Lord Maitreya's Internet Marketing Adventures

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I won the battle

Apparently, WordPress has taken issue with my caustic wit and dry humor.  I received a nicely worded- and by that I mean automated- message in my Gmail inbox stating that WordPress has “concerns” with the content I’ve been posting on my blog.  I’m not sure what specific thing they’re referring to.  Sure, I’ve made references to interspecies pornography and other horrifying things on the internet, but that’s because that stuff is all PART OF THE INTERNET.  No marketing major should discount the fact that there is material on the internet that will make you run in sphincter-loosening terror.  I say this because, who knows, you may wind up marketing some of that stuff someday.  Don’t forget rule #34 of the internet, “if it exists, there is porn of it.  NO EXCEPTIONS.”

NOTHING IS SAFE

(Image courtesy of knowyourmeme.com)

I’m not really sure what to talk about in this blog post, seeing as how I just got posting privileges back on my blog (that goes for comments too).  I’m glad that my constant pestering got my posting rights back.  I don’t understand why they blocked me in the first place.  I never posted anything illegal, just alluded to the fact that the illegal stuff exists.  Sure, I had a whole post on the foul and illegal things on Bit Torrent, but I didn’t post links to popular illegal files.  Yeah, I referenced some less-than-reputable stuff on this blog.  The very fact that I’ve SEEN some of this stuff is enough to ensure I’ll never have a girlfriend for the rest of my life, but that’s the price you pay when you learn that people pay money every month to join a website where the only content is women in boots pressing on a car’s brake and gas peddles.  Don’t believe me?

Pedal-pumping.com

And content of this quality runs you $20 a month

(Image courtesy of theworldisinsane.com)

As I’ve stated over and over again, the internet is an enormous place.  I don’t think the human race realized how strange and twisted as it actually was until the internet came along and let anyone with an interest in ANYTHING have instant access to whole databases of questionable material.

Which is why I’ve been wondering why WordPress was after me.  I’ve visited WordPress blogs that can only be described as homemade porn dumps, and they’re still operating and posting material, which begs the question, “Does WordPress think it’s worse to talk about it or just blatantly post it?”

I’m going to say this once:  I’m not going to post any of the stuff from the internet that haunts my dreams on this blog.  Sorry to disappoint.  There are things that people are willing to do for money that would leave your jaw permanently earthbound.  Trust me, the internet is wonderful in so many ways, but it has a dark side that’s worse than Darth Vader on prison-quality meth wielding a lightsaber blindfolded in a pediatric burn unit.  Some of it is simply THAT bad.

This picture is freaking ADORABLE compared to some other things I've seen

(Image courtesy of Craphound.com)

But the big thing about a lot of that horrible material is that some of it is simply so awful and twisted, the best (and often, first) response is to simply break out in fits of uncontrollable laughter.  Some of this stuff is so terrible, so unbelievably ridiculous and absurd, that it’s HILARIOUS.  At least to me.  And keep in mind my statement above: don’t discount its existence.  With the job market the way it is, us marketing majors might wind up doing Adwords campaigns for… well… I won’t be specific this time.  I’ll be good, WordPress.

But I think that’s enough for my catch-up post.  I have to work on our AdWords campaign.  To play us out, here’s a picture of an adorable munchkin shorthair tabby (my favorite domesticated cat breed), another thing I like on the Internet that seals my eternal status as a single white male.

Wook at his wittle wegs!

(image courtesy of cdn-write.demandstudios.com)

(By the way, that image is not photoshopped.  Munchkinism is a common genetic defect in house cats that causes their legs to grow 1/3 the normal size.  It happens in all breeds of domestic cats, and the cats are perfectly healthy.  I love lowrider animals, so if I had one of these and a Welsh Corgi, I’d be pretty happy)

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

It’s never easy, is it?

Ahhh, another blog post.  I am feeling particularly spicy today, like some delicious Lamb Vindaloo.  I’m in the library intermittently working on the OST for Jake’s Dead (have you watched the trailer yet?), watching Jake’s Dead, and reading the chapters for this week.  Charles Shaw and I had an epic battle for my consciousness last night, and I watched The Pest to top it all off.  I’m perfectly primed for a great blog post.

pictured: quality entertainment

(image courtesy of i.ytimg.com)

On an incredibly unrelated note, The Pest is one of my favorite movies.  It reminds us of all the things we’re doing our best to forget when it comes to the ’90s.

Anyways…

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of the letter W and the number 8.  And we all know what that means!  Yes, I’m writing about search engine optimization!  Since the reading is beginning to draw to a close in Search Engine Optimization by Jon Rognerud, I want to talk about another aspect of the internet sensation that I had never stopped to ponder.  Once you’ve your website up and running, is there anything else that you need to do, or do search engines just know that you’re now on the prowl?

It turns out, there are some steps that need to be taken in order to ensure visibility that go beyond links and content.  You have to submit your website if you want those page views quickly.  Sure, you can wait for people to discover your site (assuming you’ve done everything else right), but that could take time and money, and who wants to spend extra money for suspect results?  No, you want views NOW, and that means taking proactive steps.  You can have something fantastic, but if nobody knows about it, you might as well have never made it in the first place.  Remember Dinotopia?  Probably not.  It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen in my whole life (I’m talking about the books, not the stupid syndicated series on Hallmark), but not enough people knew about it, and I guess it tanked, because I haven’t seen any new books in the series recently, and a cursory search of the internet indicated that many of the books are out of print.  Hang on, I’m going to order a copy of The World Beneath real quick, because that book was epic.

