Saturday, January 29, 2005

Tech Support Sometimes Sucks

A recent problem with one of my web hosts reinforced my impression that technical support people are either poorly trained or not motivated enough to care about customer relations.

Last week I suddenly lost contact with the ten or so websites located on this host. Nothing I could think of would remedy the problem. It had happened twice before but always rectified itself. Not this time.

This meant I could not work on these sites -- a fairly serious problem since I am right in the middle of rolling out various Linknet products, and the sites need a fair bit of tweaking.

Of course this is one of those outfits that will not talk to you on the phone. You have to submit a "support ticket" and hope they 1) read it, and 2) get around to responding.

Now I'm sure this is a universal experience: the initial response from these guys is always the same: "Looks OK from our end.", "When did the problem start?", "Try doing this, and try doing that." We've all had experiences where support people get you to reformat your hard drive, or reinstall Windows. Hours and hours of wasted time to prove that you are the problem, not them or their products.

After my initial exchange with this particular tech department I was bold enough to make a couple of suggestions. One of them was "Is it possible you have blocked my ip address? Here it you check?"

Silence....more silence.... no response.

Either I had offended him, he had died, or the company had gone out of business. Either way I assumed that something as obvious as a blocked ip would be something he would check. So I left the problem and worked around it, hoping it would fix itself as it had in the past.

A week later the problem had not gone away, and in fact I could not connect from two other locations as well. So now I could not get into my sites from any of the three locations I had access to.

Now I was really screwed, and for all I knew the tech department had no idea what was going on. They were completely unresponsive. They had tuned me completely out.

So last night I got serious about contacting these tech guys again.

Finally an email to the Sales Manager got some action. He got a "supervisor" on it, and I actually got to talk to someone on the phone...

Guess what the problem turned out to be. Yup. My ip address was blocked. It took four or five messages and three phone calls to get these guys to actually look at this possibility.

But now everything's working, everybody's happy, and the incident is forgotten...

I don't think so.

P.S. By the way, if you are wondering why my ip was blocked, it is because I tried (unsuccessfully) to access the ftp site at this host several times. You know what it's like remembering those damned logins. At this place, three incorrect tries and you're blocked. I should have known it was related to crude old ftp. Shouldn't they have known it?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Directory of Southeast Asian Furniture

From -

Southeast Asian Furniture Directory

In South East Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand), Korea and Taiwan. The seven countries have a combined furniture production of about US$ 12,137 million. Korea and Taiwan are by far the largest furniture markets and the main furniture consumers in Asia. Asian furniture have also been popular in developed countries like USA, Europe and Australia.

As for the Malaysian furniture industry, it has been on a steady upsurge since 1999. Furniture production fuelled by export demands reached an estimated USD1,828 million in 2000. Leading overseas importers are the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada. gives these companies an opportunity to pool their resources and make an even greater impact on the export market.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Follow Up on Google Adwords Revisions

Just a follow-up on the revisions I made to a couple of my Google Adwords campaigns last week. (See previous post).

As I reported in my other marketing blog, e_Marketing, the numbers after 2 full business days using the new configuration:

Clicks per day: Before - 72 -- After -105 (+46%)
Cost per day: Before - $77 -- After - $27 (-65%)

In other words, the total number of clicks increased by 46%, and the total cost went down by 65%. The average cost per click went down from $1.07 to $.26. That is a reduction of more than 75%.

Pretty much in line with the numbers in the David Jackson article.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Getting Full Value Out of Google Adwords

While processing an article for the Linknet Marketing Resource Library I actually took the time to carefully read the article. It is called How to Save a Bundle on Google Adwords and describes how the author, David Jackson of ImageLink Incorporated changed his Google Adwords strategy, and in the process increased his traffic by 400% while spending the same money.

This sounds like another one of those shameless promotions for some get-rich-quick ebook that affiliate marketers are noted for. But in his article David refers to Perry Marshall whose strategies and ideas I have a good deal of respect for. So I thought it was worth having a careful look at our own Adwords strategy in light of the recommendations made in Jackson's article.

The three main suggestions are:

1. Focus on more obscure keywords and key phrases (especially key phrases) and take the focus off the keywords that get the most hits (and are therefore expensive).

2. Enter hundreds of these more obscure keywords. One or two clicks on a hundred search terms is still a couple of hundred clicks.

3. Cut your maximum bid down drastically. You can usually get the number one spot for obscure key words for about $.10 (Yes, that's 10 cents) rather than the $2 or $3 you have to spend for high traffic keywords.

