Wednesday, November 1, 2000
PORTAL PARTNER PRESS November 2000
========November 6, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Ok, Now We're Talking to the Boss Cont'd
OK, NOW WE'RE TALKING TO THE BOSS
To refresh your memory, here's where we left off last week.
It's up to you to develop a presentation that you're comfortable with, but I will give you an example of what I would say and again, if you just do that word for word and then let me know what happens, you'll be bringing in those sales -- Guaranteed!
I would say, (after being introduced by the friend I had just made): "I'm developing an internet website about local businesses and I would very much like to list your business as well. I know how busy you must be and I don't want to waste your time, so I'll just ask you one question. Would you allow me to list your business in my web site if I can show you how it will improve your image within the community, bring in new customers and make you more money without it costing you a dime?"
You've communicated your intent. You've talked about things he understands, things like being busy and improving his image, that's establishing reality. You've done that by being honest, open and sympathetic to his situation. He should like that -- affinity. Now he's likely to say two things:
#1 I'm not interested. (see above #1)
#2. So how are you going to show me all that? Bingo! You're 90% of the way home to making this person your customer.
If you have established Affinity, Reality and Communication with this individual, he is VERY likely to say #2 as opposed to #1. If #1 is their answer, then you did NOT establish Affinity, Reality and Communication. You missed the boat somewhere and you probably know exactly where. It was when he crossed his arms over his chest, or it was when his eyes wandered away from yours and he feigned interest in something other than you. If you just take a minute and think about what happened, the signs were there for you to learn from.
Don't take this as a total failure. At least get his e-mail address and his permission to send him more information later.
Assuming you got the answer #2, now it's time to strengthen the bond you've started by following the basics. FEATURE - BENEFIT - ACTION.
Tell them what you will do, but most importantly, tell them how they benefit from what you do and then tell them what they need to do to get started. Again, I can't tell you without being there with you what EXACTLY to say, but I can tell you what I would say.
I would say: "The internet has become such a huge part of the lives of almost every human being in the world that it is not just a neat new tool, it is becoming a necessity for businesses just like a telephone or a copy machine. By having a web presence in your own hometown, it can open up new ways to answer customer questions. It makes you a leader in technology and by being in a hometown website, it shows you care about the community.
"This gives you a free salesman 24/7 without the expense of hiring someone. This shows you care about your customers and the service you can give them. It gives you an image of someone who is keeping up with the times and, it keeps them from going to a competitors website when they can't find yours.
"You can advertise specials, sales, new employees, new products as well as just your hours and location. It is faster, easier and much cheaper than a phone book ad. It can save you money, but more importantly, it can make you money.
"Naturally, just like you, I run a business and need to generate income to stay in business. Of course we offer several types of web design and development as well as several ways to advertise, but, I can't show the value of those services until I first show you the value of the hometown web site itself. That is why I'm willing to build you a first web site free of charge just so I can include your business on my website. Of course we're not talking about an entire site with ordering capabilities, product pictures and nice graphic design. Those things take time and of course I would love to do them for you but I can't make you rich for free, right?
"What I will do is build you a page with the basic information on it such as your location, your hours and any thing that you feel makes your business a good choice for potential customers. I'll do all that free of charge and all I ask is that when you have questions about the site, you'll ask me first. Fair enough? Ok, give me your business name, your hours and how to contact you and I'll have something for you to look at next week."
Believe it or not, most people are honest and if this person agrees to take the website for free and ask you questions first, they very likely will do just that. You do a good job, you treat them fairly and with respect and you will have yourself a client.
It is also very likely that this person has some ideas about the web already and has simply not found a way to provide function to his concept. He is very likely to start asking all kinds of questions and each question will provide you with an opportunity to just not say no.
Now all this discussion started because of Frederick's question about why the process wasn't working. All the words I've written can be interchanged with almost any combination of other words. what you say isn't as important as how you say it. The reason it wasn't working was because there was no Affinity, Reality and Communication. Get that part down and the world is at your feet.
Thanks to Frederick for sending in the following question:
Here's a question for our design guru--
Being from a construction background, my own web design work is usually square, orderly, with excellent navigation, and somewhat boring. My '1960 AREA WEBSITE AND DIRECTORY' is a departure from the strictly business stuff I have done in the past. This one is consumer, community, family, kids-seniors-moms and dads, pets, gardens, horoscopes et al.
