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?  Competitive Web & SEO
September 10th, 2006 by john andrews

thoughts > /dev/null

Out of curiousity, I sometimes track seo relationships on the web. Of course there are the one-long-page testimonial people, all incestuous and “professional” in their scams. And the evangelicals, who seem to align with the White Hat Society more often than not. Of course we know the bad boys and girls at ThreadWatch, with their almost egalitarian accommodation of the immigrants arriving from WebmasterWorld. Still, WebmasterUniverse still works a following, cross-pollinating with the SES crowd so much sometimes I can’t tell a PubCon from a SESShow. We have the DP people, all aggressive in their mob-ility, and the affiliate people, camped out in multiple valleys including performance-focused ABest and the more pop glam CoolGuy affiliate types. I know, it’s hard to place labels like “glam” on things, but truth is glam-rock of the 80’s included metal, ink, and applique’ not altogether different from some of what we see paraded as bling-worthy today.

So in following one particularly painful “I bought this MMF as a skeptic, and ten days later was making $XXX per day” web page, I found a second blog that rang honest. It was sincere, thoughtful, and showed some intelligence. Wow. Honestly, I had never before encountered a one-long-page don’t-trust-me-ask-these-people-I-have-never-met-before Corey Rudle pitch associated with an honest thinking human. So I read some, and followed a link to NevDull.

Believe in God Instantly Breath Spray

Now I have no idea who NevDull is, but “she” pointed me to the “We have a trend in Jesus” website. What a hoot. They sell the Believe in God Instantly Breath Spray featured here. I would have posted a comment to say thanks but NevDull is members-only. Hence my post here, which of course gets much more elaborate because 1. I have to place the story into context and 2. that is my nature.

It’s a real product you can buy there, or so it seems. How clever. I will definitely look further at that site. Anyway, to get to the point, NevDull has a post called “Making it OK to Not Know” . In this post, she notices her own acceptance of having witnessed an unexplainable David Blaine levitation trick, yet remaining comfortable not knowing how it was pulled off. It is magic, and she is comfortable accepting that it is not actually real, not actually a threat to her acceptance of the physical world we all live in and around, and so ok to “not understand”.

But what I find most interesting is that NevDull’s exposition on accepting what she has been shown demonstrates the existence of belief systems and the power of propaganda, the media, and the marketing message. The steps she identifies as related to her belief that (in this case of levitation) it is “ok to not know” are exactly the steps marketers must execute to establish a basis for consumer acceptance of an unbelievable marketing message. Because I found NevDull through links of SEO types and online marketers (and especially because I think I was inside the one-long-page don’t-trust-me-ask-these-people-I-have-never-met-before online marketing camp), I assume NevDull is either involved in online marketing or close to someone involved in online marketing. She summarizes her acceptance of the David Blaine message thusly:

People that really need an answer either find one, or make one up. Or twist facts to make it look like there was an answer

Yes. Exactly. Place the viewer into a room (or tube), present an environment to support the inquiry that will follow when your “amazing” message is delivered, and the person will find and answer (or make one up) using the clues you provided. The key is the comfort level. Make it “ok to not know”, if possible. And if you’re good, having achieved that, deliver that other, reinforcing message that buries itself deep in the belief system. You can cash in on it later.Yes, I have a very specific reason for assuming NevDull is a “she”, by the way.
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September 8th, 2006 by john andrews

“We’re part of a much larger conversation”

Yeah, so am I. I’m part of a really large conversation called the Internet. Am I the only one in SEO world staring in disbelief at ClaimID, which turned a third-party links page for SEO into a Web 2.0 business?

If you’re not a search person, skip the rest of this. It might be misleading. You may misread it for cynicism or think I am being negative. Please leave now and don’t allow yourself to be so deceived. But if you understand search, what the heck is ClaimID? Third party links page a-la Bruce Clay circa 2001, but executed overtly and as a business model? Bottom feeding on people with very unique names, who think this is the answer to their SEO/PR problem, and listing the faithful as “favorite examples in the wild“? Look at those names…Brian Benzinger, Stowe Boyd, Ottmar Liebert, Alex Muntada, Patrick Cormier, Derek Punsalan. It doesn’t get much more unique than some of these. They can rank themselves with a small handful of links… internals even! It’s not like their non-web offline citizens… these are all bloggers!

Link bait sure, but as a company? Building a community of followers, sure, but ones who could be enlightened with a pen light? At first I thought it was a back door way to build a resume site, but there are too many blog posts, dutifuly commented by The Creators, for a bait ‘n switch like that. This is a pea green and light blue, rounded-corner grab at something for sure. But what?

Yeah yeah, I know. I just don’t get it. Save the wild card elastic claus for somebody else, I get it just fine. It encourages users to link to a page on *ClaimID* as the definitive reference for their own identity, instead of their own page on their own domain. Nice. Like selling ice at the North Pole, I guess. It’s a business as long as somebody buys.

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September 8th, 2006 by john andrews

Have you claimed your FREE online cell account?

I just read about HP’s board hiring investigators to find the source of a boardroom leak, and admitting that pre-texting was used by the investigators to obtain the cell phone records of reporters and board members. Pre-texting is the name given to a social engineering technique – you call the phone company and pretend to be the cell phone owner, and ask for the records. In this case, someone used Yahoo! email addresses to claim the online accounts of the cell phone owners, knowing as little as their names and last 4 digits of their social security numbers.

HP’s board found their leak, and 2 people so far are not expected to be on the board anymore. The attorney general people of course are now involved, and I assume the investigators are in for some hot water. Small price to pay to find two board members and an information leak? If it seems so, that might just fuel a handful of million dollar lawsuits (I hope).

Everyone should claim their own online account, even if they don’t use it. And also tell (don’t ask… tell) the cell phone company to put a password on your account that only you know. I did this with Verizon a year ago after reading about some Colorado Senator who had a company that re-sold cell phone records obtained through pre-texting (yes, it really is true). Verizon locked my account with a password, and it has been a hassle ever since because I picked a hard-to-pronounce password (what was I thinking… duh!). Anyway, at least it is safer than normal.

Is claiming your account secure enough without the extra password, which some cell companies might not be prepared to handle? No. The cell phone device is used as a token, so that if you process a “lost password” sequence and have the device in your hand, you can reset the password. All you need is two minutes with the device, which is easily done by “making a call”. Maybe not easy for some overseas hacker to get your cell records, but a piece of cake for a fellow board member (ahem) who just needs to make a quick call.

Oddly, the CNet article actually published the IP address used to execute the pre-texting. It was, which appears to be a Cox cable IP address in Nebraska. The IP is assigned geocoordinates 41.2603, -96.0463. If that is correct, not too smart, guys. There goes the neighborhood, at least. Unless it was a zombie proxy, which I suppose we’ll find out in the next few weeks as the privacy concerns are addressed in the media. oh, and isn’t it coincidental that the FBI has offices in that same neighborhood?

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John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John




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