How I turned my competitor into a valuable, unsuspecting link partner [A SEO fable]

SEO life has its funny moments. While you might imagine nerds wading through endless keyword tables, the truth is that sometimes others’ fails make one laugh hardest. Especially when the grudge one holds is unwillingly paid in gallons of precious, precious link juice.

The chronic of events described in this very blog post took place many long years ago. It was a different time and age back then – must have been around the time when Facebook started to skyrocket like crazy, probably 2011 or 12. Readers would abandon blogs a while before Google discontinued their RSS reader, and many a brave blogger gave up, completely discouraged by the utter lack of discussion activity.

My young friends, believe me, it was neither about social signals nor reach back then, but user activity we dug a lot. (The new currency on sm platforms, too – what a coincidence!) But even the most popular and the toughest bloggers had to wipe tears from their eyes every day as they stared at their statistics. Mad, yet powerless to stop Zuckerberg from sucking away their micro-communities.

Some even failed in giving up

A lot of blogs died – some quickly painlessly, others slowly and suffering more each day until the final trackback had faded away. Of course, more than a chosen few kept going, but I will talk about these heroes another time.

Because there was a third group: freeloading copycats who had turned their social media agencies’ websites into fake blogs when the slightest smell of WordPress still sufficed to climb Google’s top ranks.

And then that changed, and many of them forgot that they had once simulated authoring a blog. When you lose the big picture, you obviously do not care about the small details anymore, either. For example, an active comment function that passes out do-follow links like it’s the Easter Bunny. Or a sidebar widget displayed on all postings *and* pages, also handing out free link juice like little bunny-brother.

Those guys may have known a thing or two about social media and SEO, but that wasn’t enough in the long run. They sure did know a lot more things about public relations, though, resulting in an enormously powerful backlink structure including some of Europe’s top domains, resulting in very powerful rankings.

The immoral ending of this story

Why would I know that? Because I analyzed their backlink structure as a favor before we both realized that further cooperation was unthinkable. They came to this conclusion because I had loudly complained that they had stolen some of my presentations, merely replacing the logo for their pitches. Me, because they had stolen some of my presentations for their pitches, merely replacing the logo.

Karma seems to have caught up rather quickly this time. Said agency is out of business since a couple of months, which makes me quite sad: Their website was taken down and I am sure going to miss* those hundreds of links, merely generated by commenting twice.

Sometimes it *really* pays off to be the last one to leave the party and close the discussion.

*) No, I won’t. I probably could have relied on luck, but I did rely on Scrapebox instead.

On the declining organic SEO traffic for Bloggers

Nobody’s really talking about it, but I suspect this is a wider trend: blogs aren’t dying, but they are significantly declining. 2015 might be a rough year.In Is Google making the web stupid? Seth Godin suggests that the declining prominence of organic results in Google searches is significantly to blame.

Couldn’t agree more with Marco. Read the full article – what are your experiences with SEO traffic and blogs?

Do social media services kill the blog?

Answering Klout questions is sometimes difficult, as space is very limited and some topics require more in-depth discussion than the equivalent of 3 tweets – ask any regular on Quora! In most cases, I manage to stuff my collected knowledge into a couple of lines, but today Klout asked a very interesting questions that has been sitting in the back of my mind for quite a while now:

Are social media websites like Twitter and Facebook killing the blog? Why or why not?

The shortest possible answer is of course no – one letter shorter than “yes” even, and the right answer, too. So here’s the little song I wrote:

Social media has changed the blogosphere: instead of commenting, a lot of users “like” or “+1” and the remaining discussion has moved away from the blog onto social media services. But blogs are a more important content back-bone than ever – the format evolves.

This line of reasoning requires a little elaboration: back in the early days of blogging, weblogs were primarily a means to document/store/share the websites bloggers had visited and found interesting – hence the name which stems from “logging your web journey”. In bold ignorance of the harsh reality our web fore-fathers faced, nowadays I regularly hear web-experts spread a different founding myth – one in which the first blogs were “online diaries”. No, wrong.

Online diaries appeared on the scene a little later, together with the first content-rich blogs: instead of presenting their readers with an extensive list of hyperlinks and very little additional information, the new generation of blogs would change the ratio of the two main ingredients: more content, less links. That’s when commeting became a vital part of the blogosphere and comment-rating plugins, an early form of social content structuring, became popular.

Enter social media: platforms like blogger or wordpress.com took care of the technical hassle, but is was Myspace that took the blogging phenomenon to a whole new level in terms of numbers. We’ve seen a couple of first-generation platforms go and we’ve witnessed the immense success of Facebook and Twitter’s increasing popularity among geeks.

Bloggers these days have stopped whining about the decreasing number of comments – the discussion happens elswhere, the prime content still lives on the blog. Several technical solutions allow bloggers to pull back discussions from social media platforms to their blog and/or use these platforms as distribution channels for their postings.

Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest and all these other empty shells are ever-hungry beasts that call for fresh, new, entertaining and stunning content. They host pictures and videos and short status updates, but they’re far from a library of knowledge, tutorials and in-depth analysis. Social media is channel, blogs are a publishing platform – both formats co-exist and influence each other, but nobody’s killing anyone. At least not today.