Epic stuff like this shaped my childhood... because I didn't have any... you know... friends

(image courtesy of Dinotopia.com)

Free 2-day shipping, FTW!

So you’ve started a website, and you need to find out how to get people to come to it quickly.  The internet has undoubtedly shortened the average person’s attention.  Yes, as stated before, you can just wait until a crawler indexes your site, but who knows when they’ll pass by your neck of the woods next?  No, what you need to do is submit your site to the various indexes that keep track of all the places online.

Yahoo!, Ask, MSN, and AOL all have directories that webmasters submit their sites to.  DMOZ is an open directory run by Mozilla, and works in a similar way to the other directories, allowing sites to be categorized and cataloged for easy retrieval.  According to the totally interesting and not overly-technical reading, there are free ways to submit your site to a directory automatically, but this is generally to be avoided.

“Search engines don’t like automatic submissions.  they get millions of attempted automatic submissions each day, and as a result, go to great lengths to try to stop them, such as requiring passwords and/or fill-in details before the submission is accepted.”  -Pg. 159

You want your site to stand out, meaning that you want it properly cataloged.  Imagine if you used an automatic service (or worse, paid someone) to submit your site to a directory, only to find that your Beanie Baby appreciation site was cataloged under “hardcore bestiality.”  Needless to say, you’d be just about as confused as the people who wound up on your site.  To avoid that, submitting your site yourself allows you to pinpoint exactly where you want it to be categorized, allowing you a modicum of control.

The book goes on to talk about how long it can take for your site to be listed on various search engines after submission, and it can take up to 2 months!  As I said earlier, you can use spiders to your advantage (the only time that combination of words will EVER be true), by making sure that your site is optimized for spiders to catalog your content.  Spiders read text more than HTML, so having a good amount of text allows spiders to pick out a number of text-based things that allow easy categorization.

NOTE- DO NOT EVER TYPE THE WORD “SPIDER” INTO A GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH!  ESPECIALLY WITH SAFESEARCH OFF… YES, THERE’S PORN…

Well, I’m scarred for life (again).  But let’s be honest, the only real search engine on the planet is and will remain Google.  When was the last time you used Yahoo!?  I only use Yahoo! for finance, and most other search engines give me the stupidest results imaginable.  But how do you get on Google?  Well, it’s not an exclusive gentleman’s club.  You CAN get on there, you just have to know what’s what with Google’s system.  According to the book, Google looks at sites from the topmost left corner of a site to the bottom right.   With most sites having content on the right and navigation and links on the left, this can lead to spiders (mental imagery still fresh… ugh) judging that your content is not as optimized as it may actually be.  Inserting a blank pane in the top left will cause the spider to look at content first, leading to better listings.

Now we're cooking with napalm!

(Image courtesy of acervulus.x10hosting.com)

As it turns out, the rest of the chapter isn’t on how to get your stuff on Google, but it’s about all the stuff on your site that Google flat-out ignores.  Apparently, they ignore keywords, comments tags, styles, scripts, and graphics, animations, and videos.  That algorithm they use had better be friggin amazing if they ignore that much stuff on your site, while still being the top-dog search engine.  They’re like the Donald Trump of the Internet.

Well, that’s my post for today.  And now, this…

Star wars rock concert. You know you'd go.

(Image courtesy of pyromaniac.com)

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adwords? On MY Internet?

I’m going to be a little more straightforward in this post, because I simply don’t have a lot of time.  Don’t worry, I’ll still have you in stitches with my caustic wit and crude genius, but this post isn’t going to run for my average of 2,000 words.  Aside from the multiple hours of study per day I need to maintain my colossal GPA (no, I’m not modest.  Why do you ask?), and my part-time job delivering overpriced food to lazy yuppies, I have something else entirely on my plate for which many of my friends are jealous, and which is going to require a lot of extracurricular effort…

I’m scoring a feature film.  I was contacted by an acquaintance who is directing a movie called Jake’s Dead, and he heard my music from a friend of a friend, and he wants me to produce part of the original musical score for this limited-release feature film.  Don’t rain on my parade, here.  Most music producers never make it this far in their whole careers.   Aside from the awesome fact that I’m producing music for a cool horror film that is all shot at familiar locales in and around Marin County, I got to watch a rough cut of the movie, and it was fantastic.  Sorry, all you get is the trailer.  Go to http://www.jakesdead.com to check it out.

Yes, the movie is awesome

(Image courtesy of twisted arrow productions at jakesdead.com)

Now that I have my exciting personal anecdote out of the way, let’s get down to brass tax here.  We’re finally at the point in the book where I feel like my expertise truly ends and the unknown expanse of how advertising is actually handled on this Internet thing begins to stretch out before me.  And the reading segways perfectly into our Google Online Marketing Challenge assignment.  Because I have made it my business to understand this assignment to the best of my ability, this chapter was by far the most interesting one yet.  I feel like I understand the concepts of all this AdWord mumbo-jumbo, but actually putting that conceptual knowledge into practice is something else altogether.  Kind of like how a person may understand how to do a backflip from a conceptual point of view, but then winds up in the hospital because doing it in practice is more difficult than simply applying the physics.

