Friday, May 20, 2011

Useful Web 2.0 and Useless Web 2.0

Xanga is useless. Write a weblog post and embed a link - it's nofollow! I never imaged it would be so, and ended up wasting time on not just one but two posts.

So is LiveJournal. Too bad. I was planning to speed-post a whole novel there.

Blogger, Squidoo, OnSugar, and are OK. So is Blurty, though it does seem to be overrun by spam. I've created a new account at Blurty and will be using that for my Favorite Essentials series originally planned for Xanga.

Update. I found the interface too 1990's for my tastes and decided to use Blurty for emergencies only. Meanwhile,,, and were impossible to register with. is a Swiss scam which purports to accept free accounts but only processes paid accounts (or maybe it doesn't even process those). does not yet have an interface for English.

In the end, I put Favorite Essentials on Weebly. Weebly allows dofollow embedded links and in that respect is awesome, but despite the hoopla about being easy to use, I found many aspects to be counter-intuitive and some things I probably couldn't have figured out without my background in web development and engineering.

Today was not a good day. I spent about hours and hours struggling with uncooperative sites just to get up one lousy post on soap. I should have just gone to the beach instead.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Web 2.0 Communities Review

So far I've created a lens on Squidoo, a journal on LiveJournal, and blogs on and OnSugar.

It tends to be the case that large and successful sites have the worst interfaces. PayPal and ezinearticles are good examples. Web 2.0 communities are no exception. Squidoo and LiveJournal are the big fish in the pond, and their systems are truly atrocious.

For example, Squidoo kept haranguing me about content not being sufficient. Insufficient? I'd just typed up about 6,000 characters. To make Squidoo happy, I had to break it into several "modules".

LiveJournal, meanwhile, treat their users like preschoolers who have to state their name and favorite color. It's an insulting and degrading process. Their website is so slow I read not just one but two BBC articles while waiting for the sign-up form to load. It would be excusable if the design were worth waiting for but LiveJournal is the exact opposite of eye candy. The themes are eye cod-liver oil.

The web 2.0 campaign is proving successful, however, as Qirina is starting to get more traffic.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cross-Pollination on Web 2.0 for SEO

Web 2.0 communities are valuable resources for SEO. That much just about everybody in the SEO industry readily agrees on.

What is more contentious is how exactly to use these resources for the benefit of one's sites.

Some people try to exploit the web 2.0 sites by flooding the communities with sales pitches or blatant keyword spamming. These tactics don't accomplish much and end up ruining things for everyone as community administrators crack down with stricter rules. For instance, Squidoo disallowed all signups from one of the biggest ISP's in Asia. Helium did the same. Other admins may not resort to such blunt instruments, but still spend a lot of money fighting spam. This is money that could be used to develop new features.

The best way, of course, is actively engage the web 2.0 communities and build networks by following others. It takes time but can be very powerful, especially on a network like Digg. If you have enough of a history and network on a site like Digg, you can easily shoot qualified material to the front page of Digg, resulting in humongous traffic.

But building a network takes time. The third option is to contribute to the web 2.0 communities without necessarily building a network. The idea is to have a limited presence on a large number of communities. The contributions can then be interlinked, resulting in synergy.

For example, we posted a blog post on about cat personalities which riffed off a previous post at OnSugar about Enlightenment. This blog here further enhances the confluence of traffic and signicance by referencing both.

While not as effective as having a zillion followers on Digg, cross-pollination on diverse Web 2.0 sites is nonetheless a valid method of extending the reach of a website's presence.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Web 2.0 and SEO

There are, essentially, 5 techniques for white-hat linkbuilding: articles, guest posts, comments, forums, and web 2.0.

Web 2.0 is the hardest of these to master.

Web 2.0 refers to becoming a member of community sites, and harnessing the power of the community or the site hosting the community.

Web 2.0 can be very powerful. If you have a strong position amongst a large community of active users, you can isntantly transform a site's performance. This would make it seem an efficient way of getting the word out.

But to get to that point, you need to have spent months if not years building your network of followers. This time-consuming laborious process means that in the end Web 2.0 is actually far less efficient as a web promotion method than the other methods.

However, it is possible to leverage low-level community involvement as a complement to the wider linkbuilding effort.

Here's an example. The site being promoted is Qirina, an SEO aid. We posted a short post about a philosophical topic at OnSugar. The post had absolutely nothing to do with SEO. However, we did include a link to the site being optimized. We are now posting to that post from this blog here at

More posts will be added to this series of posts about the philosophical topic from diverse Web 2.0 sites. Not a wheel per se, but interlinked and with variegated anchor, this can have some effect.

