traffic-builders.com

andrescholten.nl

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kgom.nl

  • nieuw: 02/03/2021 Hoe kun je jouw showroom het beste inrichten?

    Een showroom moet natuurlijk ingericht worden. Een klant die een showroom binnenwandelt krijgt ontelbaar veel prikkels. Licht, sfeer, aankleding, communicatie: alles in je verkoopruimte draagt bij tot hoe prettig de klant zich voelt en dat zal hem beïnvloeden bij een uiteindelijke aankoopbeslissing. De uitstraling van je zaak helpt je professionaliteit te benadrukken en je product …
    Lees verder →

    The post Hoe kun je jouw showroom het beste inrichten? appeared first on KGOM.

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  • 19/02/2021 Hoe belangrijk zijn reviews voor jouw showroom?

    Het grootste gedeelte van de Nederlanders leest reviews en ongeveer een kwart van de aankopen worden bepaald naar aanleiding van reviews. Klanten geven de voorkeur aan een showroom, waar reviews over te vinden zijn. Wat zijn reviews precies en hoe belangrijk zijn zij voor jouw showroom? Dat lees je in dit artikel! Inhoudsopgave Wat zijn …
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    The post Hoe belangrijk zijn reviews voor jouw showroom? appeared first on KGOM.

  • 11/02/2021 Wat is omnichannel?

    Omnichannel is een evolutie op multichannel en crosschannel. Multichannel is het bedienen van de klant via meerdere verkoopkanalen. Bij crosschannel wordt er erkend dat de consument bij een aankoopproces meerdere touchpoints heeft en dat het belangrijk is dat de kanalen dezelfde uitstraling hebben. Bij omnichannel ervaart de consument geen kanalen meer, maar een bedrijf. Er …
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    The post Wat is omnichannel? appeared first on KGOM.

  • 02/02/2021 Hoe gebruik je social media voor jouw showroom?

    Social media kun je gebruiken om er voor te zorgen dat klanten naar jouw showroom komen. Social media is een belangrijk middel om je merk te promoten. Social media marketing is het gebruik van social media platforms en websites om een ​​product of dienst te promoten. Hoewel de termen e-marketing en digitale marketing nog steeds …
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    The post Hoe gebruik je social media voor jouw showroom? appeared first on KGOM.

  • 27/01/2021 Showroom trends 2021

    Ieder jaar zijn er nieuwe showroom trends. We leven momenteel in een tijd waarin de showrooms helaas niet open kunnen. We zien het aantal online aankopen stijgen, aangezien klanten niet meer naar winkels en showrooms kunnen. We hopen dat binnenkort de showrooms weer open gaan. Potentiële klanten van showrooms oriënteren zich namelijk eerst online voordat …
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yoast.com

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marketingland.com

  • nieuw: 01/03/2021 Unlock actionable tactics to craft compelling content
    Join us online at SMX Create, April 13, to learn how amazing content can drive awareness, traffic, conversions, and sales. The post Unlock actionable tactics to craft compelling content appeared first on Marketing Land.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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  • nieuw: 01/03/2021 Pinterest creators, involving MOPs in decisions: Monday’s daily brief
    Plus Amazon ads deliver for enterprise brands The post Pinterest creators, involving MOPs in decisions: Monday’s daily brief appeared first on Marketing Land.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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  • 01/03/2021 Conductor introduces Unlimited keywords
    Conductor’s Unlimited removes all limits on keyword and competitor tracking and keyword research. The post Conductor introduces Unlimited keywords appeared first on Marketing Land.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
  • 26/02/2021 New tools for Pinterest creators
    How the visual discovery platform is rethinking stories and influencers The post New tools for Pinterest creators appeared first on Marketing Land.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
  • 26/02/2021 Martech survey, Australia passes media code: Friday’s daily brief
    Plus, Virginia’s consumer privacy law and what it means to marketers The post Martech survey, Australia passes media code: Friday’s daily brief appeared first on Marketing Land.

    Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

searchengineland.com

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seroundtable.com

  • nieuw: 02/03/2021 Semrush (SEMR) To Go Public With $144M Revenue & 67K Customers

    The beloved SEO toolset provider announced it will be going public. The stock will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker SEMR. It shared its performance numbers including revenues of $144 million, gross profit of $95 million with a net loss $7 million.

    In the past year they spent $54 million in advertising to gain customers as quickly as possible after getting an influx of cash with a funding round of $40M in 2018. That helped raise their paying customers number to 67,000 last year.

    Here is Semrush's highlight slide from the SEC filing documents:

    Dan Barker tweeted the highlights from the SEC filing and Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz who left the company a while back, shared his thoughts as well:

    Really impressive what they've done the last 6 years.

    SEMRush went from 3rd/4th place in SEO software, to a clear #1 in revenue & growth rate.

    Ahrefs is #2 at ~$55-75M, with Moz in 3rd (~$45M)* at a slower growth rate (after leading for years prior).

    *those are guesses, BTW https://t.co/87ieR3RvW8

    — Rand Fishkin (@randfish) March 2, 2021

    Super interesting to see his perspective.

    Here are the highlights Dan shared:

    Their timeline states they passed 50,000 customers in 2019, meaning roughly 10-15k customers added across 2020. pic.twitter.com/0gpaZq0tTV

    — dan barker (@danbarker) March 2, 2021

    More granular detail on the last 2 years:

    ARR per paying customer:
    Dec 2019 - $1,892
    Dec 2020 - $2,123

    # Paying Customers:
    Dec 2019 - 54,000 ($102.6 million ARR)
    Dec 2020 - 67,000 ($144.2 million ARR)

    — dan barker (@danbarker) March 2, 2021

    Their online learning program has had 300k signups, and 130k completions. pic.twitter.com/PakBVy2H3X

    — dan barker (@danbarker) March 2, 2021

    The marketing & sales team alone is 308 people (there are 980 staff in total, meaning almost 1/3 sales & marketing) pic.twitter.com/OV78RLrTFq

    — dan barker (@danbarker) March 2, 2021

    Congrats to all the Semrush employees and partners - wishing you all much success!

    Forum discussion at Twitter.

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  • nieuw: 02/03/2021 Google Sites Stopped Generating XML Sitemap Files

    Google Sites over a decade, almost 15 years, has automatically generated XML sitemap files to be used for Google Search Console. Well, that is no longer the case. Google has removed the Google Sites sitemaps details from the documentation yesterday.

    It previously had these four options for generating the sitemap:

    (1) XML

    (2) RSS, mRSS, and Atom 1.0

    (3) Text

    (4) Google Sites

    The fourth option, Google Sites, has been removed.

    Google wrote in the docs "If you've used Google Sites to create and verify a site, Google Sites will automatically generate a sitemap for you. You cannot modify the sitemap, but you can submit it to Google if you want to read the sitemap report data. Note that your sitemap might not be displayed properly if you have more than 1,000 pages in a single sub-directory."

    Here is a screen shot of it before it was removed:

    This option was removed on March 1, 2021.

    I am not sure if this is a big deal or not, I don't know many people who use Google Sites.

    Forum discussion at Twitter.

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  • nieuw: 02/03/2021 Ginny Marvin Joins Google As New Ads Product Liaison

    Ginny Marvin

    Ginny Marvin has announced on Twitter she has joined Google as the new Google Ads Product Liaison. She left Search Engine Land in December after being with the company since 2013 and now is going into a similar role that Danny Sullivan took after he left Search Engine Land.

    Ginny said "Some work news from me after a couple of months off: I have joined Google in a new role as Ads Product Liaison. My core aim is to help answer questions about how Google Ads products & policies work and help bring marketers' insights & perspectives to the teams working on them. It's not an exaggeration to say this is a pivotal time for digital advertising with advancements in AI, privacy initiatives and more. I'm excited to be able to serve in this liaison role to help marketers stay informed and be successful in the years ahead. And my DMs are open. I will be doing a lot of listening and look forward to lots of constructive conversations."

    It's not an exaggeration to say this is a pivotal time for digital advertising with advancements in AI, privacy initiatives and more. I'm excited to be able to serve in this liaison role to help marketers stay informed and be successful in the years ahead. And my DMs are open.

    '" Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin) March 1, 2021

    When Ginny told me she was leaving, which was several months ago, I always joked that she would end up at Google, like Danny. She always thought I was crazy but I kind of saw this coming. Ginny has the history, work ethic, smarts and humor to work at Google and in this role. I am sure she will be amazing at it and more importantly, I think she will make for positive changes for the PPC community directly with changes to the Google Ads platform.

    Just to be clear, Danny was the first Liaison to be hired for Google. He was hired on the Search side, then Matt Koval was hired on the YouTube side and now Ginny on the Google Ads side:

    Yes, absolutely as Danny says. I hear you, Tad, but the focus on two-way communication is absolutely key. Being able to bring the advertiser perspective in is a big part of what drew me to the role. You've got my ear!

    '" Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin) March 1, 2021

    Here is some of the reaction from the industry on this announcement:

    Super excited that @GinnyMarvin is joining Google as the @GoogleAds Product Liaison! https://t.co/n3d3SCi9On

    '" Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) March 1, 2021

    ð

    '" Greg Sterling (@gsterling) March 1, 2021

    Yay! Congratulations!

    '" ð John ð (@JohnMu) March 1, 2021

    If you're using Google Ads, sounds like you have a better way to communicate with them now. Ginny is going to be the Ads Product Liaison. https://t.co/ve3jQ5BKAS

    '" Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) March 1, 2021

    Ginny is going to be a fantastic Ads Product Liason for @Google. So excited for her in this new role! https://t.co/CyJXGsgdRf

    '" Simon Poulton ð (@SPoulton) March 1, 2021

    A big win for Google Ads. ð'<<ð''¤ï' https://t.co/VdwKoZEhWb

    '" CoryHenke (@coryhenke) March 1, 2021

    Thanks, Michelleð. Bidirectionality FTW!

    '" Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin) March 1, 2021

    Biggest news of the day in the #DigitalMarketing world!

    One of my besties - @GinnyMarvin is the new @GoogleAds Product Liaison!

    Super happy for her to have landed in such an optimal role & companyð'ð'ð'#PPC #AdTech #GoogleAds #WomenofMartech https://t.co/24TYnmXUT7 pic.twitter.com/ba6wqZkPC2

    '" Elisabeth Os (@elisabethos) March 1, 2021

    Big news for Ginny & all of us in the #ppcchat community! Congratulations & look forward to hearing from you regularly. (Cause you know you will hear from us!) https://t.co/5aPCGQ314f

    '" Julie F Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon) March 1, 2021

    Thanks, Greg! Just promise you'll keep your insights and thoughts unvarnished for me :).

    '" Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin) March 1, 2021

    Thank you, Matt! Not an exaggeration to say I wouldn't be where I am today without your support!

    '" Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin) March 1, 2021

    There is way too much reaction to embed it all but this is very positive news for both Google and the industry.

    Forum discussion at Twitter.

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  • nieuw: 02/03/2021 Google Tests Bell Icon To Follow Updates On Medical Knowledge Panels

    Since 2013 Google had a method to follow news and updates related to social profiles and other knowledge panels by clicking "get updated or "get notified" or more recently in 2017 "follow" button. Now Google is testing showing a bell icon and testing this on medical knowledge panels.

    Here is what Lily Ray spotted and posted on Twitter with the new blue bell icon on medical knowledge panels. Note, I cannot replicate this on these queries yet:

    It looks new to me. I'm not seeing it for all medical terms either, only some. pic.twitter.com/rSrHkYbpVp

    — Lily Ray ð (@lilyraynyc) March 1, 2021

    Here is what this looked like in 2017:

    In 2013 the buttons worked with Google Now, which eventually because the Google Feed and then now Google Discover.

    barry schwartz technologist Google Now

    Nice to see how these have changed over the years.