Theory is not the same as practice

(Image courtesy of gifaday.blogspot.com)

This assignment, working with a real ad campaign on a real advertising platform, is something not many marketing students get to do.  This is why I am excited to do the assignment.  But, to prove that nothing in life can be totally awesome with no drawbacks, I have come to realize that AdWords isn’t easier marketing, just a piece of the marketing pie.  AdWords is a great platform for generating real customer interest and conversion, but it’s not the end-all-be-all magic bullet for marketing.  I began to realize that while doing the reading for this week’s post.  The reading this week comes from the rare and highly sought after first edition text called The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine by Jon Rognerud.  In the enigmatic tenth chapter of the book, the author focuses on techniques to drive traffic to your site.

It totally IS!

(Image courtesy of bytesizebio.net)

This book does a great job of hammering the same things into your head over and over again until you suffer a concussion from learning.  Of course, the book reiterates the importance of links, press releases, and all of the other things that I have covered in previous posts.  But what made this chapter great is that it goes into a lot of detail about Pay Per Click advertising, which is what Google AdWords is.

Google AdWords and other Pay Per Click advertising services are largely the same.  You design an ad that will be viewed by Internet users, and you select all the keywords you want that will bring up your ads in the ‘sponsored links’ section of the search page when those keywords are searched.  What I didn’t realize was that you could choose negative keywords that you don’t want to associate your site or business with.  You can select keywords that will ensure your ad will not show up when they are searched.  This allows you to target your search results even further, making sure that you are associated with the things you want, and not associated with the things you don’t want.  Imagine you own an online toy company, and your ad pops up during a search for “sex toys.”  That would be pretty embarassing.

Not only that, but using AdWords is a cutthroat business.  You can outbid other companies, and even use a competitor’s name as one of YOUR keywords!  Talk about craziness!

One thing that the book goes into depth about is the landing page, which is the page that your AdWords ad will link the viewer to.  You don’t want to just take them to the homepage, because they may lose interest (and it costs you money).  You want to take them to the most relevant page on your site for the keywords that they used.  Unfortunately for my group, our company uses a funky style for their website: every page on the website has the same exact URL, meaning that there is one, and only one, landing page.  That’s not SEO.

To quote zeh book:

When developing PPC (Pay per click) campaigns it’s a good idea to create specific pages for visitors to land on when they click the ad.  This type of page is called a Landing Page or Lead Capture Page.  If you’re running multiple PPC or ad campaigns, you can have multiple landing pages.  The landing page displays content aligned with the ad.  You can optimize with keywords and phrases related to the ad.  Landing pages allow you to test the effectiveness of your campaigns by measuring click-through rates.—-pg. 177

This brings me to the website of the company my group chose for our Google Online Marketing Challenge.  We chose Triumph4th.com, which is the website for a local skateshop.  Due to a lack of foresight, or a lack of understanding about search engine optimization, there is only one landing page.  This makes advertising using AdWords difficult for this site, because every customer lands on the same spot, and a good number of them might simply click to somewhere else instead of “entering” the site. It’s going to be interesting to see how we navigate around this conundrum.

February 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Let’s chase this feeling…

Okay, we have a lot to cover today, so let’s get right to it.  Over the past few days, I have had my nose buried in two luminary texts that provide insight into this crazy fad known as the Internet.  Of course, I’m speaking of Search Engine Optimization by the living legend, Jon Rognerud, and the canonical religious text of internet users everywhere, The Social Media Bible by Lon Safko and David Brake.  These two ancient tomes, saved from the burning library of Alexandria [citation needed] during the Roman conquest of Greece, have been passed down to help us navigate the ancient and scary world of the Internet.

ye olde google

(Image courtesy of blog.td76.com)

All historical jokes and nonsense aside, it’s time to get down to business.  During my reading of these lovely and intriguing texts, there was a good portion of information regarding Internet history and tips and tricks commonly employed to boost search results; however, I’m more interested in the way The Social Media Bible goes into great depth about what the role of the internet marketer is, and how to reach those people you call your audience.  I do have a lot to talk about in this post, but I want to start with the concept of community.

We all know that about 10% of the Internet will scar you for life (don’t worry, I’m not going to post any media to prove this point.  Just take my word for it), and that 10% of the Internet, while usually dark and uninviting, gets visited quite a lot.  I’m not going to go into detail about specific videos and pictures, but there are literally thousands of videos of people simply REACTING to some of the content that’s posted on the Internet.  It’s naive to assume that it’s all pictures of cats and old people getting hit in the nuts with footballs.  There are so many people online, each with different personalities and tastes that new and disturbing trends are popping up almost daily, and they gather huge followings.

This is Krystal... from STARFOX...

(Image courtesy of Deviantart.com… yeah, it’s exactly what it sounds like)

Please allow me to explain what that image has to do with what I’m talking about.  The Social Media Bible, with its wise prose and luminary storyline, talks at great length about what you need to know about publishing online content in the aptly titled, “Chapter 4, Everyone’s a publisher.”  The chapter spells out various tenets to keep in mind while creating an online destination, and a big part of it is knowing your audience demographics, wants, and needs.  A big part of the collective online psyche is finding groups that you fit in with.  You get a little “clique” or “community” or “terrorist organization” going, and people can exchange thoughts and opinions related to the overarching subject material.  There are forums for discussing new music equipment, message boards for swapping tips in Adobe Photoshop, and there are image boards where people post pornographic fan art of Star Trek characters (no, I’m not joking).

