Archive for January, 2007

Choosing a Niche for Your Blog

Friday, January 19th, 2007

If you are thinking of starting a blog, you need to strategize. One of the first things you need to think about is your blog’s niche. This may also be the most important. You want to choose an area that you’re passionate about. This is vital as you will burn out very quickly if the topic is dry and boring. The content should excite you and spark your enthusiasm. In addition, you must possess a high level of knowledge in the given area. Writing above and beyond the education level of the average enthusiast in your realm is where you can add value with your blog.

So what constitutes a niche on the Internet? It’s definitely not the same as offline. In a given city, perhaps 300 people are hardcore poodle enthusiasts. On the Internet however, you may come across several hundred thousand.

In other words, you may think that a business blog is a niche topic. But that is far from the case. You need to drill down at least another level or two. Under the business heading, you may choose marketing. Below that, you may choose Internet marketing. Delving even further, search engine optimization (SEO) may be an appropriate blog niche.

You can either choose a niche with:

  • Large target market
  • High competition


  • Smaller target market
  • Lower competition

The latter choice is definitely the way to go. Though it may seem like posts will be hard to think up, once you get going they will start rolling. Furthermore, your reader base and users will likely be more loyal. Commenting and user participation is also more likely. Finally, if you choose to run ads, you can achieve a much higher CPM than a more generic blog.

And once you do choose a niche and begin to post, stick to your niche. Stay focused. Do not stray. Otherwise, your readers will become irritated and may ‘boycott’ your blog.

Just some food for thought for those thinking of starting a blog…

SEO Tip #4 - Top 8 SEO Myths

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

During my time as an Internet marketing specialist and SEO consultant, I have come across numerous SEO myths that many people believe to be true. This is due to lack of industry knowledge and education.

But it’s time to set the record straight. It’s myth-debunking time…

  1. You must submit your site to all search engines (and resubmit often): This is probably the most common SEO myth of all. First, let it be known that you don’t need to submit your site to any engines. I never submitted to any engines, but they still drive considerable traffic to the site. As for resubmitting, this is pointless. Don’t waste your time. All you need to do is acquire some respectable back-links - the higher the Google PageRank, the better. The better the links, the higher your ranking and the more often you get crawled.
  2. You have to pay to be listed: Scam. Don’t believe it or pay it. To be listed on the big engines like Google, Yahoo, or MSN, you do NOT need to pay. As a recurring scam, many illegitimate ‘SEO professionals’ and SEO submission sites claim that you need to pay an ongoing fee to stay listed with the engines. Once again, this is a big lie. Don’t get suckered in.
  3. META keywords are important: Hahaha… maybe in 1995. Google doesn’t look at them. They’re on the way out at Yahoo and MSN (if they aren’t already). The concept of tagging in the META tags seems good, but it’s corrupt. Instead focus on the META description and other areas.
  4. Assured results / rankings: No chance. No web program or SEO specialist can ever guarantee a certain result or ranking. If this is the case, they are lying. Furthermore, some may use a similar tactic thats works as follows: the SEO specialist tells you he will get you on the front page of Google for the term “eastern asian puppy dog bracelets”. That’s great. I’m sure he will. But no-one searches for that term. So although you may appear on the front page for a given term, if no-one is searching for it, all is lost.
  5. SEO software provides guaranteed results: Give me a break. Search engine optimization should NOT be handled by software or a program. It is a very delicate art that should be performed by a professional. Attaining a necessary balance between technical and marketing cannot be accomplished by software. And as mentioned above, guaranteed results are impossible.
  6. You should list your site with thousands of search engines: Definitely not. You should focus on a minority of search engines that drive the majority of search traffic. According to Nielsen NetRatings, they estimate that 93% of all November 2006 US search engine traffic comes from 6 sources (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Ask, and MyWay). It should also be noted that 74% of that traffic is generated by Google and Yahoo alone. Obviously you can submit to the smaller engines to grab some of the long-tail traffic, but your time is better spent focusing on the big guys.
  7. There is a set way to optimize: Absolutely not. Algorithms change. Web standards and principles are in a dynamic state. The Internet is a perpetual, moving entity. What worked 5 years ago, probably won’t work today. In addition, nobody completely understands the Google algorithm (or Yahoo or MSN). If they did, the information would be priceless and could be leveraged for personal financial gain. Having said that, keeping the system under wraps is important to the integrity of the given engine.
  8. SEO is all done on the page: Nope. You can optimize your page title, headers, META tags, page URL, paragraph text, ALT tags, blah, blah… all you want. But at the end of the day, it’s only half the battle. You need back-links. This cannot be overstated. Google algorithm is based of back-links, which I like to refer to as ‘votes’ or ‘recommendations’. This altered perspective makes more sense to the amateur SEO artist. In other words, the more back-links, the more people are recommending your site and saying ‘Hey, this is something you should check out’. So go get em.