    Also, I don't think I've ever seen this feature on medical knowledge panels:

    I have never seen it on medical panels and I pretty much look at medical panels all day long ð...ð¤ª

    '" Taylor Berg (@taylorannberg) March 1, 2021

    Forum discussion at Twitter.

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  • nieuw: 02/03/2021 Are Google Search Console DMCA Takedown Notifications Broken?

    Last week, Max Prin from Merkle, notified me that one of his awesome free tools on technicalseo.com was removed over a false DMCA takedown request. There are a couple of issues here (1) the DMCA takedown was false and successfully removed his free tool from Google Search and (2) he was not notified of the removal until much later.

    Here is when Max Prin found out:

    Yesterday I noticed that my Fetch & Render tool wasn't ranking at all. No issues reported in GSC but simply gone from results. Then I noticed this copyright complaint notice 𤨠Is this some kind of new negative SEO hack? What am I missing here? @JohnMu @rustybrick pic.twitter.com/Z3VMI2bGsM

    '" Max Prin (@maxxeight) February 25, 2021

    It was a fraudulent claim that some companies are using to remove sites from Google's search results:

    This is ridiculous: now if I want to send a counter-notification, my personal information will be sent to whoever submitted the original claim... https://t.co/B2cJ4o7PId pic.twitter.com/0i9W9PvzXe

    '" Max Prin (@maxxeight) February 25, 2021

    John Mueller of Google replied on Twitter saying there isn't much he can personally do because this is a legal issue. DMCA goes through legal and he cannot handle legal issues. He said "There's often not a lot we can do when it comes to legal issues like these. You're welcome to work to change the legal foundation for these processes though... (I'm not the one you have to convince, and Twitter is likely not the best medium for legal discussions, YMMV.)"

    But on the second point, Max should have been notified of the takedown sooner. John added "You should be getting search console notifications for DMCA complaints. If that's not happening, that would be a bug afaik. Maybe it's just a timing issue? I can double-check on our side though."

    Max did not receive the email that his page was removed until Friday night:

    I eventually got the notification/email on Friday night (2/26), so maybe the issue is simply a delay?

    '" Max Prin (@maxxeight) March 1, 2021

    Danny Sullivan from Google told Max to file a counterclaim, which he did. Danny wrote "Filing a counter-claim is the right things. When DMCA removals happen, my understanding is sites do indeed get notified. That said, there's enough weirdness here that I'm also passing it on for further review."

    Then sometime on Saturday the site returned to Google. Max didn't know it returned either, he did not receive any notification that it returned.

    Nice! No I did not know, when I checked yesterday it was still gone. Thanks!

    '" Max Prin (@maxxeight) February 27, 2021

    Nothing about the return in the SERP or about my counter-claim. But I got the <<<< notice of DMCA removal <<>> on Friday night (2/26)

    — Max Prin (@maxxeight) March 1, 2021

    Scary to think it can be that easy to remove a site or page and potentially cause that much damage.

    Forum discussion at Twitter.

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seobook.com

  • 28/01/2021 The Wrong People Won

    Chasing New Markets

    My initial attraction toward SEO and the web was largely that it was like a new and parallel world that bypassed many traditional gatekeepers.

    I wrote an ebook which originally had inconsistent formatting and it was riddled with spelling and grammar errors. I learned to write by writing poorly and often while reading great writers daily.

    Ultimately it did not matter that my efforts were subpar on some fronts as few people read early copies, and I was receptive to feedback on how to improve it and rapidly did.

    The above process ... growing while few people see your ugly work ... is actually one of the advantages of *NOT* taking venture capital. You get to learn at your own pace while risks are low and only really lean into something when you know it is working. You keep making small bets that won't kill you and then when something works better than you expect you can *REALLY* lean into it.

    I ultimately did that with SEO, blogging, and a couple other areas I can't mention too much as I had partners on some projects.

    This blog never even started as its own site. It was a section on a different site that was spun out to become its own site when it was obvious blogs were being algorithmically over-promoted due to the cross linking from other bloggers and the instant exposure RSS feeds offered.

    Instead of begging a book publisher to publish a book I had a higher margin product and the book publishers were begging me. The market was inverted and an outcast won by bypassing traditional gatekeepers.

    When SEO was easy it was the same sort of deal. As long as you tried to learn about what the algorithms valued & put effort behind it you could rank for almost anything.

    Early on that meant begging, buying, or borrowing links any way you could. If a project was throwing off big money you'd try public relations and to get high quality links to help reinforce the position and increase its longevity. But even junky links worked fantastic back in the day. That's part of why there was so much blog comment spam, referrer spam, expired domains, cheeseball web directories which actually had pagerank in the URL, article directories, private blog networks, all sorts of other paid links like Text-Link-Ads.com, etc. etc. etc.

    New channels provide new opportunities. Small players prove the model, drive adoption, and then over time the affiliate or independent publisher is replaced by some big publisher or a scrape-n-displace offering from the central market operators.

    The Media Water Cycle

    If you take a broad enough view of the world the above sort of water cycle repeatedly happens across all media formats and channels.

    • New channels emerge
    • Smaller players and hobbyists are attracted to the new and shiny object
    • Limited competition & regulation
    • Channel grows wildly
    • Channel locked down by regulation or a monopoly

    When the channels are new they have the greatest chance of failure, but the biggest potential rewards for early adopters.

    As channels are established and competition increases almost all the profit margins get handed over to the central market operator. Everything gets adjust on an "as needed" basis. Anything that hands too much of the profits over to a third party publisher gets cloned by the central network operator, becomes against the terms of service, or is algorithmically or manually neutralized by the central market operators.

    • affiliates used to be able to sit at the end of the conversion funnel and extract profits from the most valuable keywords, but new algorithmic signals make it hard to stay competitive with limited value add, differentiation, or brand building
    • commercial keywords are all ads in the search results above the fold & many brands feel the need to bid on their pre-existing brand equity for defensive purposes
    • Google hid keyword data from organic search & later started to hide some from paid search campaigns as well.
    • the Chrome browser by default only allows extensions to be downloaded from their official store & while Google got a lot of Chrome distribution through negative option bundling on Flash security updates, they prohibit app bundling in their app store
    • Apple's iOS and Google Android allow the central network operators to track third party app usage. The Apple Appstore and Google Play have mandatory 30% rakes and may disallow certain widely used apps after those features have been baked into the operating system or cloned and default bundled on new phones.
    • YouTube takes a 45% revenue share rake & the ad inventory is sold exclusively through Google tools where Google takes up to another 20% rake off the top
    • Amazon uses your sales data and product design to create what amounts to an effective clone job of it (going so far as to say there are fake safety issues to demand to see where it was manufactured) and then you are forced to bid on your own brand as Amazon gives itself free ads on your brand for their product clone job
    • Google and Facebook try to suck content into their networks via Instant Articles and AMP. Google gives AMP priority placement in their search results (just like they did previously with Google+, Google Checkout, Google Base / Google Shopping / YouTube / etc etc etc).
    • Rather than competing, Google and Facebook partnered to illegally bid rig auctions to destroy header bidding & preserve monopoly profit margins, keeping control over external publishers. Google also pushes "privacy" obfuscation which harms third party publishers and third party ad networks while bypassing those firewalls for its own ad network. They are also looking to use their web browser to do away with cookies, further kneecapping other ad networks.
    • Early Pinterest Ads sent users offsite and often cost only a couple cents a visit while all the internal cross promotion & viral spread across Pinterest was effectively free. Then over time advertisers start getting charged for pins even being opened and getting a user to actually leave Pinterest and click through can cost $5 or $10 a click. Long after I saw Reddit threads about how I was a washed up hack who could not compete in the modern market I literally used Pinterest to seed the growth of a site which now gets about a million organic search visits a month. I recently tried further promoting that site on Pinterest in some new areas, but the economics no longer works for that particular site on that channel.

    Oligarchs Don't Stay in Power by Being Fair

    If you play by the rules suggested by private market participants you are betting that they won't dramatically change their ecosystem at the drop of a hat and they won't compete against you.

    And that bet is a REALLY bad bet.

    Networks do not stay on top & in control by stagnating. They change with society & if they are influential enough they also change the structure of society.

    The Texas AG lawsuit of Google for manipulating the online display ad market lays bare how power works:

    Google employees agreed that, in the future, they should not directly lie to publishers, but instead find ways to convince publishers to act against their interest and remove header bidding on their own.

    I could easily write a 100 page blog post on that lawsuit while feeling guilty for leaving many things out.

    For example, did you know Google stole AdSense earnings from publishers in the AdTrader ad network and lied about refunding that money to advertisers as AdTrader also managed some of the advertiser accounts which got a $0.00 rebate:

    We confirmed through multiple sources, both within and outside of Google, through our Google invoices, and data collected from Google APIs that Google never actually refunded any of the confiscated publisher earnings to the advertisers. In fact, Google’s own support team admitted that they never had a system in place for such refunds.

    Google is the network I have studied most and know the most about, though others certainly know Facebook equally well. All the large networks growth the predacious exploits.

    Even with limited Facebook usage I know they have at various points in time promoted: games, hype headline fake news, lists and viral quiz junk from Buzzfeed, real actual news sites, the Instant Articles version of real actual news, live video, friend content, etc. Facebook also bought Onavo, a VPN network to track the growth of competing apps. That data was used to inform their WhatsApp purchase. And they could see which features from what external networks they should clone, like when Instagram copied much of SnapChat's offering.

    You can follow the Facebook terms of service in everything you do, but the odds of that delivering you real and sustainable profit streams is low.

    "You can be unethical and still be legal that’s the way I live my life" - Mark Zuckerberg

    Optimize and Reinvent

    Few publishers will be experts at both optimizing for the flaw or overpromotion in the current algorithm or network set up AND being good at reinventing themselves to appeal to the algorithms of tomorrow. You ultimately want to use some of any excess profits to build a destination people seek out so you are less dependent on the central network operators.

    At the same time, if you ignore the algorithms and just hope for the best you are probably going to lose to a competitor who clones most of your strategy AND manipulates the result set.

    You sort of have to figure out what is being over-promoted today AND then try to figure out what will matter tomorrow, while reinvesting profits to the point you are no longer really faking it until you make it.

    Realizing that all success is temporary is vital to encourage yourself to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you, while also ensuring you have a plan B in place that acts as a bridge to tomorrow in case your primary channel bombs.

    Almost all profit margins (particularly for newer players lacking access to connections, massive cashflows, strong legacy brands, etc.) come from operating somewhere in the gray area. Behave in a manner that is legal, but push the boundaries of terms from other players.

    Google funded eHow. Demand Media was ultimately a pump and dump operation. Those who followed it late got their asses handed to them, but those who got in early had plenty of profits they could reinvest in other lower risk ventures. At one point Mahalo publicly listed their page-level earnings data. One of my buddies went through and put that keyword list through TextBroker and uploaded a few hundred articles to an old blog. After about a year that led to a free house for one of their family members. :D

    Now Google has far more data to use so it is hard to be anywhere near as exploitative or lowbrow as an eHow or a Mahalo was and expect that stuff to back out.

    When Matt Cutts was on TWIG in 2013 he stated:

    If you want to stop spam, the most straight forward way to do it is to deny people money because they care about the money and that should be their end goal. But if you really want to stop spam, it is a little bit mean, but what you want to do, is break their spirits. There are parts of Google algorithms specifically designed to frustrate spammers. Some of the things we do is give people a hint their site will drop and then a week or two later, their site actually does drop. So they get a little bit more frustrated. So hopefully, and we’ve seen this happen, people step away from the dark side and say, you know what, that was so much pain and anguish and frustration, let’s just stay on the high road from now on.
    ...
    Some of the stuff I like best is when people say "you know what, this SEO stuff is too unpredictable, I am just going to write some apps."