The thing about the internet is that it allows people to find pretty much ANY group that they could possibly want (or not want) to fit in with.  There are needs that most people don’t think exist, but there are thriving online communities that cater to them.  Many of these sites encourage (either directly or indirectly) users to post their own original material related to the topic of the site or forum “room.”  There are sites that deal with material that ranges from cute to informative, funny to terrifying, but there’s always a sense of community in these places.  The picture above is part of an online furry-appreciation community (furries are people who are into half-animal, half-human…uhh…girls).  The point is, there are communities for that, and these people take comfort in the fact that they can interact and communicate with other people with similar interests.  That’s my point.

Now, I will use a real-world example of one of my favorite destinations on the web: Acidplanet.com

The Social Media Bible‘s chapter on publishing online content, understanding potential users, and creating community in order to drive traffic.  This is about the “social” aspect of “Social Media.”  Acidplanet.com is a free social networking site for musicians (and now, for some reason, filmmakers), where users can post their own original content to their profiles.  Users can visit profiles and leave reviews on peoples’ work, giving a brief description of what they thought about it, and then giving the song (or movie) a score of 1-10.  Every hour, all the scores for every song on the site (millions of them) are cataloged and ranked by score and genre.  There are separate charts for Hip Hop, Rock, Gospel, Reggae, Classical, Jazz, and so on and so forth.  There are also sub-genre lists, like East Coast Hip Hop, Dirty South, West Coast, Mainstream, Beats, etc.  On top of that, there’s a main chart that ranks every song, regardless of genre, and puts the top ten songs of the hour on the main homepage.

I have been involved in music production since 1997, and I have been a member of Acidplanet.com since 2006, operating under the name Lord Maitreya, which has become my go-to online personality (hence, the name of this blog). I’ve been posting my own original Hip Hop music regularly since 2006, although school has made my studio schedule a little difficult, and new material is infrequent.  My Acidplanet profile can be found at the following address.

http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?songs=549210&T=4694

My Acidplanet Profile Banner

What makes Acidplanet different is the fact that the user generated content is ranked entirely by user behavior.  It’s not what the admins like or what gets the most listens, but it’s based on real-time feedback between users. Simply posting music doesn’t get you on the charts. You have to review other people’s work and be active in the community in order to get listens and, ultimately, reviews. I’ve been on the homepage chart about 5 or 6 times, and I’ve hovered at the top of the Hip Hop chart pretty regularly over the past few years every time I submit a new track, hitting number 1 in Hip Hop no less than two dozen times since 2008.

Therein lies the beauty of it all. People don’t visit the site for its own original content, although Acidplanet.com provides downloadable loops for use in music software, and a store to purchase loop and sample libraries.  They visit the site to interact and listen to new underground music from any genre you can imagine (and ton that you can’t possibly imagine).  Acidplanet.com fulfills a number of the tenets described in the chapter on publishing.  To quote The Social Media Bible:

Your content should have the effect of drawing people together in the same way that a successful sprots bar brings football fans together on a Sunday afternoon.  People like to interact with one another and belong to groups with common goals and interests.” -Pg. 78

“There is a general expectation that things on the Web should be free.  While there are some notable exceptions to this rule of thumb, you should be willing to make a lot of valuable content absolutely free and available to everyone.”  -Pg. 78

The chapter goes on to talk about community, and how user-generated content gives people an incentive to visit sites and engage with like-minded individuals.  This drives traffic.  People, as social beings, love to interact.  Even sites that don’t offer much user-generated content still allow interaction through comments sections and forums, driving people to become members and discuss site content.  Site forums allow admins to monitor trends among their visitors and tweak their formula to keep people coming back.

Let’s switch gears (and books) here.  We’ve discussed community and how it drives traffic, and I already went over links to drive search results in my last post.  The information in chapter 6 of the cautionary tale Search Engine Optimization carries over into the information I just talked about with relative ease.  Chapter 6 of the book covers basic marketing principles covered in most marketing classes, but with an online focus.  Chapter 8 covers links, which were covered in my last post ad nauseum, and so in this post, I will focus on chapter 6, which is about the psychology of the audience.

In practice, none of this is new to me.  I understand marketing pretty well (it’s my focus, after all).  But the importance of marketing when creating an online destination cannot be overlooked.  Every possible way that a person could wind up on your site involves marketing on some level, whether it’s through searching, links, or just having a name someone decides to randomly enter in the address bar.  All of those require some knowledge of where your audience is going to be, what they’re thinking, and what they’re into.

You just need to know who wants your product. Because this product appeals to someone.

(Image courtesy of kenhoward.com)

To any marketing student who’s been paying any kind of attention, Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” comes into play here.  You know what I’m talking about- the pyramid with the more important needs toward the bottom, like physiological needs and safety needs, and then goes upward with love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.  Then, the chapter goes on to cover various demographics like age group, marital status, familial status… you get the idea.

Different demographics respond in different ways.  While I could certainly go round for round on every single age group and demographic covered in the book, I’d rather follow my rock-solid formula of giving a quote and then a real life example on the Internet.  So let’s do that.  Because there are too many pessimistic and wise-guy comments I could make about marketing online to the teenage market, especially with lifestyle choice (two words: Jersey Shore), I’ll pick a more appropriate demographic.

