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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March 12th, 2013 by john andrews

Kapost Review

My Kapost Review: Why I won’t be Using KaPost

I’ve been using various content workflow systems over the years and recently discovered KaPost.com via a brief, sentiment-free mention on CopyPress. I watched the demo. I logged into the sample instance, and “played around”. I spend about 2 hours with it overall, and another 1.5 or so reading online about KaPost and Eloqua, etc. I believe I figured out a way that I could get considerable value out of using it with my content teams.

And then I looked at the deal: minimum $1200 per month for up to 8 users, limited to 5 content types. Plus they with hold the persona matrix. And that, plus a few other hints collected during my evaluation, means I won’t be using Kapost for content marketing.

Now it is important to note that I am not choosing based on price. At $1200 for 8 users, that’s $150/user and I would gladly pay that for a true productivity tool. The centralized workflow management and monitoring is additional value beyond the productivity gains. It’s not a bad price if it does what it promises to do. But does it?

Kapost seems strangely distant. I am not citing facts here, just my observations. I’m pretty good with Google and I am pretty good with observations. In my perusal of what-I-could-find-on-Kapost I did not come across friendly, outgoing, helpful people associated with the brand nor the product. At all. Trust? I could find much to build on in the trust department. Why is that?

You content marketers might recognize what is happening here… I’m floundering at the top of the conversion funnel. I discovered the brand and product, visited the website, and “entered the conversion funnel”. I then got lost… picking up signals of non-trust, while not finding signals of trust. I didn’t continue down the funnel… I bounced around the edges. Why is that?

Not to mention the irony that this is a product designed to be used by people charged with the task of drawing prospects DOWN the funnel, once they have entered. For the SEOs out there, perhaps no surprise that a “content marketing” industry company didn’t do the basic SEO needed to help me find the necessary signals. Hard to believe they didn’t generate the off-site content needed to accomplish same. Trust me when I report that I returned to Google a half dozen times at least. I really wanted Kapost to work for me.

Then there were those “huh?” observances. Like a tweet from someone who works there, that basically said it was a good day when he woke up to see a new, paying customer in the queue. Really? Are things THAT bad? Content Marketing is big right now. Either there aren’t many customers, or there aren’t many PAYING customers? And I’m being asked to pay $1200 per month. Scary.

There were a few other “scary” signs, but like I said, this is not fact, just my observations and how they made me feel. But I still liked what Kapost does, and so was still willing to take a risk and put it to use. That may have been stupid, but sometimes I win when I follow my hunches. In this case, I needed a few positives to overcome my negative sentiment. I hit Google gain, and (strangely??) didn’t find any. So I returned to read the details.

At $1200/month, I get limited support (with 48 hour response time). Oh, and the persona matrix (which had been highlighted as a great feature which kapost puts in front of users all-the-time since it’s so essential) was with held for $1200/month customers. They have to pay extra to get it.

Withholding the persona matrix is another clue to company attitude (in my opinion). Withholding is an approach to business. I find that companies that make awesome products and help customers get access to them, succeed. Companies that strip down products to create lesser products, in an attempt to service “different markets”, don’t succeed. Like the American car companies of the 80’s. They built cars according to how they felt they could sell them into specific economic demographics, to make profits. It wasn’t about building a great car.. it was about providing just enough car to get customer X to buy it, while still making good profits. They withheld electric door locks, cup holders, and even intermittent windshield wipers unless extra fees were paid, while Toyota and Honda delivered all the goods to everyone. Guess who succeeded? Guess who know sells the best selling cars in the world? Both Honda and Toyota went on to also create luxury brands that are now among the best selling cars in the world.

With kapost, the basic decision for me, after my review, was not whether or not kapost was a good choice for content production flow management and scheduling. The question is whether Kapost (the company) would be a trustworthy partner in my business. If it worked as intended, I wouldn’t need support except when I needed help figuring out how to make it do what I was trying to do. In that case, 48 hours is fine. I would figure it out by then. But what if it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do? I wait 48 hours to learn that yes, it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do? And then?

Gnawing questions remain, giving me concern. Why not much out there about actually using and dealing with kapost? Why so little personality around the company and the customers’ interface to the company?

No dice. I can’t buy kapost.

