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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April 16th, 2010 by john andrews

Ten Top SEO Blog Content Strategies

Looking for a content strategy for your SEO blog? Learn from the best! Scour the SEO feeds and twitter lists, and notice what works for the SEO crowd. I did, and I compiled this Top Ten list of SEO Blog Content Strategies.

Top Ten SEO Blog Content Tips for 2010

1. Make a “Top 10 List” of interest to beginner SEO consultants with little business experience. You can do it! You really can! Just pick any micro topic, and focus on it like a laser. Make up ten possible  things and list them as a “Top Ten” list. Don’t go into detail… you don’t want anyone to notice you don’t really know what you’re writing about. Just a line or two for each. I see people fail at this over and over, but for the sole reason that they add too much detail! Just make the statement, repeat it with a nte or two on how it *might* work, and move on.

2. Make a “Top Ten SEO Myths” post

Same as #1, just pick any ten things that peopel disagree about. Call them “myths” and viola… great content!

3. Make a Top 101 List

Same as #1 above, just super long. More than 100 so that it’s remarkable (101 is better and 103 is even better.. you get the idea). Prevailing SEO wisdom says many people can easily memorize Top 10 lists and so they read and move on. But tose same people will fail to get past 23 on your list, and so they will bookmark it. The truth is, they don’t actually book mark because they have no intention of coming back. Instead, they send it to someone else to try and extract some social proof value out of it. Go ahead.. test this for yourself! Or.. just write a Top 103 list!

4. Make a Top 10 List of SEO Posts

And yes, it can actually be a Top 10 List of Top 10 Lists. In the SEO field, even that will work! Go ahead.. try it! Consider doing it weekly.

5.  make a Top Ten List for off topic things for SEOs

SEO people pay to much attention to themselves and their friends. Exploit that, by showing them there is more to the world than what they already pay attention to. How easy is that!  Pick 10 things out of a gazillion things on the Internet. Cats, dogs, cakes, bacon… whatever. Don’t spend any time on picking… just DO IT. And do it on Friday or Monday.

6. Make  Top  10 Things Not to Do in SEO List

The contrarian route.. works great! Be sure and include “Don’t Publish Top 10 Lists” because, well, it needs to be there.

7. Make a Top Ten List referencing a celebrity and SEO

Something like “Top Ten SEO Tricks Jason Mraz Doesn’t Know” or “Top Ten SEO Mistakes Ashton Kutcher Makes”. Then take one of your previous “Top Ten” SEO lists (or contrarian lists) and add one line to each item, mentioning Jason Mraz or Ashton Kutcher. No one will actually read it… so just make sure you don’t write much.

8. Make a Top 10 Ways post for SEO

There is a little known physiological tendency among SEO people (believed to be genetic, but possible environmentally exacerbated e.g. beer, hard liquor, excess oxygen) to cite and refer Top Ten SEO lists. You can try it for yourself. See 9 and 10.<

9. Make a Top 10 Reasons why your should NOT Read This Top 10 List

Again, if it works, why argue? Success on the web is all in the execution.

10. Make a Top 10 Reasons why your MUST Read This Top 10 List

Seriously. Are we done? Lesson learned? Awesome. Now Happy Friday. Enjoy your Happy Hour. See you Monday!

John Andrews is a Seattle SEO consultant, and all around Digital Marketing consultant specializing in Competitive Web & Internet Strategies and SEO.

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February 24th, 2010 by john andrews

It’s All About You.

I just read a blog post about Twitter. It suggests that Twitter may go away someday, and we need to be prepared for that. Huh? If you read the post and the comments, it’s almost like some people think Twitter is what made them awesome, and some people think their own websites are way better than Twitter and should be the focus of attention, not Twitter. Huh?

Really now. Which one rocks, you? or Twitter?