Warning: THESE... PEOPLE... EXIST!!!!!

(Image courtesy of cdn.sheknows.com)

*Shiver*

Let’s take the relatively safe demographic of “upper-middle class.”  In Marin County, the lovely string of towns in Northern California where I hang my hat, this general demographic is a safe one to apply.  Then let’s take lower class people, such as those found in many parts of the East San Francisco Bay Area, and compare what their needs and interests are.  I’ll try to avoid stereotypes, although I am aware that they exist, and they are partially represented in the real world.  I’m going to pick a few things that I notice people tend to spend their money on, and think out loud about how they reach their demographics.

As far as Marin County goes, there are a lot of services people pay good money for that they can do themselves.  An insured dog walker in Marin county can command up to $35 per hour PER DOG, and they often walk five or six at once for a few hours at a time.  Others charge $30 per dog per walk.  Paying someone else to walk your dog for you may negate much of the joy of owning a dog in the first place, but hey, to each his own.  A cursory Google search revealed that there are 10 dog walking services in the Marin County area.  A search for dog walking services in Oakland revealed three results, but only one of them was in Oakland.  The others were in Piedmont and Emeryville, which are slightly better-off areas.  It’s reasonable to assume that the percentage of dog-owning families in both areas is similar, but their priorities are widely different.  In Marin, where people have lots of disposable income, widely accessible Internet, and plenty of errands to run and mistresses to visit, they may be out of the house for long stretches and need someone to take care of their dog for exorbitant prices.  In Oakland, where people don’t have quite as much free cash, Internet use is slightly less common, and priorities are widely different, paying someone sixty dollars to walk your dog simply doesn’t make sense in your budget.

Now, the dog walking services in Marin have fancy websites and such.  They’re marketing to a crowd who’s online habits ensure that they will be discovered with a simple Google search.  Simply type “Marin dog walking” into Google, and a handy map and list of phone numbers is instantly at your fingertips.  People in higher-income areas are more likely to get online and research options and find a good mixture of quality and a decent price, but they may spend a little extra to get better service.  In the East San Francisco Bay Area, among low-income people, if they have a dog, they likely walk it themselves, and according to Search Engine Optimization, “Keep in mind that poorer individuals may not have enough money to afford to surf the Internet at home.  This means they may have access through libraries or college campuses.”  Pg. 106

I realize dog walking is just an example, but it’s an example that shows the disparity between the goods and services sought by one group versus another, and where that service can be located.  If a well-off person wants their dog walked, they go online and find someone to pay for that service.  A less well-off person might ask a friend to do it instead, because spending money on something like that is inconsistent with their needs and values.  This is basic marketing, and I probably took WAY too long to describe all this, but I’m bored and I’m working, so I decided to blog.  And now, this…

lol

(Image courtesy of Roflrazzi.com)

February 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The almighty power of links

While I pride myself on being a versed voyager of all that is virtual, I am surprised at my own ignorance when it comes to the inner workings of this crazy internet thing everyone keeps going on about.  I’m familiar with so many aspects of the internet, but some seem to have eluded me thus far.  I use wikis on the regular (how else am I going to navigate the dialogue in the Mass Effect 2 romance quest with Tali?), I contribute comments on Cracked.com, and I use my digital sampler to pull audio off of Youtube so I can make my music.  Yes, I love the internet, with all its wonderful, sometimes disturbing, always entertaining content

Entertainment

(Image courtesy of holytaco/sites)

And, while I am familiar with all internet traditions (that was a meme-related joke, in case you were wondering), the inner-workings of this enigmatic network have remained what I believe Mr. Samuel L. Jackson calls “unknown unknowns- things we don’t know we don’t know.”  My ignorance regarding these matters is only matched by my insatiable determination to press on and learn.   So let’s get to it.

While doing the reading for this week’s blog post, I was met with a delightful blend of the familiar and less familiar aspects of online marketing.  This week, the reading comes from the time-honored classic, The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimization by Jon Rognerud.  This page-turning masterpiece has intriguing characters, cloak-and-dagger suspense, and a heaping helping of technical jargon that will have any nun making millions selling porcelain ducks online

Mallards are half price if you buy a limited edition pintail

(Image courtesy of donstuff.files.wordpress.com)

During the reading, none of the language was particularly new or scary, but the process of getting a site up, running, and optimizing those search results is certainly a side of the internet I hadn’t stopped to ponder.  Sure, I knew that ponytailed nerds spend all day intermittently playing World of Warcraft and maintaining websites, but I didn’t realize that things like keywords buried in page content was all part of the plan to get more traffic to your site.  While I certainly know about HTML and Flash and other things that make a website what it is, I never made the connecton in my head that content IN the page was so important. I have been mystified on more than one occasion to find that my favorite sites don’t get any traffic, and now it makes sense.  Some of the websites I visit deal with such obscure and strange material, but they show up on searches thanks to all those links.

I swear, not many people check 2leep.com daily, but everyone in the universe needs to.  There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of it.  I hadn’t until about a year ago, but it’s a pretty amazing site.  I found it through a link that was on Urlesque.com (another great site).  2leep is a site that connects some really cool blogs together to form a kind of bulletin board.  Blogs like English Russia, Environmental Graffiti, and others connect through 2leep and a similar site, Oddee.com.  The content of these blogs are always fascinating, like abandoned towns in Russia, or a list of the worlds 10 coolest cell phones (wristwatch video phone was my favorite).