I hope this article helps to clarify some common misconceptions. Obviously SEO is not an exact science and my advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, debunking these SEO should help many in their conquest to drive glorified search engine traffic.

Yahoo’s Acquisition Strategy

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Yahoo logoIs there a method to the madness that is Yahoo’s acquisition strategy? Does Yahoo eventually plan on integrating its entire portfolio of web 2.0 acquisitions? Or is it satisfied holding this web 2.0 mutual fund?

When I think of Yahoo’s acquisition strategy, two names come to mind. They are the epitome of web 2.0 - simple, clean, and useful. They are the tagging kings, otherwise known as Flickr and

Both trace their roots back to the origin of the Internet. By that, I mean they harness the ’semantic web’ - a vision of links and text. So what am I getting at? I don’t know. Something to do with words, links, and algorithms that does something cool and useful. Maybe call it Yahoo Neat-O.

I’m not getting paid big bucks to dream up the miracle app or service. On the other hand, those Yahoo execs need to stop drinking the corporate Kool-Aid and pull together on a cohesive strategy.

Check out this jumbled pool of web 2.0 properties:

Do you see a pattern? Cause I sure don’t. And my brain is beginning to hurt…

Or wait… it just hit me. They are creating a blog social network search engine that returns edited karaoke videos and playlists as desktop/embeddable widgets on a calendar grid. Ahhh, it’s all coming together now. It’s all too easy. Behold the master plan.

Anyways… add to that a 40% stake in Chinese B2B giant and I’m starting to wonder whether the strategy was focused around darts, a corkboard, and a couple of cocktails after work.

However, there may be a saviour for the company. One acquisition dwarfs all others in terms of importance and potential. Nope, I’m not talking about GeoCities. I’m referring to Overture, the creator of pay-per-click. This auction-based system lies at the fore-front of Internet advertising as we know it. Google stole the idea from Overture and hasn’t looked back since. What Yahoo needs to do is not only leverage their own properties, but encourage users to create their own. What am I proposing?

I think a good acquisition target for Yahoo is SixApart. This blogging conglomerate owns Typepad (blogging platform for professionals), Movable Type (business blogging platform), LiveJournal (community of independent bloggers), and Vox (personal blogging). Why not kill 4 birds with one stone?

This would give Yahoo access to a wide variety of blogging platforms, publishing tools, and most importantly a blog community. This key area cannot be overlooked. Yahoo lags at a time when blogs are really starting to flourish and become mainstream. Failing to adapt and harness this trend will be to the detriment of the company. The space is growing exponentially and Google already has the upperhand with Blogger.

I think it’s a much more strategic decision that not only bodes well for future growth, but also revenue potential.

As for the rest of the acquisitions and the integration strategy going forward, I say screw it. Integration not only confuses the user (in many cases), but also creates a community backlash. Let them live as separate entities. This is vital for long-term success. Long live the web 2.0 mutual fund.

The Venice Project on Steroids: Joost

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Joost logoThe other day, the official consumer name of The Venice Project was revealed: Joost. To be honest, the name sounds more fitting for Mark McGwire’s biography, but that’s a whole different story. Nonetheless, the new name is much shorter and easier to spell than its predecessor.