    This past year is the year when "writing some apps" was revealed to have the same core problems that SEO has. Central market operators grabbing their tithings (fight between Apple and entities like Spotify and Epic Games, Google Play pushing through similar 30% rake requirements) and then outright banning apps like Parler from their app stores.

    COVID-19 Accelerated Shift to the Web

    The COVID-19 pandemic moved everyone and everything online.

    The ad money follows the attention stream. If the central network operators pay creators nothing then those creators who have a following will find other ways to monetize. Cygnus was early to SEO and he was early to influencer marketing.

    Selling a sliver of attention and then using that funds flow to improve website usability, website design, content quality, brand awareness, reach, etc. ... is usually going to work out better for most people than trying to raise venture capital. Many small bets and incremental improvements yields much higher odds of success than a few really big bets.

    Speaking of bets, I follow the stock market a bit because it teaches a lot about human psychology, markets and marketing.

    Well before the COVID-19 crisis happened the repo market froze. In fact, the Federal Reserve was discussing alternative ways to fund the market's liquidity without looking like they were directly subsidizing and bailing out hedge funds:

    the new approach could also create political problems for policy makers, analysts said. The problem centers on the central bank lending directly to hedge funds, the little-regulated investment vehicles that tend to serve wealthy or institutional investors. ... Though hedge funds are key participants in the market—where they both borrow and lend cash—lending to them directly through the FICC would raise questions about whether the government was backstopping their bets, analysts said.

    When the COVID-19 crisis happened optics no longer mattered. Bailouts ensued. Without them levered hedge funds were screwed as many instruments became illiquid and spreads blew out even in bedrock stable markets:

    Of particular concern: The hedge funds were using trading strategies similar to those employed by Long-Term Capital Management, a fund that collapsed in 1998 and nearly caused a financial meltdown. The bet that hedge funds were making earlier this year was simple enough. Called a basis trade, it involved exploiting a price difference in the Treasury market, generally by selling Treasury futures contracts — promises to deliver a bond or note at a set price on a set date — and buying the comparatively cheap underlying securities.

    Shiny New Object to Bet On

    Toward the end of last year and early this year Bitcoin was a rocket ship on the thesis of mass money printing leading to currency debasement and revaluing finite alternatives to fiat cash upward.

    And then regulators began dropping hints while banks started to put the breaks on it. And XRP got kicked hard by the SEC, leading to delisting.

    Tether may be an absolute scam (it's hard to short Patio11's knowledge), but in spite of that there are a lot of retail traders bored at home chasing anything that moves. There are ETFs like GBTC sucking up a huge share of the Bitcoin float with no intent of ever liquidating any of the position.

    If sports and society shut down and people are stuck in their homes gambling is an unsurprising source of entertainment. Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy got this and quickly became a day trader when he didn't have any sports to talk about. :D

    Above I mentioned a bit how the Federal Reserve was ultimately bailing out hedge funds. In an easy money market where central banks are printing tons of money what a lot of hedge funds do is buy higher beta growth names while shorting lower beta value stocks, particularly if they feel those companies are destined to go under.

    In some cases the short bets believe ideas from a category apply to a specific company in a way they do not. And that can lead to a massive short squeeze, especially if the company announces a buyback and/or insiders buy.

    In other cases, the shorts are so confident in their position, they go HOG WILD with low interest leverage and literally short the entire float of a company, trying to drive it into bankruptcy.

    Recently Melvin Capital and some other well-connected hedge funds went short GameStop's stock and people who visited a Subreddit named WallStreetBets took the other side of that position.

    Here is the original thread from 4 months ago discussing the gamma squeeze.

    GME has a 52-week low of $2.57. After being pumped by the Subreddit the stock closed today at $347.51, leading to billions in losses for hedge funds which shorted over 100% of the stock.

    According to @S3Partners, short sellers lost $14.3 billion on $GME stock today... just today.— Riley de León (@RileyCNBC) January 27, 2021

    The hedge funds that shorted over 100% of a stock ... were market manipulators aiming to manipulate a market. They were counterfeiting:

    how do you get 130% of the available shares short? It would seem impossible and is unless someone cheats.

    There are some players in the market who have "market maker" status but also trade their own books or have cross-interests with those who do. Allegedly there are "Chinese walls" between those pieces (or interconnected entities.) Quite obviously that is a load of crap because otherwise what you've seen would be impossible but it clearly not only has happened before but is still happening to this day. These entities are how you wind up with short sales where the locate and borrow hasn't happened first and the position remains open across time. This is supposed to be illegal but other than a few hand-slaps in the futures markets for physical commodities I'm not aware of any criminal prosecution for doing it.

    And let's be clear here: This practice is counterfeiting.

    When they win, that is capitalism.

    When they lose, they get bailed out, contact regulators and have pressure applied to prevent THE WRONG PEOPLE from winning.

    There are over 2.6 million Wall Street Bet users and only 10,000 hedge funds. The power of the proletariat is now!— Reddit Investors (@redditinvestors) January 27, 2021

    The SEC published a statement on market volatility, the Biden administration mentioned it was watching GameStop, Nasdaq's CEO suggested halting trading to allow hedge funds to steamroll Reddit users, the Discord group for WallStreetBets was shut down, and Reddit (at least temporarily) banned the WallStreetBets subreddit for hate speech.

    That WallStreetBets was temporarily nuked will likely make the degenerate gamblers even more aggressive.

    Emergency Press Conference - The Suits Shut Down @wallstreetbets @WSBChairman My prediction is tomorrow will be intergalactic for $amc $gme $nok

    (Im not a financial adviser. Don’t listen to me) pic.twitter.com/oYrsPOz8Vx— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) January 28, 2021

    You can see a lot of moves coming if you understand internet culture.

    does one throw one, two, three, four, or five hundy at $TR on open? :)— uoɹɐɐ (@aaronwall) January 26, 2021

    But in many ways we are now where the outcomes will be pre-determined in order to ensure THE RIGHT PEOPLE win.

    Wall Street Bets does to the suits what the suits have been doing to main street for a century. Then one call to Reddit, one call to Discord, one call to Robinhood...

    It there anyone out there who still doesn't think the system is rigged against the little guys?— Tyler Winklevoss (@tyler) January 28, 2021

    Politicians will determine outcomes after the fact.

    I'm assuming that the next time a hedge fund starts to make too much money shorting and destroying a business, that they will be de-platformed from their Blomberg terminal and throttled by their prime broker in the name of orderly markets and consumer protection.— Tyler Winklevoss (@tyler) January 28, 2021

    The more THE WRONG PEOPLE win, the more intervention there will be to correct the natural order.

    The Fed throws in trillions in liquidity & stocks fly higher it's cool.
    Pelosi loads up on $TSLA calls the stock flies higher it's cool.
    Bunch of little retail guys load up on calls & stocks fly higher it requires White House & Treasury monitoring & servers get shut down.

    Right.— Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) January 28, 2021

    Risk is much higher than most perceive because outcomes matter more than process & some multi-generational politically-connected wealth is losing badly to THE WRONG PEOPLE.

    Gamestop:
    Perhaps they got lucky.
    Maybe just a flash in pan.
    So dismiss them if u want.
    But if read their messages u see its not just about money.
    They're discovering their voice.
    & that they're powerful.
    IMO this is partly why wont be so easy for Fed to bailout Eurodollar Mkt...— Santiago Capital (@SantiagoAuFund) January 28, 2021

    An upstart online stock broker set trade commission prices to zero. Other brokers followed. And now that broker is telling stock buyers which tickers they are no longer allowed to buy.

    Robinhood will not allow opening positions in $GME $AMC $BB $BBBY $NOK $KOSS $NAKD— Open Outcrier (@OpenOutcrier) January 28, 2021

    When THE WRONG PEOPLE win we find our two sided markets become one way trades.

    It's hard to find market manipulation more flagrant than this, but since it's being done to protect the wealthiest and most powerful -- Wall St oligarchs who own and control the establishment wings of both parties -- it's very hard to imagine the government treating it as such: https://t.co/VJnXpMAqkJ— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 28, 2021

    Can that be called a marketplace or even an attempt at a remotely honest market?

    No.

    And it is even worse than it looked initially, as Robinhood not only prevented customers from buying $GME stock, but created a cascading wave of selling by placing "theft by conversion" forced sell orders at market on customer accounts.

    They are automatically selling shares. pic.twitter.com/o9XCdL9ND1— Sunny (@555Sunny) January 28, 2021

    When Robinhood placed "at market" sell orders for their clients - WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE OR PERMISSION - they literally *created* the interim market bottom.

    Robinhood literally auto sold people's positions at the BOTTOM #Robinhood $GME #Stocks pic.twitter.com/JekgDq2FHc— Astral Trades (@AstralTrading) January 29, 2021

    That is fraudulent, criminal market manipulation.

    When hedge funds 'collude' and discuss top picks at Ira Sohn (and prices move as they speak), that is legal + legit.

    When 2.5 million retail investors spot an opportunity to make money and 'collude', that is totally illegal + not legit.

    Brokers then collude to screw them!— Puru Saxena (@saxena_puru) January 28, 2021

    Only losers actually eat creative destruction:

    "just like 2008, trading was shut down to save the hides of erstwhile high priests of “creative destruction.” Also just like 2008, there are calls for the government to investigate the people deemed responsible for unapproved market losses. ... it was all well and good for investment banks and executives of phoney-baloney companies to gorge themselves on funhouse profits on a funhouse economy, but when amateurs decided to funnel just a bit of this clown show into their own pockets, finance pros wailed like the grave of Adam Smith had been danced upon."

    We are now at the point that the internet is no longer a spot for weirdo outcasts & instead it is reshaping the rest of society.

    The times and methods change, but the players remain the same.

    If you're looking for an analog on how Citadel might be playing this Melvin/$GME/@RobinhoodApp fiasco, remember that back in the early 2000's Citadel invested in Comscore so they could get exclusive rights to their traffic data DAYS before anyone else. Same game, different name— PAA Research (@ActAccordingly) January 29, 2021

    Thanks for your attention and your money:

    Both of these stories are narratives for our very own Hunger Games, a spectacle that chews up the participants in the arena while delivering enormous profits to the networks (media, financial and political) that put them on. Media networks count their profits in eyeballs, in the attention the Games garner. Financial networks count their profits the old-fashioned way, in the sheer volume of dollar-generating order flow the Games produce. As for politicians, they get their most valuable coin of the modern realm – an issue. The wackos on the left get to propose insane transaction taxes. The wackos on the right get to tell us how much liBeRtY we are enjoying by giving Ken Griffin all of our money. The very serious centrists get to tell us about how we need “a national conversation” about the T+2 settlement issues raised here.

    In Need of False Gods

    After people get repeatedly screwed spite and revenge become motivators. Some will not mind napalming themselves so long as the entire ship goes down.

    Part of a person as awful as Trump getting elected as president was micro-targeted South Park inspired videos sent to minorities reminding them of Hillary Clinton's super predators speech.

    And who could forget her laughing about having the head of Libya murdered, a former nation which fell apart to such an extreme degree they had open air slave auctions.

    Rescuing the Criminals, Dumping the Costs on You

    Another part of Trump getting elected was Obama promising "Hope and Change" but then standing between banks and pitchforks for the intentional and malicious fraud that led to the 2008 economic blowup.

    A Citigroup insider had the Obama cabinet picked out before he was even elected.

