use. That takes up my valuable resources which wastes my time and the person's submitting it.
The reason I have developed the policy that I have is that I can offer you something of value. If you take the time to hand submit your site to Yahoo or Dmoz, (or just about any other service out there), you have no idea if you were accepted or not, let alone placed in the top. With Searchking, when you hand submit and CHOOSE the keywords/phrases you want, by the time you hit the back button, you will find your site in the top under at least some of those keywords. The feeling that gives you is worth something. In my opinion, it's worth the 3 minutes it takes to hand submit.
So, while I can see where my policy makes you think it is anti-ethical to the "Bob" you've come to know, in fact, I am trying my best to help those little guys become bigger guys. My philosophy is derived from several years of being very familiar with auto submit programs and being one of those professionals the "big guys" hire to take care of their sites. Believe me, I want the easiest fastest way of doing it more than anybody. The faster and easier I can get my clients placed, the more profit I make. The fact is I know from my own experience that the only way to generate consistent traffic from the major search services is to take the time to do it the way they want it done and they don't want it done with auto submit programs due to the same exact problems I mentioned above. I do what I do the way I do it because I am totally convinced that the little guy has a much better chance of becoming a big guy if he will take the time to build a quality site, (not short, keyword stuffed doorway pages), and then hand submit them to the major services. It only takes a few minutes to submit and if a guy working a full time "real" job would just submit to one a night, within a few weeks, he will see much better results than spending his time submitting a lot of pages to a lot of engines.
As soon as I can get all the features working again, I am hoping that I can win you over. Am I doing the right thing? Only time will tell, but I believe I am.
For all you members of the strategy forum, we have a private room set up at SK forums. I sent an e-mail to you all with the password, but it appears that it didn't get delivered for some reason. I'll send you all another e-mail today. Sorry the intranets thing didn't work out but I just couldn't get the hang of reading the previous posts which made it hard for a guy with extreme mental limitations like me, to follow the discussions. I think having it at the SK forum will make it a little easier for us all to feel comfortable enough to start making things happen. I have a lot of things I'd like to talk about in there.
Also, since we were able to do this fairly easily, I thought I would open discussion about also having a private moderators forum. Like the staff lounge at Virtual Promote. It would give moderators a way to discuss issues privately that pertain to doing a better job of helping our partners through the forums. If you moderators think this is something of value, send me an e-mail.
We have spent quite a bit of time this past week trying to tighten up our banner rotations throughout all the SK properties. The thing that hits me the most is it is glaringly obvious that inventory I got, banners I need!
Since I have all of this available space and no one beating down my door to buy it, I would like to offer it to my portal partners. My reasons for this is simply that if I'm willing to give away banner space I want to give it to my partners. Also, I would expect you guys to be a little more open and honest with me in terms of effectiveness. I will give you the banners but I want some feedback.
So here's the deal. I will run a 468x60 banner for any portal partner reading this. These will be generic rotating banners which will be displayed throughout SK and all the power portals and portal pluses, (so no dirty stuff). This offer is good from now until the 15th of July and will run for at least 60 days or longer depending on how quickly we start selling ads. Of course my hope is that these banners will increase your income enough to justify the expense of continuing running them but we'll discuss that later after we have a chance to check the stats for a while.

Now for the "let's make a deal" section. I will run four banners for a year for $100. I'll run 10 banners for a year for $200. That's like $1.60 per banner per month! Sound good?
Send me the banners you would like me to run to, Make sure to give me the url of where to go and get the banner and the url to link it to.
Good Luck!
That's it for this week portal kids. I'm always a little paranoid about rambling on too much.
Love Y'all

