Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Staying safe online, the UK edition

In two consecutive days I was exposed to the stupidity of UK media and goverment in regards to online security.

Case 1:
On 3 June the media exploaded with scary titles like GameOver Zeus: Computer users given fortnight warning over virus threat, GameOver Zeus virus is coming for YOUR computer- here's how to swat the cyber bugs, Gameover Warning: People Given Two Weeks to Protect Against 'Powerful Computer Attack'. The colleagues in the office welcomed me with questions on what they can do to protect themselves. Everyone was worried what would happen in 2 weeks.

Bullshit! This is what would happen!

The media is writing crap again just to sell their stories. Here's the original announcement from the FBI. Yes a botnet was disrupted and yes it infected up to 1mln PCs worldwide. But no, nothing bad would happen in 2 weeks. Moreover if something bad was about to happen, it happened already.

I read the above mentioned articles few times and couldn't find any explanation why 2 weeks and what will happen. That's journalism at it's best!

Case 2:
On 4 June the folks over at Hacker News noticed that the UK government backed website Get Safe Online and its password stregth checker tool send plaintext passwords in the URL over HTTP. This is what I call lead bby example... How can you trust those people to give you advice if they cannot sort their own website. Morons.

In the comments people spotted more and more stupid and moronic claim like that Password12345 is ranked 93% exceptional. Yes, this is a very "useful" tool indeed.

I hope someone tell the goverment to immediately cut funding for crap like this.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Just how low can the education system go?

Answer: Very low!

Last week I attended a one-day course in mobile UX. The course was very basic and just useless for me. A lot of it revolved around the fact that people hold iPads with 2 hands and iPhones with 1 hand and they use them in different environments. Nothing technical was ever discussed. I do not recommend to anyone already working in Marketing, Design or Web Development. Probably very useful for C-level management that doesn't have a clue.

One of the fellow attendants was from the University of Nottingham (I'm not 100% sure this was the name of the university but I believe so). He explained that he is attending a series of trainings with this company, learning about web development, so he can then teach this subject at the university.

Seriously, mate?!

I was utterly confused when I heard this, I refused to believe it.  I cannot imagine the quality of this course when this man starts teaching it after just a series of basic trainings... I thought there's some legal requirements about who can teach what, obviously I've been wrong.

Too bad for the poor bloke who enrolls into this future course with the University of Nottingham, which by the way is ranked #75 in the world.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The 10 most expensive hotels rooms in the World

The site Wealth Bulletin has compiled a list of the World's top ten most expensive hotel rooms. Now it's time to start dreaming as I've put a collection of photos from the most expensive one. Ready?   

1. Ty Warner Penthouse, Four Seasons, New York; $34,000 per night

2. Royal Penthouse Suite, President Wilson Hotel, Geneva; $33,000 per night
3. The Presidential Suite, Hotel Cala di Volpe, Costa Smeralda, Italy; $21,000 per night
4. Royal Suite, Burj Al Arab, Dubai; $18,000 per night
5. Royal Armleder Suite, Le Richemond, Geneva; $17,500 per night
6. The Ritz-Carlton Suite, The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow; $16,500 per night
7. The Royal Suite, Four Seasons George V, Paris; $16,000 per night
8. The Imperial Suite, Park Hyatt-Vendôme, Paris; $15,500 per night
9. Brook Penthouse, Claridges, London; $10,000 per night
10. Penthouse Suite, Hotel Martinez, Cannes; $9,300 per night

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How I made $9999999.64 in 3 days with my personal blog. Almost.

My recent attack on ViperChill (and his actions after that) just provoked me to write a more broader post on the topic of building a reputation online and cash it in by selling books or consultations. When do reality and lies mix up together to form the best sales strategy?

We've all met them - people that boast themselves for succeeding online, claiming how they made thousands/ millions online with their strategies and offering us their book or costly hourly coaching so we can replicate their success. The vast part of those people fall into the category of people who "get rich by teaching others how to get rich". Sure there's honest ones that really achieved something first, before offering their services to others (shoemoney is a good example) but most of them are typical salesmen - they say what you want to hear in order to purchase from them.

The first and most important requirement for such scheme to work is your popularity - obviously no one would pay for advice to unknown person that hasn't proven his methods first. And what is the easiest way of creating a buzz around your name - lying of course. Let me present you my version of how things happen.

1) You build a site - easy and cheap.
2) You write few articles with titles like "How I made $1k in 2 days" or "My way to get 500,000 visitors to one of my sites in just 2 months"

So far so good. The trap is setup. Now you need gain some traffic so you can spread the word. And you go

3) You enter a community where you know your target customers spend time
4) You start offering free advice or help based on your "success"
5) You start threads like "How I made 1k in 2 days" or "Case study: my 2 weeks quest to $5k profit"
6) You update the case study daily to show your progress (people like this, you know)
7) At the end you claim you nearly reached the target, making just $100 less (this would make you trustworthy because many people didn't believe you anyway. Now you won them too, by showing you're not that good)
8) You continue posting on your site more and more faked data. However you never mention how exactly things happened or provide any reasonable proof. This is hidden behind the comfortable screen of "If I tell you everything you'll go and enter the same business thus increasing the competition" - how convenient.
9) Now you release your own ebook (might not be written by you though).
10) Continue dumping "success" stories
11) Offer pricey personal consultations
12) Congratulations! You're now rich.

