Featuring marketing tips, tech news, digital wonders, some personal things and everything in between . . .

E-Card Inspired by Twitter and James Buck

Wednesday April 30, 2008

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There’s a new e-card you can send inspired by James Buck’s timely use of Twitter. Send it to your loved ones.

Saved by Twitter

April 10, James Buck was going to head back home from a three-week assignment studying the Egyptian blogosphere.

“I was trying to take some photos of this small protest and trying to be very clear that I was not in the protest, It was very tense.” – James Buck

As Buck tried to leave the protest in a taxi, He was chased and then detained by Egyptian police. As he was driven to the police station under the direction of the police, Buck was able to sent out a single-word message from his cell phone to his Twitter account: Arrested.

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Today across the bloggispheir everyone from Seth Godin to Nate Ritter are bemoaning the problem of the signal to noise ratio going in the wrong direction.

Being that any social network is only as strong as the people who call it their own these posts got me thinking about something that has been running around in my head for some time. Twitter for me has become my Search Tool of choice. If I need a Guru, I can ask the folks who use twitter for help.

So, here is my idea, and it is far from new, Nate rightly called it “Pay it Forward”, but let’s also make it into a game!

We Twitter users LOVE games!

Got Twitter? Ask a question, get REAL answers from REAL people.

Then, Become the Guru and answer a question, want bonus points? answer 2 or more questions!

We could track thru hashtags, so

#1to1 would be 1 point,

Think this would work?

What else would you do to make Paying it Forward on Twitter fun?

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Chris Brogan has declared Today. Monday, April 28th “Read and Comment” day. Instead of your typical post (or as well as), get out there and comment on some blogs. Contribute to their conversations. Find some good stuff and add to it.

Get out there and take part in the conversation.

You will be glad you did.

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Ok, so you have taken our advice and you have decided to dip your toes into the growing “Social Environment” on the internet. How do you keep the nudges, zombie attacks, and status updates (AKA BACON) from making your work or personal email box unmanageable?

That is EASY!

I sign up for all my new “Social accounts” with a gmail address I use for just for this reason. That way if an email comes into my work account I can be fairly certain that it will be “Ham” (Thanks to Gmail for Your Domain) and I should check to make sure it is not a fire that needs my immediate attention. Now if I see an email come to my “Social accounts gmail address” I can digg thru all the “Bacon” at my leisure.

Use this tip and your “Bacon” will never become your new “Spam”

Got a good tip that you would like to share with us?

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One of the best ways to keep on top of any topic is to start using RSS* feeds with Google Reader,

*Really Simple Syndication is a tool you can use to have information sent to you from the websites that you visit that have updated content, rather than having to go track that content down. Many Web sites, including Webconsuls, offer RSS as a way to have that information delivered directly to you.

Watch the above vid for a Really Simple Explanation of Using Really Simple Syndication.

Click here for the Webconsuls Blog RSS feed

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Happy Earth Day, Wanted to share what we are driving, The Greenest Car of 2008.

The Honda Civic GX. Got $5.00 gas yet? You should take a look at this car.

(if you live in California or New York that is…)

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Login with your http://www.youtube.com account, and go to

Account > More > Account, Video Playback Quality,

Set to “I have a fast connection. Always play higher-quality video when it’s available.”

And click save.

Above is a short video we put together for Saco River Canoe & Kayak Adventures trips in New Hampshire & Maine’s White Mountains, notice how much better the higher quality version looks?

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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle,
or Getting your head around Twitter.

Ok, you just got twitter and you are completely lost as to what to do with it.

First, follow some people with your interests, you can do a search or use twitter tracking to find the buzz from people with your interest who are already using Twitter. (A “How-to” for another blog post, this walk thru is about using Twitter via the web.)

We all start our day at home and that is as good a place as any to start your day twittering.


Here you will see a “Recent” tab, these are messages from the people that you follow and this is where you are at at Twitter when you are at home.

Next you will see a “Replys” Tab, these are messages the have been made by other Tweeters that reference you in some way, a reply or a remark, @DarinRMcClure would be about me for instance.

The “Archive” tab would be everything that you have publicly posted on Twitter, and a great way to see where your were, or what you were doing on any given day.

I like to tweet cool quotes, or links that I want to be able to check at leisure, and this is where we get to the Meat of Twitter,

What are you doing?

A good way to let your friends know you are online and checking into twitter, is to just say hello.