Publisher -- Bob Massa

========June 28, 2000========


Weekly Portal Owner's Diary

Google Bends Over Backwards To Help Searchking Portals

Strategy Forum Produces Results
$100 Contest

Here's a Firecracker For You

Good News For Next Week

The biggest advancement in my life as a portal owner this week comes not from the world of technology, but more from the medical field. The world of pharmacology to be exact.
I have been an insomniac since my childhood. I can remember forming a tent with my bed covers and writing poems, drawing pictures, and writing out business plans when I was in the second grade. Bedtime was 9 pm at my house, but I would rarely get to sleep before 2 or 3 in the morning, which meant my mother had to go through a daily ritual of yelling at me, shaking my bed, even having to go as far as throwing water on me a few times to get me out of bed at 6 in the morning so I could get to school on time. I've been tired most of my life.
About 8 years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes. No sympathy please because there are much worse diseases to have. Reflecting on the kind of life I lead as a younger man, I'm actually pretty lucky that all I have to deal with is diabetes. (Speaking of this now puts me in mind of a dear friend who understands exactly what I'm talking about, love ya K). With diabetes, you can live a normal life without much pain if you just get a little exercise, (which I don't of course), eat right, (again, which I don't of course), and get enough rest. AH, rest. Hence the rub!
Over these last few months, Searchking has given my life one thing above all else. STRESS! Jeez, I've spent the last 6 months getting about 4 hours sleep a night. In my youth, this wasn't a problem. I was one of those guys that could party all night and go to work the next morning and then when I got off at 5, do it again! Well, those days slipped away with my waistline. Now if I don't get enough sleep I feel like crap. For a long time now, I have longed for only one thing. A day where I just felt good. I've been so long feeling sick and tired I was becoming a little scared that no matter what rewards life held for me down the road, that I would never be able to enjoy them without feeling bad.
About 20 years ago, I had complained about my insomnia to a doctor and he prescribed some pills for me called Halcyon. These things could knock an elephant down! Well I slept and the next day I felt great. I thought I had found the answer.
Within 90 days, I took my sleeping pill and the phone rang. A friend had some minor disaster and I HAD to give her a ride. I figured I had enough time to take care of this emergency and get home before the pills kicked in. On my way home, I fell asleep at the wheel, ran off the road and hit a culvert going 60 MPH. I woke up in the hospital with no recollection whatsoever of the accident. My face was cut to shreds. My teeth were knocked out and of course my new van was totaled, BUT, once I realized what had happened, I also realized that I was completely out of control of that vehicle and I could have just as easily went off the road the other direction and hit someone head on.
I simply can't imagine a more frightening hell than living with my back broken and getting to spend the rest of my life lying there thinking about some Mother and her two kids that I killed in a car wreck because I was driving under the influence of those pills. I stopped taking them and swore to never take sleeping pills again.
I'm part Cherokee Indian and enjoy the benefit of paid medical services through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Last week was my regularly scheduled check up and I complained that my quality of life was deteriorating rapidly because I couldn't sleep. After arguing with her for several minutes, she convinced me of two things.
#1. There have been incredible advances in prescription medication over the last 20 years and that there were several options available now that I didn't have then.
#2. I'm older and have the experience to realize I'm an adult and not a kid and if a friend wants me to drive them somewhere after it's time to go to bed, --- call a cab dude!
She prescribed some sleeping pills for me.
I started taking these pills, (I can't even remember the name of them right now), last Friday and while I still have to watch my diet to keep from feeling a little sick, I'm sleeping! I have felt better in the last few days than I have felt in the last 5 years! I feel like a new man. I'm excited and no longer scared of what the future holds for me. I FEEL GOOD! Wow, what a difference. I have more energy, (which Kathi seems to appreciate), I can think more clearly and it's a whole new world.
It's not really my nature to blow my own horn, but I'm not blind either. I know that to have accomplished what I have with Searchking and Magic-city over the last few years is nothing short of incredible. To start with absolutely nothing and to have come this far without ever even considering giving up is quite an achievement and I am very proud. My biggest concern for a long time now has always been that my health would give out. Now I know that all I ever needed was some sleep. I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction.
Everything I've done in the last four years is nothing compared to what I'm going to do in the next two. Now I've got a lot of really great people behind me, now I've got knowledge that few people have and now I feel good! I feel like building something really great that can change the world and I'm going to do it. Am I a dreamer? You betcha!

For those of you that don't know, Yahoo is the single largest traffic generator on the net. Also for those of you who don't know, if Yahoo doesn't have listings for a keyword search in it's own directory it uses a default engine to bring back what Yahoo calls "Web Page Results". For years this default engine has been powered by Inktomi. Well, it's a new ballgame now.
Yahoo announced this week that they are dropping Inktomi and within 30 days will be using Google as their default search engine. Yahoo will still be using Inktomi for what they are calling corporate portal results which I don't have the foggiest notion of what that is at this point, (however, the word portal did catch my eye), but as far as keyword searches go, Google is it.
Well, guess what Google uses to determine rank? Link popularity. It's a little more complex than just having a link pointing to your site but it's the same basics. They also are concerned with the length of time spent on your site and how many pages from your site get accessed but over all still having a link from somewhere else is going to help dramatically and the more popular the site that links to you is, the better off you are.
Some of you may remember me harping at you all over the last few weeks about setting up a link program with all your portals. One reason I had been pushing you for this is that I had heard rumors over a month ago that Yahoo was negotiating with Google. I had thought that they were going to start using Google technology to display their category results instead of using the alpha system they use now, (I'm still hearing rumors to that effect), but I did know that having link popularity was going to become very important to Yahoo.
As it turns out, it couldn't have worked out much better for us if I had paid them. With Google's system, the portals are going to kill when it comes to link popularity. People stay on portals longer and access more pages and more people link to and bookmark portals than web sites. That's not me saying that. That's statistics!
If you guys don't get to the forums and work this out, you are going to let your competitors get the edge. That's not the end of the world but I sure don't see why you wouldn't take advantage of what you have earned through your efforts!