Is excitement created simply by being disorderly, and is crowding everything together going to prevent visitors from getting bored?
This is a tough one, Frederick! Excitement is a very relative term when it comes to graphic design. What might be exciting on a game site could be considered chaotic on a business site, but each site needs to create a feeling of dynamic, exciting content that appeals to its target audience. Big sites, with lots of $$ to spend, tend to accomplish this by paying high end designers and programmers to keep things constantly moving. This doesn't necessarily mean that they use a lot of animation or flash movie type content, but they do tend to use programming to rotate or update content more frequently than can be done on a static html site. That said, you don't have to shell out big bucks to accomplish a similar feeling of excitement on your site.
You have already taken the first step in creating excitement on your portal. The very first thing that every designer needs to know about a planned site is the intended audience, and every decision about content, layout, colour scheme, etc. is based on that information. Your portal needs to appeal to families, so colour and dynamic content will be 2 of the most important elements in its design. Children tend to be attracted to bold primary and secondary colours, teens want things to be different every time they visit, and mom and dad want to easily find the information they need. Sounds like an impossible task, doesn't it? It isn't, really.
Let's start with navigation. Since you are going to be playing around with colour and content later, it's very important to establish a rock solid navigational system that can be carried throughout the site. Whatever else is happening on any given page, your visitors need to know how to get out or move on. You might want to use left hand navigation bars, or top and bottom, or you might want to fly in the face of tradition and use right hand navigation. Whichever you choose, you need to repeat it consistently throughout the site. You should also consider placing links to major pages at both top and bottom. Text links make for the fastest download times, but they can be a little boring. Graphic/text buttons look a little nicer, but they're pretty standard too. Amusing icons can be used to add a little excitement, as long as you make certain to use alt text to identify the links to those who might be confused by the cute little pictures.
On to colour! This is accomplished by using background colours (for tables and pages) and graphics. One or two GOOD graphics can turn up the excitement level by several notches. A splash of bold colour, here and there, can accentuate this effect. Don't be afraid to use strong colours. Primary (red, blue, yellow) and secondary (green, purple, orange) colours have broad appeal, and tend to work well together. They are particularly attractive to children. Just remember to leave some "white space" between your splashes of colour.
So you see, Frederick, chaos is not a necessary part of creating an exciting site. You have the basics already, with your insistence on good navigational structure, and identification of your target audience. You just need to "think outside the box" for a while, and let your imagination go. Play with rotating content. Experiment with colours that you wouldn't normally use. Let the creative side of your brain take over for a while.
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Canada design house. She owns the Graphic Design Portal and Eye on Winnipeg, and writes a variety of articles and newsletters for publication.
You can contact Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org
That will take care of it for another week. Don't forget to send in your questions. Remember that you can get more information specific to your question here than in the forums.
Have a great week!
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========November 13, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Give Me a Chance
What the Future Holds
Looking For An Advice Columnist
GIVE ME A CHANCE
We've got the new free webhosting plus site up and running at www.free-webhosting-plus.com. It went live Saturday and already we can see a huge increase in responses. Last week we had a total of about 12 sign ups. In the last 48 hours we've had 14. We got a hit on our hands.
With this new site will come many changes and as with any changes in life it will cause some degree of concern. There are more features added, more options available and new pricing for several of these changes. Many of you are going to have questions as to how to best take advantage of the new process. Go to the forums for your answers. I will try to spend a little more time in there over the next few weeks for the specific purpose of making this transition as easy as possible for all of us.
The main thing I want everyone to understand is when I make a deal I keep it. Everyone that signed up for a portal plus or portal pro before the new site went live, (11-11-00), the rules that were posted at that time are the rules that apply to that account. If you signed up before the new rules were posted, then that is the deal you got on that account. Every feature, every option, everything you expected to get from that deal is what you will get. Every account that is taken with the new site up, those rules apply to those accounts. Every deal offered on the new site is exactly what you will get.
Now, all that I ask is for all of you to realize that the changes affect me just like they affect you. It is possible that we will make some mistakes until we develop the new procedures. If we do and you are not getting what you thought you had, don't get mad, (it just makes things harder and slows the process down), just let me know and give me a chance to take care of it.