But this brings me to my favorite kind of site: Link Dumps.  Link Dumps (like Holy Taco and Afro Jacks) may have some of their own content, but they also post insane quantities of links from all over the internet to articles, news, funny photos and videos, and other interesting content.  So when I go to search online for a story I found on Afro Jacks about the Wu-Tang vs. Beatles mashup CD, “Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers”, the search engine had the site, linked through Afro Jacks, onto the original site where I could download the CD for free from the record label.

The book spells out numerous ways you can increase those all-important organic search results.  While we’re on the topic of organic results, I would like to say that I’m surprised I never realized their importance.  I had always been of the opinion that results were based on popularity and relevance (which is true, to an extent), and not heavily reliant on various other factors, such as site content, links, the domain name you’ve chosen, the geographic region your customers and various other factors that all add up to make a sweet and juicy pie of online visibility goodness.  Yum.

Sweet and juicy pie of online visibility goodness

(Image courtesy of graphjam.com)

If I were to regurgitate some of the most interesting information I learned during the reading, it would definitely be in chapter 3 of Search Engine Optimization, by our good friend, Mr. Rognerud.  The chapter, called “The Website,” goes into great depth about what a website is, how you make one, how you register one, and the chapter rounds itself out with a nice grab-bag of tips and tricks you can use to give your website some zing and pep.  If one were so inclined, they could use graphics, animations, and various other content.  The overarching goal is, of course, to direct more people to your site.  The more relevant content you have that corresponds to what your target market is searching for, the greater the likelihood of exposure through search results.

But, as I said before, links were something I had overlooked entirely.

I will now use another real-world example.  The internet is a big place, and I’ve certainly seen my share of it.  As the times change, so does my taste, but I have always had a few staple sites that I can’t live without.  One of my favorite sites has historically been a little-known link dump known as Chrudat.com.  Chrudat was a funny place.  It had no original content of its own, but it was a good place to find a good portion of good videos and pictures that were always good for a few lulz (anon’s bastardization of the world lol.  More on anon later).  Chrudat was a great source for weekly-updated video and photo content, and it was always hilarious

I first saw this image on Chrudat. I subsequently died laughing.

(Image courtesy of babble.com)

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, Chrudat was redesigned, and now the site is practically useless.  All the content is gone, the new look is unattractive, and the overall feel of the site has changed.  So I started combing the internet for sites related to Chrudat in order to find a new link dump that suited my taste for off color comedy and meme-related time wasting.  I did a little bit of digging around to find sites that linked TO Chrudat.com (because Chrudat’s links were all gone).  I found a good number of sites that fit the bill.  I came to discover Cagepotato, Holy Taco, and Afro Jacks, all of which would have remained undiscovered had I not used used Chrudat’s name to find something that would fill the void left by its sudden demise.

Because I have such discerning taste (YTMND and memegenerator.net memes top my list of time wasters), the relative window of things online that interest me is rather small.  Discovering sites that host images and videos of memes would be hard work, even with the aid of Google.  While there are thousands of sites that host meme images, I don’t visit sites that have the odd reference or image.  I like dedicated meme hosts.  When I find a site that meets with my approval, I instinctively look at link-dump posts and link sections for other single-purpose sites that fit my criteria.  Since the memegenerator.net memes are often of the highest quality (they get the most lolz) I tend to frequent sites that post them.  Besides Foul Bachelor Frog (which is inappropriate) and Technologically Impaired Duck (check one of my earlier posts), I love Socially Awkward Penguin.

This happens, and it's awkward.

(Image courtesy of memegenerator.net)

Memes (online opinions or inside jokes that become insanely popular until they’re inevitably featured on Adult Swim), are a great example of how links operate online.  Since memes become viral quickly, and tracing their origin becomes increasingly difficult (a monumental task undertaken by Rocketboom’s Knowyourmeme.com), links and search engines are often the only way to find them.  Sometimes I only remember where the link was, and not the actual thing I want to see, so I just search for the page that the link was on.

While I realize that this example is a bit odd, it works.  Links are a key part of exposure, and having a network of sites allows users to quickly jump to sites that deal with similar content.  Sure, this allows visitors of one site to quickly visit another via hyperlink, but it also helps with search results.  This seemingly mundane aspect of search relevance made it possible for me to find some of my favorite sites, which I check daily.  During the writing of this post, I was alt-tabbing back and forth between wordpress and Holy Taco, and I decided to check Holy Taco’s link section.  I was surprised to find some of my favorite sites among the listings, including Oddee, Asylum, and Break.  Knowing that a site is connected to other sites that I trust not only speaks to a site’s credibility, but a Google search for content on any one of these sites would likely point me towards any one of their friends for similar content.  It’s like they thought of everything.  And to play us out… this…

Take ZAT, Barack Obama!

(Image Courtesy of Pwnage.ro)

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

And now, a Gary Busey intermission (note: gifs may take time to load)

Eternal Busey

Image courtesy of i.imgur.com

image courtesy of  i288.photobucket.com/albums/ll176/cynot3/Buseys.gif

Image courtesy of i.imgur.com

lol Gary Busey is crazy

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BitTorrent has a good side?