I must admit I am a bit skeptical of this process of bidding on low traffic keywords. My experience is inconsistent. Nevertheless, our Adwords campaigns are getting too expensive, so I thought I would follow these recommendations for at least a one week test.

The result of applying these tactics to two of our campaigns was surprising, and can be summarized as follows:

For one campaign I was able to cut my projected click thru costs down to about 25% of the original figure and still get the same projected click-thrus(according to the Google keyword tools). That means, there should be a savings of about $1000 per month for this campaign.

For another campaign I was able to increase my projected click thrus by about 200% while cutting the projected costs to about 25%. That is a potential increase in ROI of 800%.

These are still just projections based on Google's campaign tools. Since the new campaigns just started last night it will take a few days to see what sort of results I get. The big questions are:

- Will I still get the click thrus?
- Will I still get the same (or better) level of 2nd level inquiries?

We'll see. I will keep you posted.

The David Jackson article is also published here: How To Save A Bundle on Google Adwords.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Focus on Golf Website Promotion shows occasional flashes of promise. Very occasional.
It is hard to be objective about your own website, especially when you desperately want to do a good job on it. But the truth is, has been floundering for about 18 months. was one of my original web projects, back when I wanted it to be a significant resource for golf information. Typically I was unable to narrow down the focus so it now has a bit of everything, and a lot of nothing.

Still, the intention is to return to my original objective — to focus on reviews of golf resources such as online training sites, big name golf sites, instructional books and videos, and make it website promotion oriented, as well as develop my own golf related books.

The storytelling and opinion spouting will be saved for my golf blog and accompanying site called The WEG. And the golf travel reviews will eventually start happening over on Golf Around the World.

It's getting there slowly. Contrary to popular belief, developing good websites usually takes a lot longer than you first think.

Check out these recent articles and reviews...

Dave Pelz Putting Guru

You Can Join a Golf Club in Scotland

The Significance of Hogan's Rubber Bands

Hooked on Golf, My First Golf "Lesson"

Bobby Jones Challenges Current Swing Theories

Submit Golf articles to

Exchange links with

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Link Strategy that will get Hundreds of Links

If you have begun exchanging links, you know how time consuming -- and time-wasting -- the process can be. On the other hand, you don't want to give up the process because you might actually unearth the occasional valuable link partner. You know that getting links to your site is important because it brings in traffic, helps you find strategic partners, and enhances your Search Engine rankings.

But not all links are created equal. And that means that link partners have to be prioritized. Some are worthless because your links end up on pages that nobody looks at and have no PR. But at the other end of the spectrum a few of your link partners will be very valuable because they will give you links on high value, high traffic pages.

Most of the rest of your inbound links will be only marginally valuable. How you tell the difference between the valuable ones and the useless ones is the subject of many discussions and articles, some of which you will find at the Linknet Marketing Resource Library.

One solution is to put prospective link partners into three levels. This assumes that you have already rejected those that have negative value -- the sites you don't want to identify with for various reasons -- pornography, violence, racism, pharmaceuticals, and so on. Here is a suggestion for three levels of inbound links (links pointing at your pages):

Level 1 - Basic Links
These links have no obvious positive value, but also have no negative value. Therefore, if exchanging links with these partners can be done efficiently, there is no downside to doing it. These will usually be "reciprocal" partners and can be given links on properly formed "link directory pages". The more time and effort you put into your directory, the more valuable it will become.

Level 2 - Self-Generated Multi-Links
The second category consists of "multi-links" that you generate yourself. You do this by seeding your articles, forum posts, blog entries and so on, around the web. Many of the strategies used to create these links are discussed in the "Power Linking" section of the Linknet Marketing Resource Library, mentioned above.

Level 3 - High Value Links
The third and most valuable category consists of "High Value Links" on sites that you specifically target. These include high traffic sites in your area of interest, highly rated directories, and sites where you can get a number of quality links all at once. In some cases these links will bring you lots of traffic. In other cases they will enhance your PR and Search Engine ranking. You need both kinds.

As I mention in other posts, there are a range of strategies to get these "Level 3" links. For instance,

- Write glowing testimonials. Target 10 or 20 high traffic sites in your area of interest, and send your testimonial to the webmaster. Usually they can't resist publishing it where everybody will see it.

- Write positive reviews of sites and/or posts. Target 10 or 20 high traffic products/sites. Post the reviews on your site or in your blog, and make sure to send a copy to the reviewee. Again, most webmasters or online entrepreneurs are hungry for this kind of exposure. You might even create a "review" section on your site to show you are serious.

