John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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July 22nd, 2008 by john andrews

How Much Does LinkedIn Pay You?

They don’t pay me anything, and so I don’t participate. How much do they pay you?

I’m willing to accept discussions of how much value you get from LinkedIn, if that is what you prefer. I have little expectation that anyone can highlight much real value, although I am sure there will be a handful of “I made a connection that turned out to be worth millions to me” lottery stories and get-rich-quick dreams. in my cirlces (even extended circles), anyone I have ever asked has said pretty much the same thing – “I never saw any value from it“. Of course these days there are some who try and explain it as “it’s social media… you participate and then people know you and you get to be a guest blogger or interviewed on blogs, and your name becomes known… and well you’re part of the conversation… and well maybe you just don’t get social media eh?” I’d rather not go there but if I am forced to I stop when I get to the part about LinkedIn making a fortune and Social Media people working hard for other people for a living. I suppose there are some parallels to that awkward moment when your boss offers you a title instead of a raise. Anyway…

With LinkedIn now partnering with the New York Times, LinkedIn becomes a bigger competitor to search, and LinkedIn members become a more valuable commodity to be pimped by LinkedIn to advertisers and influence-peddlers like the NYT. Ka-ching.
When I am offered a cut, I’ll reconsider participating. In the mean time, if you want to know who my friends and associates are, who my vendors and clients are, what I studied in what school when, where I used to work and what I like to read, well, you’ll have to pony up for drinks, bribe my b.f.f., or hire a private dick, just like old skool.

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June 21st, 2008 by john andrews

Competitive Web Publishing

I’m always thinking about web and Internet from a competitive perspective, because that’s really what we are doing when we optimize, seek search traffic, buy links, and forge alliances with like-minded website network operators: competitive webmastering. But that concept is not always palatable to people. There are plenty of pie-in-the-sky web publishers (and SEOs and marketers…) out there dreaming of an open, free world where “information wants to be free” and “the Internet belongs to everyone“.

Truth is, even if most of us try and make that true, a few will take advantage of the resulting “opportunity” to cash in while we don’t. That starts the cycle… and soon it’s all me-too bandwagoning. If that sounds too cynical, well, that’s because it is cynical. So what.

If you want to know who the future abusers will be, look at who the abusers are now, and who have played the role of abusers in the past. A big secret of human behavior is
“past performance is indicative of future behavior”. That part is not cynical — it’s factual.

I don’t give way specifics in an obvious fashion on my blog, because, well, I compete with almost everyone reading this blog. We are all competing for attention. No sense handing your competition the ammunition it needs to take away your opportunity. However, I am happy to allude and hint. And here’s one for those working the web the way I am working the web. The newspapers (past and current abusers) are priming their pumps even as everyone says they are a dying concern. No, not the obvious. Newspapers are never about the obvious.

Take a look at this quote form a newspaper site producer, who pulls photos from the news wires and republishes them as the primary content, attractive to readers:

Q: Were there any issues in getting permission to publish images that large from the wire photo services? The photos on the Big Picture must be twice the size of any other news site.

A: We looked at the contracts pretty well and couldn’t identify anything that prevented this sort of thing. The general rule appears to be (my understanding of it) that the images should not be easily reproduced in print. Big Picture images max out at 990 pixels wide at 72dpi. If you scale that up to print resolution of 300dpi, you get an image that’s only about 2 inches wide, so we’d appear to be within that limit.

Those who know me personally, or who have had time one on one to discuss things in depth, know my passion for certain visual arts, and my belief in a certain specific future related to some of those arts. It’s coming sooner than expected. Things will be a changing, and acts like these will force that change. The only safe harbor for the competitive publisher is competing, which means acting now. The abusers will continue to react to change by attempting new abuses, and continue to reveal their intentions due to their need to manage risk. Sadly, they will also continue to lobby politicos and misrepresent the truth, which means we still have to a lot more than simply good or hard work, but we have to start with the honest smart/hard work part. And remain vocal, where it has influence.

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June 20th, 2008 by john andrews

Research News: Old Boys Clubs breed more Old Boys

I know this is outside the realm of Internet marketing, but my background is scientific research and I left that world for obvious reasons…that were not very obvious to everyone else at the time. Chalk this new research out of the SPIE and Academy of Arts and Sciences as one for the “duh” column, representing more stuff we knew but perhaps no one would care about until it was formally documented:

Programs and policies that support early-career investigators and high-risk, high-reward research are needed in order to preserve U.S. leadership in science and technology, contends a report released yesterday by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

We had to wait until the symptoms had become a disease, before acknowledging that the Old Boys Club does nothing but breed more Old Boys, at the expense of innovation and competitiveness:

As an example, the report notes that the average age for first-time recipients of primary research grants from the National Institutes of Health is 42.4 and rising, and that the success rate for first-time grant applicants has declined from 86 percent in 1980 to 28 percent in 2007.

That’s your NIH, the primary funding mechanism for research and innovation in medicine and the sciences related to our well being. In other words, we’re not giving research grants to researchers until they reach their forties. As someone who left that world in my thirties, I can tell you two things: 1) the ones who stayed until they were in their forties to get their first funded research are not the sharpest shovels in the shed, and 2) that’s like saying you can’t do an Internet start-up until you’re at least 30. Yes, it is.

Think about it. How much innovation would we have if we refused to allow anyone under 30 to try anything new with this Internet thing? On the flip side, for those already over 30, with kids and such… how’d you like to take a small grant now and try and turn it into a successful innovative startup? The last time I had lunch in Silicon Valley, I heard someone say about the idea of working for a startup at age 40: “you don’t skate on thin ice with babies“. What do you think our funded researchers are doing when they get funded in their forties, with babies?

Disclaimer: I have great respect for many, many NIH researchers who have never received funding, or not yet received funding. I also have great respect for many who first get funded outside the NIH system, via companies and private foundations. Quite a few are good friends of mine. I don’t understand why they stay and shine shoes in the academic system, but that is their choice and I do respect them as individuals. However, across the board, what’s left looking for funding after 15 years of suffering the system of academia is not the best and brightest this nation has to offer. Those still trying should keep trying as long as their hearts believe. But the rest of us should try and effect some change.

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