I just finished chapter 33 in The Social Media Bible, and I must say I was awestruck by the authors’ mention of BitTorrent as a positive force for media distribution.  I COULD use BitTorrent all the time to download games and software illegally, because Torrent files often contain CD-Key generators that allow me to bypass the security checks embedded in that copy of Spore I just downloaded (hypothetically).

According to Social Media Bible,

“NBC, MTV, FOX, Warner Bros., Comedy Central, and others have partnerships with BItTorrent for viewers to download programming.  Small businesses that lack bandwidth on their web sites can utilize BitTorrent’s DNA technology to unload stress upon their server and relay downloads to other servers.” – Social Media Bible, pg 577.

Earlier in that very same section, the book clearly states that BitTorrent is great because it allows you to upload you own music videos and user-generated content.  That sounds totally awesome!  People can make their own user-generated content and put it in BitTorrent for upload to spread their own indie computer games, movies, and music!  BitTorrent is the coolest thing ever!  What a wholesome and safe environment for everyone!  I’m going to direct some of my business partners onto  BitTorrent to download some cool files!

You're Awesome, BitTorrent!

(Image courtesy of media.funlol.com)

Not so fast, there.  It seems to me that the authors of this book have never actually used BitTorrent.  Type in the name of any movie or piece of software on a Google search, and when the suggested searches drop down, you’ll notice that the word “Torrent” is always there somewhere, because people create, post, and search torrent files all the time.  For every file that a business decides to make available on BitTorrent, there are thousands of illegal copies of the same file available on BitTorrent as well (and the illegal ones probably seed better and download faster).  BitTorrent isn’t a place where a lot of legitimate business happens.  It’s a way of getting your hands on things you either can’t afford, or simply don’t want to pay for.  A cursory look around the Internet shows not only that most of the content is illegal (some sources claim up to 99% of all Torrent files violate one or more laws), but that most of it isn’t useful to your business.

Pictured: a breakdown of a valuable tool for your business

(Image courtesy of static.arstechnica.com)

As I said earlier, software downloaded on BitTorrent is the same as the software you buy at the store, except that the real copy that you get in a box has a CD key that prevents you from activating the software if you didn’t pay for it.  Luckily for those who want to use the software for free, Key generators, or Keygens/Cracks, have been made that spit out a random CD key that the software will recognize as legitimate, even though it isn’t.

Never pay for software again!

(Image Courtesy of Jedisware.com)

If a person were so inclined, they could download an emulator that plays every Super Nintendo game ever made on BitTorrent for free.  Don’t stop there!  You can get a free copy of Modern Warfare off BitTorrent and be playing it tonight!  And let’s not forget that there is no shortage of illegal content on BitTorrent as well, from videos of illegal street racing to files on how to build weapons (like wrist-mounted flamethrowers).

Yes, this exists. On BitTorrent

(Image courtesy of Media.techeblog.com)

But wait, there’s so much more!  The infamous website, thepiratebay.org, almost exclusively plugs BitTorrent as the premier method of extracting pirated material from the Internet.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Pirate Bay, it is a website that tracks and catalogs pirated material, usually in the form of Torrent files.  You’re probably thinking that they monitor this material to stop users from downloading it, right?  Not at all.  They work tirelessly to make pirated information more available, and their website is a Torrent file search engine.

Given that a large portion of the data available on BitTorrent is either illegal or suspect, I was amazed to hear the download host being praised in the book as a legitimate tool for your business.  Keep in mind that Torrent files are often accidentally mislabeled or even intentionally mislabeled so that they can escape detection, or play off-color jokes (a common joke is to upload a file called “Jonas Brothers LIVE” that is actually a pornographic video).  Imagine if your business directed potential clients onto BitTorrent to download a file, only to find that someone had unintentionally downloaded something they could go to jail for watching (again, BitTorrent is FULL of illegal… VERY ILLEGAL… content).  Needless to say, you’d lose the sale. I don’t really think many businesses would want to even be associated with BitTorrent. 

Not only that, but opening your computer up to other users puts you in a precarious predicament.  A skilled user could likely monkey around in your computer.  Not only that, but there have been numerous reports of company employees using BitTorrent at work, allowing BitTorrent users to access company networks through the P2P client.  Pretty sneaky… While we’re talking about security, it bears mentioning that almost every major film, music, or video game release is available as a Torrent file weeks or even months before their official launch date. It is estimated that thousands of copies of Modern Warfare 2 were downloaded from BitTorrent and played using modified Xbox consoles weeks before the game ever hit shelves. Although the online servers for the game were not operational, prohibiting online play, some Xbox Live users had a status of “Currently playing MW2” (Xbox Live tracks games that are being played even when the user is not playing online), and this was weeks before the game was even released. Sources inside the developer likely posted the files. Employees at thousands of companies, especially those with software-based products, are posting cracked versions of their employers’ products.

