31 October, 2007

Starting to Think About Ron Paul

I've been avoiding talking about Ron Paul for a while now. But I don't think I can continue without saying a few things.

There's something about this Ron Paul guy.

And I'm not just talking about the fact that he is currently third in raising funds. I'm not just talking about the fact that he wins straw polls left and right, often by a huge margin. (81% in my home state of Alabama (2nd place was 5%), and 28% in my current state of Maryland (2nd place was 24%), to name just two examples).
I guess what I'm talking about is the fact that his message seems to resonate with so many people.

Let me say up front that I am a Mike Gravel supporter. But I want to give an honest rundown of Ron Paul, so that everyone can see what I see whenever I hear about him, which seems to happen more and more often lately.

The one thing that shines through about Ron Paul is his sincerity. He has very strong opinions, and his votes on the hill never deviate from them. One thing that he is very strong about is his absolute refusal to vote on any measure that he believes the constitution does not authorize the congress to oversee, even if he is in fact in favor of hatever that measure is trying to address. The man is a constitutionalist, through and through, and he has stood up against special interests and lobbyists of all kinds throughout his tenure. In fact, it is so well known that he remains true to his core beliefs that few lobbyists even bothered to try with him, at least up until his presidential campaign got up to speed.
Many times, looking at congressional voting records is difficult, as there are almost always extenuating circumstances with different bills. But not so with Ron Paul; his voting record is clean as the driven snow.
He has NEVER:
  • voted to raise taxes
  • voted for a budget that wasn't balanced
  • voted to raise congressional pay
  • voted for a bill that he believed was contrary to the constution, including any and all bills restricting gun ownership of any kind, and any bill that would have granted the executive power additional powers

  • In addition, he voted against the Patriot Act.
  • He voted against regulating the internet.
  • He voted against the Iraq war.
Furthermore, he refuses to accept anything more than a minimal salary; he does not participate in the congressional pension plan, and he returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the US treasury every year.
Furthermore, he is one of the most active congressmen I've ever seen. When compared to any other single member of congress, he has introduced the most pieces of legislation, though to be honest, not many are able to get through, due to his unwillingness to work 'behind the scenes' and participate in quid pro quo policies.

In short, Ron Paul is honest, decent, and truthfully believes in his convictions. It is rare to see such a person running for President. It is even rarer to see them actually starting to do really well, as Dr. Paul is.

His foriegn policy is very similar to Mike Gravel's. He wants to pull our troops out, not just from Iraq, but from most everywhere else, too. To quote Mike Gravel on a point that Ron Paul agreed with: "Policing the world is just their way of enforcing our American empire."
Ron Paul's ideas on free trade are quite confusing. He is libertarian, yet... Ron Paul believes that free trade deals and world governmental trade organizations like ICC, NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and CAFTA are bad for our nation. To quote Dr. Paul: "We must withdraw from any organizations and trade deals that infringe upon the freedom and independence of the United States of America."
Ron Paul also strongly believes in privacy, even though he does not agree that constitution has a privacy clause in it. He's against a national ID card, against the use of a social security number in the private sector (he wants it to be gov't only), against letting medical insurance companies see your medical info, against the current US law that notifies the US gov't wheneveryou deposit $10k or more into a bank, etc.
He is also strongly against birthright citizenship. "As long as illegal immigrants know their children born here will be citizens, the incentive to enter the U.S. illegally will remain strong." And Dr. Paul believes that removing incentives is the only way to properly enforce laws.
He is for what he calls 'health freedom', which he describes is your ability to take care ofyour health the way you best see fit. This includes a move against the FDA, possibly to the point of shutting them down, and an opposition of any bill that would require US citizens to be immunized from any disease, such as the recent HR 5005 that authorized the forced vaccination of American citizens against small pox.
He is very strongly pro-life, as he was a practicing medical doctor for many years, and delivered many babies himself.
He is even more stringently against taxation, wanting to minimize taxes to the extreme. He wants to abolish the IRS and replace it with NOTHING. He points out that the loss of income tax will bring our national income level to about where it was in 2000. He thinks that cutting spending to that level shouldn't be that difficult. He also wants to start backing every dollar with something physical, so that the US gov't has to stop taking loans out by printing more money. He is an extreme fiscal conservative.
He wants to eliminate social security for all younger people, and yet still pay out top dollar to those depending on it, as well as actually increasing what they receive, because he believes that all taxes on social security income should be immediately repealed. This would be paid for by reducing the military.