In a little over a year of running this program, I have not mislead you, lied to you or tried to shy away from any responsibility. I'm the first to admit that I've made a lot of mistakes, but all in all, I've worked very hard to provide what I think is the just about the most unique opportunity on the net. Not so much for what I've done as much as for what I've tried to do and am continuing to try to do, I feel at the very least I should have earned your respect and trust. If you have a problem, just let me know and give me the chance to take care of it. Don't expect us to be able to do anymore than our best and cut us a little slack if we can't do what you want as fast as you want it. Expect the best from us and give us a little credit when you get our best.
At the very least, you can expect us to keep our word!
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
As I said, there have been a lot of changes made. I am extremely confident that these changes are for the good of Searchking, the members, the searching public, and the portal partners. The objective of these changes are to increase the number of people using the program to build topic-specific portals, to increase our income to the point of profitability and to provide more opportunity for success to our partners.
I'll give you a brief run-down on the things Searchking will be focusing on in the next few weeks.
After a year, the ad program for Searchking has never been working right. We basically generate absolutely nothing from our portal pluses. The whole idea of making Searchking advertising unique was that when you bought an ad on Searchking, you were buying an ad on thousands of other portals as well. Now that the new site is up, this is our first priority. We will focus on getting the text banners running on all pluses search results as well as getting the banner rotation program installed and stabilized on the power portals, the pluses and the e-mail program.
I'm very disappointed in our affiliate program. I'm not disappointed in the program itself, it works just fine. I'm disappointed in the way I have run it. We have far too few affiliates making far too few dollars. Over the next few weeks, we will be focusing on getting the affiliate program running right and making some money for our affiliates.
Our first step in this direction was to get the new site up. We now offer twice the hosting services we did before. We have the portal plus, which is free, the power portal which is basically a free homepage, the portal premium which is $20 per month, regular web hosting which is $20 per month, and the portal pro which is $49 per month. We also now offer all these paid services by the month, every 6 months and once a year. This alone should increase the dollar amount of those affiliate checks going out.
In addition, we have limited several features of the free programs and made the upgrades a paid solution. For example, with a new portal plus you still get a free classified program but it's limited to 25 ads. The objective here is to take the try it before you buy it concept to the next level. Searchking will give anyone wanting to build a quality web site or topic-specific portal site all the tools necessary absolutely free. Once the portal partner has had the chance to use those features, they can determine the value of those features for themselves. If it is a feature that can help in their success, then they will be expected to pay a small fee for it. If they feel they don't need it, they can use the free version and are not expected to pay for anything.
This makes the upgrades another very good way for the affiliates to earn income. As always, we will track for one year, anyone that signs up under that affiliates number. If within that year they upgrade to any paid version of anything, the affiliate gets paid for as long as that person continues to pay for the service they selected. This is a tremendous opportunity to build substantial residual income.
Speaking of features, we have several new feature upgrades already in the works. Once we get the ad program running, and the affiliate thing tightened up, the next thing we will focus on is new features. Some of the first new features we will be offering are:
An e-commerce solution with secure server, shopping cart, merchant accounts and custom order forms.
A homepage program so our partners can offer free web page hosting to their clients.
Professional stats, (Dave and I both are really disappointed in the current offering of stats programs and we think we have one that is much better. We have plans for offering this to the general public as a paid feature and of course do it using Searchking affiliates).
An affiliate program that portal partners can use on their own portals.
A real spider that all partners can use to build their own databases.
A mysql version and expanded search capabilities.
From there we are going to start looking into things like voice activation and recognition, video and audio applications and custom scripts. (Remember that issue of the Portal Partner Press where I talked about our goal being to provide function to concept? Well this is where all this part of these upgrades is going).
We plan on having the majority of these features operational within the first quarter of 2001 and the rest within a year from now.
While reading the staff lounge forums today, I got some news that really made my day. One of our very first portal partners became ill earlier this year. We were all really worried about her. Today she posted in the forums that she is feeling a lot better and is coming home to us all.
Karen Weber, you have been missed and we are all very happy to see you feeling well enough to become involved again. We look forward to many years of being able to work together for the good of us all.
There is also another little homecoming announcement I would like to make.
