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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November 22nd, 2006 by john andrews

Ever diligent

Yawn. The eve of Thanksgiving. Normal people are at home, roasting chestnuts, sipping port on this chilly evening. Perhaps there’s a fire for the first time this winter. Meanwhile, a new set of IPs start crawling the web looking for “search engine spam”. Bwahahahahahahahahahaha.

Editor’s Note: That was not a rhetorical post. The IPs were from Yahoo! and started with 74.6.81.*

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November 22nd, 2006 by john andrews

Yahoo! Mining Flickr Data to Sell Me a New Camera

Paul Kedrosky notes that Flickr has begun to publish trend data on camera popularity. Not everyone is aware that jpeg’s created by digital cameras contain meta data (known as EXIF data). That meta data includes the camera make and model used to capture the image, the exposure settings, and other data about the camera and the shot. Flickr is aggregating the camera make and model data from uploaded images and plotting charts of camera popularity. Smart move. It’s early, but if it proves useful, it may be an opportunity for producing market data that has commercial value.

Extending the concept, I know my Canon EOS EXIF data includes the number of exposures I have recorded with my camera to date, and the lens I used for the image. That means if I upload jpegs directly to Flickr, Yahoo! knows how much I use my camera, and how close I am to having “used it up” (Canon’s EOS 10D has an expected lifetime rated in # exposures). In other words, Yahoo! (owner of Flickr) knows when I am a good candidate to buy a new high-end digital SLR camera. They know I own a 70-200mm IS lens with anti-vibration technology, so I am a high-end buyer. They know I also own a 135 f2 L series, also a higher-end lens. In fact, if I upload enough photos, Yahoo! can make a pretty good guess of which lens I don’t yet own (a super wide) and pitch it to me. 

That, my friend, is targeted market research data. And every time you upload an image to Flickr, you give that away for free. And someone else will monetize that either now, or someday in the future when it is worthwhile.

If you are doing anything on the web you should be paying attention to possible monetization strategies as you go down the road. They are everywhere, and many may require just a bit or two of additional data storage for optimization. Although most will not be worth pursuing when recognized, the day will come when your little bag of monetization ideas has real cash value.

Sample EXIF data grabbed off the web. Note the camera make and model, lens, and image numbers are in there:

FileName: IMG_9984.JPG
FileSize: 3187868
FileType: 2
MimeType: 0
Make: Canon
Model: Canon EOS 10D
Orientation: 6
XResolution: 180
YResolution: 180
ResolutionUnit: 2
DateTime: 2003:03:18 14:09:12
YCbCrPositioning: 1
Exif_IFD_Pointer: 196
ExposureTime: 1/250
FNumber: 8
ISOSpeedRatings: 100
ExifVersion: 0220
DateTimeOriginal: 2003:03:18 14:09:12
DateTimeDigitized: 2003:03:18 14:09:12
ComponentsConfiguration: 
CompressedBitsPerPixel: 3
ShutterSpeedValue: 261023/32768
ApertureValue: 6
ExposureBiasValue: 0
MaxApertureValue: 97349/32768 (3.0)
MeteringMode: 5
Flash: 0
FocalLength: 21
UserComment:
FlashPixVersion: 0100
ColorSpace: 1
ExifImageWidth: 3072
ExifImageLength: 2048
InteroperabilityOffset: 2330
FocalPlaneXResolution: 768000/223 (3,443.9)
FocalPlaneYResolution: 409600/119 (3,442.0)
FocalPlaneResolutionUnit: 2
SensingMethod: 2
FileSource: 
CustomRendered: 0
ExposureMode: 0
WhiteBalance: 0
SceneCaptureType: 0
InterOperabilityIndex: R98
InterOperabilityVersion: 0100
RelatedImageWidth: 3072
RelatedImageHeight: 2048
ModeArray: Array
ImageInfo: Array
ImageType: IMG:EOS 10D JPEG
FirmwareVersion: Firmware Version 1.0.0
Camera: 220105445
ImageNumber: 8999984
OwnerName:
CustomFunctions: Array

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November 21st, 2006 by john andrews

Checking the Con in PubCon

I have a head for details. I have always been very observant, and I remember even tiny details of conversations, environments, and facial expressions. Sometimes it bugs me, as I over-analyze and seek meaning in probably meaningless gestures. But more often, those little details fall into place later and provide clues for understanding oberved paradoxes. Paradoxes like, if he’s so successful at SEO, why did he quit and take a corporate job in order to “have a regular salary“? Or, if she’s a full time SEO but blogs on the web virtually all the time, when does she do actual SEO work?

Well, post Pubcon, I returned to the SERPs armed with a collection of verbal claims from SEOs and marketers just begging for verification.

I’m #1 everywhere for __________“, said one. Well, not from here you’re not. In fact, not from any of the 12 geo-located proxies I have set up across the country. Yes you rank, and that is impressive, but #6 and #4 are not the same as #1. And, it’s not “everywhere” and certainly not Ask nor Google. Also, the reason I looked to verify the claim in the first place: I believe it takes significantly more “power” to hold a #1 spot consistently in your niche, than a top 10. You, my friend, are not as powerful as you may believe.

Of course it may have been the beer talking, and as I said I still have great respect for anyone holding the top spots in competitive areas. It’s simply not “#1″, and it’s simply not “everywhere”.

Another case: “I wrote an ebook on _________ and got it to the top and sold XXXX copies last year”. Okay! I love to hear success stories, and I don’t doubt one bit that you did just what you said. Sometimes, timing is everything, right? But, isn’t it too bad that your ebook is no where to be found today? And not mentioned by anyone, or linked to by anyone? It would have been GREAT to keep selling it organically, right?

Again, nothing personal, and much respect for the work and success… but perhaps you told everybody about it at the last Pubcon or SES, and caused a competitive surge or something because I can’ find any evidence of it today. On second thought… I wish you had told me about your current money-making ebook. I bet it’s kicking butt in the SERPs right now….

How many times did I hear people at Pubcon say “SEO is easy. It’s so basic, and people just don’t know it”. Yup. I, to, saw that after suffering through a few sessions, especially the expert panels that “tore apart” selected websites. How many times did I hear the same things… certainly enough to imprint them permanently on the brains of new SEOs. “Keywords in Title tags, not too long” and “you’re www is a 302 to your canonical domain – fix it!” and “what’s with the images? Spiders can’t read images”. Gee… is it really that easy? Maybe every webmaster should start selling SEO services tomorrow, because this stuff is easy.

I saw many people writing down tips to bring back home. I heard several say “if I just get a few god tricks and tips, it paid for my visit”. Yes, that is the con in pubcon, and yours is the bias that ensures those tips will be believed, the value will have been delivered, and you will remain thristy for more SEO next year.

I think more than ever before, Pubcon is about introducing web masters, business owners, and marketers to the concept of SEO, and introducing SEO practitioners to each other on a hierarchical basis. The consumers (web masters, business owners, and marketers) see what SEO can do, and sometimes get the wrong message (that it is easy). That’s ok, because until they fail a few times they don’t make for good SEO clients anyway.

And the SEO’s? Well, that hierarchy is also an economic system, pushing the funds and new talent upwards to the established elite. Newbies are told constantly of the opportunity to mingle with the experienced folks at the pubs around pubcon, yet usually only find each other at those bars. The real people arrange their rendezvous, and inclusion is a process of selection. Did you get included/invited? Or excluded? I bet it made all the difference in your Pubcon experience.

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