I could go on and on. But you get the idea. His issues are pretty straightforward, and he believes in them all fairly strongly.

There are a number of things that I disagree with. But the weird part is... If he were president, most of this stuff he'd never be able to implement. And the stuff that he would be able to implement is stuff I basically agree with.
So, in a weird way, I almost wouldn't mind if he were president.

Please don't get me wrong; I support Mike Gravel. And I think removing the FDA is just as ludicrous as his consistent voting record to allow citizens to legally handle submachine guns. But I have to hand to it to him that at least he's consistent. And when you think about it, only congress has the authority to deal with gun legislation. Only congress has the authority to deal with birthright citizenship. Only congress has the authority to back the dollar. And since Ron Paul is so sincere, I cannot imagine that he would use the executive branch to subvert his own ideals in order to bring those policies into place. No, if he were president, these insane ideas that I wholeheartedly think are stupid would never come into play at all.
On the other hand, everything that I do agree with is stuff that he would then have authority to start realizing: foreign policy, trade agreements, int'l organizations, etc. The only thing, in fact, that he would have power over that I don't immediately like is the possibility of his appointing new supreme court justices. But Ron Paul seems so honest... I can't imagine him appointing anyone that wasn't a strict conservative constitutionalist. And those types of people would never repeal earlier decisions by their own court without overriding need, and so they would not vote to overturn Roe v Wade, for example.

So with Mike Gravel getting beaten back left and right, and with Dennis Kucinich saying incredibly stupid things like "I saw a UFO" on live national television, I'm really starting to think hard about Ron Paul.
And I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet.

30 October, 2007

Kucinich: "I saw a UFO."

Kucinich: "I saw a UFO."
.:sigh:. Look: I'm for Mike Gravel, and I back him 95%. But if he doesn't make it, the only choice I have left is Dennis Kucinich. So it really irks me that he's so idiotic as to say something like this during the democratic presidential debate.
Why can't truly intelligent people ever make it in US politics? Why is it that of all the contenders that are left (if Gravel's run is over), the last person I feel capable of voting for is someone who claims to have seen a UFO?
I really want to move to another country. )c:

Watch Gravel at NBC Presidential Debate

Mike Gravel, who was banned from the tonight's democratic presidential debate by NBC is going to answer all the debate questions from across the street, and broadcast this live on the web at Gravel2008.us.
If you plan to watch tonight's debate, then you should also watch Gravel's webcast! If we let GE and its subsidiary, NBC, dictate who is and who is not allowed to become president, then it is not Mike Gravel that loses out, but all of democracy itself! How can we claim to have a free society when this kind of thing occurs, and no one acts to stop it? Why are we not revolting in the streets right now, as they would be doing in any respectable developing country? We cannot--we dare not allow the giant news corporations to dictate to us who is allowed airtime on these presidential debates! If we want to call ourselves free, then we must push for freedom!
Watch the debate live tonight, at Gravel2008.us! (6pm pst/9pm est)
Update: Now that the debate is over, here's the video of the event. Be aware that the audio was messed up in the first two minutes, but it quickly clears up.

What is Digg?

This entry was originally posted on the omnistaretools.com blog. It is reposted here for reference only.

SEO Book
Web 2.0 is all about socialization. Whereas media may have ruled in the 1.0 era, now that 2.0 is here, social media gets all the attention. Even the old guard has brought web 2.0 to their sites: major newspapers like the New York Times and The Guardian have blog comments/forums where users can give feedback, and major television news corporations like Fox News actively requests and airs user generated content, such as video of the recent California fires, or quick comments sent off to The O’Reilly Factor.
But the newest Web 2.0 trend is social bookmarking. Whereas in the old web 1.0 days, setting a bookmark meant using your browser to list a site as your favorite, and then finding that link again meant you had to go back to that same browser on that same computer, now setting a bookmark on your social bookmarking site of choice creates an online link that is not only for your reference, but is open to the public at large to see what you found that was interesting enough to bookmark.
Web 2.0 bookmarks are shared among thousands of viewers, and something as simple as setting a bookmark can now mean that that site will receive thousands of hits within the space of a few days.