But the most direct, fastest, and least painful strategy is to find link partners who will either sell or trade text ads on a number of high value pages. For example, at Linknet we do both of these things (selling and trading multiple links).

We offer up to 25 free links across 25 websites. And we also offer packages of 30 and 50 links for one small annual fee. For more information go to our Free Advertising page.

Fund Raising with Vinyl Banners

If you are part of a community group, service club, school class, or parks and rec committee, consider selling vinyl banner "spots" at your baseball or soccer field, in your local arena, or even in your school gym.

Vinyl Banners from

Banners are perfect for this because they can be printed in full colour with striking graphics, they are weather resistant. They also come with grommets or pole pockets so you can easily attach them to a fence or hang them on a wall.

A typical softball field has a fence which is roughly 40" - 50" high, with segments of approximately 8'-9' — a perfect size for a 3' x 8' vinyl banner.

Here is how you would calculate the revenue potential. The cost for a 3' x 8' full colour banner would be $156 cdn. Advertising charge per banner, say, $400 for the first year. The available advertising spots around an outfield fence 25 - 40 (just on the outfield fence, not including the foul lines)

So let's say you sell 20 banners:

Total revenue, 1st year: $8,000 (20 banners x $400)
Total production cost: $3,120
Less 20% volume discount: -$624
Plus shipping and handling: $200
Total Net Profit: $5,304

These banners are fully weatherproof, so they could stay in place all year round, and would last at least three years. Charge a renewal rate of, say, $300 for the second and third years for a net profit of $6,000 each in years 2 and 3.

Profit for three years: $17,304.

Not bad for selling 20 banners.

For more information on Fund Raising with Vinyl Banners, visit our site at Vinyl Banners Online. We are currently preparing a sales kit to help you organize a banner campaign.

Read more about this program at Vinyl Banners for Fundraising Overview

Monday, January 10, 2005

Promote Your Products and Get 20 Low Cost Links is our newest product and link promotion product, and was just launched on January 10/05. This is another in a series of products from The Linknet Network that provide low cost ways of generating multiple high value links to client websites.

Here is what you get when you purchase a Product Promotion Package from

A Linknet Product Promotion Package gives you 20 links to your website and includes...

- A Product Feature Page with text and photos at, that is optimized for your area of interest and your product category.

- Product Summary in 7 blogs and review sites with links to your site.

- Your Product Review included in Reviews of the Week, published on 10 high traffic review and article sites.

- Extensive links to your site within the Linknet Network.

For more information go to

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Product Line to Feature Three New Linking Products

The new product offerings for this spring from include three fantastic link purchase products:

1. Linknet Partner - This product is clearly outlined at The Linknet Network website, and initial pre-promotion has already begun in a limited way. Linknet Partners purchase 30 text ads on category-specific pages across at least 15 different websites in the Linknet Network. There are more than 25 categories including Real Estate, Finance, Mortgages and Loans, Insurance, Marketing, Web Design, Blogs, Golf, Travel, and many more. Linknet Partners subscribe on an annual basis.

2. 100 Link Blitz - Clients purchase 100 high value links on a range of partner sites. Blitz package includes a Linknet Partner subscription, plus at least 70 additional links on well-placed directories and linking partner sites. All links are placed on active pages with Page Rank. Initial one year subscription $149usd; annual renewal $59.

3. Product Feature Pages - Purchase your very own Product Feature Page — a complete page dedicated to your product or website on our product review website. Product Feature page can include photos and graphics (as long as these are readily available), and can have as many as 5 links pointing back to your (single) site. Other components of this package include:

- A summary of your product feature page (with links) placed in at least 5 Linknet blogs and announcement sites, such as Marketing Bites, e_Marketing, Trade Show Buzz, Trade Show Tips, Click-Partners, Traffic-Advisor, Free-Web-Tools, and Inside Real Estate.

- Inclusion of your product feature information in the weekly Reviews of the Week which is posted on at least 10 high traffic article and announcement sites such as,,, etc.

In total you will recieve more than 20 links pointing at your site. One year subscription is $59. Renewal, including an update of your Product Page, and resubmission to all of the above is $49.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Trading Links En Masse

The webmaster for these sites asked to trade links, so I'm going to see if this page will work with his automated link scanning software. The core site is

Dry Tortugas
Information on tours and other travel deals.