This is exactly what I suspect ViperChill in doing the last 3 years. By the way some of the sites I mentioned in my previous post were deleted the next day. The reason? The were complete crap and totally amateurish. If someone saw them how could they trust his professionalism.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Why I think ViperChill is some sort of scam

Disclaimer: I think ViperChill has an amazing writing talent and some of his posts are magnificent but some of his examples are more or less faked.

Update: ViperChill is now in the comments with his version.

Although I’m a marketing noob, I’m not a SEO noob and I think I have more than average knowledge in this matter. Thus I really get pissed off when someone tries to preach how 3 months old site can receive 1,000,000 unique visits from Google in a month being only white hat (I guess about the last but with 98% probability). I’m watching ViperChill from some time as I really suspect he is just another “get rich by teaching others how to get rich” person.

The basic plot: he claims that in Feb 2010 he hit nearly 1,000,000 unique visits from Google to one of his sites, which was only 3 months old by that time. He even points some of the main keywords that brought that traffic:
  • Vancouver 2010: 41,270
  • Super bowl 2010: 32,836
  • Olympics 2010: 6,216
  • Valentines day ideas: 5,688
Here's a screenshot provided by ViperChill himself that really proves he landed that traffic

Problem is that I’m trying to prove only that getting 1,000,000 organic visits with a 3 month brand new site is impossible. Obviously it's possible but not for that young site.

    Later he describes his technique (nothing new though, in fact really exploited topic from at least 4-5 years), mentioning that he achieved #1 ranking in Google with one of his sites for $10 paid for directory links. Now this one is possible. Considering the term is some long tail with minor traffic, yes why not although few hundred a day really seem quite impossible for a 5 page site promoted with directory links. For the time being I say this is "plausible".

    However, the whole post is written in a way that suggests that following those advice anyone can get 1,000,000 organic visits with a brand new 3 months old website. Now this is a shameless lie.  ViperChill is either not telling the whole picture or he is just a fantast. However when looking into the comments below the post I see that he got what he aimed for - people praise him and want to be like him. There's no easy money on the Internet, remember!

    Let’s accept that he really got that number of visits and did not fake the Analytics screenshot. In order to achieve any ranking on the cited keywords the site has to be 3 months old but for him only - meaning that he bought an established site, at least few years old with massive amount of content and trust. Judging from the different topics it is probably a content mill that covers immense amounts of topics.

    As I really don’t want to talk without proof, I followed his advices and decided to take a quick look at the competition for 3 terms. Remember I’m trying to prove only that getting 1,000,000 organic visits with a 3 month brand new site is impossible.  The tools I use in my research are OpenSiteExplorer and SEO Quake. The keywords he cited at the beginning are pretty major ones so I decided my first search term to be London 2012 – this matches all his requirements. You can see the screenshot of the result page below:

    Just a fast look is enough to see that there’s no space for amateurs in this topic. Official event pages, Wikipedia, youtube channel, newspapers and some Google News take the majority of the spots. The only result that looked suspicious is spot #11:
    Domain authority: 62/100, Linking domains: 53, Yahoo backlinks: 305, Directory backlinks: Yahoo, Domain age: 7 years

    Damn, this is nowhere close to a 3 month old site. I was thinking of checking few more results but that would be a waste of time – all are well established and trusted domains. The Google News case is highly unlikely also because there the “query deserve freshness” also comes into play and content changes frequently enough. However I decided to check the Google News domains and you can see the results here.

    Ok, as its obvious that ranking with a 3 month old website is impossible for such a major term, I decided to test with 2 more events – chose them on random, looking for something less popular to the general public but still not a family gathering so it has some traffic after all. Thus I ended with roger waters the wall 2011 and Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival 2010. I don’t want to go into details (you can find them here) but the youngest ranking site was 7 years old, the one with less domain trust 51/100, the one with less linking domains – 9, the one with less Yahoo backlinks – 283.

    Damn again! This is not even close to 3 months old site and we tested for a local beer fest in Stockholm while he claims ranking and traffic for Vancouver 2010. I think anyone with a head on his shoulders can make his conclusion if Viper Chill is to be believed or not all the time. I made mine long time ago – since he claimed unbelievable results and I was able to find few of his "highly successful" affiliate sites: (what I surprise – when I tried to open Glen’s profile on ezinearticles where he wrote and linked to his affiliate sites, I get an error. The profile is deleted. Smart move, Glen. How can anyone believe you if they saw your old sites…)

    Still I was able to find some of his lesser known sites following the link patterns, domain name patterns and whois info. You can also notice those sites are not than old and there was activity on them in May and June 2009 (I'm mentioning this 'cos according to his own resume at that time he had 4 years experience in the online market. Enjoy ;)

    He is also somehow related to (matches all the patterns and registered in Cape Town)... short research revealed that this site is operated by his friend Dirk "Diggy" de Bruin that he mentions from time to time. You can see Diggy's twitter profile selling health products

    Now I think I spent more than enough time on Viper Chill and his affiliate empire. My advice to you - never trust people that boast about their success proudly and claim they just want to share their knowledge for free. 