What is Digg?

The most popular social bookmarking site by far is Digg. Ostensibly a bookmarking site that’s concentrated on technology news, in reality, Digg is the bookmarking site of choice for the masses. If it’s popular on the web, then you can bet it’s either already on Digg or else it was made popular well beforeDigg‘s occurrence on the scene in 2004.
Digg works like this: someone finds a website or page they find interesting, and they submit it on Digg. Then others browsing Digg see the submission, and, if they also think it is interesting, they bookmark it as well. On Digg, the act of bookmarking is called ‘digging’, and when a site has a number of people who have bookmarked it, then one says that it has been ‘dugg’ that many times.
This is important for you as a webmaster, because when you put up useful content, it is always good to find some way of getting that content to be seen by many viewers. By making it easy for content on your site to be dugg, then you will start to get a lot of new visitors that you otherwise would not otherwise have had. It should be mentioned that, by far, the majority of these visitors will not be high quality leads, but the sheer number of visits you may receive from a popular article on Digg will certainly drive a number of conversions.
When putting up new content, try placing a button next to your article that allows readers to submit to digg.com in a single click. (Some example buttons for this use are available at Digg.com.) If you want, you might try submitting your own articles to get started, but make sure that you only do this for articles that you feel are high-quality enough to not be interpreted as spam. Make sure that when you submit your article, you put in a good description and place it in the correct category; once submitted, these options cannot be modified.

A few caveats…

Having said all of this, I want to make sure that everyone understands that the real reason why digg is useful is for SEO. It is in getting a pagerank 7 or 8 link to your content that Digg really shines. Yes, a popular story may get you more visits in one day than your site usually gets in six months. But these visits are usually by people browsing the general archive, and are not high-quality visitors. Their conversion rate will be far less than what you normally receive. Nevertheless, the high pagerank link makes it all worth it.
A final caveat is that you should remember that each webpage has its own pagerank–your site as a whole does not share pagerank with itself, though if you do extensive internal linking, it will always help. Thus when you get a story dugg, remember that the url of the page that is dugg is the only page on your site to gain that high pagerank link. Nevertheless, do not try digging the main page of your site until you feel truly comfortable with the system, as editing the digg links once posted are impossible, and the system does not allow multiple links to the same url.
Hopefully, this information has gotten you up to speed on at least one web 2.0 site that can help your SEO. In future articles, I will be covering many more.

Digg this story!
Posted by Eric Herboso.
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26 October, 2007

NBC is Offered $1,000,000 if They Let Gravel Speak

Recently, NBC decided to screw Mike Gravel by setting up arbitrary requirements specifically designed to bar Gravel from participating in the upcoming 30 October democratic presidential debate.
Well, now one of Gravel's supporters (who is apparently also a Ron Paul supporter) has decided to stand up and put his money where his mouth is. Gregory Chase, multi-millionaire, sent this letter to five executives at NBC, DNC chairman Howard Dean, the President of Drexel University, and also published it as an advertisement in four newspapers. Here is an excerpt:
If it would help get Senator Gravel back into the debate, I offer to purchase $1 million of advertising from NBC, or simply pay NBC $1 million in exchange for the service of allowing Senator Gravel to participate in your debate.
But he doesn't stop there. He also posted this youtube video, where he personally offers $25,000 to whomever produces the Gravel youtube video with the most views through the end of the year.
Furthermore, Mr. Chase has personally purchased advertising space for every day from now until the end of the year in the three major New Hampshire newspapers: the Monitor, the Manchester Union Leader and the Nashua Telegraph.
Stay tuned for additional updates as this story moves forward.
Update: Jon Kraus interviewed Gregory Chase, and Bryan Bissell reported it on his blog.
Second Update: From Jon Kraus's interview:
Chase said that he had spoken with an election lawyer who advised him to make dependent expenditures on behalf of Gravel, where his name would have to be attached to any advertisements he made, along with a notation that it was not involved with the campaign. Furthermore, Chase mentioned that he has never met Gravel, and for that matter has never been to a political rally in New Hampshire.
Kraus also mentioned that Gregory Chase is also a supporter of Ron Paul in the interview. I amended the copy above to reflect this.

Get Listed in DMOZ–Optimizing for the Open Directory Project

This entry was originally posted on the omnistaretools.com blog. It is reposted here for reference only.

