Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

October 28, 2009

Sponsored Tweets Poll

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:32 am

Just wanted to get some of your thoughts about sponsored tweets. There’s a lot of companies popping up offering cash for twitters, and I’m sure we’re going to start seeing an influx of the #ad and #sponsored tags.

What will you do if people you follow start trying to make a buck with their tweets. What’s your twitter ad threshold? Please vote in the 2 polls below: (results are in the first comment)

October 19, 2009

Why Your Site Gets Link Spammed

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 10:53 am

Danny Sullivan recently posted a rant about link spam where he uses his wife’s site as a sympathy case to display his hatred for link spam.

Danny, I agree 100% with you that link spam is evil and that people who do it should DIAF, but I also think the responsibility lies on the webmaster to prevent the spam.

It’s not that hard to prevent automated link spam. Sad sympathy story aside, your wife’s site got spammed because she let it get spammed – the rest of the back story doesn’t matter.

As somebody who’s done his fair share of messing around with black hat SEO, I can tell you that link spam attacks are rarely (if ever) directed at any specific sites. Choosing targets takes too much time. When I wanted to spam I simply pulled out a copy of my spamming software, (see xrumer) pointed it at a Google search result for content unique to a standard wordpress, drupal, joomla, phpbb, or whatever install, and let it run.

There’s millions of sites out there all using the same backends – and that’s what makes spam so easy.

The trick to fighting spam lies in separating yourself from the crowd. Change the file name, add a required form field, put in a captcha or a mathcha, hell you can even implement kitten auth if you want.

It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you differentiate yourself from the host of other sites using the exact same form as you. Once you do that, the automated bots won’t be able to post and your spam will drastically decrease.

On this site, I simply added a box that says “type Ryan in the box”. When I did that, I went from averaging 250 spam posts per day to 3 – so I know it works.

Again, I agree with you that link spam is evil (recently it’s even becoming less effective thanks to Google,) but you can’t blame the spammers for walking through the open door you gave them. It’s irresponsible to blame the community for your wife’s own laziness and unwillingness to properly design her site.

October 15, 2009

Join Us for 21slides Tonight at ZAAZ

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 2:02 pm

Tonight is the first (of hopefully more to come) 21slides social media presentation at ZAAZ in Seattle. If you’re looking for a fun time discussing social media (or just some free beer,) stop by ZAAZ tonight at 6pm PST for the event.

21slides is a unique concept: 8 social media presenters, 5 minutes each, no more than 21 slides.

You can register to attend the event at the following URL: 21slides facebook event

or, if you can’t make it in person we’ll be broadcasting live online at 21slides.com.

Tonight’s topics include:
Lessons Learned from LOLcats – Mira Crisp
The Social Media Mindset: An InfoCamp case study – Rachel Elkington
OMG my (online) life is over. Mom’s on Facebook. – Lana Carlene
The Desperate Housewives of Facebook: Why are they so goddamn bored?! – Kristen Gill
Humanizing Social Media: A Few Stories. – Bansi Patel
Government is no longer the bureaucratic monolith you thought it was – Jeremy Bertrand
Defamation and Social Media – A Practical Guide to Covering Your Ass – Jason Carmel
An Ecosystem Approach to Social Media: Turning Crap Into Fertilizer – Aaron Louie

As I’m stuck in Detroit, I’ll be on the webcast – but I hope to see you there.

ZAAZ is located at 414 Olive Way, Suite 500 in Seattle.

October 14, 2009

SEO Is More Than Good Web Design Derek Powazek

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 12:24 pm

I know I’m helping his cause more than mine by linking to him, but Derek Powazek (who?) seems to be causing quite a stir in the SEO community with his recent rant about how SEOs are useless and all SEO should be done by web developers.

While it’s true that SEO starts with web design, and should be done by web developers, Derek is missing the bigger picture here.

In an ideal world, the web developer would know about using proper HTML coding standards and how content is king. They’d even know (As Derek doesn’t) how to configure WordPress to get good URLs instead of ones with strings of numbers – but that’s not the point.

Ted Dzuiba already talked about how just telling friends and family about your content won’t do the trick, so I’m going to concentrate on the other missing element.

I’ve already said most of this as a comment on Derek’s blog, but I wanted to reiterate here.

What about the Analytics side of SEO?