Most of you are all familiar with Netcommr. Well his name is Dave Donlinger and he is one of the people who has done a lot for a lot of partners in getting them over the humps. He has been an invaluable source of tech support in the forums. He single-handedly built the free-webhosting-plus site. He has just about rebuilt the portal program from the ground up. He has provided Searchking with a lot of unique custom scripts that no one else can offer, not to mention he has become a very important part of the Searchking machine.
Dave has worked for a company for over a year as the webmaster and promotion specialist and over this year has become increasingly unhappy with his employer and the more involved he got with Searchking, the more opportunity he saw. Dave informed me just the other day that he has decided to take me up on my offer and move to OKC for the sole purpose of getting Searchking to where we both think it can be. While this is going to be a behind the scenes kind of thing, I can assure you that this step will take Searchking and all your portals to a new level faster than anything else that could have happened. This is really going to start pushing things forward.
Now I'll go back to working on Mike, Shane and Dan.
Many thanks to Jacques for sending these questions:
The power html-build-Portal = cgi-build-Portal (or not)? Or too close to call? (a new expression I have learned this week)
Do I have to use an html-editor (Homesite, AceHtml) or can I use a WYSIWYG like Frontpage2000?
I have seen in the forums that Raffman (Rafferty) and Jane Ellen are occupied with the practical problems of html-build, ftp-upload and other things. Maybe there is one disadvantage: the reindexing of the database. How does it go in both systems? Automatic adaptation or total reindexing after each update?
I have made a link in my kite-website web.wanadoo.be/belkite/ but I don't think it works right (for the affiliate). Do you (or somebody else) see what's wrong?
The decision to use dynamic cgi or built html for your portal will depend on a number of things. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will depend on which set of issues works best for your situation.
Dynamic cgi offers the fastest way to get your portal online, and maintain your site. Changes made in the template editor are immediately integrated into the site, with no further steps necessary. This might be the best option for someone new to the program, because it offers the fewest steps to publishing. This method also conserves server space, since all interior search engine pages are dynamically generated. This means that pages are created as needed, and disappear after use. They don't take up space in your site. If you have a large database, or limited space available, you probably want to consider using dynamic cgi to generate your internal Hyperseek pages.
That said, there are two major disadvantages to this method. Using dynamic cgi forces the server to work harder. It must create all of the internal Hyperseek pages from "scratch", every time someone clicks on a category link or performs a search. This can slow down your site, especially if the server is busy. The second major disadvantage is that dynamic pages cannot be indexed by search engines, because they don't really exist. If you choose the dynamic cgi option, only your home page will be indexable.
Built html gets rid of the disadvantages of the dynamic cgi method. Server response tends to be faster, because the pages already exist, and all of your category and subcategory pages can be indexed by the search engines. If you have a relatively small database, or lots of space on your site, this might be the option for you.
Of course, this method also has disadvantages. If your space is limited, you have a large database, or you have a lot of other services on your portal, built html might not be an option. Remember that using built html creates static html pages for each of your categories and subcategories, and each of those pages takes up space on the server. The larger your database, the more pages created, and the more space used.
The other disadvantage of built html is that template changes and new listings are not automatically integrated into the site. You must rebuild the html pages every time you add a listing, make a change to your templates, or have a new classified ad to be posted.
Text editor, or WYSIWYG? Hmm, tough question. WYSIWYG editors, like FrontPage 2000 are fine for doing your template layouts. If you aren't too sure of html, they can save you a lot of time. You do have to make certain that the program options are set so that the program does not "correct" any code that you enter, because all of your plugins will have to be added through the html view, or "add html" option. Most WYSIWYG editors also add in unnecessary bits of code that can be removed without affecting the page. FrontPage 2000 tends to add in extra div and center tags, sometimes in the most ridiculous places (like between table cells). These can, and should, be removed once you are comfortable "reading" html. Getting rid of the extra tags, and taking out unnecessary indentation in the html code can shave one to two seconds off your page download time. That's a nice bonus for taking the time to learn a little bit about html.
SearchKing affiliate links should always end with the affiliate number. They should look like this: http://secure.interferenza.net/searchkingportal4u/al/affiliates.cgi?YOURAFFILIATENUMBER Just replace YOURAFFILIATENUMBER with the actual number you were assigned.
Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Canada design house. She owns the Graphic Design Portal and Eye on Winnipeg, and writes a variety of articles and newsletters for publication.
