John Chow Effect

You’ve done a terrific job branding your website. Now disaster strikes: Google bounces you out of the SERPs. And you can’t even rank for your own brand or name – say it’s John Chow. Searchers are using your name to find you. The top results in the SERPs are feeding off the brand you built.

So what’s a webmaster to do?

If you haven’t prepared for this already, get a site up there, and fast, that will rank in the top spot for your website name. A new domain, or a free platform (Squidoo, WordPress.com, Blogger, LiveJournal, etc.–or all of them). Direct that traffic to the real domain. Use javascript on the links, nofollow, whatever you have to do to keep the ranking site safe (linking to a ‘bad neighborhood’ excuse goes *poof*).

Chances are it won’t be that hard to rank, unless your name becomes a ranking sport–like John Chow, :wink:, and everyone has fun trying to rank for it. You know, a sport for bloggers and webmasters.

Another good reason to own as much of the Top 10 as you can with whatever means you have available. Call it your brand’s “Emergency Preparedness Plan”. No harm done if you prepare a domain or two for this now, a step or two ahead of any Do-Evil Internet Overlords. Just in case you’re the next John Chow.

Is It Really Just $10 To Own A Website Domain?

If you’re developing a website with the intent of being live and thriving for several years to come (meaning legit, value driven content), chances are you’re going to be using a domain name that will have to be branded. You’ll want people to know your domain.

Once you get into the “heads” of your visitors, you’ll start seeing “superaff” and “superaff.com” and “Super Aff” keywords used in search engine stats to find your website. The higher the count, the better the branding job you’re doing (IMO–and that’s just one hint).

But what about those that remember you as “Superaffs” or “SupersAff”? They’re new, you made an impression, your site stuck, but not perfectly. Are you losing traffic to those type-ins (ie. SupersAff.com)?

I’ve been buying a couple/few logical variations of my important domain names that I think people would legitimately recall incorrectly, confusing the actual name (plurals mainly). What was about $10 for a website domain, the cost just shot to $20, $30 or even $40 dollars a year. But that’s super cheap visitor retention IMO, and better you have it than some squatter.

Also consider the parasites that run out and use your “brand” on blogger, wordpress.com, etc. (like sitename.blogger.com). It’s happened to me and initially was peeved, but the good news for that scenario is if they work on building a great site to feed off your “brand”, the first place people usually go to (type-in) is the .com, so you’ll feed off the parasite’s efforts more than they’ll benefit from yours ;). Knowing this happens, you may want to consider running out and grabbing all the big free subdomains too (and develop them a bit so they don’t get deleted). Lotsa work.

Reminder: Domains Go Up In Price on the 15th

VeriSign Monopoly To Increase .Com and .Net Fees

VeriSign, the monopoly registry responsible for .com and .net domain names, announced that effective Oct. 15, 2007, registry fees for .com and .net domains will increase as follows:

.com domains: from $6.00 to $6.42 (+7%)
.net domains: from $3.50 to $3.85 (+10%)

The “registry fee” is the fee that domain registrars such as Network Solutions and GoDaddy have to pay to VeriSign for each .com or .net domain registered by their clients. To make money, the registrars add their own mark-ups to that fee when charging their customers.

And:

.INFO and .ORG Wholesale Prices Will Also Increase

Following suit to the recently announced wholesale price increase for .com and .net domains, the wholesale fees for .info and .org domains are going up 2.5 percent in mid-October. The .info increase takes effect on Oct. 15, while .org prices will go up on Oct. 18. As for domain suffix popularity, .org and .info rank fourth and sixth respectively.

A few days yet to buy new domains and extend current domains at the old prices.

You may want to check the GoDaddy coupons listed here on SuperAff to see if any coupon codes can be applied to your purchases (scroll down for the more current ones).

Revenge of the Blog Muse

Writing a blog with original posts and ideas has always been more appealing to me than just running around with whatever everyone else is writing about. For one thing, others have probably said everything really well already. But by staying out of the loop in terms of the ‘current noise’, you miss out on the community chatter aspect (bloggers linking back and forth if your post is really good regarding the particular hot topic of the day). Overall though, I think your blog will benefit since you end up building a port for your readers where they know they’ll find something fresh.

The problem with writing a blog containing ‘original ideas’ is that the blog tends to be tagged as a “muse” by others. That doesn’t mean a “blog muse” is cranking out exceptional writing, ideas and content–it just means the blog content provides a flash point for other bloggers. It gives them ideas for things to write about. Sometimes that means an almost identical mock up to your post (boo!), other times it’s taking a single point raised in a post to write a new post on another blog.

Anyone with a sense of blog or net ettiquette would think being a blog muse is exactly what you want to be. Bloggers finding inspiration with your posts, that means lots of inbounds–right? Things like:

“Terry over at SuperAff wrote about targeting ads the other day, and one thing I think she missed that is important to note is …”

However, the reality is different. Many times the blog muse isn’t mentioned at all. When it happens here on SuperAff, I basically just operate with a ‘two or three strikes’ and you’re out kinda thing. I stop linking to their blogs, stop commenting, stop reading their blog, the “your blog don’t exist to me” goes both ways.

