Friday, September 11, 2020

Link Beggers...

 It's amazing to me that link beggars are still out there begging...

I get a few of these every week despite all the spam tools that should screen them out.

-----------

From: ****<**** @gmail.com> 

Sent: Friday, September 11, 2020 1:44 PM
To: T
**** @gmail.com
Subject: Guest Post Request on :https://www.*****.com

  Hello dear
Sir/ Madam

I Need Guest post at Your  Site: 
https://www.*****.com
With do-follow back link Permanent
Post and Insert link let me Know how much
price for each post
Waiting your good Reply
Thanks    
-------------

Sometimes I answer saying that a million dollars in bitcoins would do it.

Since I work for a legit corporation, this bit of humor will probably get me in trouble some day. Still, I think it's funny.

I was in an SEO meeting this week where we discussed link building and a suggestion was made to start asking for links. I was in disbelief but it turns out, they were talking primarily about contacting people who had written articles about us or were mentioning us. In these cases, you can sometimes turn the mentions into links, even sculpt them a little. And legit press will actually treat that as a profit opportunity and sell those links.

Interesting!!!



Tuesday, August 25, 2020

What's with all the links?

 To manage the process of optimizing our sites for the search engines (SEO), we license a tool called Conductor which helps us with tracking, ranking, and all sorts of the nitty gritty of SEO.

Mostly, the relationship is pretty minimal. We send them money, they let us use their tool (which is great).

This week we heard from them. Apparently, an unusual and alarming number of links were appearing aimed at our site and they worried that we were spamming or being made to look like we were spamming and were we aware of it?

Our answer:

"It is back-to-school season during a major pandemic and many parents are trying to figure out what to do for their children's education. Homeschooling is a school choice option that is now of interest not just to the ~1 million families that were doing it at this time last year, but all ~30 million families of kids with school age kids. The press as well as the public have picked up on this. Time4Learning is the leading homeschool online service. Yes. WE ARE TRENDING"

Nothing nefarious or devious about it. We're just getting a great deal of attention.

Thanks for checking. Oh, you too have children and have some questions? Well, check our website and look at the demos and videos, visit our facebook groups and ask some questions, download our free guide to starting to homeschool, and good luck to you."

Here's today's joker. It commemorates the 1934 World's Fair. It's part of the Americana collection of jokers. 


Monday, July 06, 2020

The Business Case for Podcasting

Lets assume that you are a business who runs an information site that makes its revenue on selling advertising to a specialized niche of people interested in that information.

For our purposes, the info could be anything. It could be about poodles. It could be about coffee mugs. It could be about business education for dentists. Let's assume, for the sake of this discussion, that the site is about poodles.

So assume there is an info website in place with people who visit it, people who write for it, people who sell ads on it, and people who buy ads on it.

Not Poodles but poodles is easier to spell!

As a growth and brand strategy, the info site would like to grow into all the places that people might want this info since people like to grow. But that is a lot of places. In some places, it might not make commercial sense. Overall, it would make more sense if the content could be created once, used everywhere. It would make less sense if the articles, videos, social media posts, podcasts, and so on were each an independent creation effort so there is no leverage and synergy.

In addition to a website full of articles info about poodles, the business might:
- syndicate its best content onto other platforms related to dogs, pets, families, and parenting.
- solicit other content writers about poodles and get their content onto the poodle website
- create videos about poodles and put them on Youtube
- create emails and newsletters about poodles
- hold conferences about poodles
- create social media accounts about poodles and fill them full of poodle info. This could include Facebook, Pinterest, Instragram, Twitter, and more.
- create ebooks about poodles and put them on kindle, iTunes, Google Play, and other channels
- create podcasts about poodles
- create new content on the new platforms as they emerge such as tiktok and interactive speakers (Alexa) and others that have not yet emerged

Is more always better? No, there is an optimal amount of expansion and content creation. You can  overspend on content creation.  You can over extend and put too much effort into too many media. You can create content around topics where there is no real advertising or business opportunity. Novels, for instance, are a powerful media but with NO opportunity for advertising. The color gray has a lot that can be said about it but virtually none of it attracts any advertising.   You can accumulate an audience but not monetize it.

