Saturday, June 1, 2002
PORTAL PARTNER PRESS June 2002
=======June 04, 2002===========
Subject: Portal Partner Press 6-04-02
Date: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 2:30 PM
From: bobking email@example.com
The Portal Partner Press is sent each week for the education and entertainment of the people who own and operate a SearchKing hosted portal. It is intended to help you learn to better operate, maintain and market your own portal. Anytime you have a question about any item in an issue of the PPP, please visit our forums at http://www.searchking.com/forum.htm and feel free to ask any questions or post any comments about your portal, about SearchKing or about internet marketing in general. ***********************************
IN THIS ISSUE
SEO Is Dead And Why I'm Happy About It.
That's right, I'm saying SEO is dead! Actually, it never really existed in the first place. At least not as it's come to be commonly known.
You see, SEO is an acronym that has somehow come to be adopted by an entire industry to misleadingly describe getting a website placed in top positions under specific keywords on major search services. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
When looking at the brief description I just gave above, it's easy to see WHY there was a need for an acronym, I have just never understood why that specific acronym became the one used when it was so blatantly NOT what anyone calling themselves that actually did.
The question has always been; "if you are an SEO, which search engine is it that you optimize"?
By all but a very few SEO's, the answer has always been; "well, actually what I do is optimize a website to get top placement on a search engine for a specific keyword".
In my mind, that has always brought the next question.
"If you don't actually optimize a search engine, why do you call yourself that"?
For that question, there has been no answer.
I have considered myself a search engine placement specialist for the past 6+ years. I have never considered myself an SEO. Which is actually pretty ironic when you consider that out of all the people who would call themselves that, I was one of the very few that really did optimize a search engine. Of course I'm referring to SearchKing. A search engine that I actually have spent a lot of time and money optimizing.
Be that as it may, I was never able to convince anyone that I was one of the only "real" SEO's. In fact, the more I brought it up, the less friends I seemed to be making. Actually, I never tried to convince anyone that I alone deserved the title. What I was trying to do was to get anyone who was diddling meta tags to cease and desist from using the SEO acronym because I felt, ( and still do), that using that term was doing nothing but damage to an already tarnished meta tag diddling industry.
For the last several years, SEO has had a pretty bad rep and maybe deservedly so. Search engine placement involved quite a bit of technical expertise needed to be really good at it. Trying to explain just what it took to achieve top placement was always a jargon-filled, hard-to-grasp concept that was difficult for just about anyone to understand. This is very likely why the industry became such a haven for spammers and con men. The old dazzle 'em with brilliance or baffle 'em with bulls*** concept very effectively dramatized. You either knew what you were doing or went after people who wouldn't know the difference. Existing within these two arenas, the internet marketing market has not always been so easy to market.
I'm sure we've all had those emails promising thousands of hits from search engines for just $39. Along with the "submit your site to hundreds" and "learn what the experts don't want you to know" kind of spams. Naturally, you take something hard to understand for all but the most hard core enthusiast, couple that with an easy to target get-rich-quick scheme and it's not hard to see how the industry had a little bit of a PR problem.
I felt, (and still do), that by calling what a search engine placement specialist did, something other than what they actually did, just made the problem worse and I wanted it to change. Not for entirely unselfish reasons. I wanted to see it change because I am recognized as a leader in this PR challenged industry and I knew that the more professional I could help the industry to become, the bigger the available market would be and the more customers I could expect to gain for my own company.
Alas, as hard as I tried for as long as I tried, it seemed I was doomed to failure. I could not seem to get anyone to agree that calling our industry, search engine optimizing, was a little misleading and only making our difficult job more difficult. It seemed that every so-called SEO out there was perfectly content to call themselves something they absolutely were not and no one seemed to have a problem with it. But even that is not the weird part.
The weird part is that, while most every so-called SEO on the planet agreed that there was too much silly sounding, made up by God-knows-who or even God-knows-why, jargon for the average consumer to understand what in the world it was that an SEO was actually selling, the industry then all of a sudden got a "new" kick. Ethical SEO.