    What do you think, who has the right in this situation?

    Monday, June 07, 2010

    The worst short SEO jokes ever

    Changing SEOs is like changing decks on the Titanic.

    - How many SEOs does it take to change a light bulb?
    - I don't know, how many can you afford?

    - How many SEOs does it take to change a light bulb?
    - None, he'll have an Intern to do it. That way it will only cost $75 an hour.

    - How many SEOs does it take to change a light bulb?
    - None, they'd rather keep their clients in the dark.

    If it weren't for SEOs, we wouldn't need them.

    - If one useless man is called a disgrace, what are two useless men called?
    - A SEO agency.

    SEOs are safe from the threat of automation taking over their professions. No one would build a robot to do nothing.

    Old SEOs never die, they just lose their rankings.

    Talk is cheap...until SEOs get involved.

    - What's the difference between a good SEO and a bad SEO?
    - A bad SEO can let a campaign drag out for several years. A good SEO can make it last even longer.

    - Why did the SEO cross the road?
    - To analyze the traffic.

    - What have pigs and SEOs got in common?
    - SPAM

    - Why are there so many SEOs in the U.S.?
    - Because St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland.

    Isn't it a shame how 99% of the SEOs give the whole profession a bad name.

    It is the trade of SEOs to question everything, yield nothing, and to talk by the hour.

    - What's the difference between a SEO and a gigolo?
    - A gigolo only screws one person at a time.

    - Why are SEOs great in bed?
    - They get so much practice screwing people.

    Two SEOs, a father and son, talk in the office:
    - Dad, I can't believe I've lost that rankings. I don't know what to do!
    - Don't worry, son. SEOs never lose. The client is the one who lost.

    - Did you hear about the new microwave SEO?
    - You spend eight minutes in his office and get billed as if you'd been there eight hours.

    - I hear you lost your rankings. Did your SEO give you bad advice?
    - No. He charged me for it.

    - What do SEOs and sperm have in common?
    - One in 2,000,000 actually does the job.

    - What do dinosaurs and decent SEOs have in common?
    - They're both extinct.

    SEOs are always more ready to get a man into troubles than out of them.

    The good SEO is the great salesman.

    - How many SEO jokes are here?
    - Only three. The rest are true stories...

    Disclaimer: I didn't invent those jokes. I just did find & replace for lawyer/attorney jokes. Some of them really fit though.

    Thursday, June 03, 2010

    Tips on selling SEO or how to lure more ignorant clients

    Disclamer: I’m not against SEO in general but against the SEO that most “gurus” are trying to sell.

    Yesterday I read in interview with Canadian guy Gab Goldenberg on that immediately provoked me to respond. The exact lines that really got my attention are:

    “- When a potential client says “so when can I expect results”, what is your typical answer? When can they expect results?
    - When I get paid! Seriously though, I don’t guarantee rankings. I do guarantee deliverables, because I control those.”

    Seriously dude, you’re so lucky that the World is still full with ignorant managers that want to look hip and are ready to open their wallets for this. SEO is still somehow new and many people trust good sales people like you and pay for “deliverables”.

    Sales people get paid based on the revenue generated, marketing people get paid based on the revenue generated, hell, top CEOs get paid based on the revenue generated but SEOs are special breed – they get paid for “deliverables”. How sweet!

    Hey CEOs, Managers or Business owners reading this (in case you’re one of my 2 daily readers), stop trusting such mountebanks. You’re the ones holding the money and you should learn how to spend them wisely. When hiring SEOs do not ask for rankings, traffic or links. Ask for SALES from this channel – after all it’s all about REVENUE at the end. When the board meets they don’t care if you have 50 quality editorial links, 100 Diggs or #3 spot for "awesome keyword", they look at the revenues. Never, ever assume that rankings or traffic are 100% related to sales. They’re not. However they are 100% related to expenditures.

    Instead ask for ROI (as Gab’s domain name suggests). Track the monthly sales that you currently receive from the organic channel. Then get a SEO offer, calculate the total cost including the development cost you might incur and say:

    Hey Gab, I currently make XX money a month from this channel. Your services would cost me YY for the total period. From you I want such ROI that in 12 months, the money I made from this channel is more than the combined cost of your services YY and the yearly revenue I would make at the current temp of XX a month (12*XX). And of course I give you 3 months gratis before I start counting. Either this or I get my money back. (just don’t try this in case you’re just starting ;)

    Now this is what I call a fair deal. This basically ensures that at the end you’ll be better off if using SEO services than not. Now those of you that have used SEO services, go, make the calculations and tell me, are you really better off now than before?

    P.S. ROI however depends on the quality of the site, so make sure you optimise conversion. After all a good SEO should also be able to help with this.