I see tweets that range from “another great day, or good morning, or COFFEEEEEE!!!!” Ok, I do all the coffee tweets …

Don’t miss your direct messages,


And as this is a conversation, reply to your replies,


Then go back “Home” since you only followed “Groovy People” you should see some interesting to REMarkable things in your public timeline, from Haiku’s on the smell of the person in front of you at FiveBucks, to classic rockers coaxed out into the twitterverse.

Want to really have fun, get your family on twitter, friends, coworkers. You will get to know them in ways that you may never have before. Who got fresh powder in Utah, Who is competing in an around the world adventure for charity, who is stuck in traffic, or thinking about a great new mashup.

Got twitter?

Spend the next 21 days playing with it, and you may.

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Google’s ever changing algorithm, that mysterious secret combination of characteristics to convince the search engines that your site is in fact the best and most appropriate resource for the inquiry typed into Google’s search.

In previous years search engine optimization experts would anguish over data and statistics trying to discern what keyword density was optimal, dashes or hyphens, strong or bold tags. These were the questions of the day. The algorithm would change as various techniques were exploited.

From the Site:
Why Google's Link Based Search Algorithms are Here to Stay

Let us look at just one small competitive niche for example. Say "Dallas Mortgage" for instance. This industry is fiercely competitive and right now there are several dozen mortgage brokers that are actually in Dallas trying to do a decent job of SEO to be ranked for this one (relatively small) niche. Now add to this the fact that Dallas is a major market and many companies in Houston, Austin, San Antone, etc that can underwrite a loan anywhere in the state are focusing on SEO for this one term as well. Lastly add the literally thousands of affiliate marketers that are working to build leads for companies like LowerMyBills.com, Ditech, etc who are also making mirror sites that optimize for this term and this one very small niche is persued by thousands of people.

To accomplish this goal some of these people are doing pure white hat (and getting owned by the way), some are doing varying levels of Gray to Black hat methods and some (affiliates mostly) are doing pure spam. To get a rank for this term you have to play by the Google rules and you must get links for it. Here is a news flash, no one is likely to give out links for "Dallas Mortgage" in the idealistic "democratic" way that Google suggests we get links. So to rank for this term you either directly create, negotiate, request, buy or beg links from quality sites.

Now to my idealist White Hat SEO brethren the solution is simple, just pull this link component out of the equation and judge sites on their content, what could be wrong with that? To anyone with an ability to think forward even a little bit the problem is like a oncoming train! Just go back to the fact that on site SEO is simple to accomplish, easy to learn and simplistic to teach. It only requires knowing and following standards, some very basic math and some skill with keyword research. So what scream the idealists!

Well what this means is all those thousands of people chasing "Dallas Mortgage" now will each create content with specific key word densities, proper tags, etc. Some will "win" for the moment and the loosers will just copy there techniques and try to do 1% better. Very soon the precise formula is determined and all the sites are using it and in a statistical tie with each other. Now also understand that with the exception of perhaps some of the "made for adSense" sites most of these sites will actually lead the visitor to a source for a Dallas Mortgage, they are not all junk as many would claim. Does this stalemate sound familiar? It should if you have been around a decade or more as it is very much how some of the first engines worked.

So what happened next? We needed a "tie breaker" some way to take two sites that both were quality from a code stand point, both had real sources of "dallas mortgage" information and both had a 2.5% (or whatever was in en vogue at the time) key word density for the term. What, short of a subjective and therefore flawed human review, was left for the search engines to use. Nothing but the infamous link. Why?

Beacause even though you can build your own links, even though you can buy them, even though you can build an entire series of sites just to pass link power around, some number of links will still be 100% beyond the control of the actual site owners. Right now we only have two choices in this. Human review or links as a component and humans can be bribed, wrong, bias, etc. Links at least use math and my friends, "math doesn't lie".

Do I think we have swung to far and links now have to much influence? Yes I do, I think it should be impossible for any page to rank for any term that is clearly not present on it at all. Yet Google "click here" and you find Adobe and if you Googled Miserable Failure in the past you found George Bush and Michale Moore (thanks to bloggers Google Bombing). Eventually Google had to hand job out those results for Bush and Moore because there were so many links nothing else would have made them go away.

I would have loved Google to simply have tinkered with things so that a word must be on a page. Sure keep the link portion but if I look for failure on Google I ain't looking for Bush or Moore (regardless of your opinion of either). What this leads us to though is a simple understanding, links are not going to stop pushing rankings for a very long time. Google may move to put more weight back into content, which I would welcome but links will be a driving force for a long time to come. I for one don't think removing them all together would create some sort of democratic internet eutopia, that others seem to believe it would.