A web developer can’t tell you what people are searching for in the marketplace. Can you really expect a programmer to know what terms people search for so they can include them in the content?

Is your web developer aware of the competitive marketplace and the user demand around certain topics? A good SEO is. Does your developer keep researching and tweaking after the project is done like an SEO does, or do they move on to the next project and not look back?

Do they analyze the data to see what pages people are visiting and how they’re finding them? Do they compare what people are searching for versus what they actually find and how long they’re staying on that page? Can they identify content opportunities based on bounce rates, search terms, internal site search queries and various other factors?

All of these things are involved in a good SEO program and are well outside the scope (and educational background) of a web developer. This is especially true when it comes to 3rd party developers who you wouldn’t trust with the data anyway. While it’s quite common for SEOs to sign non-competes, my experience as a web designer tells me it doesn’t happen too often. The only website developer I trust is this azure Brisbane web developer.

A good SEO uses data to make informed business decisions. Sure, sometimes SEOs recommend trivial stuff like proper site design, but often times SEO involves much more strategic decisions that shouldn’t be left to a programmer to make.

That’s the true benefit of hiring an SEO instead of just relying on your web designer.

October 12, 2009

Stop Linking To Major News Sites

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 1:21 pm

With more and more news agencies (like newscorp and the AP) demanding payment from places that don’t owe, it’s pretty clear that newspapers just don’t get the internet. It’s also clear they just just don’t want to try to understand it either.

Newspapers demanding payment from search engines is like grocery stores demanding payments from farmers. It’s like flushing the toilet before using it – it just doesn’t make any sense.

I say it’s time that major search engines and websites call their bluff. I’d love to see Google, Ask, and MicroHoo remove all Newscorp and AP content from their search engines. Give them what they’re really asking for under the guise of trying to get more money to prop up their dying business models.

It would only take a week or so before they saw the data (assuming that newspapers are even tech saavy enough to install analytics on their sites) and changed their tune.

In fact, let’s all stop linking to their content. If you own a blog, online publication, aggregator, or anything else, join the campaign and stop sending traffic to news sites that demand payment from those sending them visitors.

There’s plenty of news related sites and amateurs out there working hard to cover stories (not simply copy and pasting off the news wire) who understand the internet and are much more deserving of links than the AP sites who simply refuse to adapt to the changing times.

From here on out, I vow never to link to an AP or Newscorp story on dotCULT unless the news agencies pay me to do so. In fact, following their logic, I should charge them for all the times my other websites have been linked to and mentioned in the news. Let’s see Time.com sent roughly 10k unique visitors this year, and so did CNET.com. How much does NewsCorp owe me for that by their own logic? Where should I send the bill?

Let’s all get together and stop giving in to the whiny, nonsensical demands that the major newspapers are making. It’s the only way they’re going to realize just how wrong their position is.

October 2, 2009

How Do You Pronounce “Data”

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 10:11 am

One of the most common words I hear every day is the word data Ordinarily it would go unnoticed, but lately I’ve been noticing a lot of controversy around the word. 4 simple letters: D-a-t-a. How could there be any argument?

One of the things I’ve noticed is that depending on where people are from they pronounce the word completely different. Most people here in the Detroit area say it as “day – tuh”, as I’m sure many Americans do. Everybody I know from the UK and India though, pronounce it as “dah – tuh”.

Why do Americans pronounce it with a long A sound while much of the world doesn’t? More importantly, which pronunciation is correct?

Like most words, data is derived from Latin. Data is the plural of datum. In Latin, datum is pronounced “dah-tum” – without the long A sound. That would seem to suggest that the “day-tuh” pronunciation is wrong, right?

What version do you use? Please vote in the poll below (poll results in comments):

Want to avoid all the confusion, sound like an idiot, but still be technically correct? Try using the word datums instead of data. It’s also a valid plural form of datum

Figured out the pronunciation? – great, let’s try conjugation

Now that you’ve figured out how to say the word, how do you use it in a sentence? Do you say the data are or the data is.

Using is/are can be confusing in itself as well. The AP style guide offers this explanation:

…use data as singular if we refer to a body of data, such as an entire report, and use data as plural if we refer to more than one data point. So: The data is clear. But some data are not clear.

Still confused? Me too. I wish there was some more data on the usage of the word data.

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