Of course, the posts have to be readable, unique, and make a modicum of sense to prevent being flagged as spam. If you're not into philosophy, you can discuss any topic that is interesting and complex enough to merit being broken down into a 4-5 part series.

Incidentally, if you've never heard of OnSugar, it's a female-oriented pop culture community. The Qirina analysis for it is here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blankness is Bad for SEO

Most website owners crave traffic from the preeminent search engine of our times, Google, and work very hard to achieve it.

And they should. Diligence, perseverance, and superhuman industriousness are needed to rank well in competitive niches.

Yet hard work based on ignorance doesn't help much at all. Even superhuman hard work doesn't help if funamental mistakes have been made.

Here's an example of a fundamental mistake: a blank website.

That's right, a website which is completely devoid of content. Not surprisingly, it won't rank for anything, no matter how many articles you write, no matter how many directories you submit to, no matter how many backlinks you obtain.

But who would put up a blank website?

Well, lot's of people, especially ecommerce netrepreneurs.

Of course, the website isn't blank to the human eye. There's a header, some nifty widgets on the side, and numerous listings of items for sale at eBay and Amazon.

But search engines disregard all this. The header isn't text content, so that's ignored. The widgets are rendered in Javascript, and aren't visible to search engines. The listings may or may not be Javascript, but they are piped from eBay or Amazon, and the content resides on the mother site. The content on the blank website is like a hologram - a replica.

If the coding is very good, it is indistinguishable from content embedded into the site, but it's still duplicate content, which makes the site useless. In most cases, the coding isn't good, because sites like eBay and Amazon aren't interested in helping you rank well in the search engine results. And all the listings are very clearly not resident on the ecommerce site.

To make sure you aren't serving blank content to search engines, use an analysis tool, such as the superlative Qirina. This tool allows you to not just see the content of a site the way a search engine would see it, but analyzes it as well.

If the Qirina analysis thinks your niche could be "privacy policy" then you probably have a problem. Similarly, if on the basis of a keyword analysis Qirina concludes that your site is about "spongebob squarepants" even though you are in the business of selling cat food, then you should probably cut back on cartoon-related posts.

Always make sure your hard work is building on knowledge and real expertise. Use the right tools to make sure you aren't making critical mistakes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Contributing Value With a Website

This blog is about making money online the Andrew Carnegie way, by means of contributing real value to society.

If you do something useful enough for enough people, you will get rewarded with money.

How does this principle apply to operating a website?

The website must help people in some way or other. This concept alone already sets your website apart from 90 percent of the crap on the web.

For example, if you hire free-lance writers in third-world countries to churn out 500-word articles with keywords for your niche, you are contributing absolutely nothing to society. You are simply trying to game the search engine into sending traffic your way.

Ideally, your website should be about a topic you are more knowledgeable about than others.

If you have only average knowledge, or below average knowledge about baking, then you won't help society at all by putting up a website about baking. You would have to trick the search engines into sending you traffic. The traffic that does arrive won't be too happy, because the information you provide won't be that useful or interesting. In the long run, you will fail.

But if you are an expert baker, things are different. Many readers will learn and benefit from your site.

If you are not an expert on anything, should you forget about putting up a website?

Not necessarily. You can develop an app, i.e. a web application that does something useful. If you don't have developer skills, you can do original research. In other words, you can use the website as an avenue to gain expertise, and share it as you learn.

What this means is that putting up a website that society will find useful isn't easy. If it were easy then everyone would be doing it, and making oodles of money. Most people don't have useful websites and don't make any money at all, for this reason.

Most wanna-be netrepreneurs approach the selection of a topic for their website by looking at keywords and assessing how many searches they get, and then stuffing content on their site to match those keywords. That doesn't help anyone.

Understanding SEO

In my inaugural post, I explained how you only make money if you contribute something useful to society.

How does this principle - about having to contribute to society to make money - apply to SEO?

Many people - the majority, unfortunately - view SEO as a system of tricks and shortcuts to game Google into sending traffic their way. That's blackhat SEO and it doesn't lead to long-term success. In most cases, it doesn't even lead to short-term success. A mistaken belief in trickery is why most people don't make it online.

Real SEO (search engine optimization) is simply enabling search engines to find your content. It means ensuring that search engines can find, identify, crawl, and index your content without too many issues.

Of course, that won't bring you much traffic. But getting traffic isn't the point of SEO. The point of SEO is ensuring that the traffic can come when it wants to come. Think of SEO as establishing your business next to a busy highway, as opposed to in the middle of a deep, dark forest. If your business is next to the highway, traffic can come without hindrances if it wants to.

Getting the traffic to come is called marketing. It's another ballgame.