What does, given all these possibilities, a business case for a podcast look like?

  1. Envisage success. If all goes well, in 12 months:
    1. What is the size of the audience that is following the podcast?
    2. What is the value, in terms of advertising, of this audience?
    3. These are easily answerable questions since we are buyers of ads on these platforms and we know what the revenue opportunity looks like. To think about it, a monthly advertising revenue estimate should be made.
    4. In 12 months, to maintain this audience, what are the monthly costs of producing and publishing this podcast?
  2. Measure progress.  Find some comparable successful podcasts and look at their history.
    1. How big was their audience after the first quarter, the second quarter, etc.
    2. Compare that growth pattern with the growth pattern that our podcast is showing.
    3. Are we going slower or faster than our model of success?
    4. Any adjustments we can make?
    5. What is the current expense to maintain the current growth rate?
  3. Create a spreadsheet and add it all up.  Does the business case make sense?  Is it a high ROI?  Is it a money pit?  
    1. What's the alternative? Could we for a certain amount of money sponsor some other podcast creator?
    2. Could the postcasts be published at the same time as videos on youtube and elsewhere?



Thursday, July 02, 2020

Hotwire Fision TV: Worst User Interface Ever?

I believe that when professors put together courses on designing user interfaces, the current Fision Hotwire remote interface should be used as an example of how awful an interface can be.

They obviously spent a lot of money on their slick remote gadget as it is thin and has a huge light up high res screen. But it is a nightmare to use each and every day.  It's so bad that you can spend hours arguing about what is the worst aspect of it and in the meantime, figure out that things are worse than you think.  
Hotwire Fision Remote: Worst Ever?

Problem 1.  The hardwired buttons are vital to using it. But they have this tiny tiny print on them. Plus, they are awkwardly placed and hard to remember. So whenever you use the remote, you have to turn all bright lights on in the room to see the tiny print.  Since the remote is often required to turn on the lights, this results in people taking out their phones to use the flashlight to see the remote. 

Problem two, for anyone over their mid 40s, using the remote with that tiny print means having your reading glasses on.

Problem three The touch screen on the remote starts out being pretty interesting. The icons are large and bright and clear. They are so bright that once your eyes get use to seeing the icons, you can't see the lightly printed physical buttons.

Using the remote means shifting your eyes constantly between three areas: 
- the big TV screen where much of the navigation happens
- the small screen on the remote which is also vital to the navigation
- the tiny buttons on the remove which is also vital to the navigation

I know that sounds stupid but it's true. Here for instance are the steps to go thru to watch a program on Amazon prime.

1.    Locate the Power On button. It's a physical button on the remote to turn something on.

2.    Now the little screen on the remote lights up. In my case, it is asking if I should "Turn off Room"?  No, I want to turn on the TV. Does it always light up to a different place depending on who was using the remote last and for what?  Does it reset after some amount of time or does it just keep whatever arbitrary state the last person who used it left it in.   So I touch the little touch screen to "Cancel". But now what? This turned off the little screen again. So now I've gone around this with the power button and this screen about 5 times when I decided to write this piece.

3.    I now see that after I hit cancel, the screen lights up with four icons: Watch, Lighting, Shades, comfort. But it only stays on for a bit and I need to act quick.   I'll click on Watch. Good, I now have a choice between Hotwire Fision TV and SmartHub.  Since they know that I'm going to the TV, why isn't this choice on the Big TV Screen instead of making me stare down at the little touchscreen? duhh? So I'll pick Smart Hub.  SHIT, I took too long. How to get the options back?