Good SEO requires getting others to link to your content. But most such links will be from lower to mid-range pagerank sources, especially if you’re just starting out. Getting those all-too-important high pagerank sites to link you is the holy grail of SEO, and there are only a few places to get it without paying top dollar.
Open Directory Project
(For those of you just starting to venture out into the SEO world, it might be helpful to know what pagerank is. The easy explanation is that pagerank is the term Google uses that describes how important your website is in their eyes. In order to get a high pagerank, one must, among other things, have high-ranking pagerank sites link to you. The pagerank scale ranges from 0 to 10, with 3 being quite respectable, 6 being impressive, and 10 being google.com.)
Business.com is one of those directories with a high page rank (currently their internal pages are around 6 or 7), and it costs an arm and a leg to get included in their database. But some precious few high pagerank site actually give out links for free–if you submit your site to them in the right way. CSS Zen Garden is one of them, and I’ll be detailing in a future column how to get on this pagerank 9 site. But today I will be explaining how to get your site listed on dmoz: the Open Directory Project.
The Open Directory Project (internal pages at pagerank 7-8) is a human-edited directory of websites. Its use as an online portal is unrivaled on the ‘net, and even if it weren’t a high pagerank link source, the traffic you receive simply from being listed in the directory will be well worth your time getting on the list.
The problem is that because the ODP (sometimes referred to as dmoz) is so important, its editors are very picky about what websites they accept into the directory. Thankfully, you have Omnistar Interactive at your side; if you go along with the following suggestions, you can be sure of getting your site listed in the ODP in record time.
Make sure your site is listable.
Before anything else, you should check to make sure the site you want to submit is listable at all. The ODP guidelines do not accept sites with illegal content (copyright infringement, sales of illegal substances) nor sites with little to no original content (syndication sites or affiliate sites). Please note that the ‘little to no original content’ rejection does not apply to sites which include unoriginal content, but are, for the most part, a good source of original information. If you run an affiliate site, just make sure that a majority of your site has original content of some kind. Even a 60/40 original content to affiliate ratio should be enough to allow acceptance at ODP. Some editors will actually accept lower percentages, but you should not make assumptions about who will review your submission.
Technically, you could put up temporary original content during the submission and review stage at ODP, then remove this content after your site is accepted. I cannot recommend this procedure for a number of reasons. First, original content is always useful for SEO, not just for ODP submission review. Second, if it is found out that you have done this and a competitor reports this to ODP, then you may not only have your link taken down, but also blacklisted for acceptance at ODP. This is a big deal, because google’s directory is a hard dump of the ODP directory, and so Google will also be aware of your bad practices.
Check if you’re already listed.
Always check to see if your site is already listed before making any submission. To do otherwise is to risk the wrath of your assigned editor. Go to the ODP home page and do a search for your site’s domain name, minus the ‘www’.
If your site is already listed, use the ‘update listing’ link at the top of the page where your site is listed. Please be aware that updates on listings will only be carried out if they are necessary. A change of marketing terms or copy will probably not be accepted, whereas a correction of a misspelling or factual errors probably will.
Find the right category.
I cannot stress this step enough. Find the appropriate category for your site, and the appropriate level at which it should be listed. Take your time in doing this. Failing to find the correct category may increase your wait time by ten times or more.
The reason is that each category has a different editor in charge of submissions. If an editor receives your submission, you have to wait in the queue until your turn is reached; this may be a significant amount of time in itself. At that point, the editor reviews your site, and if it is determined that you submitted to the incorrect category, the editor is supposed to find the correct category and resubmit it for you, at which point you wait in the queue again for the next editor. But in reality, if you are too lazy to find the correct category to submit to, the editor reviewing your site will likely not feel obligated to find the correct category for you either, and so you will probably be resubmitted to yet another incorrect category. This process might go on indefinitely, although it is likely that at some point an editor will decide to just reject your submission, due to your inability to follow submission guidelines.
Fully 85% of submitted sites will be rejected. A large portion of these is due to submission guidelines not being followed. To make matters worse, when a submission is rejected, no notification is issued. Often, you will be unable to tell if your submission is still waiting in a queue or if you’ve already been rejected.