Furthermore, the new name sounds less technical and more consumer-friendly. This shift reminds me of the initial branding strategy of Skype. But hey, if it works, stick with it.

Having said all that, I finally got a chance to download and install the client today. Upon installation, the program opened right into a video that encompassed my entire screen, including the taskbar. Interestingly enough, the video viewing screen doubles as the navigation panel.

If you move your mouse while a video is playing, an navigational overlay appears while the video continues to play. A button at the top of the screen provides interactive information about the programme. Buttons on the sides navigate to your channels or own personalized area, which contains a chat box and optional plug-ins. Finally, the lower buttons provide video controls and settings, as well as a search box.

Currently, there are only 28 channels in the system. But my guess is that this number will increase significantly in the coming weeks, as the founders are reportedly in talks with some of the major TV networks. Thusfar, default content and channels have been supplied by such sources as MuchMusic, Warner Brothers, and Virgin.

Unfortunately, I’m still at 0 invitations. Let the hype continue…

Evolution of a Hot Internet Space

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Over the past 2 years, we have seen exponential growth in a few select Internet spaces. For this article in particular, we will take a look at three of them: social networking, photo sharing, and video sharing. We will observe how each evolved, developed, and solidified its place in the mainstream.

Charles Darwin would have been proud. The evolution of these spaces support the notion of ‘natural selection’ and ’survival of the fittest’. In any case, here is the development as I witnessed it:

  1. Several players enter a space early in the game. Due to the immaturity of the industry and lack of education, little adoption has taken place thusfar. In addition, simplicity and functionality are not optimal. Finally, the user experience is far from perfect.
  2. Then, along comes a player who recognizes the potential growth of the industry. However, contrary to previous development, this new entrant decides to simplify the game and create the utmost user experience. Not only does this create a more intuitive service, but it exemplifies the flaws and weaknesses of competitors. In this case, I am talking about MySpace (social networking), Flickr (photo sharing), and YouTube (video sharing).
  3. These new-comers entered a potentially lucrative space, dummied down the offering, and created a functional, enjoyable user experience. For realistic reasons, exponential growth ensued. In the case of MySpace, users invited their friends as this is the raison d’etre for a social network. This spurred viral growth. In the other two cases, users upload their user-generated content and media files. But what good are uploaded files if only you get to view them. There is no value there whatsoever. Value enters the equation when a user invites their friends or other potential users to view their photo(s) and or video(s). Once again, this encourages viral growth.
  4. After a year or two of phenomenal growth, the industry leader gets bought out by an Internet giant or media conglomerate (MySpace > Fox Interactive; Flickr > Yahoo; YouTube > Google). At this point, revenue models are still in their infancy, and the acquisition company is focusing more on the size, growth, and demographic of the user base. Eventually however, the acquisitor must implement a revenue model in order to turn a profit from the deal.
  5. In all three cases, a somewhat targeted advertising model materializes. And as of today, all three services continue to operate as independent entities with a lack of branding from the parent.
  6. At this point, many of the smaller players have fallen off the charts. They’ve either run out of cash or failed to generate a considerable amount of traffic. Only a select few industry headliners can generate enough revenue (and in some cases, profit) to stay afloat.
  7. What happens now is the denouement of the industry. This is where things begin to get interesting. Of all the secondary players who cannot compete with the leader, many will ignore the warning signs and continue to position itself against the leader, only to fall short in the end. Nevertheless, the smarter companies will approach the situation differently. These players will take on a niche. This fragments the industry and creates unique verticals. Now sites can grab small subsets of users and traffic from the leader and build a loyal user base from a different angle. Though the potential target market may be smaller, the potential for success and the ability to drive higher CPMs is much more likely.

Here is a small list of some of the secondary level players who have done a good job of harnessing a smaller, more targeted audience:




So what will be the next hot Internet space? If I knew, I wouldn’t be posting right now.

NOTE: Some may argue that Photobucket is the leader in the photo sharing space. Though it does get the majority of traffic and usage, it fails to grab the attention and buzz of the press.