4.   I picked power again but this time, it gave me the choices that I want:  Hotwire Fision TV and SmartHub. Hurray!  After a year with this remote, I still don't know how to control  what choices the power button will give me when I use it to turn it on. I'm now guessing that it has to do with whomever used the remote most recently. So sometimes I hit the power button and all I see is some controls for the AC. Sometimes it only shows other stuff which I have no idea what they are about. I have not figured out how to get it to go from where ever it is back to the choices about TV.  On the remote, there are a Back and a Home and Menu (three buttons) as hard small little buttons on the remote but, when it's in AC and other modes, these buttons do really weird things.

5.    I hit power again, then Smart Hub. But the TV did not go on. I don't know why. Usually it does. So I hit power off again and tried again.

Again, I'm sick of this. I'll do what I usually do which is either switch rooms and see if one of the other TVs can be coaxed into showing me what I want to watch. Or I just go read.

If I get around to it, I'll write about the incredibly finicky process of trying to pick either Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime.  While it appears for a second to be a simple choice, the problem is that it keeps kicking into some sort of universal app and I have no idea how to use it or how to get out of there. Sometimes the Back button (the hard button on the remote) will get me out of the univeral app. Then, if I'm careful, while staring at the big screen, I can coax the indicator to get out of the default pick-a-video menu that it is in, down to the pick-an-application mode, pick it, and then go. 

Mind you, neither the Home nor the Back button are of any use in these areas, they just do weird things. Often, the screen has four big colored rectangles across the top and I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how they work. I've recently decided that they are just distracting decorations that some idiot added thinking that while people puzzled out how to use things, a few colored useless buttons might help.  

Saturday, March 28, 2020

How Facebook Decides What to Show You

Sometimes when I'm on Facebook, I see these posts about the secret to seeing more of your friends posts.  They seem silly to me but many bright people repeat these things. So, hmmmm.

So I thought I'd share what I think I know about how Facebook decides what to show you.

My hope is that people will stop believing in what sounds to me like superstition and magic and start thinking rationally about it. Maybe, this breakthrough will light a fuse and all of the public discussion about tech and algorithms work will start getting more sensible.

Let's start with how Facebook decides what to you show you.

If you only had six friends on Facebook, Facebook would probably show you all their posts.  But, once you have sixty or six hundred or six thousand friends, Facebook must make lots of systematic decisions on what to show.  A good starting point to think about this is to ask yourself, how should Facebook decide what to show you. I'll start with three questions.

One, how does Facebook decide which of your friends you are interested in hearing about? Let's assume that  you obsessively visit one of your friend's Facebook pages, do you think Facebook should take this as a signal that you are interested in that person and show you more of their posts? Of course, the answer is yes. Similarly, what if you like, comment, and share a large number of a certain friend's  posts? Again, Facebook will take that as a signal of your interest in seeing more from that person.

What about the opposite, ie some friends whose pages you never visit and whose posts you ignore? Should Facebook take this as an indication that you're not interested in those people and show you less of their materials? And of course, the answer is that FB does note your indifference and tend not to show you their stuff.

Second question: do you think Facebook should show a preference to show you the most recent posts over ones that are a week or a month or a year old?  Are you interested in "last week's news?" Probably not.  So there's a time decay concept that FB follows and they are more likely to show you posts by your friend if you are online exactly when they post them than posts that the same friend made two days ago.

Thirdly,  if a post by someone seems to get a lot of engagement in the form of people commenting on it, liking it, and sharing it, do you think they should show that post to more people?  AgainL YES.

As far as I know, those are Facebook's big three foundation policies in their algorithm of what posts to show.

1.  Who do you appear interested in, they'll show that to you more. This is called affinity.

2.   If you are online at 3 am and one of your friends posts at that unholy hour, FB is very likely to show it to you and the other handful of people who are on FB at that time.  This has two reasons. One, immediacy is preferred by most people.  This is the principle of Time decay. However,  FB also uses the first handfuls of people who see a post to decide how interesting that post is. If none of the first viewers engage, FB might conclude that this post is a bit of a dud of a post so it'll be shown to less people. But, if lots of people in those first handfuls engage with that post by commenting and sharing, FB now has the signal that this post is hot and the showing of it will trend upwards.
3.  So the third big rule is the appeal of each post: The Weight.