I’ve been in this business a long time, and used dozens of innovative IT products. Every one has flaws… and we have to deal with those. My sense is that I will not have a good experience with Kapost. It will have flaws, and the company won’t give me access to understand whatever unusual behavior is encountered except with a 48 hour turn around. Given the history of pricing for kapost (from reasonable per-user-per month fees to the current $1200/month plus extras), maybe they can’t afford to develop the product. Maybe they are so strapped they won’t even fix them. Maybe it’s been built by people who have full time jobs somewhere else, hence the lack of a social profile for all but the president or whatever. Maybe they need my $1200 to make sure it works when I use it. Maybe they’re chasing the Fortune 500 Big Brand market now, in an attempt to close service business (helping to run it?) or those famous pay-the-recurring-billing-and-never-use-the-product Big Brand accounts. Either way, Kapost is not for me.

PS: This is not a slam.. I’ve never even used the full product. This is an essay on why, after all the review and testing I’ve done, I will not be choosing kapost.

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February 10th, 2013 by john andrews

Aaron Von Frankenstein

I’ve seen plenty of blog posts lately about Aaron. What Aaron did. How What Aaron Did is not much different from “what we do” every day, where “we” refers to tech-savvy Internet users. Aaron was accused. Aaron was indicted. Aaron was attacked by the powers that be, captured, cornered, labeled a criminal and sentenced to prison. There are allegations of abuse, of misdeeds, of inhumanity and insensitivity.

What I’m not seeing is The Truth.

I see that Aaron was indicted for using the same identity obfuscation we routinely use to avoid getting spam. That Aaron used the same technology we use every day surfing the web. That Aaron was indicted for doing things his own accusers do in the normal course of daily operations. That Aaron broke a terms of service that most people never read and hundreds of thousands violate every week.

Oh sure I see “facts”, and truthful assertions of fact. No doubt. But I’m not seeing an acknowledgement that most of those facts don’t matter.  I’m not seeing recognition of the “higher truth” that governs our society in cases like Aaron’s (and yours in the future, if you are in fact doing the same things Aaron did).  Some say “the truth will set you free” but it rarely does. Recognition of The Truth, however, could keep you out of prison.

The Truth is that every pitchfork march against an accused starts with a quiet conversation between 2 people. Sometimes it ends there. The Truth is that a quiet conversation destined to advance further towards indictment, is followed by a private conversation between a small number of influential people. Many end there.

The accusations that end in pitchfork marches first continued beyond the small group private conversation to a dispersed debate amongst a still small but less connected “group” of individuals. Only when consent was established, did the pitchfork march planning begin. And consent, according to The Truth, can and does include uninformed consent, coerced consent, extorted consent, implied consent, and assumed consent.  Without consent from many, there is no pitchfork march. There is no righteous justice. There is no hanging. There is probably no suicide, either.

Often one can trace the unsavory aspects of  injustice back to those few people involved in the earliest conversations… the “two people” and those involved in the “small private conversation”.  They had an agenda, and “worked it” until they had adequate consent to rally authority and enforcement power. In the old days, when people cared about being held responsible for the ruin of another man, these few drove the issue hard. “She’s very odd, it starts as a whisper, which morphs into “there’s something un-natural about her” at a group meeting.  Soon the crowd is shouting ”she’s a witch” and everyone agrees she needs to burn.

I think the scariest part of all of this is when deals are being made to establish consent for prosecution. That’s when the paper value of a victim’s life increases in value beyond reason.  That’s when killing becomes justified. When your life stands between a man and millions of dollars in profit, or a man and tremendous political power, you don’t have much chance. But things didn’t start in that scary place. They started with a conversation between two people, and conversations between small groups of people.

And you were not part of that conversation. Not even one of you. The Truth is that “reason”, the kind of reason you techno-savvy Internet people exhibit and understand, was absent from the early conversations that manufactured consent to indict and prosecute Aaron.

The Truth is that while you rant online about the people in the system who don’t “get it”, it is you who does not “get it”. You don’t “get” that men pursuing agendas make rules that other men enforce out of duty or fear. Our society is ruled by laws. Laws are made by men and women who rarely use technology more sophisticated than a vanilla smart phone, ipad, or Windows PC.

The seeds of action are sown not in technology, but in basic human nature at the local level. As long as you choose to not participate in offline, non-tech, uninteresting local conversations that sometimes lead to pitch fork parades, you will be helpless to stop the ultimate parade that destroys Aaron, or your co-worker, or you.

Frankenstein was a monster.  It’s simple, really. He had to be killed.

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January 4th, 2013 by john andrews

2013 is The Year of the Proxy

If we learned anything from 2012, it’s that Google is in control, and apparently the FTC agrees. Google can do what it wants, and has the cash to fund the lobbyists to get formal “approvals” that hedge liability. But Google isn’t the biggest threat.