But when it happens “out there” on my other web properties, I made a change. This time I’m running with it and having some fun–with surprising results.

First example:

I wrote a killer piece for one of my blogs that was picked up and linked to by several blogs. Within 48 hours or so, another blog took the post and ran with it–without acknowledging my other blog at all. Their post wasn’t a copy and paste, but you know how it works.

The sucky thing was they had a wider audience and it got more love from the social bookmarking scene and all that jazz. That’s how things can go and it’s happened several times with SuperAff so I should have a thicker skin already, but I was a tad bittercakes about it.

So I did the same thing back. Except this time I ran with a week’s worth of posts (ideas taken from their blog), as well as a killer post linking to all sorts of resources in their niche. I linked to puh-lenty of their competitors–not only did I send some new readers to those competitors, but they’ll also enjoy a boost in the serps.

  • Result: My posts are outranking theirs in Google AND I got some juicy link love back from the bunch of competitors I linked to.

Second example:

I came across a blog in one of those ‘blog networks’ that had pretty much modeled a month’s worth of posts from past posts on my blog (not SuperAff, a different one). Of course, no link love. More bittercakes. Learning from the first example, I was determined to write plenty of posts that would outrank theirs in the SERPs, as well as send some love to their ‘competitors’.

  • Result: Before I could finish my plans for a spanking (I only got about 5 posts in), they suddenly linked to my blog a few times. Truce, and I accept it.

When you’re taking from a blog without giving a smidge back, things can backfire elsewhere.

Over the years here, there’s one big blogger that I’ve sent a few links to from SuperAff, I’ve sent in some content ideas to him (hey, I think this would be something your readers would like to know about), left some comments, the whole deal. He’s taken twists of the suggestions and wrote about them–without acknowledging me. He’s also written plenty of posts modeled after ones here on SuperAff. And yet never once has he tipped his hat to SuperAff.

Bittercakes on my part? Maybe, although I don’t really dwell on it–his blog just doesn’t exist to me now, remember :P. Anyways, he has other blogs out there and I noticed one of his other blogs making the rounds, links pointing to a post of his. A note hits my inbox (on another blog) that my blog readers might find his post interesting. My blog readers surely would–I wrote a similar post months before, and it purposely excluded his blog and focused on links to his competitors (because I don’t forget). Dingbat.

Cluetrain:

  • Links are probably the #1 most valuable thing to help blogs grow, and yet they’re so hard to pluck out of fellow bloggers. Why screw that up for yourself? If you’re musing from a blog that’s a heavy linker–don’t screw them over by not acknowledging them.
  • If you’re musing from a blog that could outrank you in the serps–don’t inspire them to do so.
  • Remember that no matter what size a blog is, their links matter. Why not do your best to see that they link to you rather than your competition?
  • And … you might think you’re messing with a blog that has no voice or no way to fight back, but you never know what tools they have at their disposal ‘out there’ that would benefit you.

Stop Being An Ass: Pretty much sums things up. You can’t tell who’s behind a blog and what other places they’re blogging at. You might get away with ripping from someone today, but what happens when they decide to work on outranking you or push up your competitors or kick your butt elsewhere? Isn’t it just a whole lot easier being open and give credit where credit is due?

In the meantime: New content ideas for my blog, new google traffic I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and new inbound links and subscribers from blogs I would have never thought to link to in the first place. Revenge really can be Sweet! đŸ™‚

Developing The Art of Detachment To Increase Results

What I’ve been trying to accomplish this summer and build a little bit of muscle on is: Detaching. What I’m finding is that my results GROW the more I disengage online.

Yes I’m still blogging and churning out new content daily. I just do it in a more time efficient manner (timestamping & pre-publishing). But I’ve cut way back on emails, blog/forum reading, stats checking and overall fooling around.

By decreasing my online time to eliminate as much ‘noise’ as possible, here’s what’s improved:

  • More purposeful, more focused, more results oriented
  • Goals are clearer, less fuzzy
  • Content quality and visitor response (more subs, more links, more traffic)
  • Picked up offline hobbies that are satisfying and give me pleasure (remember those?), yet haven’t done in many moons
  • Time to read more books and gain a wider perspective on a variety of issues (for all kinds of areas: marketing, online business, and other interests)

Believe it or not, you don’t have to follow every blog in your niche. You don’t have to stalk competitors to see what they’re up to. You don’t have to hang out and chat on forums, blogs, emails, IM. You don’t have to know every new SEO tidbit. You don’t have to invest your time into every latest and greatest.

By detaching and removing myself from the online world, I find myself blossoming :shock:. I’ve stopped talking talking talking and absorbing all the noise and tossing around what ifs and ideas, and am now just *performing*.

Here’s the game plan:

Figure out what you want. What you really, really want. Is it money? Is it freedom from a job? Or is it freedom in general? A lot of people dream of owning their own business, but what they don’t realize is that many times the business they’ve bought or developed is just another job. Except with longer hours, more responsibility, less benefits (medical/dental, paid vacation, pension, etc.) and a financial stress that you would not believe. I’ve been there and done that and I’m not interested.