Really find the right category.
This suggestion is so important that I’m listing it twice.
Check to make sure you submit to the correct language category. If your site is in Greek, submit in the/World/Greek/ category; but if it is in English and about Greek, submit it to /Science/…/Languages/…/Classical_Greek/; and if it is about Greece, submit it to /Regional/Europe/Greece/.
Also, always submit to the most specific category possible. Move down the list getting more and more specific until you are unable to be any more specific. If your site is about everything that is soccer, then /Sports/Soccer/ will be fine. But if your site is about soccer for kids, you must click on ‘kids’ in the soccer section, and it will take you to the completely separate category of /Kids_and_Teens/Sports_and_Hobbies/Sports/Soccer/.
Note that since each page is its own identity, if you have a main page about soccer, and individual pages about certain aspects of soccer, you may be able to submit multiple pages to be accepted on the ODP. If you do this, try to submit each page one at a time, and make sure that each submitted page has useful original content sufficient enough to stand on its own as an ODP link. Please be careful with this, however, as if these other pages do not stand on their own, you may find all of your links taken down by a self-righteous editor who notices it.
Optimize your site.
ODP guidelines do not specifically restrict acceptance to websites with good spelling and that practice good design. Yet, in practice, if your site has more than two ads per page, poor grammar, long download times, pop-up ads, left-to-right scrolling, redirects, activeX, spammy keywords, hidden text, forced scripts, broken links, or anything else that may annoy websurfers, then you forget about getting accepted.
The general rule is that if your site looks professional, then you have nothing to worry about. If not, then you have some cleaning up to do before you submit to the ODP. Be aware that if you submit and are rejected, you must wait six months before submitting again, or it may be interpreted as spamming.
You may also want to check your meta tags. Many ODP editors try to actually use meta tags, and if you have well-written (i.e., non-spammy) meta tags, then that keyword-rich content will be copied onto the ODP. But beware: if your meta tags are sloppy, the editor will just write up a quick accurate description that may lack every keyword you were going for, and that’s a _huge_ loss SEO-wise.
And finally, the actual submission part.
Now that you have the correct category, all you need to do is submit your url, title, and description. You do this by hitting the ‘suggest url’ link while in the appropriate category.
The URL should point to a folder, and never a filename. In other words, point to http://dmoz.org rather than http://dmoz.org/index.html. Also, it should point toward the highest level possible to reach your site. Be aware that deep links to your site will likely not be accepted. If you want to link content that is deeply embedded, create a higher level folder that links to that page on your site.
For the title, use the official title of your site. Do not use “Welcome to…” or “Home Page of…” or anything that is not part of the official title.
For the description, write a short, well-written description. If it is too ‘salesy’, your text may be rewritten by the editor, or even summarily rejected. Don’t use the first person, and write the description in the appropriate language.
Hurry up and wait.
At this point, your part in the process is over. Either your site will be accepted or rejected, and you have no further input in the matter. In addition, if it is rejected, you won’t even be able to tell, because no notification is given. It’s harsh, but that’s just how it is. But believe me, dealing with all this trouble is worth it. A pagerank 3 or 4 site will generally go up a full pagerank just for being accepted on the ODP.
If six months pass with no acceptance, it is considered acceptable to resubmit. Resubmitting before this period of six months is considered spamming, and may get you blacklisted. That said, some categories are very active, and the queue may in fact last for as long as a year, so be patient.
A note on taking an expired domain…
I should note that some black hat websites recommend using software to find a domain that is already on the ODP, but has since expired, and then buying that domain so as to take advantage of the links already invested in that site. While there may be some possible value in this for a site you only intend to test with in the short term, I cannot stress how important it is not to do this for an long term site you plan. Google resets pagerank for any expired domain to zero, and even though buying an expired doman will benefit from the links on ODP and elsewhere, all the major search engines will know what you have done, and they could, at any time, decide to alter their search rankings formulae to take this type of behavior into account and penalize you for it. As of now, there is no such penalty, but search engines alter their ranking formulae almost constantly, and I would not recommend risking a long term project on an issue as shady as this.
Hopefully, these suggestions will help you to get listed in dmoz without too much trouble. And that’s just good SEO practice.
Posted by Eric Herboso.
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25 October, 2007