Overnight it seemed, the industry was divided into two camps. Good SEO's and bad SEO's. Of course the judge of that was whoever was pointing the finger at the time. For all those who were cloaking, hidden text meant that the person using it was an UN-ethical SEO. For all those using hidden text, those nasty cloakers were the ones ruining the business for all the rest of us. Sheesh! What a joke.
Ethical SEO has GOT to be the epitome of oxy-morons.
Now, one more little factor comes into play. SEO for who? With the onslaught of Overture and about 200 other pay-per-click engines, with Inktomi going pay-for-inclusion and then of course the greatest PR blunder in the history of the internet so far. Of course I'm referring to the Looksmart "pay a one time fee for review and never be charged again ---oh wait, we changed our minds so we are in effective, going to blatantly steal your money and put you into a pay-per-click model you never agreed to, where we can set the prices and you have no choice other than to just accept your money paid to us was kind of like a donation" , who's left?
Infoseek, gone. Excite, gone. Go, gone. Inktomi, going. Alta Vista, going. Hot Bot, going and the list goes on and on. Even the ones that still have a presence on the web, their focus has shifted to a pay-per-click model. So, why would anyone hire an SEO when they could go and open they're own bidding account and get their sites to the top of just about any engine out there just by out-bidding their competitors. Well, I'll tell you why AND why they won't.
Once again, the main driving force behind the net marketing community is misconception. It's true that SEO is almost dead as a website search engine placement service, but not because it is a misleading, silly, and confusing acronym, but because of a misconception. Actually two misconceptions.
I just implied three paragraphs prior, that there were no search services, (at least free search services), left to submit to let alone optimize for. That is pretty much an implication that is spreading quickly across the entire spectrum of internet marketing communities throughout the net. I have read literally hundreds of newsletters and forum posts making statements that would imply the ONLY engine left to even attempt placement on for free is Google.
Well, what everyone seems to be overlooking is that there are actually more chances of placing well on more engines than at just about anytime in the past. This is going to quickly change now that I have stated the obvious, but the fact is that everyone who talks on the net seems to be talking about PPC.
Take a look at Yahoo for example. Are all the listings paid for? If you only went by what you read in marketing forums, you would most likely assume that yes, all the listings are paid for. Well, guess what? They are NOT!
Do a search on Yahoo for stock tips, (just using that phrase as an example). There are three listings at the top of the results page that says "sponsor matches". these are results that are PPC provided by Overture. Then there are 20 more listings and then two more "sponsor matches at the bottom of those. Guess where those 20 in the middle came from? I can still guarantee first page placement on Yahoo in spite of all the PPC hype.
Yes it does cost $299 per year to get reviewed by Yahoo, but guess what, so many people got PO'ed at them for making the fees $299 a year as opposed to life like it used to be, that there are much fewer submissions. It is easier to get in now than it was before. You do the math and decide for yourself what the better deal is. Paying Overture's extortion, oops, excuse me, I mean bidding fees or paying less than $25 a month for a full time, front page listing on Yahoo.
Now let's take a look at Alta Vista. Same stock tips search and again, the top 4 listings are paid for, (these are called products and services -- how up-front of AV), and then 10 listings that got there basically for free. Again, I can still guarantee first page placement on Alta Vista. In fact, one of those listing on that first page are mine.
I could go on and list several more engines all doing the same thing but it would only be an effort in redundancy. Almost every major service out there, (almost every non-major service too), all show 3, 4 or 5 paid listings above their own results and then the next 10 or 20 are free. Placed where they are placed for one of two reasons. Either the person who built the page knew what it took to get there or the person who built the page got darn lucky!
The great thing is that with so much focus being placed on PPC, it seems the engines aren't all that interested in putting money into continuing to develop new algorithms. It is easy to get placed on most of these engines for free. Not as easy as just going to Overture and outbidding your competitors, but as easy as it has been in a long time and for the most part, still free. Only you can decide what is worth more to you. Doing it yourself or just paying some PPC engine. My only point is that while SEO as it has come to be known, never really existed in the first place, the ability to place a specific website on the first page of results of a specific engine for a specific keyword or phrase, has never been more alive.
