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 24th, 2008 by john andrews

Live Blogging T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East, New York

I think that’s an attractive title… we’ll see how it goes with the wifi. Note to conference organizers everywhere — wifi makes for more and better dealmaking! If we can get online from breakfast, in seminars, etc. we do more and better deals! (I tether from my cell if necesary, but then I need a cell signal!)

So this post iwll be updated as we go.. sitting now in Search Session listening to Jamie MacMillan…

Regarding businesses getting into paid search, Jamie says:

“What’s your strategy for managing your channel?”

Right on. What do you want to accomplish with your lead when it arrives? If you don’t know, and if you only look at return on ad spend, you’re not being efficient.

Update: Wow.. Jamie listed my blog as a recommended resource. Awesome… single malts for Jamie tonight.

Closing Jamie thoughts… on PPC and cost of ranking… “it’s getting more difficult to rank, and this train is not going to stop“. How true.

Next up, Senior SEO Manager of iCrossing, Richard Chavez, with “Spamming the Globe through Search” .. oops… it’s really Spanning the Globe.. my bad. It sure looked like “spamming” on the big screen, though.

“What Search Engines Consider”… this is looking like a standard “What is SEO” talk… clean site to allow crawling… duplicate content is a “very serious issue” with search engines, with “extreme ramifications”… touched on trust, and the positive effect of domain names on top level rankings.

Chavez says keywords is A#1 way to understand online consumer…

Compares “keyword consumer decision process” to the sales funnel process.. general interest, research…converson, racking broad keywords, to specific general phrases, with long tail stuff at the conversion. Looks like he’s combining everything into SEO… calling it search. Microsites vs. subdomains vs. subfolders.. Chavez says

Micro sites: traffic capture, users early in decision process and those out of the decision process (sounds like info sites)
Cons: may not get associatd with primary brand by Search Engines, shorter domain history so less history/relevance, typ. less content, “typ. does not attract inbound link growth to acieve authority”, or so says Chavez. Says authority sites have “hundreds upon thousands of pages supporting keyword content”.

Subdomains: Chavez says “considered part of the primary domain” so you leverage historical trust…also notes that as a weakness, subdomain treated as part of a sub-folder, there is a limit of 2 times to get ranked so subdomain counts as 1 for example. Not sure how much I agree with this topic….

Best Strategies for Multiple Domains: Capture traffic (e.g. misspellings), product related terms, Notes Google Chrome… address bar is search box, will se more typo traffic captured. “Maintain traffic from older domains”.. Chavez says hol don to bought/acquired old domains… notes “tremendous value”.

Chavez says 301 your typos to your main domain… what say you, SEO readers… is this “best practice”? Remember we’re talking typos here. I have some differnt opinions there… Chavez also says avoid mirrors/using DNS to duplicate/mirror sites. Notes desire to present additional value with additional domains, not just another of the same on a second domain.

Mutiple Domains for a Brand: Create unique experiences on unique domains, Chavez says start acquiring good quality links right away… directories are great way to start.

Now we see the iCrossing “proprietary keyword analysis tool”… okay so he’s a vendor. He’s showing a “position analysis report” using his tool… I’m sure the audience is now thinking ” I need a rank reporting tool”. I am reminded of Rand Fishkin’s talkat Domain Roundtable… “not that I’m selling you on my tools, but I want to use them in the talk” or something like that.

Final speaker of search session is Vaibhav Arya, CTO of Skenzo.Final speaker of search session is Vaibhav Arya, CTO of Skenzo. Arya says: Traffic is King. He says domains need content, and a “few snippets of content thrown in don’t really count” He also says that “sort of becomes suspect” and “could be construed as Black Hat SEO” and “could result in black listing your domains”. Huh. Really? Says typical domainer has 5-6,000 domains, and says putting a little ocntent on all domains will “definitely be identified some time in the future”, and he again referenced the Back Hat SEO idea. Seems to be selling idea that parking a domain that had a history… so called “expired domains”.. “you don’t get dropped off the index right away”… “there are ways you can retain the search engine rankings for these domains”. Says “withough development you can’t create search engine ranked pages”…

Ok I get it now. He’s making the case fo checking your parking system, to make sure your parking company is not using irames, redirects, etc. which can eliminate any rior historical search traffic. Again he says “possibly flagged as suspect” w/r to scraped content.

Arya says “the domain name is one of themost important factors for ranking in a search engine” …. I disagree there, but I agree this audience loves to hear that. Repeats it again… as a very large competitive advantage. I disagree… it’s a complex subject worthy of discussion, not broad stroke statements.
Says “keyword density” leads to you becoming “suspect” again… and “don’t do SEO without SEM”… so far what Arya is describing is WAY labor intensive for domainers. He suggests every page be “hand crafted” for example.

Okay now he lost me completely… he’s saying use PPC to buy traffic and use multivariate testing to optimize, and then take the optimize page and use it for organic SEO campaign. To my readership, when’s the last time you made a PPC optimized landing page that was also optimal for organic SEO?

Now to Q&A with the Audience:

On competing with large database-driven info sites… Chaves says “content is king” and suggests more wins. Ayres adds you need to develop the domain and then can beat content aggrators (again noting “eventually it gets identified” suggesting aggrageted content eventually gets penalized. Sorry I don’t buy that… Jamie adds that it depends on your competition and he says “get a good SEO person on board sooner rather than later”. Again, Jamie is correct.

Session ended ….

Loren Stocker… now this guy’s cool. Pipefitter, mechanical engineer… now saying “your work will define your life” and is talking about searching ourselvs inside to “find first the dream of our lives” and then “build the life of our dreams around that”. Calls it “Option Shock” .. how to pick what to do. Big Dreams are seductive and fun… he bought for $12k and did nothing with it.

