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
May 27th, 2009 by john andrews

How to be a Better Entrepreneur

It seems every week some hustling web entrepreneur publishes a new “blog post” about how to be a better entrepreneur, how to be more successful, how to make more money, etc. These are expensive if you read them — they waste a lot of your time. Success is not about money, but they don’t know that, and so they are not really worth listening to, are they?

I just revisited an old Jason Calacanis comment about SEO / affiliate people being really smart but small time… that in his eyes, they were not really successful because they didn’t make the big plays (like he does?). Sad… really sad.

I suppose not everyone appreciates that there are plenty of words of wisdom already published by masters of language and communication, often packaged in enjoyable wrappers. You can get them on your Kindle, or at your local library if you area small-timer like me.

Here’s one of my favorites:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

That’s “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

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May 27th, 2009 by john andrews

Shhh…unused domains are worth real money

Last year sometime I said that any domain, if it is wanted by someone, is worth about $1200. That’s the price that justifies a quick buy. Want it? Twelve hundred bucks and it’s yours…. or you can spend a few HOURS looking for another one, a few HUNDRED on consulting fees when your SEO or marketing person “helps”, or about $1200 (nowadays about $1600) to challenge a domain squatter via the dispute process.

Apparently 2009 is the year the aftermarket woke up, as AfternicDLS is now doing $550,000 a week in aftermarket domain sales. The bulk of those are sold between $1000 and $3000 each, and are perfectly useful if not “generic” domains. Someone can use them, so they have value. And getting them now, has value. A few examples: $ 988.00 $ 1,000.00 $ 1,000.00 $ 2,588.00 $ 2,788.00 $ 3,190.00 $ 4,000.00 $ 2,100.00 $ 1,180.00 $ 1,000.00 $ 1,000.00 $ 888.00

Now that we have an understandingof the value of an unused (previously registered) domain name, for someone who wants to use it, we need to establish the value of a previously-used domain name (for someone who wants to re-use it).

What is basic SEO performance worth? Another $500 or $1000?

If the name is Google indexed and ranks #1 for itself n Google, what additional value is that worth?

If it ranks for long-tail keywords in the market it obviously serves (for those domains whose names obviously serve specific markets), what additional value does it have?

Note that it is only because of exact-match bonus and pre-existing content/links that a “previously owned” domain will be ranking, but in those cases, it surely has value, right?

Let’s not debate whether or not Google drops domains that change ownership… let’s leave that for risk management, and consider the value of the ranking (if kept). Another… several hundred? Thousand? It would cost at least that to “put back”, not counting the time delays involved.




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May 11th, 2009 by john andrews

Mother’s Day 2009 – explained

Okay so it’s been a few weeks and now I will explain this comic for those who don’t get it. It is technical, but relevant so if you’re not a techie you probably don’t get it, but it might still be relevant (if explained).

School calls…of course we know that means little Bobby is in trouble (especially because the school rep said Bobby had some computer trouble, and we know our Bobby is the one who fixes OUR computer troubles). But Mom is quick and sharp… and comes to his defense without pause.

That reference to “Bobby tables”… that’s the key. Because website programmers frequently forget to check incoming data to make sure it is what it is supposed to be, hackers have learned that they can “inject” code into a form field, and that code may actually be run on the back end of the web server.

If a programmer has been sloppy, and left a “NAME: ” field unchecked, for example, typing database code into that field may actually cause the web server to run that database code, instead of taking in the name as it was supposed to do.A clever hacker can jam nonsense into a web form to make it cough up an error message, which usually includes details of the underlying database structure. With that new info, the hacker can craft an “attack” on the database by injecting code into a field like the NAME field.
So here we see little Bobby has entered something other than his name into the NAME field of a web form at school. He actually typed in:

Robert’); DROP TABLE Students;

which, if accepted, would prematurely complete the SQL command behind the web application, telling it to delete the student table from the school’s database. Because the school programmer was lazy (or ignorant), the NAME field was left unchecked (we say “unsanitized”), and the school database left vulnerable to an “SQL injection” like this.

The school is onto little Bobbie. But Mom is very sharp. Without pause, she replies that yes, her boy is known as little “Bobby tables”… a quick cover-up of her son’s exploit attempts. And just to confirm that web security awareness runs in the family, Mom is sure to admonish the school administrator, reminding him of the importance of sanitizing web inputs.

So, to a geek, that’s the Greatest Mom in The World, and another very sharp comic from XKCD. To the rest of you, a friendly reminder to only hire good web programmers, and even then have their work audited by security-aware third parties, to avoid vulnerabilities like this one.

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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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