You can contact Lynne at email@example.com
LOOKING FOR AN ADVICE COLUMNIST
Lynne, I want to say publicly how much I appreciate the job you are doing. You have given so much to so many without ever asking for anything in return. That says a lot about you and I want you to know that I for one think you are a very special person and I am very proud to have someone like you as a partner.
Lynne's forte is design not marketing. She is an excellent marketer for sure, but that is not what she feels is her best point. So, we are still looking for someone who wants to take on the job of advice columnist on the topic of portal marketing. We had someone that just could not get their schedule worked out, so we have that spot open if anyone would like to become famous.
You don't have to be some "expert". The net has plenty of those already. You just have to care about your portal partners enough to want to do what you can to help. If you're interested, let me know in e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, that's it for another week kids. Send me those Ask Lynne questions! We don't want her getting used to time off do we?
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========November 20, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Opportunity is Knocking Our Doors Down
A spidering We Will Go
SK Affiliate Program
Have a Great Holiday
OPPORTUNITY IS KNOCKING OUR DOORS DOWN
This past week or so has seen some major changes in the world of search services. It's actually been going on since GoTo started its pay for placement bidding service two years ago, then Yahoo upped the ante with it's paid review guarantee. This last couple of weeks though has caused quite an uproar, at least among webmasters who specialize in guaranteeing top spots on those major search services.
This last two weeks has seen the announcement by GoTo.com that now their results will be displayed on the top of the results for AOL, Netscape, Lycos, Hot Bot and Alta Vista. This pretty much answers the question that has been raging for the last several months: Are free listings in the search engines a thing of the past? Well, maybe not quite yet, but it appears obvious that it won't be long.
I've been a member and a moderator for several years of some of the biggest search engine placement forums on the net and I frequent them almost daily. The topic of what is going to happen to the search engine placement business has been hotly debated recently with most views leaning towards gloom and doom. The general consensus is why would anyone pay a search engine placement service when they can pay the search engine directly?
This particular question is exclusive to the placement industry and I don't see it as being really important to us as portal owners. What I do see as significant is the other questions such as what about the little guy? Does this mean now that the only people who have a chance at success are the ones that can afford to buy their search engine listings?
At first glance, those questions above seem reasonable, except for people like us.
Where are people who can't afford to pay $3.47 a click going to go? Where are people who run small businesses with no intention of becoming the next Yahoo going to go? Where can a guy just get a break? One answer that comes to mind is Searchking.
We are all sitting in an incredible position of being able to capitalize on all this upheaval. We are building the world's only community of topic specific portals. By using Searchking and it's directory as a foundation we are in a position to offer everyone regardless of their budget, a place to get their website seen, honestly and fairly.
While at this time, the major amount of dissention is coming from search engine placement people, it's not going to be long before every webmaster in the world is very aware of what is happening at the majors. Do you think the first thing they might do is start looking for alternatives? Do you think once they realize they are not going to come up in the top 10 of Alta Vista without paying through the nose for it regardless of how much hidden text they put on their page, that they might start considering the value of targeted traffic from a topic specific search engine?
Alta Vista is supposed to be one of the fastest indexing search engines around and it takes a minimum of a week to ten days. Now you have to pay for the privilege of waiting 10 days. Searchking indexes instantly, the same as everyone of your portals can.
Once you are in Alta Vista, if you make changes to your site, it can take literally months to get your changes updated. Searchking allows you to edit your site instantly. Do these sound like features that may be appealing to someone once they discover they have to pay for the service those engines offer?
For a long time now I've been concerned with marketing Searchking and it's portal program. All of a sudden I see a way that our competitors are going to start marketing for us. Marketing is still going to be an important factor in our future plans, all I'm saying is that our market has just increased by thousands of percentage points and it's due to the decisions THEY made and not ones we have made. One of our biggest challenges has been how to get webmasters and searchers to see the value in our service and our philosophy and that job has just gotten a lot easier.
Another aspect of this is that right now the same press that caused so much excitement in tech stocks just a mere 18 months ago, now seems to delight in putting every internet company failure as the top headline. Again, this gets the gloom and doom guys posting feverishly in their respective forums announcing that e-commerce is dead, the future of the internet is bleak and so on. Absolutely ridiculous! Nothing could be further from the truth.
