Tag Archives: Spam

Search Engine Optimization History

Webmasters today spend quite some time optimizing their websites for search engines. Books have been written about search engine optimization and some sort of industry has developed to offer search engine optimization services to potential clients. But where did this all start? How did we end up with the SEO world we live in today (from a webmaster standpoint seen)?

A guy named Alan Emtage, a student at the University of McGill, developed the first search engine for the Internet in 1990. This search engine was called “Archie” and was designed to archive documents available on the Internet at that time. About a year later, Gopher, an alternative search engine to Archie, was developed at the University of Minnesota. These two kinda search engines triggered the birth of what we use as search engines today.

In 1993, Matthew Gray developed very first search engine robot – the World Wide Web Wanderer. However, it took until 1994 that search engines as we know them today were born. Lycos, Yahoo! And Galaxy were started and as you probably – two of those are still around today (2005).

In 1994 some companies started experimenting with the concept of search engine optimization. The emphasis was put solely on the submission process at that time. Within 12 months, the first automated submission software packages were released. Of course it did not take long until the concept of spamming search engines was ‘invented’. Some webmasters quickly realized that they could swamp and manipulate search results pages by over-submission of their sites. However – the search engines soon fought back and changed things to prevent this from happen.

Soon, search engine optimizers and the search engines started playing some sort of a “cat and mouse” game. Once a way to manipulate a search engine was discovered by the SE-optimizers they took advantage of this. The search engines subsequently revised and enhanced their ranking algorithms to respond to these strategies. It was clear very soon that mainly a small group of webmasters was abusing the search engine algorithms to gain advantage over the competition. Black Hat search engine optimization was born. The unethical way of manipulating search engine resulted in faster responses from search engines. Search engines are trying to keep the search results clean of SPAM to provide the best service to customers.

The search engine industry quickly realized that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as an industry would not go away, and in order to maintain useful indexes, they would need to at least accept the industry. Search engines now partially work with the SEO industry but are still very eager to sort out SPAMMERS that are trying to manipulate the results.

When Google.com started to be the search engine of choice for more than 50 of the Internet users it was highly visible to anyone in the industry that search engine spamming had reached a new dimension. Google.com was so much more important to the success of a website that many webmasters solely concentrated on optimizing their sites for Google only as the payoff was worth the efforts. Again – Black Hat SEO took place, pushing down the honest webmaster and their sites in search results delivered. Google started fighting back. Several major updates to Google’s algorithms forced all webmaster to adapt to new strategies. Black Hat SE-optimizers but suddenly saw something different happening. Instead of just being pushed down in the search results their websites were suddenly completely removed from the search index.

And then there was something called the “Google Sandbox” to show up in discussions. Websites either disappeared into the sandbox or new websites never made it into the index and were considered in the Google Sandbox. The sandbox seemed to be the place where Google would ‘park’ websites either considered SPAMMY or not to be conform with Google’s policies (duplicate websites under different domain names, etc.). The Google Sandbox so far has not been confirmed or denied by Google and many webmasters consider it to be myth.

In late 2004 Google announced to have 8 billion pages/sites in the search index. The gap between Google and the next two competitors (MSN and Yahoo!) seemed to grow. However – in 2005 MSN as well as Yahoo! Started fighting back putting life back into the search engine war. MSN and Yahoo seemed to gain ground in delivering better and cleaner results compared to Google. In July of 2005 Yahoo! Announced to have over 20 billion pages/sites in the search index – leaving Google far behind. No one search engine has won the war yet. The three major search engines however are eagerly fighting for market share and one mistake could change the fortune of a search engine. It will be a rocky ride – but worth watching from the sidelines.

7 Steps To Effectively Take Control Of Your Inbox And Reduce Spam

Everybody hates spam! I am sure spammers hate getting spam too, but they still continue to dish it out. Why? Because it is still effective. Believe it or not, many of us still click on the links or follow-up with the spam message. As long as we continue to do this, spam will exist. If everybody understood this and paid no attention to spam, the spammers will eventually give up because it costs them realy money to send out emails. It is hard to quantify what the cost of sending out one, two or fifty emails is, but 1 million or 5 million emails certainly has a cost that is not negligible. When the payback starts to get so small that the spammers cannot make a decent living, they will find something else to do. This day will come and I cannot wait for it to arrive.