How to Get More Comments on Your Blog

This entry was originally posted on the omnistaretools.com blog. It is reposted here for reference only.

One thing all bloggers love is comments. Increasing comments on your blog is essential to creating that sense of community that all blogs need to survive. Plus it just feels good when something you compose is publicly commented upon.

There are more than a few good ways of getting more people to comment on your blog entries. The different methods usually fall into three separate categories:
Ease of Use
Before you do anything else, the first thing you need to do is make it easy for readers to leave comments.
Use hidden fields instead of a captcha
If you need to prevent bots from leaving spam, use the hidden field method rather than a captcha. To do this, create a hidden field that bots will fill but users will not, and deny access to requests with that field filled.
Don’t use popup windows for comments
Popups are almost universally despised by websurfers. Do yourself a favor and limit whatever popups you employ to advertising schemes; putting them up for people who are trying to comment may make them decide not to say anything at all. Especially since most popup-blocking software will not be able to tell that it is a legitimate popup, and it may also be blocked.
Don’t force readers to log in
Logins are great; but always make them optional. If you force users to log in, you are creating a barrier to getting more comments.
Write open-ended posts
Don’t say everything there is to say about whatever topic you’re discussing. By thinking of yourself as directing a conversation on the subject rather than covering every aspect of the issue, you are leaving material open for others to comment upon.
Use threaded comments
Allow readers to comment not just on your blog, but on what others have commented about. For WordPress users, you might try Brian’s Threaded Comments. For most other blogging platforms, threaded comments are set as default.
Allow comment subscription
Let readers subscribe to the comments that follow the one they just made. This makes it easy for them to come back again to participate in the dscussion. Subscribe to Comments is the best WordPress plugin for this.
Requests for Comment
Ask questions!
It’s hard to imagine that such an obvious technique will actually produce results, but it’s true. Ask questions in your post, preferably right at the end, and many readers may respond.
Be controversial
Controversial posts are a great way to build up comments. Being controversial in what you have to say is like begging people to give their input if they disagree with you.
Take notes
Look back over your past posts. Which blog entries have the most comments? Whatever those entries are about, revisit them. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when you already know what works.
Don’t moderate comments
Commenters like seeing their comments go up on your blog. If there is a delay between their comment submission and when the comment goes live, then they may not have the drive to comment again. The more your blog seems like an open forum, the better people will feel about adding to the discussion.
Reply to commenters
Nothing is more gut-wrenching than when I see a blog with good comments, yet the blog author never bothered to reply. Well, I guess a few things are more gut-wrenching than that, but it’s still pretty bad. If you do get comments, reply to them! Believe me, your readers will feel like you appreciate them if you do.
Visit commentators’ blogs
If someone writes a particularly good comment, visit their blog and comment back. It’ll make them more likely to make additional good comments on future entries.
E-mail first time commenters
This is a great way to get random commenters who may otherwise have never visited your blog again to come back. Comment Relish is a good WordPress plugin for this to be done automatically.
Turn off nofollow
The nofollow attribute causes spiders to not count any links in your comments. This is done to discourage spammers. But although it is good for the blog community as a whole to enforce this provision, as it does discourage a number of spammers from even bothering to comment, if your individual blog turns off nofollow and advertises this fact, then you will be giving a large incentive to others to comment on your blog. By restricting the nofollow removal to only hit those who comment regularly on your blog, you get the best of both worlds. Link Love is the perfect WordPress plugin for this; and most other blogging platforms have a simple method to change this attribute. In blogger, simply go to the raw html, search for ‘nofollow’, and remove that attribute from the meta spider list.
Show top commentators
Display the names of your top commenters, as well as links to their sites. Show Top Commentators is the best WordPress plugin for this. Unfortunately, most other blogging platforms do not have adequate tools for this function, and you may just have to post the names and links manually in your sidebar.
Exchange comments with other bloggers
If you don’t have any comments on some of your entries, then you may want to find a way to get that first couple of comments to break the ice. A good way to do this is to find another blogger in a similar position, and offer to comment on their empty entries if they will comment on yours. There’s nothing wrong with a little quid pro quo every once in a while.
As a last resort, use micropayments
If you don’t have the time or the energy to exchange comments with another blogger, you might try using micropayments to incentivize people to read and comment on your blog entries. I realize it may seem sleazy, but getting that first comment on a post can sometimes be very difficult, and often breaking the ice early on will mean you’ll get many quite legitimate comments immediately after.Mechanical Turk is a good micropayment site you may consider using.
Each of these methods can do its part to help increase the number of comments you get on your blog. Unfortunately, I think I may have violated one of my own tenets by covering everything I could think of about this issue. But maybe not. Does anyone know if I missed anything?
Posted by Eric Herboso.
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23 October, 2007

NBC Bars Mike Gravel from Attending Debate

At the last second, NBC has set up new arbitrary requirements for entering the 30 October democratic presidential debate and informed Mike Gravel that because he did not meet these requirements, he would be barred from the debate. These new requirements were arbitrarily chosen specifically to bar Mike Gravel from participating in the debate.
Furthermore, they enacted these new requirements at the very last moment, so as to ensure that Gravel could not possibly meet the requirements on time. This isn't right; it's a clear example of a giant news media corporation deciding on their own who should hear which candidates. If General Electric (who owns NBC) were doing this to Ron Paul, then you can be sure the internet hordes would flock to his support. But it is just as wrong for this to be happening to Mike Gravel, so I hope that all of you reading this will sign the petition to include Mike Gravel in this debate!
[ http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/letgravelspeakoct30 ]
If you really feel strongly about this, then you should also flood the e-mail of execs at NBC that are behind this fiasco. You can send any upset mail to [ chuck.todd@nbcuni.com, viewerservices@msnbc.com, directors@corporate.ge.com, ombudsperson@corporate.ge.com, jeff.zucker@nbcuni.com, lynn.calpeter@nbcuni.com, steve.capus@nbcuni.com ]. You should also e-mail the DNC to let them know how you feel about this outrage: [ http://www.democrats.org/page/s/contact ].
For the record, the new arbitrary requirements NBC decided to enforce are:
  • Campaign in Iowa/New Hampshire at least 4 times
  • Polling at at least 5%
  • Raise $1 Million
Although NBC claims he has not met all three new requirements, in fact Gravel HAS campaigned well over 14 times in those states since he declared his candidacy in April '06, and a recent CNN poll puts him tied with Biden, Kucinich, and Dodd.
In fact, the only criterion he has not yet met is the $1 million raised; but Gravel is proud of the fact that he doesn't accept money from special interests. In Mike Gravel's own words: "The reason why Senator Hillary Clinton seems to have a fundraising scandal every month is because money has corrupted our democracy. By stifling my voice on the basis of fundraising dollars, NBC is reinforcing the power of money over our national political discussion and our freedom."
Furthermore, it is quite clear why NBC is doing this to Gravel. GE, who owns NBC, is one of the world's leading military contractors. They hold over $2 Billion in military contracts right now. If it weren't for Gravel bringing up the vote to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization in the last debate, no one would have even been aware of the gravity of such an event occurring in our Senate.
We NEED Mike Gravel. That's why I urge you all to sign this petition, whether you plan to vote for Gravel or not.
[ http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/letgravelspeakoct30 ]
Update: The money restriction was just solved! Apparently, a Gravel supporter with a lot of cash on hand decided to pay $1,000,000 if NBC would just let Gravel speak a the debate!

16 October, 2007

SEO Book Review: Search Engine Optimization at Its Finest

This entry was originally posted on the omnistaretools.com blog. It is reposted here for reference only. Also, please don't buy this book based on this very old review. Much of what was in this book is now common knowledge in the SEO world, even though it had good information for the time. Today, if you're looking for SEO tips, you can probably do quite well just by performing a few google searches. Nevertheless, this book did help me when I was much younger with learning more about web marketing, especially considering that my current (2015) career is as a communications consultant.