How WikiLeads cannot get shut down [Cartoon]

If you’re a chef you’ve probably wondered why everybody is talking about these WikiLicks. And if you’re into online marketing, you probably wondered why you are still struggling with Facebook while the competition is already generating WikiLeads like crazy. Calm down – it’s WikiLeaks and it probably won’t ruin you. Oh, you’re a politician? In that case: be afraid. Be very afraid.

WikiLeaks Read more

WordPress vs. Thesis

Is it legally and/or ethically okay, to build a business based on a GPL licensed software? To those of you unfamiliar with the not-so-uncomplicated details of open and commercial licensing, this question may sound like a question you’d ask a student of media law. But theory turns into virtual reality when we take a closer look a Thesis, a very popular WordPress theme.

Unlike most themes, Thesis isn’t available for free. Christ Pearson is selling his template for $87 per personal site, and so he’s been racking up sales. Why do people pay for Thesis when there are so many free themes available? This question is a lot easier to answer: Chris thought about what pro customers want and started to offer a flexible, highly configurable theme which caters almost every need of professional publishers and pro-bloggers. But even though his sales figures are skyrocketing, Matt Mullenweg, founder and head of WordPress.com/.org argues that Thesis violates the GPL license – because GPL-software not only is freely available (in source code), but the GPL (Gnu Public Licenses) also states that all products built upon GPL software must also use the same license. In other words: It’s illegal to make money on the hard (and free) work of others.

Today mixergy.com invited Chris and Matt for a Skype discussion which covers some very important aspects of software licensing:

[audio:http://mixergy.com/wp-content/audio/Mixergy-Thesis-Wordpress.mp3] Read more

World Blogging Forum Vienna 2010 – the next 10 years in digital media

On November 13th, A1 Telekom Austria and datadirt, the proud and happy author of this humble blog, invite international top bloggers and Austrian social media geeks to join the first pro-blogging conference in Vienna. The conference focuses on the future of digital media. We will discuss the impact of the internet on various aspects of our life in the next ten years: how will our jobs change? How will our personal life change? What’s the next stage of social media? The official homepage wbf2010.at will soon be online soon. The event will take place at A1 TA headquarters at Lasallestrae 9 in Vienna – we got a main hall plus various smaller conference rooms for break-out sessions, of course all equipped with stable WLAN.

Austrian bloggers and journalists are warmly welcome. There is no entrance fee; due to the capacity of the venue the spots are strictly limited though. In the next weeks, we will invite our international guests and give away all tickets via weblogs and media partners. Secure your spot now and join us: the first ten spots are available… NOW! Read more

SymbianGuru.com shuts down: No more love for Nokia

SymbianGuru.com used to be my favorite website for all things Nokia-related. But it seems that Symbian 3.0 is going further down a dead-end road, and even the Guru himself can’t stand Symbian any more. And that’s why he decided to shut the site down and switch to Android. Usually, I’m not a big fan of Ol’Google’s Enterprises, but in this case I totally agree: Nokia used to be the number one mobile market mover, but recently they’ve done a terrible job. And when I read Guru’s final article, I realized that both our experiences with Nokia’s smartphone flagship N97 are frighteningly similar.

Please read the original posting – there’s not much more I can add except for this comment:

I own an N97, and it get’s crappier with each firmware update. Since the last one, *every single action* has to be confirmed twice. (Like: “Do you want to allow *insert-computer-name-here* via Bluetooth.” User clicks yes. Next step: “Do you want to allow *insert-computer-name-here* via Bluetooth.” User clicks again. Every single time. I’d love a third button: Yes/No/F**king yeah, I told you before, stop nagging me twice every time!).
The OVI service is a disaster as of yet – I mean, the different parts work fine, but there is no master plan; even gaming isn’t integrated. OVI to me seems like one huge roof over a lot of very different isles.

At the end of his posting, Symbian-Guru included a message to Nokia. I totally agree:

To Nokia, you guys are losing. Hard. Wake the hell up. Doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Ive been a huge Nokia fan since my 2nd cellphone, and I just cant do it any longer. You guys arent competing like you once were, and everyone but you seems to see that. You used to build the worlds best smartphones, the worlds best cameras, the worlds best GPS units youve lost pretty much all of that, and with nothing to show for it. You unveiled your Ovi vision over 2 years ago I was there. Today, its still a complete mess. I have to log in every single time I visit the site regardless of how many times I check the remember me box. I spent 6 months (and about 3 hours at Nokia World 2009) trying to find someone to help me with Ovi Contacts on the web no one knew who to point me to. You spent millions of dollars purchasing your Ovi pieces Ovi Files, Ovi Share, and a host of other little companies are you proud of what you built with them? Most of your own employees (that Ive talked to) dont even use them, so why should I?

WordPress 3.0: Thelonious rocks and Kubrick retires

Today, the WordPress team released the long-awaited version 3.0 – the third major release of our favorite blogging cms comes with a ton of extremely cool new features: WordPress and WP-MU haven been completely merged, which means that you can now run an unlimited number of blogs from the same installation. Also, the infamous Kubrick theme finally retires and gets replaced by Twenty Ten. Of course the new standard template proudly shows off all the new bells and whistles, including a greatly improved handling of menus, post types and taxonomies. The backend interface has become a lot lighter, 218 programmers contributed 1.217 bug fixes and feature enhancements. Check out the video tour posted on the official WordPress blog:

The new version is ready for download – I haven’t upgraded yet but I will keep you updated on my experiences as soon as datadirt is powered by WordPress 3.0!