In the meantime, what can we do about it. Well, I am not going to tell you that there is a perfect solution that will stop all spam, but what I will tell you is that there is a way to reduce the problem and manage it effectively using the 7 steps outlined below.

Step #1: Get Your Own Domain Name

Fighting spam effectively starts with getting your own domain name. For example if  you would purchase a domain name called canigetinfo.com, which is of course already owned by me. This has some unique advantages over using an ISP given domain name or a webmail service such as Hotmail or Gmail. It also has some minor disadvantages. Let’s examine these.

One major advantage is that you control the entire email address. You could create emails addresses like user@canigetinfo.com, info@canigetinfo.com and so on. This is in stark contract to an ISP assigned name like user@isp.com. If you wanted another one, you’d have to open up another account or pay extra for each additional ISP assigned address. If you ever decided to switch ISP’s, you would lose that email address and have to start over using a new one, and inform everyone you communicated with about it – a very messy proposition.

Many get around this problem by getting a Hotmail, Yahoo Mail or Gmail account which you can access from anywhere as long as you have internet access. These types of email accounts definitely have a place in your email tool chest, but do not suffice as your primary personal email address. One reason is that you do not have access to your email messages and address books when you are not online, like during a long flight. Another drawback is that they do not allow you to export the online address books making portability very tedious.

I prefer owning my own domain name which I call my permanent email address. I will always have this email address as long as I renew this domain name every year. The cost of registering a domain name varies from $4 to $8 per year for most common ones. This is a small price to pay for the advantages it brings you.

The one minor disadvantage of owning your own domain name is that you need to manage it yourself, or have someone do it for you. This in my opinion is far outweighed by the advantages mentioned above.

Step #2: Create Private Email Addressees

A private email address is one that nobody but your inner circle knows about. Every person that you give your personal email address to is someone that you trust and want to receive email from.

Setup one private email address for every person who is going to need to receive messages. This could be you and 5 other members of your family or 12 employees that work for you. This part is quite straightforward, you simply login to your email control panel and create new accounts for each email address that is going to be used to receive email.

Step #3: Create Public Email Addresses As Aliases

A public email address is generally known to the public. It can be specific like user@canigetinfo.com.

A public email address is created as an email alias. An email alias is not a real email address, but an address that gets redirected to a real email address. For example, you setup receptionist@canigetinfo.com as an alias that redirects to mary@canigetinfo.com. Whenever some sends an email to receptionist@canigetinfo.com, it will end up in Mary’s inbox. If you change receptionists, you simple modify the redirect for a very elegant solution. You can then publish this public email address on a website, in a brochure, on print advertising, business cards etc. without giving away your personal email address and without having to make much changes if Mary leaves and a new receptionist is hired. This is a huge benefit and maintains your privacy as well as those of others you have created email addressees for.

How does this help with spam, you ask? By using email aliases in a smart fashion, you could very easily shut down any spam that starts coming in. Let’s examine how this can be done.

Step #4: Setup the Default or Catch-all Email Address

Your email control panel will have something called a “default address” or it is also sometimes called a “catch-all address”. This is a valid email address that all unresolved emails go to. If you set this up to be your personal email address for example, then you will receive all emails that are addressed to “anything”@canigetinfo.com, this includes sales@canigetinfo.com, joe@canigetinfo.com, andrew@canigetinfo.com etc. Herein lies the secret to combat spam.

Step #5: Create Specific Named Public Email Addresses As And When Required

When you are forced to register on a website where you want to get some information from, you are usually asked for a valid email address. Well guess what, you now have an unlimited supply of valid email addressees. I usually use a specific format when registering at websites – it is “websitename”@canigetinfo.com. So if I am registering at a website called www.get-rich-quick.com, I would use the address get-rich-quick@canigetinfo.com as my valid email address. When the site sends me an email, it gets redirected to my personal email or whatever the default or catch-all address is.