In the end, I have to disagree with the authors on this one.  Any software, movies, or music that a company posts on BitTorrent has probably already been there for months.  And the argument in the book that BitTorrent is great because it allows you to upload user-generated content… we have youtube for that, and most user generated content winds up being something like this

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Enabling Conversation

The cornerstone of Social Media is conversation. Conversation happens in so many ways.For instance, my boss sends me pictures like this:

there are literally thousands of images like this

(Image courtesy of knowyourmeme.com)

And I send him ones like this:

yes... that IS an AK-47 made of bacon

(Image courtesy of holytaco.com)

We send these ridiculous things to each other because it entertains us.  Social media like YouTube and Facebook make this exchange effortless and streamlined.  That is social media.  YouTube videos have “embed codes” that allow you to post videos on your blog and website by simply copying and pasting some HTML code.  This very blogging host has an option to post images to a blog post by simply copying and pasting the URL into a little textbox. All this technology so my boss and I can send ridiculous (and usually inappropriate) content to each other.  While seemingly ingrained in our psyche today, these deceptively simple technologies didn’t exist ten years ago.

The internet is becoming a destination rather than a diversion.  It’s how people stay in touch, shop, watch movies and television, and pwn nOObz in Modern Warfare 2.

Pictured: nOOb getting pwnd

(Image courtesy of gamerscrib.net)

In the captivating and gripping story of our generation- The Social Media Bible- Lon Safko and David Brake point out the fundamental truths of social media as a vehicle for interaction and conversation.  This crazy internet thing everyone’s been talking about these days is starting to catch on.  Seriously, it’s bigger than 2 T-Pains.

Two of him

(Image courtesy of nymag.com)

Safko and Brake point out a four-pronged aspect of social media that I always understood, but never really knew (that makes sense.  I checked).   The primary goal of any individual social media entity is to engage your audience and get the conversation started.  Encoded in the digital DNA of a functional social media vehicle is the desire to engage.  A quote from my esteemed colleagues, Lon Safko and David Brake

“Before you start a conversation, and certainly to continue one, you have to engage your audience.  If you’re in business, the litmus test for a social media tool or application is simple: does it allow you to engage with customers, prospects, employees, and other stakeholders by facilitating one or more of the following: Communication, Collaboration, Education, Entertainment.”

-Social Media Bible, pg. 7

This is very true.  Let’s take a real-world example of social media on the internet: Facebook.  Facebook allows communication in a big way.  People can stalk each other; companies have access to all your demographic information so they can target little advertisements toward you; and, your employer can see all the pics of you having such a good time at that party (that was coincidentally on the same day you called in sick last week) that he’ll decide your job is obviously holding you back in life (and fire you).

You at the party

(Image courtesy of wackyarchives.com)

Facebook also allows collaboration on a great many levels.  Facebook now has a chat feature so you can message your friends back and forth.  You can also join groups, causes, and organizations (some of which the FBI is probably watching pretty closely).  People can debate topics and share information with each other in an environment that fosters a sense of belonging to a group.

Education was difficult for me to apply to Facebook until I realized that educational organizations are using social media to distribute educational material like YouTube videos.  By directing visitors to their Facebook page, the visitors will likely want to track the organization for events and the like (especially if it’s an organization you support).

Probably the most important of these four tenets is entertainment.  Most of my time spent online is looking at videos, pictures, and articles on Cracked, Chrudat, Holy Taco, AfroJacks, 2Leep, Oddee (I’m going to stop there to spare you the endless amount of time it would take to read the list of websites that I frequent… although the rest of the list is probably shorter than this little parenthetical comment).  Facebook is home to a seemingly endless array of posts, people, and even groups that love nothing more than to post goofy male anatomy references and giggle like we’re still in fifth grade (some of them probably ARE in fifth grade).  And don’t even get me started on Mafia Wars and Farm Ville.  I myself am a fan of Ownage Pranks and I’m pretty sure that I’m on Michael Swaim’s friend list (he’s my favorite Cracked.com writer, and creator of thosearentmuskets.com).

It would certainly appear that Facebook stacks up as a real-world example of effective social media, as it contains not just one, but all of the four integral parts outlined in chapter one of the book.  Knowing these four fundamental themes of social media will likely prove invaluable over the course of the semester.

Just the first chapter of the captivating Social Media Bible was filled with enough useful information to get a feel for what to expect online.  If I had my mom read this chapter, I bet she wouldn’t call me to figure out stuff like this…

Every Day

(Image courtesy of knowyourmeme.com)

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The name of this blog.

Some visitors might find the name of this blog to be a bit eccentric but it actually has a lot to do with what we breifly discussed in class on Jan. 25: marketing internet persona.

Enter my AcidPlanet account (copy and paste into your browser.  can’t hyperlink cuz i iz a nOOb kthxby lolz!!1!one)

http://www.acidplanet.com/artist.asp?AID=549210&T=6869

This account, which i have been actively maintaining since October of 2006, is the most important online presence I have.  I have been producing music for a long time, and I post my original tracks to AcidPlanet, a social networking site geared towards indie musicians from all genres, including hip hop, reggae, alternative rock, spoken word, and a smattering of others you never even knew existed.

Lord Maitreya (the name of the Buddha of the future) was just a name one of my teachers said during a lecture one day in my first year at community college, and I wrote it in my notes.  Since then, it’s pretty much been my username of choice on any website.

Anyways, that’s why it’s named what it is. Thanks for listening to my songs though 😛

And now The Grouch will play you out with a great new single: “Breath,” off his new album “Show You The World” from Legendary Music

January 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It has begun! MACHINE GUN KITTEH!

I want to start my blog with something unexpected and hilarious… hmmmmmmmmmmm… OH I KNOW!

MACHINE GUN CAT!

I think it’s going to be a good semester.

January 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment