Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

September 10, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Is The Ad World Finally Taking SEM Seriously?

New Mediapost Article: Is The Ad World Finally Taking SEM Seriously? Advertising Week is an annual ritual in New York that often brims with self-congratulatory silliness, and I tend to avoid it like the plague. Advertising -- at least in my mind -- is largely based on lies, spin, the creation of false needs and false consciousness. Frankly, if we as a nation spent less on advertising and more on improving products, we'd all have a better world. Still, as I write in this week's MediaPost, there's a bit of good news: this year's Advertising Week appears to be paying more attention to SEM (Search Engine Marketing), a far less wasteful, less obnoxious, and more profitable form of marketing that deserves its day in the sun.

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November 07, 2007

Venerable SEO Blog Sinking Beneath The Waves, an SEO news and advice site which launched in August of 2003, saw its last update in September of 2007. At its inception, the content at rarely contained any long-form content; instead, it simply linked in parasitical fashion to other URLs with a few lines of text. As the site developed an audience, the content became better, more analytical, and more opinionated.

Like many SEO Blogs,'s content often was often overly self-referential and sometimes verged on Google ass-kissing (e.g. "I saw Matt Cutts' latest Blog entry and he referred to my site -- I'm walking on air!"), but this is behavior is characteristic of the SEO world, which is tiny (although its exponents' collective swagger is intended to suggest it's huge). Those seeking page optimization advice may miss, but can avail themselves of many similar properties that do much the same thing.

Ghostie Award: Site is Dying in ICUTwo Ghosties (Site is Dying in ICU) Two Ghosties mean that the prognosis for the site isn't so good. Experts have examined it and shaken at its prospects. Revival is possible, but unlikely. I don't issue many "Dying in ICU" awards, because few sites spend much time there on their way out.

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July 16, 2007

Five Google AdSense Tips That Are So Obvious That People Rarely Mention Them

Five Google AdSense Tips That Are So Obvious TLook, I'll be straight with you here, because I'm not one of those guys who's going to tell you how to get rich from online advertising. I've got nothing to sell but I do hope you'll listen. Because there are a few secrets to making money with Google Adsense, but they're not really secrets: in fact, they're damned obvious. Here are five of them that I've found valuable. Employ them and your site or Blog may never become a Ghost Site.
  1. Listen to Google. The Web is filled with self-styled "Adsense Gurus," and while I wouldn't rank them with snake-oil salesmen, a lot of the information they'll sell you isn't just unreliable or out of date: it's dangerous. Game the system with Stupid SEO Tricks and you'll get slammed. Once a month, Google sends its Adsense publishers a very brief "tips" message whose aim is to make your site make more money for you and Google, your partner. Do everything that Google tells you: since I've started listening to Google and doing what it tells me, I've tripled my daily earnings. Believe me, they know much better than some blowhard at SES what your site needs.

  2. Don't Expect to Make a Living From Adsense. If you're running a web site to get rich, you shouldn't be running one. Unless you have something original that's going to be relevant to your target audience, you're going to tire of your efforts someday, and shutter up your shop. I'd say about 90 percent of people running Blogs, sites, and other Web properties are going to give up because what they write is done for the money, not because it's part of an enduring passion. Your whole objective is to find the five or ten thousand people in the world who will find what you do interesting. If you cast your net too widely you'll be lost among a thousand voices. Specialize and do what you do better than anybody out there, and you'll win in the long term. And unless you're publishing to win in the long term, you're not going to win in the short term. I consider the sites successes because Google Adsense pays for my monthly transportation bill. Maybe someday I'll make more money but I'm not going to let greed kill the Golden Goose.

  3. Use Blog Software as Your Site's CMS. Blogging software is great because it automates your archives. It lets you do a lot of other things as well, but this is the most important feature it provides, plus the fact that everything you publish will have a unique URL. The less you have to twiddle with publishing details, the more you'll publish. Sure, a Blog backend has its limitations, but if you can handle basic HTML you can easily customize its prefab templates to meet your needs. The point is not to have any roadblocks in your way to publishing frequently. Write well and write often: Google pays attention to this stuff and so do your fellow humans.

  4. Don't Take Comments Unless You Absolutely Have To. There's nothing sadder than a Blog or site that's written well with zero comments or comments that are obviously written by idiots or SEO spammers. I don't take comments on any of my Blogs because I've been burned so many times by people who've used commenting to hack into my site, or practice psychological warfare against me in the form of sock-puppeting. If somebody wants to respond to what you write, let them send you e-mail. I never communicate with anyone who's unwilling to identify themselves. I've learned this the hard way and any lost benefits are more than offset by the fact that I don't have to worry about ad hominem attacks or porn URLs arriving in the dead of night.

  5. Tag Your Content Religiously. On one of my sites, 90 percent of accesses through Google are through its image search feature. The only way Google's spider can find these images is through use of the ALT tag. People see the images, and often click on through to the content, which is where I want them to be. If your Blogging software permits it, tag your articles as well. Doing this provides measurable SEO benefits. It also helps you better understand the themes of your site, which may not be obvious to you when you begin publishing.

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June 24, 2007 Will Die This Friday

Popular SEO/SEM (Search Engine Optimization/Search Engine Marketing) site will die this Friday, according to Aaron Wall, who has run the site since 2004 and explains the reasons for this unexpected closure in a lengthy explanatory note.

Wall's reasons for closing include the fact that many of his best contributors are now running Blogs of their own, the fact that was often spammed, and the fact that he's now got a girlfriend, who is commanding a greater share of his time.

These are all good reasons, and we wish Wall the best. I ran a community site called for several years and doing so can run one ragged. One can almost get addicted to the fact that at any moment during the die, an exciting (or disgusting) new post can appear requiring immediate action. But over time, this kind of intensity can run one ragged, and one rarely is aware of the true opportunity cost of spending so much time hunched over one's keyboard until it's already too late.

The worst part of closing such a site is that one is almost guaranteed to catch a fair share of abuse from one's "loyal" community members, who seem to believe that you belong to them. Everybody needs to have a life and I'm glad that Aaron Wall finally decided to start living his while he's still comparatively young.

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May 12, 2007

Correction/Clarification to Danny Sullivan/SEO Article

Danny Sullivan Removes Pro-SEO Forum From SMX Conference AgendaI got an e-mail from Danny Sullivan today and he tells me that, contrary to what I wrote yesterday, he did in fact discuss the removal/replacement of the SMX panel entitled "Is SEO Bull?" on his site,

I actually read every day, but I didn't see the discussion (it apparently appeared below the fold in an article on a broader topic that was also posted on Friday).

FWIW, I think Danny is an honest, ethical guy, and if what I wrote on Friday suggested that he was trying to "cover up" anything, I apologize. It just seemed peculiar to me that the SEO panel listed in the SMX agenda (which I continue to believe would have been unduly "pro-SEO," given the listed participants) was removed without any clarification. Given that I have learned that there was in fact a clarification of this issue posted publically (albeit in a place that was a bit hard to find), there is no question that Danny was and is on the up and up.

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May 11, 2007

Danny Sullivan Removes Pro-SEO Forum From SMX Conference Agenda

Danny Sullivan Removes Pro-SEO Forum From SMX Conference Agenda
As you may know, my full-time job is Marketing Manager for Did-it Search Marketing, and I regularly communicate with founders Kevin Lee and Dave Pasternack. So I witnessed the incredible flap that happened over a six-month stretch when the SEO community massively overreacted to a very reasonable comment that Dave made when he noted that "SEO is Not Rocket Science."

Search maven Danny Sullivan, who has insisted that "SEO is Rocket Science" on numerous occasions, recently decided to add a session to his forthcoming SMX (Search Marketing Expo) entitled "Is SEO Bull?" to capitalize on the furor and stocked the panel with pro-SEO partisans and, presumably, someone who would take issue with the "SEO is Rocket Science/SEO Rockstars Deserve $500 an hour" camp.

OK, fair enough: it's Danny's show, and he can run it anyway he wants. But I noticed something interesting today when I checked SMX's agenda: the "Is SEO Bull" session has been deleted without any explanation. You can see this yourself by comparing the Google Cache for the conference agenda with the live page.

I'm very glad that Danny decided to cancel this "debate," which would have been one-sided and largely self-serving to his SEO pals. But why didn't we read about this cancellation on Danny's site, Maybe because such an announcement would have served as an admission that the debate was lost long ago, and those who insist that SEO is Rocket Science are a rapidly dwindling fringe group.

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