So those are the basics (I think) of the Facebook decision making.  I suspect the next set of issues that FB considers are:

1.  Ads. FB sells ads, Much of what you see is paid advertising. People pay to show you ads.  Also, on pages of businesses, FB could extract more advertising dollars by only showing it to a few percent and charging money to get it shown more broadly.
2.   Pages and groups. FB has special policies around different affinities you've shown by signing up with pages (not of people but of companies an things) and groups.
3.  Look-alikes.  FB will for many decisions reason that you are behaving and have demographics like some group and will make decisions based not just on your shown preferences but by thinking that you like what other people similar to you (family, friends, look-alike groups) have been shown to like.  I think they are particularly prone to show you what your friends are seeing since that seems to create a special type of back and forth
4. Types of posts.  FB probably does not like posts with links to other sites that leads people to leave FB.  So they prefer posts with videos that are uploaded to FB, they probably don't much like posts that include links to videos on Youtube.  Probably, FB likes original graphics on FB and other internal to FB links.  Does FB prefer long or short answer posts? This is a trick question because of what we know: FB will take its cues on whether to show you graphics or long posts probably based on your personal history of engaging more or less with long posts or with images.  Again, this is what I think. Unlike the big three at the top, I haven't really researched these questions.
5.  Outrageous stuff. There is a lot of news about how FB prefers to show you views that are slightly more extreme than yours or the total opposite since both seem to produce a certain type of reaction which results in higher engagement. But this is an advanced question that we'll leave aside for now despite it probably being the reason that the world is not getting along and why WWIII is just around the corner. It's so FB could make a little more money and incidentally, build a hateful unstable world. But let's not get into that now.

Does this help you understand Facebook's decision-making?

If you are interested in learning more, this subject is called the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm.  Many businesses and social media people obscess over trying to understand and manipulate this algorithm and there is a lot written on it.

Other interesting algorithms to think about to help understand the daily experience:

- How does Google decide what to answer your query with?
- How does Youtube decide what videos to suggest?
- What about Instagram and Twitter? How is Facebook different than Twitter in showing?
- What will the stock market do tomorrow?
- And what mood will my wife be in tonight?

BTW - if this article helped you, would you leave a comment? I see that there are about 100 visitors a day of this site but I don't hear much from you.






Wednesday, January 29, 2020

SEO Issues - Jan 2019

Your Money, Your Life - This principle is being used by Google to crack down on spammy industries in which predatory practices are rampant in the consumer world. These industries have been facilitated by the web and aggregators on the web. Examples: credit counselling, pay day loans, rehab centers, etc

Google is tightening them up by adding a manual review of sites using a Quality Rating Guide in these challenging industries in which Google screens and manually evaluates sites based on EAT:
  • Expertise - does the content have meaningful additions and direction. Are there quality links out to quality sites?
  • Authority of writers and staff. Are they listed? Can they be found on LinkedIn or other sites? Do they have expertise relevant to what they are writing on? Obviously, the first step is that writing needs a listed author or authors. Maybe also a board of advisers.
  • Trustworthyness - 
IS T4L team a good enough author? I don't think so...

Tools he uses:  SEMRush, MAZPro, and Spyfu.  He likes BrightEdge but it's expensive!!!

Newer schema. BING API.  Schema.org

Ghostery.com - datachecker in chrome.  Other ways of checking all the cookies and trackers on your computer?

For us, Tandem does dynamic google ads, remarketing, and critero display ads.

Data Studio set up. What is it?

Here's the Google Rating Guide.

Friday, January 24, 2020

SEO History

I aspire to writing a better SEO history than I have yet read.

Here's a good source one: Search Engine Journal on Search History.

More later...