    Citigroup was the biggest TARP recipient.

    Citicorp is the same company which illegally merged with Travelers, then had that merger made legal after the fact by getting the Great Depression era Glass-Steagall Act regulation repealed:

    ''I think we will look back in 10 years' time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930's is true in 2010,'' said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota. ''I wasn't around during the 1930's or the debate over Glass-Steagall. But I was here in the early 1980's when it was decided to allow the expansion of savings and loans. We have now decided in the name of modernization to forget the lessons of the past, of safety and of soundness.''

    After the internet stock bubble popped the Federal Reserve lowered rates dramatically and left them there far too long, creating a massive hunt for yield. This led to a housing bubble and deteriorating loan standards with fog-a-mirror NINJA loans and similar dominating the market due to the insatiable demand for "risk free" yield. Entities like Citigroup created a ton of bogus mortgage paper they knew was garbage. Their entire board of advisors was repeatedly emailed by Richard M. Bowden about the fraud:

    I started issuing warnings in June of 2006 and attempted to get management to address these critical risk issues. These warnings continued through 2007 and went to all levels of the Consumer Lending Group. We continued to purchase and sell to investors even larger volumes of mortgages through 2007. And defective mortgages increased during 2007 to over 80% of production.

    If you control the government economic outcomes are determined by politics.

    Citigroup was so confident in their control of the political outcomes they continued to dump bad loans on the FHA after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were forced into receivership.

    THE RIGHT PEOPLE WON.

    "Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or—here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique—the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk—at least until the riots grow too large. Eventually, as the oligarchs in Putin’s Russia now realize, some within the elite have to lose out before recovery can begin. It’s a game of musical chairs: there just aren’t enough currency reserves to take care of everyone, and the government cannot afford to take over private-sector debt completely.
    ...
    From long years of experience, the IMF staff knows its program will succeed—stabilizing the economy and enabling growth—only if at least some of the powerful oligarchs who did so much to create the underlying problems take a hit.
    ...
    But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.
    ...
    The third Citigroup bailout, in late February, converted government-owned preferred stock to common stock at a price significantly higher than the market price—a subsidy that probably even most Wall Street Journal readers would miss on first reading." - Simon Johnson, The Quiet Coup

    Any government which intentionally subsidizes and promotes massive fraud undermines its legitimacy.

    Citigroup winning while most people lost was *explicit* government policy:

    “When you look at who benefits from the Chinese trade surplus and the US trade deficit, it’s the same group of people,” he said. In the US it was the banking elites, while in China it tended to be the political elites, but in both countries ordinary workers lost out

    Obama was so rotten he made Trump look like a reasonable choice.

    Soulless Corporations Promoting Racism as a PR Diversion

    Who were the people hurt worst by Citigroup's fraud?

    Poor minorities.

    So it should come as no surprise Citigroup published "research" on how racism is holding back the U.S. economy.

    Believing you can somehow know an individual simply by the color of their skin or by their ethnic heritage is the epitome of ignorance, has been the source for unimaginable evil throughout history, and it is something that woke progressives and white supremacists have in common.— Leonydus Johnson (@LeonydusJohnson) January 30, 2021

    Don't blame Citigroup for stealing your house, crashing the economy, and causing millions of people to lose their jobs. Instead, blame white people. Perhaps you could hit an old white man walking down the street in the back of the head with a brick and upload your crime videos to your social media channels. #hope #change

    Large & corrupt companies which plunder society pretend to care about subgroups as a cheap form of public relations and to keep their brand from being associated with what they actually do.

    Crash the economy, spread misinformation, then as people point fingers back and forth for your bad deeds everyone can blame the victims.

    "Not only were many of those people who’d been foreclosed upon or laid off or forced to watch their 401Ks lose half their value still in emotional shock, but the underlying corruption was not exactly easy for them to see. Propaganda blasted out on every channel, to the effect that it was your own fault if you took on an adjustable-rate mortgage that went sideways, or bought too big of a house. People above all feel shame when they can’t pay their debts, and many took it to heart when pundits said the crash was caused by people buying houses they couldn’t afford.

    Those criticisms often came out as racial politics, as conservative media figures hammered the theme of the “water drinkers” who crashed the economy at the expense of the “water carriers.” Listening to these takes, resentment in some neighborhoods grew toward the family down the street who’d been foreclosed upon, leaving a boarded-up eyesore on the block and collapsing property values for those left. The Tea Party movement, launched by a rant on CNBC against a proposed bailout for minority homeowners in particular, steered public anger away from Wall Street and toward the “bad behavior” of the “losers” down the street.
    ...
    Why they were pissed off gets to the second question, about the bailouts, ZIRP, the TARP, even the CARES Act. While so many people went into personal tailspins from 2008 on, their nightmares were often compounded watching as the very people who caused the crash — including the banks and mortgage originators who knowingly pumped mountains of fraudulent subprime instruments into the economy — not only got saved but were further enriched, by bailouts and an array of extravagant Fed programs.

    Some people got ripped off three times. First, they were personally sold dodgy exotic mortgages. Next, their retirement funds were sold the same kinds of dicey loans in the form of securities. Lastly, when it all blew up, they paid taxes to bail out the whole shooting match." - Matt Taibbi

    No bank wants to have the brand Wells Fargo has earned for opening up millions of fake customer accounts to charge fees to, stealing people's cars after charging them for bogus force placed insurance policies, etc.

    Executives at those companies concerned primarily with stock option values know being corrupt and donating to BLM is more profitable than running a business honestly & ethically. Fraud is alpha.

    If Obama the president matched Obama the candidate the Citigroup board would have been imprisoned, that bank would have been dismantled, and the above "research" about racism which diverts attention away from crimes by the likes of Citigroup would not have been published.

    Large institutions - particularly those which are bailed out after committing massive fraud - are able to survive market cycles. Most individuals carry debt of some sort (education, healthcare, housing, auto, other financed purchases). When the economy craters if they lose their job they may also lose their homes and be forced to sell whatever other financial assets they have near the market bottom to afford food.

    Institutions vs Individuals

    The pain of Citigroup's fraud was felt widely across the economy.

    "I was in my early teens during the '08 crisis. I vividly remember the enormous repercussions that the reckless actions by those on Wall Street had in my personal life, and the lives of those close to me. I was fortunate - my parents were prudent and a little paranoid, and they had some food storage saved up. When that crisis hit our family, we were able to keep our little house, but we lived off of pancake mix, and powdered milk, and beans and rice for a year. Ever since then, my parents have kept a food storage, and they keep it updated and fresh. Those close to me, my friends and extended family, were not nearly as fortunate." - ssauronn

    Citigroup's fraud led to many deaths of despair:

    US life expectancy was rising almost every year for decades straight. However, it peaked in 2014, and has been in a multi-year sideways trend for the first time in decades. This recent flat-lining in life expectancy has been a uniquely US phenomenon. Life expectancy continues to increase in virtually every other highly-developed country/continent. Life expectancy went up from 2014-present in Japan, the Euro Area, Canada, Australia, etc.

    Income & wealth inequality - particularly if it is driven from the combination of the offshoring of the industrial base Clinton & Bush did then the sort of fraud Citigroup did - often leads to a breakdown of cooperation across society, and then, arbitrary violence.

    If you make people's lives miserable and tell them they are victims many of them will believe you.

    Some of them will live down to the standards you set and see any isolated incident as a pattern of conduct which deserves retribution.

    The media tells people economics is violence, words are violence, they are victims, they are owed something, and ... surprise ... that drives violence.

    Violence is a (temporary) shortcut to status for young men with lots of testosterone but limited prospects or success in society.

    Growing up in a single parent home on welfare only adds further fuel to that fire because there is not only a sense of entitlement and unfairness, but often elevated stress levels and a deep sense of shame and resentment.

    My Daughter Was Nearly Killed by Racism

    I now have a 4 year old daughter. I have screwed up a great many things in life, but I don't know anybody more confident than she is.

    When my wife was pregnant with our only kid I nearly died from a sepsis infection & my daughter was nearly a miscarriage.

    The above is not hyperbole.

    Here I was in the hospital getting multiple IV antibiotics.

    When they told me I might die soon I was like "oh well, that's that."

    Then my wife came over and heard that & was crying uncontrollably. I then realized the sort of cascading set of dire outcomes and played it off like the infection was nothing while pushing to do whatever I could to get better fast before other bad outcomes happened.

    A couple months later our dog died and my wife then gave an emergency early birth. His death caused an early term birth. If I had died a few months earlier then almost certainly my daughter would have been a miscarriage, then my wife likely would have committed suicide.

    About a decade prior - around the time Obama was making Citigroup whole on their frauds while passing the costs onto the rest of society - a racist black guy sucker punched me while calling me nigger. That chipped the root of one of my teeth. Slowly over the next decade part of my jaw rotted away from an infection that exploded into near death in the middle of my wife's pregnancy. And my daughter nearly had no life.

    Writing the above will have many people suggest it is I that am racist for suggesting the racist person who tried to kill me should have had a longer prison sentence for his other previous violent crime convictions, or maybe we should restructure the economy away from financial bubbles, monopolies, and offshoring.

    I'm of the view that anyone who is convicted of multiple separate violent crimes should be permanently caged or put to sleep, because when you commit violent acts repeatedly you do not deserve to live as you are not only harming the person you sucker punch or such, but you could also end the life of their unborn child.

    The sepsis happened while we were traveling. The initial hotel we were staying at was sold out on the final day so I just happened to stay in a hotel across the street from a hospital. A few hours before jumping on a 15 hour flight I went over to the hospital and they turned me away saying it was just a dental issue. Then my wife brought be back over, they looked at me, and were like ... oh, you are about to die.

    That infection came back no less than 3 times. I had to get multiple teeth ripped out. I've had multiple fixed bridges.

    If you add up the health expenses, emotional issues (more for my wife than me - much harder to lose someone you love than it is to die), inability to work, having teeth being wired in place, what seems to be dozens of dental visits, getting teeth ripped out repeatedly, etc ... my social "safety" net payment funding kids being born into broken homes with no dad not only nearly liquidated my family, but also cost millions extra.

    I absolutely despise race baiters who promote arbitrary violence and the big crimebanks like Citigroup which plunder society leaving people hopeless.

    Fuck those people.

    I live on the other side of the world and thus do not get to vote on how 30%, 40%, or (if Biden uncaps FICA) 50%+ of my labor is spent.

    Why do we need to remove the FICA cap?

    So we can pay fraud-based prices for medicines used by others.

    Insulin back up to $1,500 for a 90 day supply. Thank President Biden. Big Pharma's investment paying off. Meanwhile, minimum wage increases looking iffy, trade protections disappearing, low-wage immigration influx incoming, energy jobs cut, and stimulus checks shrinking.— Robert Barnes (@barnes_law) February 11, 2021

    Last year when I ACHed income tax payments I sent in over 1,000 times what the president did.

    One of my friends told me they didn't blame Trump they blamed the system, but I thought that was an absurd claim as a leader should not only comply with and improve rules, but they should also set an example.

    The idea I should pay a thousand times more while having no vote or voice *AFTER* leaving on account of being nearly killed by a racist person who called me nigger, WHILE also being lectured about racism ... is a bit much.

    The reasons I liked Trump (before the $750 income tax payments and nutbag January 6th siege) were:

    • he was hated by the media, so they'd cover wrongdoings (even making some up)
    • until the COVID-19 crisis hit, he was broadening the economy (which is why he got higher minority votes than any republican presidential candidate in decades in spite of the COVID-19 lockdowns)
    • his administration pushed through an antitrust lawsuit against Google for their monopolistic bundling practices (which will at least restrain Google slightly, provided Biden is not a third Obama term)

    The above being said, the January 6th siege was absolutely idiotic, and looked like it was something out of South Park.