Stocker says we bought domains because “we were seduced by their potential”. He got that right, eh?

“Work on what you love, leverage the rest for more love, more life”
“what we do on this day matters. What we do in this life time matters”
Says he doesn’t sell domains because “these are my dreams.. they are worth so much”
“Life is like electric current.. “by holding our dreams we build potential” of dreams, but we need to “lower our resistance” to “let those dreams flow into our lives”. Look hrough your portfolio, “find a path” to work on thos ereams, and let the rest go.

he flips an old asian adage on it’s head. It was “Fnd the work that you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”. For domainers, he says “Gather the domains you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”

Check out for trading domains… find the ones you love. He’s into wine, tickets, community-based stuff.

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September 21st, 2008 by john andrews

Canon 5DMkII debuts with 1080p pro video

Big news in digital photography land. Ever since the Matrix action sequences were filmed inside a ring of digital SLR cameras, with perspective images interpolated acording to the director’s vision, I’ve been excited about the future of DP. I studied digital signal processing for several years, including data compression and communicatons (the digital kind, not the journalism kind). That stuff is so amazing and powerful, we know that a wonderfully different future is coming. Someday.

Shooting a current pro-level Canon 1DMkIII is a remarkable experience, if for no other reason than the shear speed of the SLR mechanism. It seems downright wrong that the camera moves so many mechanical parts so fast to capture images. I know it’s an SLR, and I love the 10+ frames per second captures, but why does it need to do all that work? Why can’t it capture the images… well… digitally, the way it captures the light on a sensor? Like digital video… a digital shutter… but we all know that digital video cameras can’t do high speed action photography well. Not well enough (yet) to enable high-res, single frame action shots pulled from the video.

Now we are a major step closer with the new Canon 5DMkII. It is a 21Mpixel sensor and it shoots continuous captures, which it then downsamples to a 1080p video resolution standard. In low light. It’s magic for non-action photoraphy, especially on-location stuff. And through your existing (excellent, fast) Canon glass. Said to be available late November for $2700. Check out the camera and the images and video samples.

It doesn’t do fast action yet… imagine how disruptive a $2700 DSLR would be if it worked for pro sports? You could capture a video and select frames for use as high res digital photos. Talk about changing an industry! That should come fast in a larger, pro model like the 1D line (with a cost to match) and still be quite evolutionary. But this 5DMkII itself is a major advance for digital photography… if it is as described. I know what’s on my holiday wish list…

Following the excitement here.

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September 12th, 2008 by john andrews

New York Times trashes AOL Brand

I don’t think the New York Times ever publishes anything that isn’t intended to push some agenda. It seems to me every single headline and article has a mission. It’s not just news or information or entertainment, but rather some mission-based effort to make some point or present some perspective. So when I read today’s article trashing the AOL brand, I wondered what’s up between the Times company and AOL? Probably just helping out the Time-Warner folks, I suppose.

It was fun to read nonetheless. I always enjoyed hearing people make fun of AOL because it’s so easy and stress free. AOL just being AOL has been funny for years. No need to stretch the truth or spend any effort explaining the context – AOL “jokes” are just plain funny. But I thought those days were over because I rarely see any mention of AOL at all these days. But the Times sees a need to tarnish:

“it is clear that AOL’s brand faces significant challenges. The general scorn for the company was encapsulated by [sic] by Cosmé McMoon, who wrote ‘AOL = America’s Oldest Luddites.’ It sounds like there are as many people regularly imploring their aging parents to give up using AOL as there are people asking them not to drive in the dark.”

As always, there are people who take something cheap and easy and hope that someday, if they hold on long enough, it will be cool even if only because it is old. Apparently that has now happened with AOL:

“Several people had nostalgic associations with their e-mail addresses, which have been part of their lives for many years. And there were a few folks who seemed to like AOL for a sort of retro-chic.”

Retro-chic? Wow. Most of us know that “nothing expresses professionalism like an AOL email address“, but I bet few realize that is now retro-chic. The Times notes:

“When I get an email from an AOL address, I begin worrying before I open it that the question will be completely clueless,” said a person who works as a webmaster.

The Times attempts to sum up the trash-fest with this observation (emphasis added):

“And even AOL’s fans didn’t use the sort of words that people associate with growing brands like Apple and Google. You didn’t hear about innovation, quality or service. You didn’t even hear about a community, which once was AOL’s strength. Easy to use, another core part of AOL’s success did still echo from the AOL users. Ultimately, a brand is a promise of a consistent experience…Our little experiment in market research shows that AOL’s brand, at least among Bits [sic] readers, is hardly thriving. Even among satisfied users of the company’s services, the name evokes compromises and stasis, a tough position for a technology company.”

Ouch. Funny though, how the New York Times, with it’s hundred+ years of literary history, has so many typos in its published materials. I rarely have to write [sic] when I blog but I needed it twice for this little piece of trash… umm… I mean trashing, as in piece of AOL trashing. Well, you know what I mean.


Since the New York Times has a policy of not linking to the web, I can’t link to their article here. But I can tell you how to find it. Simply go to and search for “New York Times”. When Google gives back a results page, ignore the main listings and look all the way to the right side of the page. You’ll see a few listings in a vertical column along the side edge. Look for the one that has URL “nytimes dot com” and click it. Once you get to that landing page, there is a “search” box in the upper left, below the masthead. Enter the following search term into that box: “so-thats-who-uses-aol” (you can cut and paste from here) The only result should be the actual article I mentioned here. (They’d make their website so much easier to use if they’d just stick to following web standards and link to things, right? Geesh.)

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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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