The only thing that is coming to an end are companies that never should have been valued in the 100's of millions of dollars in the first place. All that has happened is that the venture capitalists have proved that in spite of their greed, they are not as smart as they thought they were.
Do any of you really think the internet is going away? That people are going to decide that since pets.com went broke, there is no value to the net? Again, absolutely ridiculous. The promise of the net is as alive as it was in the 60's. What is dying is the mad dash for getting rich quick. Far too many companies went public for the simple reason they could. They couldn't see past their own wallets and now the fiddler has to be paid.
Internet companies that were so over-valued were in such a hurry to cash in that they didn't look realistically at what they were claiming to be able to do. The internet was never intended to be the world's shopping mall, it was intended to pass information more quickly, more reliably and more securely. While those companies were correct in assuming that a part of any retail sale involves the exchange of information, they missed the boat in not realizing that the information was the key and not the fact that now people all over the world could give their credit card number to a company they never heard of before, had no idea of who they were or if they could be trusted, wait 3-7-10-or 30 days to get the product they bought, wondering the whole time if they made a good decision or if they just did the stupidest thing of their life, then pay shipping charges which in most cases just deleted the savings they made buying online, assuming of course they actually got the product they ordered. Other than that, no problem.
That is not to say that retail is not going to be a big part of this whole internet thing. As with any public medium, the net will be supported and driven by advertising and the end result of advertising is sales, but still the key to this whole process is the fast, easy and secure exchange of information. What is a good source of information? A topic specific or hometown portal maybe? See where I'm going with this? This is why I see all the gloom and doom stuff going on right now as nothing but opportunity for us.
Now, one other factor comes into play here in regards to all these internet companies going broke. Trust. Some of the names of those companies just kill me. E-clamation.com Napster. Like the guy who paid 7 million for business.com. With a name like that you KNOW you can trust this person. Trust is something you build. Everyone of you reading this know of some business in your town that has been open for 10 - 20 or even 100 years. Why do you think that is? Do you figure it's because they spam like crazy or is it more likely that they have proven themselves to be fair and honest and simply do what they say they will do? My guess is the latter.
Well for anyone who cares to take the time, read some of the information posted on Searchking. That information has not changed for over three years. It expresses our commitment to honesty, fairness and doing what we say we will do. While the concept is not new, I challenge anyone to find similar statements on any of the major engines. We're honest and we're proud of it.
Now for three and a half years I've had to listen to people telling me I'm crazy for not cashing in. For not accepting VC funding and grabbing all I could get like everybody else. Well I'm the first to admit that my sanity may indeed be questionable, but not about this. I was never in it for the money. I was in it for the long haul and I am as convinced as ever that in the end, the businesses that will still be here and really make money are the ones that people can come to trust. I want that to be Searchking and it's portal partners. We will be the ones left standing when all the spammers and the money grabbers have all moved on to greener pastures. There is value in honesty and fairness and I intend to prove it with your help or die trying!
I'm sure that some of you are not seeing this wonderful opportunity I'm talking about. How does being honest and not making sales make us money Bob? If that's what you think I've said then you're mistaken. Actually, I'm saying just the opposite. For the next few issues I'm going to be exploring some of what I see as the possibilities we all have by running a topic specific portal, focusing on what I and Searchking intend to do to help. In fact, I'll start now.
A'SPIDERING WE WILL GO
As I've said, one of the keys of capitalizing on the promise of the net is in supplying relevant information. Our portals are an excellent way of doing that, but we need content in our databases. Now just like you, I'm a search service owner and I'm faced with the same problems that you are. The catch 22 to filling our databases is we need traffic to get submissions which we use as content and we need content to get the traffic. That basically leaves us with two options. Either sit patiently and wait for our databases to build up or go get the content we need.
Back when I had Sarge doing the programming for Searchking, one of the first things we built was a spider. We ran into a problem when once we spidered and added a site, the owner of that site could not then become a member and be able to edit his own site. At the time Sarge didn't have the ability or the time to address the problem so we just left it alone. So, for almost three years, Searchking lacked quality content for far too many keyword searches.
Then along comes Dan. Dan is putting the finishing touches on a spider that will go get data, insert it into the database and still be able to identify whose site it is so that once the site is entered, the owner of that site, (who cares enough to take the time), can go in and easily set up their account and edit their listings.