    Obama's Third Term

    Google's Eric Schmidt played a vital role in the Obama elections & administration. Their relationship was so close it was called "The Android Administration."

    When the FTC investigated Google the Obama administration intervened to prevent justice. And now Schmidt's shadowy "use AI everywhere in weaponry" startup is deeply embedded in the Biden administration. A Google lawyer is being considered for the top justice department inside the Biden administration, which would ensure ongoing INjustice is served.

    We are back to an administration loved by the media. The controversy are hence reduced to casual magazine cover shoots.

    Mainstream media: please serve your vital roll in society. Cover that casual photoshoot and not the Darth Vader aspects of Eric Schmidt, expansions of kill lists for suspects, etc.

    The mainstream media & tech companies are so proud of election interference they literally brag about it. The following quote sounds like something out of Fox News or the New York Post, but it was published by Time:

    the participants want the secret history of the 2020 election told, even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream–a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information. They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it.

    A half-year of violent demonstrations. Unelected private actors changing election laws & interpretations of election laws & illegally bundling private funds to change the outcome of an election. There were even Facebook pages dedicated to paying people to vote. And hundreds of thousands of people nationwide on standby to hold demonstrations just in case the vote does not go as they planned. It's a reach to call that democracy.

    There still is some actual journalism being done though. I am glad to see articles like this one, which shows just how absurd this page joebiden.com/opioidcrisis/ is.

    "Free" Trade & Deindustrialization

    Biden pushed against the "racist" attribution of the COVID-19 crisis to its source in China, though few have considered how "free trade" with a country with over a million slaves would impact living standards as it deindustrializes the country and destroys the middle class.

    If a country has a live organ harvesting program for its own citizens, do we want to have close ties to it?

    If a state-controlled economy dumps fentanyl into your country they deserve nothing but ire and disrespect, at least until that problem goes away.

    While we are seeking out a just global society, does LeBron James say "technically the Chinese Uighur slaves who make my Nike shoes are not black, so it is all good! #BLM"

    A decade ago, no one would’ve put NBA superstar LeBron James and Apple CEO Tim Cook in the same family album, but here they are now, linked by their fantastic wealth owing to cheap Chinese manufacturing (Nike sneakers, iPhones, etc.) and a growing Chinese consumer market. The NBA’s $1.5 billion contract with digital service provider Tencent made the Chinese firm the league’s biggest partner outside America. In gratitude, these two-way ambassadors shared the wisdom of the Chinese Communist Party with their ignorant countrymen. After an an NBA executive tweeted in defense of Hong Kong dissidents, social justice activist King LeBron told Americans to watch their tongues. “Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech,” said James, “it can be a lot of negative that comes with it.” - Tablet

    Free capital flows plus structural trade deficits from "free trade" with slave states = declining domestic living standards.

    If you want lives to matter & have good outcomes you need to address the core issues. You want strong families, a growing middle class, and to lift trade partner countries up rather than having much of your citizenry see their living standards reduced to being near that of your worst trade partners.

    If you have an average to below average IQ, did not come from wealth, have high living costs, and you must compete against literal slaves your life is probably going to suck.

    Declining living standards can be masked temporarily through manipulating economic data, but fake data can't restore hopes and dreams and aspiration for something better.

    When I was inside the Fed, it was acknowledged internally that the core PCE was a broken metric that understated & misrepresented true inflation. The decision was made to continue using the broken gauge because Fed models would not work if true inflation was used.

    QE is a lie. https://t.co/E3LlQhTPyv— Danielle DiMartino Booth (@DiMartinoBooth) January 4, 2021

    That loss of hope will fuel deaths of despair, desperation, and a desire to believe in just about anything.

    The race baiting "equality of outcomes" promoters only throw further fuel on the fire by telling people they are victims and pointing their ire in the wrong direction.

    Burning down the local nail salon in a riot is not going to change the Federal Reserve bailing out hedge funds who are manipulating the stock market. It will not make the local economy more vibrant. It will not bring jobs back. It will not fix the free trade with slave state issue.

    Instead of acting like an enraged victim, read Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron and then consider what skills you can lean into to make a positive change in the world.

    The process and outcome of that "free trade" with slave states & papering it over with increasing debt leverage was well known in advance: deindustrialization, consolidation, economic bubbles, lower living standards, more corrupt politics, mass migration waves, etc.

    Look no further than this 1994 Charlie Rose video interview of Sir James Goldsmith.

    Ultra-wealthy plutocrats were willing to partner with the CCP and sacrifice the US middle class in order to gain more wealth and political power.

    THE RIGHT PEOPLE won.

    Why did they trade with an authoritarian regime and send millions of American manufacturing jobs off to China thereby impoverish working Americans? Because it made them rich. They salved their consciences by telling themselves they had no choice but to deal with China: It was big, productive, and efficient and its rise was inevitable. And besides, the American workers hurt by the deal deserved to be punished—who could defend a class of reactionary and racist ideological naysayers standing in the way of what was best for progress?

    But if Donald Trump saw decoupling the United States from China as a way to dismantle the oligarchy that hated him and sent American jobs abroad, he couldn’t follow through on the vision. After correctly identifying the sources of corruption in our elite, the reasons for the impoverishment of the middle classes, and the threats foreign and domestic to our peace, he failed to staff and prepare to win the war he asked Americans to elect him to fight.

    And because it was true that China was the source of the China Class’ power, the novel coronavirus coming out of Wuhan became the platform for its coup de grace. So Americans became prey to an anti-democratic elite that used the coronavirus to demoralize them; lay waste to small businesses; leave them vulnerable to rioters who are free to steal, burn, and kill; keep their children from school and the dying from the last embrace of their loved ones; and desecrate American history, culture, and society; and defame the country as systemically racist in order to furnish the predicate for why ordinary Americans in fact deserved the hell that the elite’s private and public sector proxies had already prepared for them.

    Alternatively put: "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." ― Warren Buffett

    The terms liberal and conservative are irrelevant in American economic policy, a holdover from the pre FIRE Economy era. The interests of the finance, insurance, and real estate industries will always take precedence in every policy decision.— Eric Janszen (@ejanszen) November 30, 2020

    Become an Insider, or Get Used to Losing

    For some people the web was a life raft, but a lot of the easy wins have already been had.

    And the central network operators are getting more aggressive with scratch-your-back censorship for those in political power.

    Sometimes it can be helpful to view the losses as personally targeted if that creates a fire that drives you to do something great

    The WSB/GME business is a perfect distillation of populism: people with a vague but correct sense they get a raw deal but who respond with self-destructive nihilism aimed at purely symbolic targets because they are too ignorant and vain to prefer reality to self-righteous fantasy— Dirty Texas Hedge (@HedgeDirty) January 31, 2021

    but that fuel burns fast...then what?

    fantasy = There's a conspiracy against me

    reality = I get shitty, substandard service because I'm a nobody and no one gives a shit about me— Dirty Texas Hedge (@HedgeDirty) January 31, 2021

    The only solution to the good ole boys club is to get big enough that you are no longer an outsider.

    If @The_DTCC did do this, and it's at least plausible to me that they did, then it really is the establishment shutting down this squeeze by using the plumbing to achieve an outcome they regard as desirable.

    That's not the policy goal of regulated clearing and is problematic.— Silent Cal (@KralcTrebor) January 29, 2021

    The hot shiny object has a lot of headlines, a lot of competition, and a lot of manipulation.

    It is better to do something which is getting less attention but has more staying power.

    As more and more services happen online, more and more of business profit margins are flowing online, and the online networks are having a massive impact on the portions of the economy which remain offline.

    The central network operators can choose to ban an outgoing president while ignoring politicians who call for genocide in other markets to curry favor to political leaders.

    As Zuck would say ...

    "You can be unethical and still be legal that’s the way I live my life"

    A central problem with the web is network effects and the winner-take-all structure of many markets. It creates a few gigantic winners, but many players along the remaining parts of the value chain get squeezed. You could say that getting hit hard by a Panda or Penguin algorithm update and having a business die overnight is a better outcome than the constant slow squeeze where things get just a little bit worse each month.

    Monopolies lower wages. limit opportunities and retard innovation. Most the profits go to key players and shareholders while many jobs get shifted into semi-formal rolls.

    You can work for Google and they promise that when you put in your letter at your other job to be one of their temp workers they won't change their mind and fire thousands overnight.

    Ooops.

    You can work in an Amazon warehouse until you physically break down and they might be so kind as to park an ambulance outside for you instead of wasting profit margin on air conditioning.

    Even many of the creative works which are ultimately shunned by companies accustomed to risk-free monopoly profit margins will get squeezed as the work from home / remote work movement will create the next wave of offshoring jobs which people thought you couldn't really outsource.

    If you live in a high cost area you had better do something you love so it is highly differentiated.

    The only hope for players along the rest of the value chain is a shift away from the ad-dominated web to one where people pay for the services they like and the distribution outcome moves away from a star-based system to more of a bell curve.

    The good news is many websites are removing friction and making it easier to test paid media options. Twitter recently acquired and integrated a paid newsletter service. But at the end of the day most people will eventually need to shift away from app stores and other controlled platforms so they can better differentiate their offering and have a sustainable business as platforms shift business models and what they prioritize to keep up with new trends.

    The Attention Merchants dominating the web do not want to be low margin payment processors though, so they aren't going to make it easy to build a different web architecture where they become less influential.

    Tim Berners-Lee will likely end up saving the web he created by promoting decentralization.

    If that doesn't work, we are stuck with Zuck and Eric Schmidt restructuring society as they see fit.

    That would would be increasingly unjust, corrupt and violent. So I am *REALLY* rooting for Tim Berners-Lee to pull a second rabbit out of a hat.

  • 28/08/2020 Apple Search

    Google, Google, Google

    For well over a decade Google has dominated search to where most stories in the search sphere were about Google or something on the periphery.

    In 2019 Google generated $134.81 billion in ad revenues.

    When Verizon bought core Yahoo three years ago the final purchase price was $4.48 billion. That amount was to own their finance vertical, news vertical, web portal, homepage, email & web search. It also included a variety of other services like Tumblr.

    Part of what keeps Google so dominant in search is their brand awareness. That is also augmented by distribution as defaults in Chrome and Android. Then when it comes to buying search distribution from other players like Mozilla Firefox, Opera or Apple's Safari they can outbid everyone else as they are much better at monetizing tier 2 markets and emerging markets than other search companies are since they have such strong ad depth. Even if Bing gave a 100% revshare to Apple they still could not compete with Google in most markets in terms of search monetization.

    Apple as a Huge Search Traffic Driver

    In 2019 Google paid just under £1.2 billion in default payments for UK search traffic. Most of that went to Apple. Historically when Google broke out their search revenues by region typically the US was around 45% to 46% of search ad revenue & the UK was around 11% to 12%, so it is likely Google is spending north of $10 billion a year to be the default search provider on Apple devices:

    Apple submitted that search engines do not pay Apple for the right to be set as the primary default search engine on its devices. However, our assessment is that Google does pay to be the primary default on Apple devices. The agreement between Google and Apple states that Google will be the default web search provider and the same agreement states that Google will pay Apple a specified share of search advertising revenues. We also note that Google does not pay compensation to any partners that set Google Search as a secondary option. This further suggests that Google’s payment to Apple is in return for Apple setting Google as the primary default.

    Apple is glad to cash those checks & let Google handle the core algorithmic search function in the web browser, but Apple also auto-completes many searches from within the address bar via various features like website history, top hit, news, Siri suggested website, suggested sites, etc.