So the first misconception that you can use against your competitors is that there are no more "free" search engines that anyone can optimize their site for. There is more opportunity to come up on the first page of search results on major engines than ever before. All you have to do is go back over some back issues of the PPP and apply the basics. There is nothing new going on right now. All the things I have been telling you over the last couple of years works and works very well.
There is no such thing as an SEO because no one really optimizes a search engine.
You want to know who the real SEO's are. Who it is that really does ethically optimize a search engine every day. A real honest-to-goodness search engine optimizer? YOU ARE. WE ARE!
We really do "run" our own search engines. We are the only true SEO's. We get to be the ones who decides what comes up first and why. That's optimizing a search engine. Being an SEO.
We get to decide daily what our engines is going to look like. that is optimizing a search engine. Being an SEO.
We get to decide how best our engine can serve our public. That is optimizing a search engine. Being an SEO.
There is even a little more to optimizing a search engine. We get to decide not only WHAT to optimize but more importantly WHY.
Are we optimizing for maximum advertising dollars? Are we optimizing for our webmasters who submitted to us? Are we optimizing our site to show our own pages and products in the right light? All those questions get answered by us.
That's why I'm telling you all that SEO is dead and I'm happy about it. All those people out there cloaking this, hiding text that, link exchanging this and trying to build a theme for that and calling themselves an "ethical SEO" are soooo missing the boat. Estimates say there are over 40,000 websites worldwide offering SEO services and I'm here to tell you that the vast majority of them don't know half as much about getting traffic from search engines as anyone who has read more than 5 issues of the PPP. YOU ARE THE SEO'S OF TODAYS WEB!
My job is to make sure the world starts seeing what we are doing and bring them to your door. I'm getting closer to doing that each day.
Your job is to continue watching what is going on in the search service industry with open eyes. Don't follow the pack, lead the pack!
There has been a lot, (and I do mean a LOT), of money made by people calling themselves SEO's. SEO's are going to make more money than ever before over the next few months and years. Who do you think is going to capitalize on the misconception that there are no free engines out there? Who do you think stands the absolute best chance of offering a fraud-proof alternative advertising package? Who do you think stands the best chance of capitalizing on being in on the ground floor of a network of portals? I'll tell you who. YOU !
The SEO"s ************************************
Publisher -- Bob Massa firstname.lastname@example.org
=======June 19, 2002===========
Subject: Portal Partner Press 6-19-02
Date: Wednesday, June 19, 2002 5:29 PM
From: bobking email@example.com
The Portal Partner Press is sent for the education and entertainment of the people who own and operate a SearchKing hosted portal or have specifically asked to receive it so that they may learn more about SearchKing and/or the niche portals industry. It is intended to help you learn to better operate, maintain and market your own portal. Anytime you have a question about any item in an issue of the PPP, please visit our forums at http://www.searchking.com/forum.htm and feel free to ask any questions or post any comments about your portal, about SearchKing or about internet marketing in general. ***********************************
THE BIRTH OF A REVENUE SHARING SYSTEM FOR A NETWORK OF PORTALS
I've just spent some time reading through a discussion on a popular so-called SEO forum. The title of the topic is "the future of directories". For those of you who would like to read it for yourself, the link is:
Web Master World
I warn you, it's a three page long thread so far, but I strongly recommend you take the time. I know it may seem strange that I would recommend your involvement in such a forum after the last issue of the PPP and my strong sentiments on what SEO really is, but it is an excellent forum supported by some of the most knowledgeable internet marketers on the planet and owned and maintained by man who runs it well, and whom I respect for his efforts in spite of the personal conflicts that he and I may have shared.