Many people have blogs I will never visit (again). A little of their voice in my life is tolerable, but not a lot. I simply can’t stand that much of them. In many cases I’ve proven this in real life. I can say hello and maybe tolerate standing in a group with them at a meeting, but the one-on-one conversation just doesn’t work. Anything beyond superficial becomes grating. Yeah, I know…it’s me, not them. But guess what… twitter has been very good to those people, giving them a chance to stick around. And since I can “follow” them on twitter, effectively limiting them to 140 characters at a time in a stream of other tweets competing for my attention, I barely even notice they are there. Their tweets are rarely any better than their blog posts. Twitter rocks for me that way.

Some other people have awesome blogs and some write awesome articles. I read those and appreciate links to them when I come across them (often in Twitter). In that way, twitter rocks again, for both of us. Increased awareness of your awesomeness. Period.

No one should have to say publicly that their blog is better than twitter. The people will decide. And if you find yourself going to Twitter not because you like it but because you have to “be on Twitter” in order to get attention.. well… I hate to be the (only) one to tell you, but it’s not Twitter. It’s you.

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October 5th, 2009 by john andrews

New FTC Guidelines

Update 10/2009: Note that this is a blog… an opinion. I post on topics of interest, but don’t pretend to be a news reporter. That said, this post was on-target. It was a response to the crazy blogging going on after the FTC announced new guidelines for sponsored word of mouth advertising. Righteous-sounding bloggers proclaimed fines and laws barring word of mouth promotions that did not openly “disclose” material relationships (like free products). I said that was nonsense (see below). Subsequent updates (see the end, down below) confirmed that.

But for those who like to go further with the facts, check out this report of the IAB’s response to the FTC action. The report states:

Richard Cleland, assistant director, division of advertising practices at the FTC, said the ‘$11,000 fine is not true. Worst-case scenario, someone receives a warning, refuses to comply, followed by a serious product defect; we would institute a proceeding with a cease-and-desist order and mandate compliance with the law. … There’s no monetary penalty, in terms of the first violation, even in the worst case.’ Instead, he said the FTC’s guidelines are intended to serve as education.

See? It’s not really even a fine… it’s a guideline. For education. Carry on.
—end of update


A report of the final draft of the new FTC guidelines is out. You can read it here, or read about it here. I don’t like the Mashable coverage; I don’t think it is objective enough, and it clearly sensationalizes the fines aspect, with additional commentary suggesting a strong bias against paid endorsements.

Looking at the actual FTC news release instead, I’ll highlight what I consider the most important parts of the report (which is NOT the guideline…that is to be posted to the Federal Register):

The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves

Got that? The FTC won’t be taking you off to jail, and your lawyer is free to argue your case on the points. It’s not a fine for non-disclosure.

advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect.

Know those promotions that have fine print “results not typical”? Now they have to actual say what typical is. That’s the change.

the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement

Okay so now that’s settled. It was always true, but the FTC wanted to state publicly that its lawyers were convinced it was true (as a means of influencing the court system)  Now your lawyer should be certain that it is true, too. This can save you money.

bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service

This is the guideline (not the law). This can be argued… on several points. Was the post an actual advertisement? Was it an actual endorsement? Did the material benefits come directly from the seller, or through a third party? Expect evangelical paid-posts-are-evil websites to proclaim the end of sponsored posts, and the make-money-online web sites to come up with crafty new ways to make a personal blog post NOT technically an endorsement (somehow). That’s how business works, and that’s how evangelical social media websites get attention.

if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization

This is a good change, but the political action groups have addressed this (successfully) already. They make new non-profit organizations and think tanks that sound like one thing, but are actually another. A certain “coal is the future of America’s independence from foreign oil” group, which proclaims that CO2 is good for us, and is named green something, comes to mind. There are more of these; they play to our collective lack of patience for looking past the labels and tag lines. (To the Social Media blogger who took money to publish this… I have to say cool story bro).

Finally, the guidelines really boldly clarify this one:

a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims

I guess that needed to be clarified, since we’ve just about forgotten about the concept of right and wrong in this country lately.

Updated 10/15/2009: Jon Henshaw provided an update/clarification  that pretty much confirms what I said above.. check it out.

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