    A Unique Voice in Search

    The nice thing about Apple powering some of those search auto-complete results themselves is their results are not simply a re-hash of the Google search results so they can add a unique voice to the search marketplace where if your site isn't doing as well in Google it could still be promoted by Apple based on other factors.

    High-traffic Shortcuts

    Apple users generally have plenty of disposable personal income and a tendency to dispose of much of it, so if you are an Android user it is probably worth having an Apple device to see what they are recommending for core terms in your client's markets. If you want to see recommendations for a particular country you may need to have a specialized router targeted to that country or use a web proxy or VPN.

    Most users likely conduct full search queries and click through to listings from the Google search result page, but over time the search autocomplete feature that recommends previously viewed websites and other sites likely picks up incremental share of voice.

    A friend of mine from the UK runs a local site and the following shows how the Apple ecosystem drove nearly 2/3 of his website traffic.

    His website is only a couple years old, so it doesn't get a ton of traffic from other sources yet. As of now his site does not have great Google rankings, but even if it did the boost by the Apple recommendations still provides a tailwind of free distribution and awareness (for however long it lasts).

    For topics covered in news or repeat navigational searches Apple likely sends a lot of direct visits via their URL auto-completion features, but they do not use the feature broadly into the tail of search across other verticals, so it is a limited set of searches that ultimately benefit from the shortcuts.

    Apple Search Ranking Factors

    Apple recently updated their search page offering information about Applebot:

    Apple Search may take the following into account when ranking web search results:

    • Aggregated user engagement with search results
    • Relevancy and matching of search terms to webpage topics and content
    • Number and quality of links from other pages on the web
    • User location based signals (approximate data)
    • Webpage design characteristics

    Search results may use the above factors with no (pre-determined) importance of ranking. Users of Search are subject to the privacy policy in Siri Suggestions, Search & Privacy.

    I have seen some country-code TLDs do well in their local markets in spite of not necessarily being associated with large brands. Sites which do not rank well in Google can still end up in the mix provided the user experience is clean, the site is useful and it is easy for Apple to associate the site with a related keyword.

    Panda-like Quality Updates

    Markets like news change every day as the news changes, but I think Apple also does some Panda-like updates roughly quarterly where they do a broad refresh of what they recommend generally. As part of those updates sites which were once recommended can end up seeing the recommendation go away (especially if user experience declined since the initial recommendation via an ad heavy layout or similar) while other sites that have good engagement metrics get recommended on related searches.

    A friend had a website they sort of forgot that was recommended by Apple. That site saw a big jump on July 9, 2018 then it slid back in early August that year, likely after the testing data showed it wasn't as good as some other site Apple recommended. They noticed the spike in traffic & improved the site a bit. In early October it was widely recommended once again. That lasted until May of 2019 when it fell off a cliff once more. They had monetized the site with a somewhat spammy ad network & the recommendation mostly went away.

    The recommendations happen as the person types and they may be different for searches where there is a space between keywords and the word is ran together. It is also worth noting Apple will typically recommend the www. version of a site over the m. version of a site for sites that offer both, so it makes sense to ensure if you used separate URLs that the www version also uses a responsive website design.

    Indirect Impact on Google

    While the Apple search shortcuts bypass Google search & thus do not create direct user signals to impact Google search, people who own an iPhone then search on a Windows computer at work or a Windows laptop at home might remember the site they liked from their iPhone and search for it once more, giving the site some awareness that could indirectly bleed over into impacting Google's search rankings.

    Apple could also eventually roll out their own fully featured search engine.

  • 13/08/2020 Overcoming Webmaster Depression

    This year is a rather easy year to be depressed. ;)

    COVID-19, fearmongering media, polarized hyper-charged social media, mass unemployment, lockdowns that killed exercise routines and social connections, loss of hope / purpose / meaning, a guy who stuck a gun in the belly area of a pregnant woman overdosing on fentanyl shortly after he passed counterfeit currency, that broader background being utterly ignored so outrage could fuel widespread rioting with a man in dreadlocks kicking a man sitting in the street unconscious & other bonus random drive by shootings where actual heroes are murdered at random, cities being burned down, communist anarchy, social "justice" movements founded on the idiotic idea of improving society by ripping apart the family unit, etc.

    This post is not a suicide letter, but an ode to reality of accepting today for what it is. :D

    pic.twitter.com/OWBHGa5eKR— Zero Gravity Media (@zerogravityhxp) August 12, 2020

    Last year was the first year where I managed an office with a bunch of employees in it. When the office opened my email inbox had under 2,000 emails built up in it over a 16 year period of working on the web. Far from inbox zero, I am now above 20,000. I think in a Bill Gates interview about a half year ago I smiled after hearing his sort of EGT was how his email inbox was doing. I timed that office opening almost perfectly for COVID-19 so I could have all the stress and cost associated with training a team, setting up a ton of computers, creating workflow, ... and then none of the benefits as the office would get shut down shortly after things began to operate smoothly. :D

    By the end of last year a was a bit (err...lot) on the fat side from working too much, too much stress, and exercising too little. My weight and the length of my fuse are reciprocals.

    In the past I used to harness negative energy into a form of rage to fuel drive, but now that I am over 40 I find it much harder to live that way. I've already had a number of near death experiences (including one when my wife was pregnant with our only child) and think at some point living that rage-drive way is just shitty. Just say no to endless rage.

    So when it was obvious this year was largely going to be dog crap, I started to look internally instead of externally & figured it made more sense to improve health & mood than to fight the gravity of the global depression we are currently living through.

    Exogenous Shocks

    When things change out of nowhere they can end up dramatically changing the social and economic order.

    Many such changes are utterly arbitrary and orthogonal to the concepts of fairness, justice, human decency, etc.

    Some parties are politically connected & shielded from actual market forces.

    As a self-employed person living overseas I am certainly not one of those protected parties. That said, my family and the people who work for me look to me and hope I can help shield them from some of the crap reality served up this year.

    As a rule, when exogenous shocks happen those who are not politically connected get screwed hardest.

    Smaller firms tend to under-perform larger firms: "As the earnings season draws to a close, companies within the Russell 2000 stock index — the small-cap benchmark — have reported an aggregate loss of $1.1bn, compared to profits of almost $18bn a year earlier, according to data provider FactSet. Meantime, the much bigger companies within the benchmark S&P 500 index have posted a 34 per cent aggregate drop in earnings, to $233bn."

    Poorer people are more likely to lose their jobs.

    Emerging markets tend to get hit harder than developed markets. Which only adds to the powder keg of instability as the food price inflation tied to falling incomes makes many people rather desperate.

    etc.

    As people get desperate violence increases & many governments get overthrown.

    Central banks printing cash to prop up the financial markets only increases the divide further.

    Congratulations @federalreserve pic.twitter.com/8HxhLH9il5— Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) August 17, 2020

    That increased income & wealth inequality makes "the system" only feel that much more fraudulent, which in turn acts as a powder keg to fuel more arbitrary misdirected violence.

    Tesla now has a $340 billion market capitalization. They remain unprofitable outside of harvesting tax credits.

    Beyond fueling increased violence, the sky high numbers for FOMO stocks also lead some people to feel like they are failures for only slightly succeeding or just getting by.

    Others pile in to trashy cryptocurrencies in an attempt to catch up where they only further compound their losses.

    Waiting Things Out

    It is worth noting many of the jobs that are gone are gone for good.

    We may very well be facing a global depression:

    "The pandemic has created a massive economic contraction that will be followed by a financial crisis in many parts of the globe, as nonperforming corporate loans accumulate alongside bankruptcies. Sovereign defaults in the developing world are also poised to spike. This crisis will follow a path similar to the one the last crisis took, except worse, commensurate with the scale and scope of the collapse in global economic activity. And the crisis will hit lower-income households and countries harder than their wealthier counterparts. ... In all of the worst financial crises since the mid-nineteenth century, it took an average of eight years for per capita GDP to return to the pre-crisis level. (The median was seven years.) ... The last time all engines failed was in the Great Depression; the collapse this time will be similarly abrupt and steep."

    If you can't afford to feed your family of course you have to solve that problem first. But if you are not absolutely financially desperate then this can be a good year to win in ways other than finances & only worry about money after other things are in a better place.

    This is a good year to find meaning through various types of self-improvement and doing lots of small & kind things for the people around you. Yesterday was a good day to buy your wife flowers. So is today. Tomorrow is a good day to buy a friend a surprise gift.

    One of the best books you can read about developing positive personal habits is Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit. It is 8 years old now but it is still a great read.

    Pushing for broad structural changes in a crisis through ideology which removes ordinary feedback loops often ends up creating only further injustice with the campaign "hero" looking like their polar opposite. Ideology pushed hard enough wraps around to the other side.

    When things are absolutely screwed the world over it is better to focus on improving yourself and your family rather than promoting arbitrary extrajudicial justice and burning things down further.

    Here are the steps I took to improve a good bit so far this year.

    Coronavirus Lockdowns

    When I saw a video of a guy walking down the street in Wuhan cough blood and fall over dead I immediately ordered facemasks for everyone in my extended family. I also bought facemasks and gloves into the office for workers. As it turns out gloves were largely a non-winner because using them is more likely to spread virus and bacteria, but the intent was good.

    Cygnus recommended taking the supplement quercetin & so did Dr. Zev, so I do that.

    Our government does not want us to treat covid early. If I get covid and no hcq access-I would take IMMEDIATELY quercetin 500mg three times a day for 7 days and elemental zinc 50mg one a day for 7 days, and z-pack. Every American home should have quercetin and zinc.— Dr. Zev Zelenko (@zev_dr) August 16, 2020

    When lockdowns were announced I hoarded months worth of baby formula so I know my daughter would be ok & bought her a couple birthday presents in case the lockdowns were extended repeatedly. They were, so that worked out ok.

    When lockdowns ended I bought a ton of different toys for my daughter so I could share them with her and make up for the limited outside contact for the time being. I also brought my lead graphic & web designer a dual monitor computer to his house to improve his efficiency.

    Any day where there is not a lockdown I try to make the most of it knowing another couple months or quarter year can disappear arbitrarily.

    Making the most out of the day for me often means doing something positive on the health front & meaning front right away. Things like getting food for my daughter or going for a walk are big wins early in the day as we tend to slow down and get tired as the day drags on.

    Health / Fitness

    Early in the year when I could use the gym I was walking at a brisk pace for about an hour a day while reading books and listening to podcasts.

    After gyms were forced to be closed I started walking outside. Initially this was often to get groceries or various baby supplies, though I continued to walk daily even when there wasn't a real direct need just to keep mood up with all the ridiculous crap going on in the world. I used to think the Philippines was way too hot when I had to drive everywhere, but even if it is hot as hell it isn't bad to be out in the sun and heat so long as you are only walking especially if the walk has a purpose which helps your loved ones in some way.

    Walking regularly with nothing else going on can be boring as hell, of course, so to offset the boredom I bring my iPhone and have some Airpod Pro earbuds with their killer noise canceling features. When nobody is near me I sometimes pull down my face mask and jog or sprint for a while to add variety to the day. I also sometimes make people's ears bleed by singing along in an effort to share the joy of whatever I am listening to. :D

    There are many awesome acoustic songs on YouTube. Revisiting unheard versions of songs you liked a long time ago can make the lyrics more powerful.

    Some of the spoken-word song introductions are quite powerful: "everyone wants you to forget you are gonna die, because if they convince you your not gonna die you waste your time doing what they want you to do. Spend money on what they're selling. ... one day I'm gonna die, but before then I'm gonna live, live, live, the way I want to live and I hope you do too."

    Whenever I exercise I usually have caffeine as well. I view it a bit like a band aid or kick start, but I try to only use it either explicitly when walking or when intensely focusing on work.

    If my back hurts from sitting at the chair too long that is a cue to get up and take a break even if it is a short one to go play with my daughter.

    Sometimes I will walk two or three times throughout the day to break up the monotony.

    Most my exercise is walking or jogging, but occasionally I will do a few push ups or sit ups.

    In a world of gloom it is hard to look in the mirror and see a steaming pile of garbage which is not well maintained and feel good about yourself.

    You know what sacrifices you have made and what the costs were, but it is easy to go down the path of resentment if outcomes are subpar and beyond your control in the short term.

    If you don't feel alive you aren't. :D

    It's a lifeless life, with no fixed address to give
    But you're not mine to die for anymore
    so I must live

    Diet

    I try to eat salad, Indian food, quiche, nuts, beef jerky, and all sorts of other foods where carbohydrates are sort of only incidental and are not core to the dish.

    Anything that looks/smells/feels/sounds like sugar, rice, potatoes, bread, derivatives thereof, etc. I consider to be poison / systemic inflammation / weight gain and try to skip it.

    I also consider drinking calories to be a disaster as the glycemic index on things like a soda are through the roof.

    If you are fat and eat a lot of carbs you are repeatedly spiking your blood sugar, then it crashes, then you are hungry again. This habit & addictive cycle works on some of the same neural pathways that hardcore drugs do.

    Sometimes I still do eat a bit of peanut butter or chocolate or frozen chocolate dipped in peanut butter, though I try not to use it meal replacement style very often & try not to be "full jar now empty" Aaron. Three tips on that front are to eat peanut butter using a chop stick so you eat it slower, eat small pieces of chocolate, and freeze the chocolate before eating so it takes a while to chew and you realize just how much you are eating. :D

    When I wake I often wait at least 4 or 5 hours before eating my first meal. In some cases I stretch that out to 6 or 8.

    Communicating

    I know a lot of people are in a bad state this year, so I try to offset that at least slightly by overcommunicating.

    I send my mom pictures or videos of my daughter every day as she told me those help her sleep better at night and her watch even shows her blood pressure is lower and she feels much more well rested the next morning. I have bought my daughter a ton of extra clothes to wear just so my mom gets a bit more variety in the pictures and my daughter will have a ton of memories to sort through when she is older.

    Our daughter has quite a bit of energy so sometimes she makes communicating with my wife hard. Sometimes we have better luck texting back and forth if something is urgent and then discuss it in more detail over email or when our daughter is taking a nap.

    A lot of people around me have recently went through hardships beyond the financial uncertainties many are facing.

    • Our web designer's mom had a heart attack then got COVID-19 but I think she is ok now.
    • Our lead writer had a friend younger than I who after going to the hospital with COVID-19.
    • Our lead programmer's parents recently had their house broken into with some of their sentimental jewelry stolen & he is the glue guy for the whole family.
    • One of my buddies recently broke up with his long time girlfriend.

    I am sure there are a lot more similar stories that I have not been told yet. So as a rule of thumb I sort of consider that if people have historically been good its ok to give them more leeway this year & be extra kind.

    Mental Health

    One of the cheapest & easiest wins in terms of quality of life is setting your grounding from a perspective of feeling lucky so that you are appreciative & try to be a better version of yourself. Episode 504 of This American Life shares an inspiring story about Emir Kamenica.

    "These stories we tell about ourselves, they're almost like our infrastructure, like railroads or highways. We can build them almost any way we want to. But once they're in place, this whole inner landscape grows up around them.

    So maybe the point here is that you should be careful about how you tell your story, or at least conscious of it. Because once you've told it, once you've built the highway, it's just very hard to move it. Even if your story is about an angel who came out of nowhere and saved your life, even then, not even the angel herself can change it." - Michael Lewis

    I generally am not a fan of taking prescription drugs to solve symptoms of larger underlying problems as in many cases those can cause additional bonus problems. I get that some people need various drugs to get by and survive, though outside of caffeine I typically try not to drink much or do much of anything else that can add more instability or create more bonus issues.

    The above said, I think my baseline mood (especially if I am not in great health) tends to be a bit darker than average.

    The early web was quite cool and you could do things like email Tim Berners-Lee and get a response, or someone would read your site and see you mentioned Carl Sagan and shoot you an email like this one:

    I wrote the first modern book on depression in 1980. It was the first book to present depression as a biochemical disease, rather than a 'mental' illness (whatever that is). And, I was the one who introduced Carl Sagan to television as a local TV personality in L. A., Carl was a good family friend who came to watch a taping of my PBS show, he got really intense when he realized what a medium for communication TV was, and I introduced him to the GM of the station, that's how he got to TV. He was more of a scientist than an actor, I coached him on TV persona. He was a very intense person, and did not have a big ego; he was always open to new information, whether it came from experiences or ideas. He would have loved living now.

    To solve both depression and weight gain problems, try an over-the-counter nutrient called 5HTP. The Walmarts here sell the least expensive and best pills. Take about nine a day for about nine days, you will notice you haven't felt the urge to eat all day and you don't have as much depression symptoms; the griffonia seed from which 5HTP is made increases serotonin in the brain.

    Then a follow up after I asked about the FDA ban of L-Tryptophan:

    Now something gets clearer! When tryotophan was banned because of one supposedly contaminated batch, I used every tiny bit of influence I had as a journalist, talked to every politician I could get in touch with. It was like going up against a brick wall. I wrote articles, did everything, could not understand at all why the nutrient was being banned for one bad batch in Japan and why resistance to overturning the ban was so solid. I even tried to obtain the animal version, and was told it 'wasn't the same,' yet according to a chemical analysis, it was. Now I understand....

    My book is "Depression, How to Recognize It, Cure It and Grow From It, Prentice Hall hardback, Simon Schuster paperback.

    She also mentioned

    Depression research is such big business that I feel they don't want to find a real cure. The way the research should have gone is to study the chemical makeup of depression, then match the medication effect to different brain hormones (as well as cortisol-though it's not a biogenic amine, it's a definite precursor), and find accurate ways of testing which hormone or combination thereof is/are out of balance, so the correct medication can be prescribed right off the bat. So, if it's a seratonin imbalance, the doc gives one medication, if it's monomaine oxadase, the patient gets another, and so on. Prosac is like a huge blanket device, rather than an accurate laser beam going to the exact place it is needed.

    Depression research really hasn't progressed that much in the last 20 years, imho.

    I know a big part of my improved mood was from taking 5-HTP along with Vitamin B & Vitamin C just before bed. When I take those I can fall asleep a bit quicker, sleep about an hour less, wake up feeling more refreshed, and am less hungry the following morning. If I had to guess, I would say the 5-hydroxytryptophan contributed to my recent 40 pound weight loss more than anything else did.

    Anyhow, I would not recommend 5-HTP for anyone who is on SSRIs, MAO inhibitors, or many other drug classes (talk to your doctor first, etc.). But I figured a lot of people feel like crap this year so I should mention it has worked well for me.

    Before writing this blog post I also recommended it to a few other people.

    Our lead content writer was down after her friend died & I recommended it to her. She said she felt a difference the very next day.

    Our backend developer took some after I told him about it and said his personal doom loop he was going through was better within 2 days.

    I do not think it is a magic cure-all or would work for everyone, but if you are a bit down combining a bit of 5-HTP with exercise, healthy diet, sleep, etc. can help you improve your worldview and outlook a bit to get through the challenging times we are going through.

    My only complaint (glass is always at least half empty :D) would be that as I have discarded that sort of rage cycle I find it easier to be distracted and harder to focus on work. If you love what you do focus comes automatic, but if you don't then you do sometimes have to trick yourself a bit into being productive if you literally could be retired for life. But I suppose most people would say that is an absurd "problem" to complain about.

    My only solution to the above is watching MJ on MJ. :D

    I’m going to tweet this & pin it to my page so I can watch it every single day

    When MJ talks about winning & leadership has a price, he’s talking about sacrificing a part of who you are for all that your team can become.

    A Championship Standard!! pic.twitter.com/IbK95jFTVY— Jaycob Ammerman (@Jammer2233) May 13, 2020

    Ending on a Positive Note

    Destruction leads to a very rough road but it also breeds creation
    And earthquakes are to a girl's guitar, they're just another good vibration
    And tidal waves couldn't save the world from Californication

    If you are reading this blog post you are almost certainly involved in some part of web development, content production, internet marketing and/or e-commerce.

    Ultimately as the world is reshaped you will benefit as long as you get through the current period as literally *everything* is moving online.

    This chart on e-commerce continues to amaze me. pic.twitter.com/zW4EwKHW1N— David Schawel (@DavidSchawel) August 17, 2020

    Given that the big platform monopolies are now getting the PR black eyes they deserve for their locked down ecosystems there is a good chance the web will be a much better place in the next half-decade.

    The number of people rushing to become their own bosses is at a record level. Many will fail, but many will innovate and create new markets as they have no choice but to succeed. As more things move online, attention merchant platforms keep breaking culture into smaller and smaller chunks to fuel increasingly distorted views of reality that cater toward confirmation bias and rage.

    At some point people will tire of the feed-based never-ending stream and want things they can complete. The growth of Neflix and their streaming competitors reflects the desire for something longer and more in-depth.

    Some of legacy print media brands with high cost structures are now recycled selling marked-up garbage in parallel markets.

    The combination of these trends will drive an increased appreciation for authenticity & the desire for human connection.

    Long ago my original SEO mentor stated:

    This is what I think, SEO is all about emotions, all about human interaction. People, search engineers even, try and force it into a numbers box. Numbers, math and formulas are for people not smart enough to think in concepts.

    I think the best brands, the best sites have a large portion of their founders personality in them. Never be afraid to be yourself, after all there are 1/2 billion people on the www, not all of them have to agree with you. Concentrate on the ones that share your views, concentrate on making their experience the very best it can be, the rest forget them.

    Or to put it another way, the best sites say - this is what we do, this is how we do it, if you don't like it go somewhere else.

    Ultimately though I think it comes down to desire and the will to win.

    He later sold his business for a life changing sum, so unlike his favorite football club, I guess he had the will to win. The question remains if he will purchase the football club and "fix" them. :D

  • 07/07/2020 Declining Visitor Values

    Late Funnel SEO Profits

    Before the Panda update SEOs could easily focus almost all their energies on late funnel high-intent searches which were easy to monetize without needing to put a ton of effort into brand building or earlier funnel informational searches. This meant that SEOs could focus on phrases like [student credit cards] or [buy earbuds] or [best computer gaming headphones] or [vertical computer mouse] without needing to worry much about anything else. Make a good enough page on those topics, segment demand across options, and profit.

    Due to the ability to focus content & efforts on those tiny subset high-intent commercial terms the absolute returns and CPMs from SEO investments were astronomical. Publishers could insert themselves arbitrarily just before the end of the value chain (just like Google AdWords) and extract a toll.

    The Panda Shift / Eating the Info Supply Chain

    Then Panda happened and sites needed to have stronger brands and/or more full funnel user experience and/or more differentiated content to be able to rank sustainably.

    One over-simplified way to think of Panda and related algorithms would be: brand = rank.

    Another way to look at it would be to consider the value chain of having many layers or pieces to it & Google wanting to remove as many unneeded or extra pieces from the chain as possible so that they themselves are capturing more of the value chain.

    • That thin eHow article about a topic without any useful info? Not needed.
    • The thin affiliate review which was buying Google AdSense ad impressions on that eHow article? Also not needed.
    • All that is really needed is the consumer intent, Google & then either Google as the retailer (pay with your credentials stored in your phone) or another trusted retailer.