A few weeks back I advertised for some of you to join a private strategy forum. Lo and behold I was able to get some really great people for it and off we went. We started out using a third party service for our forum boards but after a week or so, it just wasn't working out. We then went to Searchking, (where we should have stayed in the first place), set up a password-protected site and BINGO, we got results!
This strategy forum is going to make all the portal partners a lot of money. Not because we're smarter than anyone else or because we have some secret way of making money, but for the simple reason that planning is the key to success in any business. In my opinion, the single biggest challenge for Searchking to overcome is not the fact that we lack the deep pockets of most of our competitors, it is that we lack effective planning. Oh I've got all kinds of scraps of paper all over my office with notes to myself regarding what I "plan" to do. Also, I've had the basic Searchking "dream" written down actually pretty concisely and have reviewed it so many times, I pretty much know it by heart and that is probably the single biggest factor in what has gotten us this far, but as far as short term and long term objectives and strategies -- I need help.
Back to the deep pockets issue. We're always hearing things like "of course they're successful, they had a million dollars to invest". Well, the recent decline in tech stocks show us that just having money doesn't make it work. The smart ones are the ones that took that money and hired people to do the planning. So what does planning cost? The good thing is it doesn't cost any money. It's just that it's not easy and that makes it hard for most people to feel comfortable about doing it.
This is exactly why I'm so excited about our little strategy forum. I've been fortunate enough to find a few people who share my vision and are willing to invest a little of their time to contribute. This is such a huge asset! This forum is going to do more for Searchking than all the servers and all the programs put together. The first step is planning and I finally feel that we are at a point where we can take that first step.
In fact we have taken the first step. Our short term objective is to increase the number of portal partners in July. We developed a strategy that affects you all and that brings me to. . .
Searchking will pay $100 to the affiliate who brings in the most sign ups in the month of July. No big complex deal, no hold-backs, no restrictions. Which ever affiliate has the most wins the money!
We don't care if you get those sign ups by calling friends, posting in forums, taking the order form to shopping malls and signing up people as they walk by! Short of spamming people, we encourage you to be creative and get those affiliate trackers rolling.
Run some free ads.
Put something on your website about it.
Write and submit articles about the portals to some of your favorite e-zines.
If you publish an e-zine write an article about it.
In fact, I'll pay $50 to anyone who writes an article and it gets it ran in e-zines that reaches at least 10,000 readers. I don't care if that's one e-zine or 20 as long as you can show me that it went out to at least 10,000 -- 50 bucks! (If you go for the $50 I would encourage you to use your affiliate link).
If you haven't signed up as an affiliate yet, DO IT! Go to and sign up before July 1st.
The $100 will be paid in addition to your regular commission, so here's your chance to make a buck just by doing what I love, (was that a typo?) getting new portal partners! Hurry and don't miss out on your opportunity to become a hundredaire!
I'm not going to write a 4th of July story. I know you guys have all come to expect me to tell you some tear drenched tale of holiday woe that ends with some poignant point, intended to deliver some socially redeeming and spirit-lifting moral. Well, not this time.
Oh, I've got 'em to tell. Like the time my step-father told me to hold the firecracker and throw it just before it went off. Of course laying it on the ground, lighting it with a shaking hand and then running like crazy was always my favorite way to partake in the festivities. On this occasion though he informed me that I was just a big scaredy-cat and he was going to bust my butt if I didn't hold it until he yelled NOW. My step-father was a 250 lb roofer with arms the size of a gorilla and when he said he would bust your butt, trust me, you're butt was about to be busted!
One second, two seconds, three and BOOM!
Holding my blackened and blistered hand I ran into the house crying while all I could hear was his roaring laughter in one ear and the ringing that I can still hear to this day in the other.
But I'm not going to tell that one. I just want to wish you all a safe and happy 4th of July!
Enjoy the holidays and take a nap. You need the rest!
There will be no issue of the Portal Partner Press next week. Please, please dry your tears and try to be strong. It's just that I'm going to be out of town next week and will not have time to get it done. I'll be back in the ole PPP saddle the following week though and with any luck will be able to announce the EZ Builder is operational.
Love y'all

Publisher -- Bob Massa