So what do I want? I want to earn money online in a manner that’s as hands-free as possible. If I’m not plugged in, I still want to earn. If I don’t touch a webpage in 3 months, I still want to earn.

Realistic? Possible? The bulk of my online earnings is doing it already, so I’d say yeah :P.

What I Know Isn’t Working Right Now (for me):

Affiliate product sites. Actually I’ve known this for well over a year or so (maybe even two) and that’s why I haven’t developed any new ones. All that’s been happening is a steady culling, flipping sites to SEDO (parked domains) or replacing product pages with actual content (original and on theme). These can sit and age until I decide to use them for some other project. Or flip in the future and earn a buck or two.

I do have some steady performers on hand and they’ll sit and ride it out until the bitter end. I know they don’t have a future, but I’m happy to keep them going until things change.

Aren’t affiliate product sites best suited for my goals? Not really. Links die and expire regularly and need to be checked constantly to be effective. Organic search results are harder and harder to come by. Add to that a new(ish) policy by Commission Junction to kill accounts that don’t remove expired links fast enough, cookie blockers and wipers and adware–it all adds up to too much hassle (for me).

What I Do Know Is Working (for me):

Developing content that people find value in. I know, blah blah blah blah blah. But it’s true for me and this is what I’m riding everything on. Reader loyalty development (ie. subs), linkability, timeless content choices (content that is interesting today as well as 10 years from today), originality.

Long Range Plans:

A mix of monetization methods that include affiliate products (as advertising, not main content) and other ad serving methods.

Product creation and development. This is something I’ve talked about here before and it’s something I’m still very much interested in. Unfortunately it seems I work in negatives, I always know what I *don’t* want rather than what I *do* want. Meh. But I know to suit my goals best, I don’t want to develop:

  • Software (far too much involved with customer support)
  • Web Dev Services (hosting, web design, scripts)–again far too much hands on is needed
  • Blogging (err? Right now I’m using blogging as a platform or stepping stone, but it’s not long term for me)–too hands on again
  • Service Based (paid memberships, etc.)

Product creation doesn’t mean you have to step into shady circles. You don’t have to create and package dated information to be consumed by those who just don’t know any better or those you seduced into a trust relationship. But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with recognizing that there are many different levels of knowledge out there and serving well a less knowledgeable market is perfectly kosher.

Steps To Take (Suggestions):

  • Figure out what you want. Do you enjoy working with people, blogging hourly or keeping busy with customer support and interaction? Or do you prefer a more removed and detached presence online? Then map out your plan accordingly. Build toward that goal.
  • Set an amount of online time (daily) and stick to it. If you give yourself two hours online each day, you’ll be sure to work effectively. If time needs to be stretched, allow it only for critical situations (like new product development, new site development, etc.).
  • Set email filters. Check emails daily for the ’emergency’ folder. Things like site monitoring notices, affiliate accounts, Paypal notices, blog comments. Inform friends that you’ll be checking emails weekly.
  • Remove instant messaging services or only logon weekly or 1/2 hr per day.
  • Detach from forums (posting and reading) and blog reading.

And the big one: Stop working on sites that don’t have a future or don’t show any promise for monetization or serve a purpose for long range plans. Stop fiddling and creating work for yourself and just do what’s necessary to keep things growing.

This isn’t going to work for people just starting online or who don’t already have a base to work with. Everyone has to put in the 8hr – 12hr days to learn the ropes (both the good and the bad). But for the rest of us, learning to work effectively, fine tuning our goals and training ourselves to always ask: Is what I’m doing going to improve my results, get me closer to my end goal? may just be the ticket to get us there.

If what I’m saying here resonates with you, and you enjoyed the books Go It Alone and The E-Myth Revisited, you’ll definitely find some great direction with The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (not an aff link).

Removing Feedburner Account

SuperAff will be removed from Feedburner shortly, so if you have the feedburner rss in your feed reader, you will no longer receive SuperAff updates. This only affects a handful of SuperAff readers so it shouldn’t be too big a change for everyone.

Change the feedburner feed to http://superaff.com/feed/rss2/ and you’ll be fixed right up no prob.

If you wish to keep your blog feed stats out of Google’s clutches, now is the time to make the move:

NOTE: Service of FeedBurner publisher accounts will not be interrupted as a result of the acquisition by Google. You will have a 14-day interim period ending June 15, 2007 to opt-out of allowing Google to service your account. If you take no action by June 15, 2007, the rights to your data will transfer from FeedBurner to Google. Opting out will terminate your user agreement with FeedBurner, permanently delete your FeedBurner account, feeds, and all related statistical data and history, and prevent the transfer of your data rights to Google. To opt-out, contact us via accountx@feedburner.com, provide your FeedBurner account Username, and request to have your FeedBurner account deleted. We will contact you at your registered email address to confirm your deletion request before completing it.

Found on the login page: Feedburner

A big kudos to the folks at Feedburner for doing the right thing :).