Google is a fairly low risk threat compared to many of the far more aggressive, more desperate players that will “pile on” as Google advances these new cultural standards of privacy and ethical corporate behavior cloaked as “protecting the user experience”. For every inch Google secures for itself, scammy-er players will take a mile. There are too many of these aggressors to count, but you know many of them already: Verizon, cable companies, Bell South, etc etc. Everyone who has access to your info or control over your access to information and technology, will cash in as possible.

The legal stuff is in place already, and the consumer protections gutted. Your activity data and personal information is the currency of the decade, and everyone is trading it, usually without your consent (and often without your knowledge). Sometimes I get the sense that Facebook is a distraction. “Oh my, look at how Facebook is violating your privacy”.. meanwhile your credit card activity is being sold, your driver license is being resold, your Netflix viewing preferences are being sold, your medical data is being “shared” with the MIB, and your DNA can be collected and analyzed from the public airspace without your consent nor involvement.

Entrepreneurs have attached high def cameras to cars that drive around all data solely to collect license plate activity data, because they know someone will pay for that some day. Drive around all day? For no reason, except to film the public streets and digitally record the presence of specific cars, via license plates designed for easy image recognition? Yes. Compared to information about you, gas, drivers, cars, and insurance are cheap!

And as companies continue to lock the IP as “identifier” for your residence, MAC addresses and OS hashes as identifiers of your devices, secretly raid your contacts list whenever you do anything that grants permission to apps, and require “real names” and “recognizable photos” for social media accounts, the proxy will rise in value.

I predict that 2013 will be the Year of the Proxy.

The value of a proxy.. the “substitute” that will stand in and represent you (instead of you being there, yourself) will rise tremendously in 2013. Identity proxies, communication (routing) proxies. Environment (OS, browser, device) proxies. And as that value rises, the technology to proxy will become more sophisticated. As proxy technology becomes more accessible, those players trading on our data will invest to defeat them. Coalitions will be formed, and more organized trading institutionalized. Many of you will get jobs working FOR those seeking to own us and defeat the proxies.

Expect the traditional resistance to our increasing resistance to being tracked and herded. “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they attack you…” has already started. In the SEO world, the “ridicule” stage in the form of “conspiracy theory” claims started 15 years ago or more. When Google went public, it declared SEO as a major threat to the Google business model. Obviously I recall much of that “history of SEO”, but I suspect everyone with SEO “common sense” by today’s standards recognizes Google is not what Google said it was years ago. The same is true for the other players… and each of us must decide how we will participate in their world going forward. For many of us, the proxy will continue to serve, and we will need stronger and more sophisticated proxy technology in order to survive.

Keep in mind “proxy” includes social media avatars, trade names, aliases, secondary accounts, actual proxy servers for communications routing, abstracted interfaces, IP rotators, cookie managers, lawyers, corporations, and numerous other “everyday tools of business” that cost money and are not generally available to “normal” everyday citizens (the same ones that are told “if you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of???”).

Beware those who tell you you have no privacy, and should “get over it”, and those who suggest that “maybe you shouldn’t be doing” whatever you are hiding behind a proxy.

By the way, the threat of making the proxy “illegal” is very real, and some efforts are already known (in some cases, it is already legally defined as arguably “fraud”). Personally, I expect the public to be just barely smart enough to prevent that from really happening in the near future, although I don’t expect us to avoid a period of the “I can’t believe they actually passed that law” reality here in the US.

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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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Recent Posts: ★ Do you want to WIN, or just “Be the Winner”? ★ 503: GONE ★ Cloud Storage ★ Identity Poetry for Marketers ★ PR is where the Money Is ★ Google is an Addict ★ When there are no Jobs ★ Google Stifles Innovation, starts Strangling Itself ★ Flying the SEO Helicopter ★ Penguin 2.0 Forewarning Propaganda? ★ Dedicated Class “C” IP addresses for SEO ★ New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) Could Change Everything ★ Kapost Review ★ Aaron Von Frankenstein ★ 2013 is The Year of the Proxy ★ Preparing for the Google Apocalypse ★ Rank #1 in Google for Your Name (for a fee) ★ Pseudo-Random Thoughts on Search ★ Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or a Blog ★ The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity ★ Google Execs Take a Break from Marissa Mayer, Lend Her to Yahoo! ★ Google SEO Guidelines ★ Reasons your Post-Penguin Link Building Sucks ★ Painful Example of Google’s Capricious Do Not Care Attitude ★ Seeing the Trees, but Missing the Forest 

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