Step #6: Send Spam Back To Where It Came From, If Possible

Here comes the real bonus, if you subsequently start receiving spam addressed to none other than get-rich-quick@canigetinfo.com, you simple create an email alias for get-rich-quick@canigetinfo.com and redirect the email back to exactly where it came from, for example georg-bush@get-rick-quick.com. You will then never get another email from anyone using that email address ever again. This is cool and is my favorite part. Bear in mind that spammers usually send email from an address that is not their own, so if you see an address like noreply@get-rick-quick.com, then you would redirect it somewhere else, for example a Hotmail address that you setup just for redirection purposes. Please exercise some discretion here because spammers often use the email addresses of real people and we don’t want these innocent people getting redirected email.

Step #7: Be Diligent In The Ongoing Management Of Your Domain

If you do this diligently for each website where you register by identifying the website name, you will very quickly know which websites are selling email addresses and which ones honor their promise not to share your information. ALl this while, nobody by your personal inner circle knows your private email address.

A real-life example in my case: I use a specific email alias for my Paypal account which nobody but Paypal knows. I have never ever received spam on this address, but I have received hundreds of spam messages on other email aliases that I have created. All of these emails supposedly come from Paypal and address me as “Dear Valued Paypal Member” or something similar, warning me that my account is going to be closed or suspended unless I click on their link and update my credit card information.

I hope that I have given you some food for thought on how to manage the ever growing spam problem by protecting yourself by taking some initiative and getting your own domain name. The added benefit is that you now have a permanent email address no matter where you choose to live or which ISP you use to connect to the internet.

There are many other ways to fight spam which I will perhaps address future articles.

Avoid, Shun, Thwart, Prevent, and then Filter Spam

Email is rapidly becoming the standard means of communication among businesses, associates, and even friends. While many people have now been using the internet and email for years, there are thousands of new users on the internet each day. With inexpensive web hosting, free email services, and the blog burst upon us, getting your own slice of the internet pie has never been easier.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for a refresher course, or you’re new to the internet and email and want to start off right, here are some easy steps to follow to reduce the amount of spam you receive.

Don’t choose an obvious email address. Spammers will generate lists of email addresses based on common names. A common list would be something like: nick@yahoo.com, nick1@yahoo.com, nick2@yahoo.com, etc. If you create an email account with less obvious combination of your name plus some numbers, chances are better that you won’t find your way onto one of these lists.

Treat your personal email address with care. Only give out your personal email address to close friends and family who you trust. Give your direct business email only to clients and other contacts you trust to only use your address for legitimate business purposes.

Use different accounts for different functions. Create different aliases with your business’s domain name or create a few free accounts from free email servers like Hotmail, Yahoo!  etc. Use one account that you don’t care about for posting to forums or discussion groups. Use another to subscribe to newsletters and newsgroups. When any of these addresses starts to get spammed too heavily, simply delete the account and switch to a different one.

Remove your email address from your website. Between blogs and cheap web space, it seems everyone has their own piece of cyberspace. Before you put a link to your email address on your site, remember that spammers have bots that harvest these addresses. They will even find addresses printed in plain text. Consider using a web-based form for communication from you website, or place your address as a gif or jpeg.

Do not open, respond to, or purchase from spam. Interacting with spam in any of these ways indicates to the spammer that not only is your address valid, it’s also active. Do not respond with “unsubscribe” in the subject line, or click on any links to remove your name out of the database, as both of these are common ploys to confirm your email address. Remember, because sending email is so inexpensive, spamming can be profitable even if only a small percentage of people purchase what they’re selling. Don’t support what you’re trying to stop.

Finally, Filter you incoming email using filtering software. Even if you guard your email address religiously, you’ll likely still receive spam. Filtering software is usually inexpensive and effective, but there are some important features to consider with any filtering package:

• Make sure you can control what comes to your inbox and what gets deleted. The best programs create a spam folder for you to review before permanently deleting emails.

• The software should block images from incoming emails. Many jpegs in spam actually hide code that notifies the spammer when the email is viewed. Blocking images will not only keep offensive content off your screen but will also help prevent more spam in the future.

• Choose software that provides you with updates – as new spamming techniques are created and proliferated, filtering software should keep up.

While eliminating spam from coming to your email address is nigh unto impossible, following these simple steps will mean you’ll have to spend less time deleting spam from your inbox, giving you more time for the important things of life – like reading this article.

Where is online advertising going?

