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?

johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO
May 8th, 2009 by john andrews

How to Recycle Newspapers

Finally I find an article that does a decent job of noting the importance of business management and strategic vision when discussing “the future of the newspaper industry”. It’s so easy to say old media doesn’t “get it”, is a dinosaur, etc. It takes a brain to say:

So as the giant media conglomerates continue to watch their kingdoms crumble, and the self-styled scribes of truth chronicle their every misstep and blunder, the rest of us will continue to vacuum up their former readers and advertisers. We’ll continue to grow. We’ll continue to adapt. We’ll continue to profit. And we’ll do it all while upholding the standards of journalism that make newspapers so important. And therein lies the future of newspapers – one that’s not so gloomy for everyone.

I think every newspaperman of the period prior to 1990 would have noted that the news business is about people. To those who built all of the “newspapers” owned by the corporate media conglomerates we see crumbling today, I bet this was obvious.  Thank goodness we still have some of those types around, and can expect to see a recycling of newspapers, starting with your local community press.

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May 6th, 2009 by john andrews

Coupon Websites: Coupons, Discounts, Promos, and more Coupons!

Coupon sites are everywhere, with no end of proliferation in sight. I feel sorry for the guy who has to estimate market share for these sites, because the visitors are typically jumping between many sites while comparing coupon offers, looking for the best one (often trying multiple promo codes to see if they work, how much they discount, etc).

A small smattering of the coupon/promo/discount/offer sites currently competing for this oddly-not-unique demographic of coupon clippers (please add new ones to commnets, so I can post here):

  • fatWallet.com
  • Offers.com
  • RetailMeKnot.com
  • CouponCabin.com
  • CouponCraze.com
  • BradsDeals.com
  • AnyCoupons.com
  • Savings.com
  • ShopItToMe.com
  • Coupons.com
  • CouponMom.com
  • SmartSource.com
  • AFullCup.com
  • BizyMoms.com
  • AllFreeCoupons.com
  • DealAlert.com
  • DealStop.com
  • HotCouponWorld.com
  • BargainCat.com
  • Bookit.com

I’ll add links as I look at the sites… I don’t want to start off linking out to anything I haven’t looked at myself (some of these were recommended by other articles and news items).

If you use these sites, please comment. If you HATE them (perhaps you are an affiliate), also comment. If you LOVE them, please comment. I’d like to understand the various perspectives. I heard a few radio ads for BookIt.com while I was traveling, and it sounded very compelling. Anyone use it yet? (it’s short-notice travel deals).

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May 4th, 2009 by john andrews

Front-end Trimmed Typos as Domain Portfolio Strategy

Trends are important. A research director once pushed me to note a trend in some experimental data; a trend which I did not see myself (despite careful analysis). In the presence of a trend, small subtleties assume importance far beyond their inherent value. Seemingly insignificant experimental findings can be considered very important if a trend can be noted.

I’m now noticing a trend.

Some time ago I worked with some great programmers who solved a problem using javascript. They used js in ways it  was not intended to be used. In fact, the only peer criticism of the resulting working solution was that it exploited a “loophole” in javascript that was clearly a security vulnerability.  “You can’t do that” they said, yet “doing that” solved the practical problem and enabled an important application to work on the Interwebs.

As Paul Mockapetris would say, it “worked in practice, but not in theory“.

Later, the world opened its collective arms to JASON and Ajax, solutions built around extensions of javascript along the very same lines. Entire libraries built with an apparent ignorance of what can’t be done. Security, it seems, can be handled after the fact.

The take-away is that when you see a trend, look for the possibilities despite the risks. Try not to focus on how things “can’t be done that way”. At some point, the marketplace gets to make the rules, even if they override existing rules.

Have you noticed how javascript  has been slowing down the web? Have you noticed how web publishers have been adopting rich web scripting aggressively over the years? Has it impacted your use of the web? Not your strategy, or your business plans, or even your success… but your use of the web? I certainly have.

Increasingly, I type something into Google.com and discover the Google box has trimmed my entry at the front end. “John Andrews” shows up as “hn andrews”, which I only discover after Google has already accepted my ENTER keypunch and served up search results for the query “hn andrews”.

Similarly, I open a browser and type in “twitter.com” + ENTER only to discover I have been delivered to itter.com. The javascript loading on the page has caused a delay, no type-ahead buffer has been utilized. Coding of the “rich” pages is such that my entries are being trimmed on the front end. A trend is clear.

More typo sites will get traffic every single day, as javascript continues to slow down the web, and code increasingly delays the page load. I bet witter.com gets more traffic today than it did yesterday, even after normalizing for twitter growth. Will itter.com get even more later this year, as the trend continues?

Are these really typos, eligible for prosecution under the cybersquatter’s laws? What about less obvious examples? What about mantec.com getting antivirus traffic allegedly intended for symantec.com? What about CROSoft.com getting “typo traffic” from Microsoft.com (CRO is an acronym for Contract Research Organization in medical industries..CROSoft.com is a GREAT name for a CRO software application -SAS- company). Can CROSoft.com be pursued as a cybersquatter for publishing ads for software applications, with a claim it is a Microsoft.com typo?

Credit Card fraud has been rampant for years. Credit card companies have managed those losses mostly behind the scenes (properly, or not, I can’t say). Despite the almost absolute certainty that villains are taking cash money out of our accounts every second of every 24x7x365 day, credit card use has grown to  mammoth proportions. Some large businesses that dominate their industries practically can’t function, let alone dominate, without credit cards.

Increasingly, citizens cannot function responsibly without credit cards, hence social order is at least theoretically dependent upon access to credit cards. The same will be true of javascript soon enough. We need js. And in the mean time, trends fulfill their destinies.

How quickly can you build a portfolio of names built upon the observation of the trend, an expectation that it will continue, and consideration of today’s Cyersquatting laws? For those not actively “domaining”, the business is based on revenue flow. If the site receives direct traffic, that traffic is monetized. No site development is needed… it is all about traffic. If something like Mantec.com received antivirus traffic, and monetized with antivirus ads, it may enjoy a 95% or better conversion rate.

Think of all the front-trimmed names that will get some traffic today, and more tomorrow, yet are arguably not trademark infringing. I recognize that the word “arguably” is the key here, and that lawyers can be expected to increasingly benefit from the growth of the Internet.

Search marketers can think about the resulting skew in the search results and search statistics, as more and more searches for john andrews pass thru “You searched hn andrews. Did you mean john andrews?” We SEOs have long worked to capture typo search traffic, carefully managing whatever case law exists for trademarks in meta tags and such. It seems to me things, well, they are a changin’ again, as usual.

Disclaimer: Please don’t jump in here to admonish me for suggesting typo squatting. I am not recommending trademark infringement. Just as some SEO’s will overreact when I suggest SEO is “gaming”, some will want to jump on me for referencing typos as a business strategy. This is a “thought piece”, intended to raise some awareness and possibly prompt some innovative thought. It is not to be taken “literally” and even if it was, those who execute literally will encounter realities without my help (whether it is the reality of the SEO game, or the reality of trademark/cybersquatting law). Andif they don’t, well, then they were visionaries, no?

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