Nature Photos
Photos of the Outdoors , Adirondack Mountains

Florida Keys Hotels
Booking information on Hotels in the Florida Keys

Key West Hotels
Booking information on Hotels in the Key West

Florida Keys Photos
Photos of the Florda Keys , fishing , wildlife and the 7 Mile Bridge

Marathon Florida Vacation Rentals
Vacation Rentals in the Keys from Key Largo to Key West

Islamorada Hotels
Hotels in the famous village of islands sportfishing capital of the World.

Key Largo Hotels
Hotels in the upper-most Key, Key Largo Diving Capital of the World

Islamorada Key Largo
Information on everything there is to do in the Keys

Tourism Marketing
Market your tourism website trade links wiht other travel sites.

Florida Keys Scuba Diving
Online source for Diving information in the Florida Keys.

Pictures of Flowers - Flower Gallery
Photo Galleries of flowers and information on plants

Payday Loan Online
Get a payday loan for all your vacation needs.

Florida Keys Real Estate
find your dream home in the Florida Keys

maui real estate
find you dream home in Hawaii

Landscape photography
Photos of the rocky mountains and the Adirondacks

cash advance online
Get a cash advance for all you vacation needs

Flower Garden
Photos of Flowers and outdoor gardens

freelance copywriter
Professional website content writers, devoted to composing expert, concise, promotional writing for new and existing websites. Legal Writers and Language Translators on staff.

Albany NY Hotels
Book a room in the city of dreams, lovely Albany NY

Miami Dade- Your Miami
Online guide to the city of Miami

miami hotel reservations
Reserve a hotel in Miami

News Feeds
Bunch of News Feeds, check it out

Ferret Information
Tips on caring for your pet ferret.


We are creating the authority on linking at SBO Linknet Network


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Automated Link Exchange Update

Last month I expressed some serious concerns about automated link exchange pages. I had installed Link Machine on about 15 sites back in July and August, had spent three months fairly religiously exchanging links with other sites. By December 8/04, I reported that none of the automated link exchange pages on any of my sites (about 15 of them) had acquired any page rank. This made me extremely skeptical about the value of a) automated link exchange pages, and b) link exchanges in general.

As a result I put my link exchange program on hold across the board, pending "new developments". It has been almost a month since then, and until the last couple of days I have essentially ignored link requests, and automated submissions from fellow Link Machine users. The requests have piled up and I have to decide whether to follow up on them, or completely rethink the whole link exchange thing.

Then yesterday I noticed that some of my automated pages had acquired some Page Rank. Most of them are sitting at either PR1 or PR2, which, considering how little effort I've put into developing and promoting them is about what I would expect. It also compares favourably with my manual pages at Trade Show Tips, on which I have done no work at all.

My manual pages at continue to perform the best, with the index page sitting at PR4, and most of the rest at PR3. I actually worked quite a bit on these pages in the late spring and summer, but have ignored them since about August.

Some conclusions:

1. Automated link exchange pages — at least the static kind generated by Link Machine — will eventually acquire PR.

2. They will not do significantly better or worse than manual pages.

3. Having the words "link" or "links" in the file name or page title does not seem to adversely affect the PR of these pages. My highest scoring page is called "links.html". It is a PR4.

Also, I have no test data to confirm this, but I think it follows from basic SEO theory that pages with targeted content — including optimized link and anchor text —will eventually score better than bare bones links pages with nothing on them but lists of unrelated URLs.


We're going to make SBO Linknet the authority on linking.


Monday, January 03, 2005

Is the Page Rank System Fair, Part 2

In a previous post I sketched out some of the background of the Page Rank system used by Google. In particular I compared it to the "citation" system used by academics to gauge the importance and relative status of academic researchers and university professors.

The primary purpose of this series of posts is to demonstrate how "Power Linking" — or what I am now calling "Multi Linking" — is not cheating. Multi-linking — the process of strategically setting out to create multiple links pointing at target sites — might be considered "cheating" if one was to take what I call "an overly moralistic view" of the Page Rank system. In these two articles I explain what I mean by "an overly moralistic view", and why it is not acceptable.

The truth is, I do not spend a lot of time reading forum posts by SEO professionals. But when I do, I get the general impression that many of them take a "path of least resistance" approach to Google because they are very concerned about getting "penalized". On the face of it this would appear to be a prudent course of action. If Google penalization actually happens — e.g., the page rank of one's web site gets removed or downgraded or ranking for specific keywords gets downgraded — because of some tactic deemed to be against the rules, then it would be best to steer clear of such tactics. Especially when you are doing SEO on behalf of clients who trust your judgement.