Discusses t he brief history of online advertising through specific ad strageis and discusses where online advertising is headed.
Is there such a thing as “traditional” online advertising? If there is, it started with banners, moved to FFAs, took a step backwards with SPAM, a hard right with classified advertising and then shot forward with pay per click search engine. So how do you know where to spend your advertising budget in the current market? If you’ve been responsible for your company’s web advertising efforts over the years you might agree that the traditional means of advertising worked; as least for a little while. So as new types of advertising penetrate the market with increasing frequency, what do you do with those proven stand-by methods of generating links and traffic? Throw them out? Keep them around for posterity? Maybe give them a facelift? Let’s review those traditional ad models then look at some experimental models. TRADITIONAL ONLINE ADVERTISING MODELS

Banners
Banner ads in the form of animated gifs are the most common and widely used form of online advertising today. Banner ads reach the widest possible audience because practically 100% of Internet users can view them without any special plugins. Web marketers, advertisers and promoters have quickly realized that banners under 12k in file size puts the ad in front of the visitor as quickly as possible, increasing the chance of click-through even though surfers are growing increasingly immune. New styles and shapes of banners (such as skyscraper ads) have grown in popularity recently, which is addressed in the “Experimental Advertising” section below.

SPAM
What does SPAM stand for? It’s not “Stupid Pointless Annoying Message” (which in some cases it could be) but rather “Sending and Posting Advertising Messages.” It’s hard to believe SPAM is effective, but unarguably, it is. While click-through rates continue to fall and legislation begins to rise, it is a savvy advertiser’s best bet to stay away from it, unless of course you’re selling Pasta Pots or Viagra. Rich mail – “Fancy SPAM”
Most likely, the e-mail messages you receive on a daily basis are text only. Rich mail, on the other hand, allows graphics, video and audio to be included in the e-mail message. When you open up a rich e-mail your e-mail client automatically calls up your Internet connection and launches an html page in your browser. E-mail clients that are offline will invite you to click on the link when you have your Internet connection open again. If your e-mail client does not support graphics you will receive the e-mail in text only. While SPAM is still SPAM, rich mail has proven to be much more effective than standard text messages.

Pop-Ups/Pop-Unders:
This creative, yet completely obtrusive and annoying means of advertising was once celebrated in some circles as the most innovative ad concept since banners. It only took a short time before many users, sick of being trapped in a never-ending onslaught of such ads, voiced their rejection. One can only wonder when advertisers will recognize the public dissatisfaction and move on to another more effective means to promote their companies.

Institutional Advertising:
While institutional or “in-house” advertising has been available since the inception of the Internet, few companies have made an effort to utilize the many different aspects of online advertising in one format as has 7Search.com with its Direct Pay-Per-Text advertising. 7Search, a leader in the pay per click search engine arena, has recently introduced this program which enables its advertisers to advertise outside of its search return lists using the same titles and descriptions seen on its search engine. The pay-per-click model enables interested advertisers to leave behind the CPM impression model and focus on the click conversions. Direct Pay-Per-Text is a patent-pending concept from 7Search which will be released to the general public in the coming months.

Pay-Per-Click Search Engines
It’s hard to think of PPC search engines as a “traditional” means to advertise online, but the ratio of those advertisers who do versus those who don’t is staggering; in fact the majority have at least tried their hand at leasing traffic. In a PPC agreement, the advertiser only pays for qualifying clicks to the destination site based on a prearranged per-click rate. The response on ads with well-written titles and descriptions targeted to the users query pull response rates unseen in the ad industry previously. The greatest advantage arguably is the ability to measure precisely the rate of return versus your investment. Some of the most popular PPC search engines are FindWhat.com, 7Search.com, Ah-ha.com and the industry leader Overture.

EXPERIMENTAL ONLINE ADVERTISING MODELS

Traffic Exchange Advertising:
Hit exchanges, actually a form of banner exchange, are a recent phenomenon on the Internet. You will visit the site of a member of an exchange, and in exchange, another member of the exchange will visit your site. The recent explosion of hit exchanges on the web has diluted the effectiveness of such a method of advertising. There have also been many instances of cheating, in which a script is used to generate visits to a site. However, if you have a product that is of interest to webmasters, and is low cost or has a free version, there is no harm in giving hit exchanges a try.