What do you think? Is there to much weight on links? Would it be good if Google put more weight on content? Do you like things they way they are now? Or do you think I am wrong and TinPig is right and that Google should just stop using links to rank sites at all, if so how do we then break the 100 "ties" for a first page ranking?

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What is Pay Per Click ‘Quality Score’ and how is it calculated?
Quality Score is a dynamic variable assigned to each of your keywords. It’s calculated using a variety of factors and measures how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user’s search query, according to Google.

About Quality Score

Quality Score influences your ads’ position on Google. It also partly determines your keywords’ minimum bids. In general, the higher your Quality Score, the better your ad position and the lower your minimum bids.

Quality Score helps ensure that only the most relevant ads appear to users on Google and the Google Network. The AdWords system works best for everybody—advertisers, users, publishers, and Google too—when the ads we display match our users’ needs as closely as possible. Relevant ads tend to earn more clicks, appear in a higher position, and bring you the most success.
For calculating a keyword’s minimum bid (PPC only, not content network or content targeted ads):

  • The keyword’s historical click-through rate on Google
  • The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group
  • The quality of your landing page
  • Your account history, which is measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
  • Other relevance factors***

Unfortunately, that is all Google will tell us, partly to avoid people gaming the system and partly to be less accountable. The ability to control earnings this way (in my estimation) will keep Google (and Yahoo in their shadow) from ever completely erasing the veil.

All we can do is play by the rules and put ourselves in the best position to pay the least for the desired position. This includes rotating ads, writing the most direct ad, and having the site back both of those points us with our “call to action”, or what we are looking to have the user/searcher do. This must be done clearly, easily and within the top fold of the landing page.

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Why downloading Firefox is like getting into college, (From Seth’s Blog)

A quick glimpse at just about any profession shows you that the vast majority of people who succeed professionally also went to college.

This could be because college teaches you a lot.

Or it could be because the kind of person that puts the effort into getting into and completing college is also the kind of person who succeeds at other things.

Firefox is similar.

Example: 25% of the visitors we track at Squidoo use Firefox, which is not surprising. But 50% of the people who actually build pages on the site are Firefox users. Twice as many.

This is true of bloggers, of Twitter users, of Flickr users… everywhere you look, if someone is using Firefox, they’re way more likely to be using other power tools online. The reasoning: In order to use Firefox, you need to be confident enough to download and use a browser that wasn’t the default when you first turned on your computer.

That’s an empowering thing to do. It isolates you as a different kind of web user.

If I ran Firefox, I’d be hard at work promoting extensions and power tools (I love the search add-ons) and all manner of online interactions. Think of all the things colleges do to amplify the original choice of their students and to increase their impact as alumni.

And if I ran your site, I’d treat Firefox visitors as a totally different group of people than everyone else. They’re a self-selected group of clickers and sneezers and power users.

In the lingo of Nancy Reagan, Firefox is a gateway drug. -Seth Godin

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That is if you want to buy your new Apple iPhone in Germany. The 8gb model will get a price cut from 399 euros to only 99 euros ($155) to clear stock out for the release of the 3G iPhone in 60 Days.

When iPhones hit the $150 price point in the US, EVERYONE will have one.

Is Your Site iPhone Ready?

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The above graph covers the period of December 1990 to March 2008.

According to the latest numbers from Pingdom.Com, “There are more than 162 million websites on the internet today. We have come a long way baby since that first World Wide Web site. Back in January of 1996 there were 100,000 websites, and if you go back to mid-1993 there were only a total of 130 sites! Not much need for Google in those days,”

Webconsuls advice?


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drop.io: simple private sharing to Webconsuls LLC

Here at Webconsuls We love testing out new Web 2.0 tools. Today’s Test, Drop.io

Drop URL

Email Drop
Attach media and email/MMS it in.

Voicemail Drop
Leave Webconsuls a voice messages at this drop.
646-495-9203 x 58154

Conference Call Drop
The number below is our drop’s private conference call line.
218-486-3891 x 199666477

Fax Drop
To receive a fax into this drop, sender must prepend this coversheet. Please Note, Sometimes a fax can take up to 30 minutes to be received.

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The British Prime Minister’s Office at 10 Downing Street is now running an official twitter channel (this is not an April fool’s joke, by the way!), using a mixture of manual posts/replies and automated posts using twitterfeed.com. It’s apparently run by the Prime Minister’s Digital Communications team. How cool is that?

Happy April Fools day, May all your jokes be good ones!

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This is a fine example of what is going on in the marketplace.

Are you having a conversation with your customers?