Some similarities with the athletes-on-steriods debate

In some posts I've read, this argument tends to move from a discussion of strategy to one of ethics, more or less analogous to discussions about steriod use by athletes. In other words, it sounds like a "moral" or "ethical" argument.

From a strictly strategic point of view one would expect athletes like Mark McGwire, Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis, Barry Bonds (and a whole host of others) to make the decision about steriod use strictly from a consideration of its benefits vs risks. But of course there is an ethical dimension that cannot be ignored, and in the minds of most onlookers this dimension is actually paramount. Winners who break the rules are cheaters. End of discussion.

In fact there are at least two layers of ethical considerations going on. On one layer there are explicit rules against certain behaviour. And on another layer there are implicit rules of behaviour that one accepts as a member of the fraternity of athletes. Both of these have an important bearing on what is acceptable ("ethical") and what is not — on deciding who is and who is not a "cheater".

Understanding the dimensions of ethical behaviour is never as easy as the fundamentalists among us pretend. It is easy to say "rules are rules", but the fact of the matter is that rules are usually applied and interpreted in a dynamic context where circumstances are constantly changing. So it is not clear who exactly is abiding by the rules in such a context, because it is not always clear exactly what the rules are. Traffic speed limit laws are another good example of this. Usually police are free to exercise their discretion when applying the rules. Most of us think this is a good thing.

Charlie Francis (Ben Johnson's coach) was about as cold-blooded about this as one can be. He assumed that since virtually all the competitive sprinters of the era were using "performance-enhancing drugs", then it was strategically unwise for an aspiring sprinter not to use them as well. (Whether he was right or wrong in his facts is not really the question here.)

The moralist replies "I have never taken these drugs. I am clean. I will not cheat." And then we find out he or she was lying, or if they were not specifically using these drugs they were using some other practice that was equally against the "spirit" of the rules. The rules had just not caught up with them yet. Or we find out that associations charged with policing the rules were letting their athletes get away with infractions so they would appear to be clean.

So was Charlie Francis right or wrong? Only the fundamentalist who is too dogmatic or too lazy to think the matter through would cling to a simplistic answer.

What does this have to do with Page Rank and SEO?

The relevance of this analogy to Search Engine Optimization techniques will be lost on many of its practitioners. That is because they are too close to the activity to see that SEO is itself an activity meant to skew outcomes in the desired direction — never mind blatant techniques like keyword or link spamming. SEO is already manipulation of text and content in order to speak clearly to the Search Engines.

In other words, SEO involves what we might call "soft" manipulation. The SEO practitioner encourages us to write our text in ways we would not normally do — unnaturally. Soft manipulation is assumed to be acceptable while other "harder" types of manipulation are condemned.

So how do we distinguish between acceptable levels of manipulation and unacceptable ones? Presumably by looking at both the letter and the spirit of the rules and seeing if a certain practice falls within them. And probably understanding the "spirit" of the rules is even more important than focusing on what we think is the letter of the law, since the people at Google play their cards very close to the vest. They do not say: "Here are the rules we are now using", because that would result in even more overt attempts by SEO experts and webmasters to manipulate them.

For the moment, then, let us assume a set of "rules" actually exists. In an important sense the famous Google "algorithms" is a set of rules. But it is not really the algorithms we are after is it? The algorithms are notoriously changeable, and are set up to operate in the service of some more fundamental principles or assumptions. So it must be the set of assumptions behind the algorithms that determine what is "right" and what is "wrong".

It is these general assumptions we are after. They will look something like this:

1. Pages should be ranked according to the "relevance" of their content.
2. "Relevance" is determined quantitatively by the emphasis within a given document on certain terms (keywords and key phrases) related to the subject matter.
3. "Relevance" is determined qualitatively by the extent to which others with similar interests refer to or "cite" a given document, calculated by the frequency with which they "link" to it.
4. Some links will be more valuable than others in determining relevance. Links from important, authoritative sites will be more valuable than links from unimportant, non-authritative sites.

This is essentially the way the Page Rank system was formulated by the founders of Google while still post-graduate students at Stanford. (Find a link to the original document here.)

Where do these rules come from?

Given the significant influence these rules have on the development of the web, and the economic well-being of millions of people who use it to make a living, it seems fair to ask some questions about these rules. Unless we think everyone should be an obedient little Google slave, we surely are justified in asking "Where do these rules come from?", "Why these rules rather than some others?" "Are they fair?", "What assurance do we have the Google is applying them even-handedly?"

I will take up these questions in my next post.

-- Rick Hendershot
Internet Marketing and Web Traffic Generation
Linknet Small Business Marketing Resource Library