I encourage you all to become involved in forums of this type. I'm NOT suggesting that you go there to blow SearchKing's horn, I'm suggesting that you go to SEO forums and marketing forums so that you can provide input to topics that are going to be shaping the web in the near future. Start educating the world about what a real SEO is and what that means to them. Become leaders and one of the best ways to do that is through open discussion so that you may learn and educate. Anyway ---
Now, reading through that thread, you'll likely see,( just like I did), that with a few notable exceptions, most of the posts being made are being made by people who are only looking at it from a "how do I get my client in the top of the results", perspective. The thing I found to be touched way too lightly upon was the question, "why would anyone WANT to run a small, highly focused directory?" "Where's the money?" "Where's the motivation for the guy doing all the work of building the directory and sending the traffic?"
I'm going to be making some statements here that I'm sure some of you may have the tendency to argue with, but I'd like to invoke the power of historical evidence and point out that when it comes to search engines and directories, I have made a lot of radical statements over the last 6 years and have history as a witness to the fact that I have been right more than I have been wrong. So at the risk of sounding a little pompous, I am going to say what I believe to be, and have accepted as, fact. Realizing of course, we all have, as individuals, the right to believe what we choose and I am simply stating what I choose to believe without stopping to acknowledge your right to believe something else or argue over the validity of your differing viewpoint. *****************************
What is wrong with most of the replies in that thread is that they are being made not so much out of logical assessment, but more out of a death grip clutch to some possible way of not having to admit that there is no such thing as SEO for most of the people claiming to be one. Most people responding to that thread are trying desperately to find some way of not having to admit that SEO is dead. That without Google, there would be darn little to even discuss in the first place.
Instead of simply admitting that the internet marketing environment has changed and professional marketers need to change with it, far too many people still see the changing search service landscape as a threat to their survival instead of a whole new world of opportunity. In that respect, they have a tendency to perk right up and start jumping in with all kinds of positive, supportive sounding statements without really thinking them through as long as there appears to be the slightest hope that something other than Google may exist to give them some plausible sounding reason to continue trying to be something they never were in the first place. (Boy are these last two paragraphs going to make a lot of people mad or what! You probably won't be seeing old bobking getting invited to too many SEO forums much longer).
Whether I make someone mad at me for saying it or not, it needs to be said. Getting mad at me is only killing the messenger. If anyone would spend a few minutes in any so-called SEO forum, one thing quickly becomes painfully apparent. Without Google, there wouldn't be much to talk about. Or at least, not much to talk about that makes a whole lot of sense in terms of how to build a webpage to be able to charge a client for getting that page in the top of the results. I think what the world is witnessing is called a swan song.
Taking into consideration the possible motivation of the participants in the discussion doesn't change the fact that little mention was made of why there is a future for directories at all. In my admittedly pompous opinion, the future of niche directories is completely and utterly doomed to extinction or at least to holding a firm grip on last place in the old respect and appreciation race, UNLESS SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE FIGURES OUT HOW TO MAKE A BUCK OUT OF RUNNING A PORTAL!
Running a portal takes money. It takes time, dedication, focus and commitment. They don't build themselves you know. It takes work and the better the directory is, the more work and resources it takes. So, where's the pay-off?
Of course there are those who become passionate enough, (or fanatical enough), about a specific topic to be willing to invest the time and money required to actually provide a resource of quality about that topic. There are also those who just want to help and there are those who simply become obsessed with having their say the way they want it said. Realistically, I figure this makes up a very small percentage of the net population.
Don't get me wrong, we want the data that this small percentage of people gather. We want it very much! But I do think it's time for the net marketing community as a whole to finally get the cahonies to admit that all that bull we keep hearing from ODP supporters, (the vast majority of which are editors), that, "we are just trying to give back to the net and even though there are a few bad apples, most people just like helping", really is just that --- bull!
I'm sure most of us have been involved in, or at least been privy to, a discussion or two where someone has accused ODP of being less than arbitrary when it comes to who, where, how and how quickly a site gets into or excluded from the directory. I doubt I'm the only one that has noticed just how quickly and on how many boards someone strongly objects to the implication. It almost looks as if there is some kind of loose network of people who inform each other of where to go and what to post to keep trying to uphold an image of the world's most fair and unadulterated volunteer directory. Hmmmm, the question comes to mind, who would benefit most from that type of image? Maybe the people who are at the top of the listings with the best descriptions?