Also, we are finally able to address a major concern of mine that has been kicking my hiney for the whole time I've been involved with Searchking. PORN! While Searchking has never discriminated against any legal business, (except hate sites of which some have not been officially termed illegal), the one thing that has always really made me angry, are people that would list their sites under keywords their site didn't belong under. The VAST majority of these problems have come from the adult industry. Keywords like dolls, toys, kids and things like that have always been a severe problem and has no doubt cost Searchking thousands of people that otherwise may have enjoyed their experience. This has come directly from the fact that we assume people are honest and therefore allow them to have their sites indexed instantly. That philosophy has, for the most part worked out very well and I'm very proud of that, but the sad fact is that due to a few people who couldn't care less about you or me or anyone else as long as they could get one more hit, it has seriously hindered what Searchking should be.
The voting was supposed to take care of this problem. The idea was that any webmaster who pulled that little stunt would be voted down within minutes and have to realize that his time had just been wasted and there were other engines where he could get a better return on his investment of time. The thing I overlooked is that, anyone who types in dolls and then gets back some filthy, disgusting title and description doesn't feel much like voting or doing anything other than hitting the back button never to return. Making sure to pass the word along to all her friends in the process.
Finally, Dan has changed all that. The spider is set up to filter out the words that I find objectionable. I'm confident that my word list is pretty much the same as yours would be. Now this isn't perfect anymore than anyone else's system is perfect, but it is much, much better and at least puts Searchking in a position very similar to our competitors. Now that the filter is installed in the spider, it is a simple process to include that filter in the main engines as well so from now on, (it isn't quite operational yet but will be very soon), any submission that we spider or that is hand submitted, that contains any of those words will be sent to a file that will be human reviewed. This should leave us with only real spam and low quality sites to deal with and without the nasty stuff coming up on un-related stuff, we expect more people to start using the voting feature and that will eliminate the chaff from the wheat. The crap drops to the bottom and the gold goes to the top. We have a quality, human reviewed, fair, honest and free search engine. I'm excited.
The reason I'm telling you all this is that one of our objectives with this spider is to be able to offer it to our partners as well. One of the main features of Searchking is in being able to offer a portal about a keyword as opposed to just a listing of sites. Well that means that my reputation is tied to yours and if I'm going to have a quality service using you, then you have to have a quality service as well.
We're signing up portal partners like crazy due to the new free thing. Of course the problem with that is a lot of people signing up just want something for free and have no intention of really putting any kind of work into their portal. BUT, some of them do realize the value of the program and for those people, I'll build their database for them if I have to.
I don't have any details worked out yet so I can't give you any as to how this is going to work, but you know that if I tell you it's coming, it's coming!
SK AFFILIATE PROGRAM
Another important aspect of sharing in this opportunity is the SK affiliate program. Dave is building our own program to enable us to automate the process more and to keep better track of all sales. We are focusing on upgrades as a marketing strategy as well as ad sales and we want all partners to be affiliates and share in that.
Setting this thing up is not as easy as you might think. The one we have now works fine for what it does and we will continue to use it until the new one is running, but we don't want to put the new one out until we have had time to think it through and make sure that it is going to be what we want. Also, we are going to be building it as an upgrade for our partners too. If it works for Searchking, it will work for you.
There is an affiliate link at the bottom of the Portal Partner Press and I urge you to use it if you're not already an affiliate. As I said, the one we have works just fine, it's just not all that we want.
I realize that most of what I've been talking about here today is controversial and I'm sure I've stirred some pretty strong emotions and opinions on the subject. I urge you to send them my way. Whether you agree with me or not, I want to hear what you have to say. I would love to be able to open a serious discussion about all this. What's on your mind? Let me know!
Also, I didn't get an Ask Lynne question this week. I guess everybody has gotten their portals exactly the way they want them and don't have anymore questions. C'mon kids, get involved and take advantage of what so many people are trying so hard to provide you with!
I'm so excited about all the stuff I've been talking about that I have an urge to go on, but I won't. I'll let this be it for now and wish all our American partners a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Also, there won't be an issue of the PPP next week. I'll be in New Orleans for the holidays and want a little time for myself and Kathi (The world's most neglected wife. She deserves much better than she gets from me most of the time).
Now get out there and do some shopping online! Check the portal directory first though.
Publisher -- Bob Massa