Showing posts from February, 2007

Finding the competition in niches

Many times, niche sites hide in the SERPs. I know that for, there are some competing sites that we've never heard of when searching. But I know about quite a few of them.

How did I find them?

I did a niche keyword search in Google Image search. Even some of the more general searches, like makita parts, show some competitors that don't normally hit the SERPs.

While I was doing some research in this manner recently, I saw some familiar names on the tool side that seem to be trying to take our idea and slowly work it into their site. But I know they're there, so I can monitor what's going on.

Dave Pasternack Ads

Well, the Dave Pasternack SEO contest is almost over (thankfully), and there are lots of great ads. One even made it to the "Bonus" above the organic listings. These are some of my favorites, with links for my real favorite ads.

Houston We Got a Problem
Might Not be Rocket Science But
Don't Trust Your SEO to Amatuers

Nice one. Truly enjoyable.

For top rank on Dave's
name, it's anybody's game. For
Insurance & Loans, It's SureHits

Sure... and for Toilet Paper it's The New York Times. This one wasn't really a fav, but wasn't as bad as a few that didn't make the list.

A Pasternack Tale
Dave says PPC is the way to go, but
I can rank high with quality SEO.

No way... you can rank high without spending money? Well, isn't that what the whole point of this contest was? SEO's wanted to prove they could outrank Dave for his name... so where's your site in the list?

SEO Rocket Science Tools
SEO Too…

Already Upgrading the Development Server

I reported not that long ago that we finally got a development server. Well, we've already shut that one off and moved to a new one.

Apparently, that was much more of an antique than I thought it would be. We're now running a Hyperthreaded P4 with 2GB of RAM and hardware mirrored SCSI drives. I thought that the old machine would just act like our web servers under heavy load, but when it was taking 2 minutes or longer just to load a couple fields via Ajax calls, I decided that wasn't worth waiting for any more.

Now, I'm going to be able to develop a little quicker... and I've got some sweet projects planned out. When I get them a little further along, I'll be sure to let anyone reading here know about them.

Hearing the call

Jeremy Schoemaker put together a nice event for Nebraska, which I attended last night. Today I see he's already calling me out to speak at the next one.

If that's the case, I'll have some demands.

First, I want access to the presenters lounge. I think that's the restroom, but someone's gotta show me where that is anyway.

Secondly, I'm gonna need another link, but this time with the words power tools pointed at

Third, I want a couple of questions to answer to get started. I've never actually been asked to speak on SEO, and I've got no idea what level the attendees are at, so it'll be much easier to speak if I have questions from the group. I'm sure a post on would get a few responses that would help.

Oh, and #2 is optional.

The bottom line: I'd be delighted to speak to the group, Jeremy. And, not being like those MBL people, I'll even send you an email to let you know this.

Simple Network Monitor

Every once in a while, a must-have product comes along that, for the price, just can't be passed up. I was excited when Simple Network Monitor offered to pay me to review their product, because quite simply, I have a need for it and getting paid to evaluate it seems almost too good to pass up.

The download of the 30 day trial was pretty quick and painless, as was the simple installation process. On starting the program, it came up with "You are on day 1 of your 30 day evaluation" and the options of close, buy, and register. I chose close and the program started up.

Clicking on the "Add a Server" icon brought up a very simple form with Hostname, Friendly Name, Location, Server Notes, Alert E-Mail Address(es), and checkboxes for Override E-Mail Addresses, Server Monitoring Enabled, and Create a Ping Monitor. Once I filled in the basic fields, it showed up in my list of servers. From there, I could add a monitor. I selected HTTP Monitor, set the interval and timeout…

At last - a development server

I've been working on configuring a development web server for over the past couple of days. Was it a quad processor, quad core system with terabytes of RAM and storage? Perhaps a Sun T-2000 with more threads than you can shake a stick at?

Not a chance.

I'm using old hardware to simulate our web servers under a heavier load. That, and it was sitting here not being used.

I commissioned a Dell PowerEdge 2300 with 768MB of RAM, dual PIII 600's, and 3 8GB SCSI drives in Software Raid 5. Not exactly high-end stuff that we'd want to run anything serious on, but for developing a website, it'll be just fine.

We also set up a PhpWiki for keeping track of development notes internally among the team in IT, and we'll be doing lots of documentation over the next little while. Oh, what fun.

I remembered, after getting 403 permission denied errors on all folders, that Apache requires some special tuning of the selinux parameters. Note to self: find this post next time …

Congrats, Rand!

Congratulations, Rand and Geraldine. That's awesome.

So is the reaction.

Of course, had the SEO world known it was you, we would have first asked why you needed our money, then you would have had more than you knew what to do with for just one commercial.

In any event, congratulations and well played. It was certainly a proposal that fit your personality due to the buzz behind it and knowing how good you are at creating that. Here's to many happy years of creating buzz together.

Everything you ever wanted to know...

about Dave Pasternack. And, maybe some things you didn't want to know. Nice contest entry, Oilman.

Thanks, Microsoft

As I was reading about yet another zero day exploit in office today, a co-worker and I came to an amazing revelation. Microsoft is keeping the global IT economy flourishing.

Not only are all of those using the exploits to make money getting rich, but they are pretty much singlehandedly keeping the security industry (one of the fastest growing sectors in IT) in business. For that, I'd like to say thanks.

Now, for those of you who don't like exploits, you can also say no thanks. I'm saying that by NOT upgrading to Vista. I intend to continue to support CentOS and Ubuntu for quite some time yet, unless an even cooler free version of Linux comes along. It seems Vista is pushing more people to look at Linux as a viable alternative. Thanks for that too, Microsoft.

Initial Hitwise impressions

For those that aren't really familiar with Hitwise, they're a data collection agency. Through relationships with ISP's, they track user behavior. Then, they turn around and sell the information back to us webmasters.

I got an account approved for my 2007 budget (not an easy task, let me tell you) and started poking around in there today. My first impression is that this is really amazing data.

For starters, I've taken most of our top competitors and found all of the phrases that are driving traffic to their sites. For those of you doing your own sites, how useful would that be? I'm able to see if there are phrases that would make sense to target ourselves that our competitors are using.

Secondly, once I've found a cool phrase, I can see what websites get what percentage of the traffic for that phrase. This is really cool for benchmarking how well we're doing for a given term.

While this data is cool, it's also incomplete. For example, Amazon hasn't show…