I again realize I'm stepping on a lot of toes and opening myself to a ton of criticism, but the fact is, I don't buy all that, "we just want to help the net" stuff. I honestly believe that a lot of people have given a lot to help a lot of other people in regards to the ODP, but I also believe that someone needs to accept that just maybe it doesn't all add up. Since I'm the major pain in the rear end of the world's largest network of independent portals, I figure I'm as good a candidate as anyone.
If anyone could show me where more than 10% of any data in the ODP was put there by someone who does NOT have a website they own, control or are involved in promoting for whatever possible reason, I would publicly retract any negative statement I have ever made about the ODP. Until that time, I say it is extremely obvious why someone would be willing to invest time in building someone else's directory. I also say that for anyone to argue that there is no motivation to give that time with no expectation of anything in return for more than a very small percentage of the entire volunteer staff, is either lying to me, lying to themselves, has been lied to by someone else or is living in a different world than the one I live in.
People, (maybe not all people), not saints, not angels of the internet, just people, volunteer to edit for the ODP for a number of reasons, few of which are without their rewards. For some, it gives them the ability to manipulate their own listings within the directory to at least some degree. It gives some a sense of power. It gives some a chance to be in a group of like minded people where they can feel accepted. All these things are rewards, not the least of which is the ability to dominate, control, have power over and benefit from, commercial categories.
Editors at ODP get to put their own sites in. Motivation.
Editors at Yahoo get paid by the hour to work at Yahoo. Motivation.
One person to small companies running their own niche portal. Where's the motivation?
This, I believe, is the #1 question that has to be answered before the world can realistically expect small niche portals to become a driving force in the commercial realm of the net and realize their true potential. After the 1% or so of people who honestly are motivated to run a search service simply and totally for the love of the topic, what's in it for the mentally stable person who feels that their time is worth something? Those that feel they have a family to support, bills to pay and dreams to acheive?
Well, guess what, I believe I have an answer. SURPRISE! That answer is a network of portals with a revenue sharing program. To be more specific, SearchKing's network of portals with a revenue sharing program.
I'm not saying I have another get rich quick on the net scheme. The revenue sharing program I'm talking about does not have making anyone rich as it's objective. The only way to get rich from running a portal is to build it into a better resource with a better plan for generating revenue at a profit than your competitors.
I'm talking about a way that a person could sit in their chair, use their computer to spend only a few hours a week and make more money than they could with most affiliate programs on the net. A way to justify the time and money you would spend to get a portal rolling. A more fair and honest way to contribute something of quality without having to simply donate your time and money. A way to do a little work and get a little something back as a reward for your efforts.
I'm talking about a way of overcoming the two main obstacles holding the promise of niche directories back. I'm talking about a way of reducing the workload, making it much easier, faster and cheaper to build a quality directory and increasing the ability to generate revenue from that directory.
I'm going to close for now as this is going to take up too much space in one issue of the PPP. I'll be using this for a topic at chat this week, (for those of you who actually care about your portal, you really should show up at a chat from time to time. I talk about stuff there that I just can't talk about anywhere else), and I'm sure it will be a pretty hot topic this week in the forum. It will probably be a hot topic in the forum this week more from making so many people mad as just portal partners trying to get me to spill the beans about how the revenue sharing thing is going to work. Either way I'm pretty sure there will be enough discussion to hold us all over until next week when I go into details about how the program will actually work.
As for how it will actually work, why not take an active role in that decision and give me some input. I'd like to conduct a kind of survey and would appreciate as many responses to this next question as possible.
When you first got your portal, there was no mention of any kind of revenue sharing or revenue generating associated with any SearchKing offer, so that could not have been what motivated you to want a niche portal. What was it? Write in and let me know.
See you in the funny papers! :) ************************************
Publisher -- Bob Massa firstname.lastname@example.org