Shockwave ads
Shockwave is best suited for campaigns that want to utilize out-of-banner real estate, such as applets, trading cards, and games. Director and Flash provide the ability to embed interaction, video, and audio within the file, making Shockwave files some of the richest ad units on the Web. Viral marketing and strong brand interaction are two of the key strengths of Shockwave ads. As these ads are typically “bandwidth monsters” the adoption has been slow and will most likely remain that way. Other downsides include development costs and the fact that it just won’t work without the Shockwave plug-in, which (though downloaded by millions of users) is far from being a mainstay.

Interstitial ads
Interstitials are ads that play between pages on a website, much like television ads play between sections of a program. There are several variations on the interstitial model: some play in the main browser window, while some play in new, smaller windows; some are pre-cached, while some stream ad content as it plays; some provide the ability to create very rich ads, while some focus on smaller, faster-loading ads. Whatever the format, nearly all interstitial ads perform very well if measured by both click-through rates and brand recall.

Floating ads and DHTML
Types of floating ads include DHTML sponsorships, in which advertising objects “fly” across the page on a preset course; cursor sponsorships, in which the cursor turns into an advertising image; and scrolling ads, in which an advertisement moves up and down the edge of a page as the user scrolls up and down. Floating ads give the advertiser and publisher the flexibility to achieve nearly any effect. However, as this is one of the more daring types of online advertising, advertising and content must be balanced on any given page. Floating ads (especially DHTML and cursors) are best run for short periods to create brand awareness—running them for longer periods can bring negative user feedback. It is important to understand that online advertising is only effective if it generates significant response and this applies to both traditional and experimental ads. Unfortunately, the only way to discover the efficiency of your campaign is to test in every format at least once with as many ads as you are able.

Driving Free Traffic To Your Blog

How can you drive “free” traffic to your blog? You can’t. But that’s only because nothing is really free. In the end you can either buy traffic with money or you can buy traffic by investing time. Time IS money, hence my statement that there’s no free traffic.

If your goal is to drive traffic to your blog and pay for it with an investment of your time, instead of with gold or coin of the realm, then you’re in luck because that is entirely possible if you are ingenious enough to figure out the best ways to do it.

Therein lies the problem. Let’s make believe that time really IS money. Let’s make believe that you only have 10 hours in your “time bank account” to spend on finding ingenious ways to drive traffic to your blog without writing checks or whipping out the charge card. How should you invest that money?

The answer for most people is to start sniffing around the Internet looking for other people’s ideas and suggestions. You’ll run across all of the amateur ideas like: “Advertise your blog on Free-For-All (FFA) link sites” or “join e-mail safe lists”. Yeah, why not just post ads everywhere saying “Here is my email address. Please SPAM me”. Because that’s all you are going to get in return.

Moving a bit further up the idea chain you’ll probably encounter people who say “Get links from other blogs that point to yours”. Now that’s a wonderful idea, and it does work, but consider this: There is new blog appearing on the Internet every 7.8 seconds! If every blogger started asking every other blogger for reciprocal links, then entire Internet would likely come to a dead stop in about a week due to the shear volume of email that all of those requests would generate. Not to mention all of the time that you have to spend finding suitable blogs to link to, contacting the owners and managing the link process.

If you’ve only got those imaginary 10 hours to spend on finding ways to drive free traffic to your site, then you have to zoom in on those underutilized “secret”, not-everyone-and- his-brother-is-doing. “ah ha moment” methods that showcase your blog like a lamp burning at the top of a mountain at night. You need solid ideas that really work.

The best way to find solid ideas that really work is to find someone who already has invested the time in discovering and improving those ways and who is willing to share them with you.

That means that the best way to DISCOVER free ways to drive traffic to your blog is to BUY those secrets from a pro. Sure, you’re spending money to acquire the information, but you’ll end up with some great traffic-builders that aren’t going to cost you a penny out of your REAL banking account to implement.

The end result is: You get free, quality traffic to your blog and you didn’t waste 10 hours (10 weeks is more like it), trying every harebrain scheme that you encountered on the ‘net while you were looking.

Go to the experts when you need help. That’s my idea of investing your time AND your money wisely.