Archive for April, 2007

SEO Tip #5 - Acquiring Back-Links

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

At the end of the day, the best way to acquire a lot of good quality, relevant back-links is to simply provide good content. Whether it be a blog post, a funny video, or a spectacular photo, users will link to your site if they deem the content to be unique and valuable.

Having said that, users need to somehow discover your site in the first place before they are able to back-link. In addition, the ability to constantly attract new visitors is always a plus. For these reasons, acquiring some back-links is necessary. As we all know, back-links are at the heart of Google’s search algorithm - and Yahoo’s and MSN’s now too… Finally, not only do these links provide SEO juice, but they also drive direct traffic as well, creating a two-fold effect.

So where does one find these coveted one-way back-links?

I wish I had a simple answer, but each website must be examined on a case-by-case basis. However, all web properties can be submitted to directories, including specialty ones. This is free, one-way linking and usually provides a reasonable PR link.

Directories aside, creative thinking must be emphasized for any linking campaign. Let’s take Eat Across Canada for example. The site is a guide to local restaurants across Canada. Where can it obtain back-links?

  • General directories (obviously)
  • Specialty directories (focused around Canada, food, dining, and restaurants)
  • Targeted, niche blogs
  • Industry organizations and members
  • Affiliated companies and partners

… to name a few…

Another good way to discover potential linking sites is by doing a backward link check of your competitors. Who is linking to them? Might they also be interested in linking to you? There is a good chance. could also create a blog or post articles related to dining, food, cuisine, and culture. If the content is well-written, these articles could be a catalyst for back-links from readers. Content is king. The cliche lives on…

In any case, if some creative thought can be put around strategizing a linking campaign, chances are that this initial grassroots push may be the spark that ignites the linking fire.

Is The VC World Dead or Just More Selective?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Is it just me or has the VC world slowed down over the past couple months?

Six months ago, TechCrunch or GigaOM would report numerous VC fundings everyday. Now, they seem less frequent and more dispersed. So… is it a case of VC money (and private equity) drying up, or is it that the VC’s are simply picking and choosing their investments more carefully?

My gut says it’s the latter. Why do I say this? Well, a typical A round of financing tends to lie somewhere in the $1-5 million range. Below that it’s usually considered a friends and family round. Above that is usually considered a B round.

We are seeing less and less rounds falling within these boundaries. Perhaps, some are carefully placing smaller amounts of money in more start-ups to hedge their bets. This would explain the ‘under-the-radar’ financings that don’t get much press or media attention.

But interestingly enough, we have witnessed a few unusually large A rounds of financing take place. Forget the typical $1-5 million dollar range. Take a look at these recent investments: just raised $25 million in their A round and Spock raised $7 million in an A round (with no BETA product even). Now obviously these are special cases, but it should be noted that these types of Internet-related start-up fundings are rare. Or at least they used to be.

It should also be noted that Aggregate Knowledge, another prominent new-comer, just raised a whooping $20 million after their initial (and substantial) $5 A round.

So is VC money really dead? I doubt it. We are definitely not seeing the same bubble warning signs as the late 90’s. The days of a good domain name and a slick Powerpoint presentation are gone. Nowadays, it takes a business model, and perhaps… just perhaps… a revenue model to convince a VC your company is a worthy investment.

Time vs. Web Applications

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

People only have a certain amount of time in a given day. Trade-offs must be made. There is an opportunity cost to every decision. For this very reason, people must limit their daily use of web applications to the few essential apps.

Let’s say, for example, you have 2 hours of free time per day you can spend online. You could spend 1 hour on two different apps. You could spend the full 2 hours on one app. You could even spend 20 minutes on six different apps. The point is that any new start-up wants to be part of the Internet user’s daily routine. Furthermore, the larger the dependance and percentage of Internet usage spent on that app is also very important.

Personally, a portion of each day is spent on:

and often on…

In any case, web app dependance is what every company fights for. They want constant, consistent page views and app usage. Furthermore, they want users to tell their friends and get them to join. This is the reason social networks can build and become successful so quick. Their inherent nature bodes well for ‘viral marketing’. And once a network hits a critical mass or tipping point, even non-users must join as the majority of friends use the system and it becomes essential to a social life.

Other services become more valuable and powerful with an increased user base, although they are not as prone to viral growth. Craigslist and Wikipedia are two good examples.

Let me know the apps that make up your day…

Facebook Gets a Facelift… and a Backlash?

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Facebook new logoYesterday, the pride and joy of Mark Zuckerberg received an extreme makeover. Facebook made significant changes to the design and layout of the interface. The company claims that the changes will ‘reduce clutter on the profile page’ (new link navigation) and eliminate the need for users ‘to scroll down to find what they’re looking for’ (drop-down menus).

Whether this is truly the case or not remains to be seen…

Already, some users have expressed their frustrations and anger. Several of my friends have changed their profile statuses’ to “____ is hating the new facebook layout” or “____ is not enjoying the new facebook”. I think I’ve heard enough crap about that new ‘blue bar’ at the top of the page already to last me a lifetime. Plus, consideration must be taken for the fact that Facebook has millions of users and there is a 100% likelihood that some of them won’t agree or like the new changes. Ironically enough, the company can get feedback from users by simply looking at selected status changes via the aggregated status feed system.

Another major change manifested itself by way of the logo, or lack thereof. The iconic ‘Facebook guy’ part of the logo is now gone. Sniff, sniff… It’s been a good run. Kudos to Facebook for their plan to monetize his death by offering 100,000 limited edition ‘Facebook guy’ tombstone gifts. Expect these bad boys to go quick.

Wow… Who would have thought you could potentially make $100,000 by simplifying your logo? Mind-boggling… and PR-worthy…

Now back to the changes… So far, so good from me. I have fiddled with the new system and navigation for the past day and everything seems to be intuitive. I have yet to find something I REALLY dislike about the new launch.

If you’re a Facebook user, let me know what you like about the new changes… or what pisses you off…

Stealthy Spock is the People Search Engine

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Spock logoSpock has been one hyped beast. Buzz has been swirling around this stealth start-up for months now. This low-flying aircraft has carefully managed to avoid the media at large and focus on the company. And despite the hype, the company looks to have an exceptional service from my preliminary analysis… 

Already, the company has raised $7 million (in December 2006) via Clearstone Venture Partners and Opus Capital Ventures. This was even before a BETA product was available. 

At the core, Spock is aiming to be the Google of people searches - which it estimates to be around 30% of all Internet searches. Should this number be accurate, then obviously there is huge potential in a largely untapped market. Competitors include the likes of Wink and ZoomInfo - neither of which has made a significant impact on the search world or gone mainstream.

Search results and profile information are being aggregated from blogs, Wikipedia, and social networks, among other sources. Individual searches reference tags and meta data that is edited by users. Finally, a given individual can claim his/her profile through an e-mail verification process with Spock.

Exclusive screenshots courtesy of TechCrunch are available here:

What do I like about the profile interface?

  • Prominent display of the search bar at all times
  • Simple demographic information
  • Abbreviated bio
  • The ability to quickly and easily find pictures, related people, and even contact information

There is even a widget available… talk about web 2.0 compliant…

I would imagine that many people (including myself) end up on a Wikipedia page when researching a famous person. Not only am I biased to Wikipedia, but a link is usually present on the first page of nearly every search result for a given person. Having said that, I do use IMDB the odd time when researching a movie star or entertainer in particular. However, should Spock prove to be as useful as it looks, I may be changing my searching tendencies…