I just finished reading Aaron Wall’s SEO Book, and believe me when I say that I couldn’t wait to write up a review of it. It’s the kind of thing you just want to share with everyone you meet.
Here at Omnistar, we take SEO seriously. That’s why after hearing so many good things about Aaron Wall’s SEO Book, I was excited to finally get a chance to read it. Now that I’ve finished all 331 pages of it, I’m even more excited than I was before.
SEO Book
Wall’s SEO Book does an excellent job of covering everything that you could possibly want to know about optimizing your site for search engines. From domain name decisions to logo designs, css tips to meta tags, Wall covers it all. And he doesn’t hold anything back. Reading Wall’s SEO Book is just like hiring him at his $500/hr rate, except you have to actually think, and he gets paid less.
Still, some people might balk at the $79 price tag on his downloadable ebook. But believe me: it’s well worth it. Wall writes in a readable style, and never advises you to go out and buy $900 worth of software on some other site; he gets straight to the point and tells you how to do what the professionals do. When I say that you will make back your $79 investment simply by implementing a couple of his ideas, I mean it.
I should mention here that Wall’s book is for long-term optimization only. He doesn’t distinguish between black and white-hat SEO, he simply talks about what works while avoiding what doesn’t. But although he experiments with some SEO practices that might increase search engine rankings temporarily, his SEO Book is geared only toward those practices that will help your site to build and maintain optimization in the long term.
Please notice that my recommendation of Wall’s SEO Book is not to give an affiliate link so I can make money. I’m recommending it because I really believe it works. Whether you’re a beginner at SEO or an expert who’d like to have a fully organized, readable list of everything there is to know about search engine optimization, you should buy Aaron Wall’s SEO Book. It really is search engine optimization at its finest.
Posted by Eric Herboso.
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09 October, 2007

Choosing a Top-Level Domain

This entry was originally posted on the omnistaretools.com blog. It is reposted here for reference only.

Your domain name, whether you like it or not, is your online identity. A lot of effort is ordinarily put into choosing an effective domain, whether it is keyword-heavy, or the same as your storefront name. Less attention is paid to the possibility of utilizing different top-level domains, simply because ‘dot-com’s are traditionally the most popular. But it can pay to try to take advantage of a different top level domain, depending on your business type.

Top level domains (TLDs) are the part of a web address that comes after the domain name. You can find a full list of available domains at IANA.org, whee they have a country code list and a generic tld list. Some of the more famous ones are listed below.
Commercial: Open to any registrant.
Business: Must be commercial.
Information: Open to any registrant.
Companies: Open only to advertise jobs for own company.
Network: Open to any registrant.
Organization: Open to any registrant.
Profession: Open for doctors, attorneys, and cpas only.
Federated States of Micronesia: Common radio broadcaster tld.
Laos: Common Los Angeles tld.
Tuvalu: Common television broadcaster tld.
United States: Open to any USA-centered registrant.
The most important of these is the .com tld. Even if you decide to go with a different tld for marketing purposes, you must keep the .com tld as a 301 redirect to your main site; otherwise, you run the risk of a competitor claiming the .com version of your business name and profiting off your marketing.
That said, using a different top level domain can sometimes reap large dividends. One popular news blog uses a .tk tld, and advertises their site with "tk" phrases to push the unusual domain on blog readers. Having an unusual top level domain can boost your brand by making it stand out; and the drawback of it becoming less memorizable due it not being a .com is negated so long as you also register the .com version and have it 301 redirect to your actual tld.
If your business caters to a local market, having a local tld can be very useful. If you’re expanding into a new market and want to register the appropriate domain, make sure to do research first. Although .gb is the official tld for Great Britain, most companies there use .co.uk addresses. Also, former Soviet Union countries do not regularly use their own country codes; .su tlds are still very popular there.
Be careful not to put duplicate content on each of your domains. Always use 301 redrects to your main page and keep all your content there; otherwise, search engines may penalize you for serving duplicate content. But remember that there are no penalties for using less popular domains by itself, and it pays to be creative with anything that you market.
That said, you do have to be careful about a few items. Though it is rare, occasionally overzealous corporate spam blockers will deny email that gives links to a .biz name. This never occurs on spam blockers that you can purchase online, since blocking all .biz content is going overboard, but every once in a while a system admin will think it is a good idea and block all such e-mails from getting through their server. Also, sometimes the less often used tlds carry a connotation of nonprofessionalism; .my may look interesting due to it sporting a two-letter word (e.g., http://oh.my), but if your business has such a tld and it isn’t obvious why you chose it, then it could hurt your image.
If you do decide to leave the comfort of the .com arena and try out an alternate tld, make sure to market the name aggressively. Take advantage of your unusual domain name, because it is something that your company will sport that others won’t. Emphasize it, perhaps by using wordplay, or making it a different color in the logo. The point is to make the alternate tld work for you. After all, if choosing an alternate tld doesn’t help your brand, then you shouldn’t use it in the first place.
Posted by Eric Herboso.
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