    In some cases there may be value in mid-market in-depth reviews, but increasingly the aggregate value offered by many of them is captured inside the search snippets along with reviews directly incorporated into the knowledge graph & aggregate review scores.

    The ability to remove the extra layers is driven largely by:

    • the quality of the top players in the market
    • the number of quality publishers in a market (as long as there are 2 or more, whoever is not winning will be willing to give a lot of value to Google to try to play catch up against their stronger competitor)
    • the amount of usage data available in the market
    • the ad depth of the market

    If your competitor is strong and they keep updating in-depth content pieces you can't set and forget your content and stay competitive. Across time searcher intent changes. Those who change with the markets should eventually have better engagement metrics and keep winning marketshare.

    Benchmarking Your Competition

    You only have to be better than whatever you are competing against to win.

    If you have run out of ideas from your direct competitors in an emerging market you can typically find many more layers of optimization from looking at some of the largest and most successful players inside either the United States or China.

    To give an example of how user data can be clean or a messy signal consider size 13 4E New Balance shoes. If you shop for these inside the United States a site like Amazon will have shoe size filters so you can see which shoes from that brand are available in that specific size.

    In some smaller emerging markets ecommerce sites largely suck. They might allow you to filter shoes by the color blue but wanting to see the shoes available in your size is a choose your own adventure game as they do not offer those sorts of size filters, so you have to click into the shoe level, find out they do not have your size, and then try again. You do that about 100 times then eventually you get frustrated and buy off eBay or Amazon from someone who ships internationally.

    In the first case it is very easy for Google to see the end user flow of users typically making their purchase at one of a few places like Amazon.com, the official New Balance store, or somewhere else like that which is likely to have the end product in stock. That second experience set is much harder to structure because the user signal is much more random with a lot more pogos back to Google.

    Bigger, Better Ads

    Over the past couple decades Google has grown much more aggressive at monetizing their search results. A website which sees its rank fall 1 position on mobile devices can see their mobile search traffic cut in half overnight. And desktop search results are also quite ad heavy to where sometimes a user can not see a single full organic result above the fold unless they have a huge monitor.

    We tend to look at the present as being somewhat static. It is a part of human nature to think things are as they always were. But the general trend of the slow bleed squeeze is a function of math and time: "The relentless pressure to maintain Google’s growth, he said, had come at a heavy cost to the company’s users. Useful search results were pushed down the page to squeeze in more advertisements, and privacy was sacrificed for online tracking tools to keep tabs on what ads people were seeing."

    Some critics have captured the broad shift in ad labeling practices, but to get a grasp of how big the shift has been look at early Google search results.

    2001 Google search results with clear ad labeling and small ad units.

    Look at how bright those ad units from 2001 are.

    Since then ad labeling has grown less intuitive while ad size has increased dramatically.

    Traffic Mix Shift

    As publishers have been crowded out on commercial searches via larger ads & Google's vertical search properties a greater share of their overall search traffic is lower value visitors including people who have little to no commercial intent, people from emerging markets with lower disposable income and

    Falling Ad Rates

    Since 2010 online display ad rates have fallen about 40%.

    Declining online ad rates.

    Any individual publisher will experience those declines in a series of non-linear step function shifts. Any of the following could happen:

    • Google Panda or another algorithm update from a different attention merchant hits your distribution hard
    • a Softbank-backed competitor jumps into your market and gains a ton of press coverage using flammable money
    • a roll-up player buys out a series of sites in the supply chain & then tries to make the numbers back out by cramming down on ad syndication partners (sometimes you have to gain enough scale to create your own network or keep rotating through ad networks to keep them honest)
    • regulatory costs hit any part of the supply chain (the California parallel to GDPR just went live this month)
    • consumer interest shifts to other markets or solutions (the mobile phone has replaced many gadgets)
    • a recession causes broad-based advertiser pullbacks

    Margin Eaters

    In addition to lowering ad rates for peripheral websites, there are a couple other bonus margin eaters.

    Junk Sunk Costs

    Monopoly platforms push publishers to adopt proprietary closed code bases in order to maintain distribution: "the trade group says Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format was foisted on news publishers with an implied threat — their websites wouldn't show up in search results."

    Decreased Supply Chain Visibility

    Technical overhead leading to programmatic middlemen eating a huge piece of the pie: "From every £1 spent by an advertiser, about half goes to a publisher, roughly 16p to advertising platforms, 11p to other technology companies and 7 per cent to agencies. Adtech companies that took part in the study included Google’s dv360 and Ad Manager, Amazon Advertising and the Rubicon Project."

    Selection Effect

    Large attention merchants control conversion tracking systems and displace organic distribution for brands by re-routing demand through a layer of ads which allows the central network to claim responsibility for conversions which would have already happened had they not existed.

    Internal employees in the marketing department and external internet marketing consultants have an incentive to play along with this game because:

    • it requires low effort to arbitrage your own brand
    • at first glance it looks wildly profitable so long as you do not realize what is going on
    • those who get a percent of spend can use the phantom profits from arbitraging their own brand equity to spend more money elsewhere
    • those who get performance based bonuses get a bonus without having to perform

    Both eBay and Microsoft published studies which showed how perverse selection effect is.

    The selection effect bias is the inverse of customer acquisition cost. The more well known your brand is the more incentive ad networks have to arbitrage it & the more ad networks will try to take credit for any conversion which happens.

    2) Why does CAC (mostly) only go up?

    When you think about, CAC is "lowest" in the beginning, because you have no customers. You can get the low-hanging fruit cost effectively.

    Think ad spend. Outbound sales spend. etc. First movers are ready to buy quickly.— Elizabeth Yin (@dunkhippo33) July 6, 2020

    These margin eaters are a big part of the reason so many publishers are trying to desperately shift away from ad-based business models toward subscription revenues.

    Hitting Every Layer

    The commodification of content hits every layer from photography....

    Networking is an art and a skill... but if the gold you hold are your images, don’t trade them for the passive networking value.

    Simple lesson that is difficult to accept.— Send it. (@johnondotcom) July 4, 2020

    ...on through to writing

    When you think about it, even $1000 is really inexpensive for a single piece of content that generates 20,000+ visits from search in the 1-3 years it's alive and ranks well. That's only about 1,000 visits a month. Yet companies only want to pay writers only $200 an article — Dan Shure (@dan_shure) July 6, 2020

    ...and every other layer of the editorial chain.

    Profiting from content creation at scale is harder than most appreciate.

    The idea that a $200 piece of content is particularly cheap comes across as ill-informed as there are many headwinds and many variables. The ability to monetize content depends on a ton of factors including: how commercial is it, how hard is it to monetize, what revshare do you go, how hard is it to rank or get distribution in front of other high intent audience sets?

    If an article costs $200 it would be hard to make that back if it monetizes at anything under a $10 RPM. 20,000 visits equates to 20 units of RPM.

    Some articles will not spread in spite of being high quality. Other articles take significant marketing spend to help them spread. Suddenly that $200 "successful" piece is closer to $500 when one averages in nonperformers that don't spread & marketing expenses on ones that do. So then they either need the RPM to double or triple from there or the successful article needs to get at least 50,000 visits in order to break even.

    A $10 RPM is quite high for many topics unless the ads are quite aggressively integrated into the content. The flip side of that is aggressive ad integration inhibits content spread & can cause algorithmic issues which prevent sustained rankings. Recall that in the most recent algorithm update Credit Karma saw some of their "money" credit card pages slide down the rankings due to aggressive monetization. And that happened to a big site which was purchased for over $7 billion. Smaller sites see greater levels of volatility. And nobody is investing $100,000s trying to break even many years down the road. If they were only trying to break even they'd buy bonds and ignore the concept of actively running a business of any sort.

    Back in 2018 AdStage analyzed the Google display network and found the following: "In Q1 2018, advertisers spent, on average, $2.80 per thousand impressions (CPM), and $0.75 per click (CPC). The average click-through rate (CTR) on the GDN was 0.35%."

    A web page which garnered 20,000 pageviews and had 3 ad units on each page would get a total of 210 ad clicks given a 0.35% ad CTR. At 75 cents per click that would generate $157.50.

    Suddenly a "cheap" $200 article doesn't look so cheap. What's more is said business would also have other costs beyond the writing. They have to pay for project management, editorial review, hosting, ad partnerships & biz dev, etc. etc. etc.

    After all those other layers of overhead a $200 article would likely need to get about 50,000 pageviews to back out. And a $1,000 piece of content might need to get a quarter million or more pageviews to back out.

  • 24/05/2020 How to Read Google Algorithm Updates

    Links = Rank

    Old Google (pre-Panda) was to some degree largely the following: links = rank.

    Once you had enough links to a site you could literally pour content into a site like water and have the domain's aggregate link authority help anything on that site rank well quickly.

    As much as PageRank was hyped & important, having a diverse range of linking domains and keyword-focused anchor text were important.

    Brand = Rank

    After Vince then Panda a site's brand awareness (or, rather, ranking signals that might best simulate it) were folded into the ability to rank well.

    Panda considered factors beyond links & when it first rolled out it would clip anything on a particular domain or subdomain. Some sites like HubPages shifted their content into subdomains by users. And some aggressive spammers would rotate their entire site onto different subdomains repeatedly each time a Panda update happened. That allowed those sites to immediately recover from the first couple Panda updates, but eventually Google closed off that loophole.

    Any signal which gets relied on eventually gets abused intentionally or unintentionally. And over time it leads to a "sameness" of the result set unless other signals are used:

    Google is absolute garbage for searching anything related to a product. If I'm trying to learn something invariably I am required to search another source like Reddit through Google. For example, I became introduced to the concept of weighted blankets and was intrigued. So I Google "why use a weighted blanket" and "weighted blanket benefits". Just by virtue of the word "weighted blanket" being in the search I got pages and pages of nothing but ads trying to sell them, and zero meaningful discourse on why I would use one

    Getting More Granular

    Over time as Google got more refined with Panda broad-based sites outside of the news vertical often fell on tough times unless they were dedicated to some specific media format or had a lot of user engagement metrics like a strong social network site. That is a big part of why the New York Times sold About.com for less than they paid for it & after IAC bought it they broke it down into a variety of sites like: Verywell (health), the Spruce (home decor), the Balance (personal finance), Lifewire (technology), Tripsavvy (travel) and ThoughtCo (education & self-improvement).

    Penguin further clipped aggressive anchor text built on low quality links. When the Penguin update rolled out Google also rolled out an on-page spam classifier to further obfuscate the update. And the Penguin update was sandwiched by Panda updates on either side, making it hard for people to reverse engineer any signal out of weekly winners and losers lists from services that aggregate massive amounts of keyword rank tracking data.

    So much of the link graph has been decimated that Google reversed their stance on nofollow to where in March 1st of this year they started treating it as a hint versus a directive for ranking purposes. Many mainstream media websites were overusing nofollow or not citing sources at all, so this additional layer of obfuscation on Google's part will allow them to find more signal in that noise.

    May 4, 2020 Algo Update

    On May 4th Google rolled out another major core update.

    Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the May 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see this blog post for more about that:https://t.co/e5ZQUAlt0G— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 4, 2020

    I saw some sites which had their rankings suppressed for years see a big jump. But many things changed at once.

    Wedge Issues

    On some political search queries which were primarily classified as being news related Google is trying to limit political blowback by showing official sites and data scraped from official sites instead of putting news front & center.

    "Google’s pretty much made it explicit that they’re not going to propagate news sites when it comes to election related queries and you scroll and you get a giant election widget in your phone and it shows you all the different data on the primary results and then you go down, you find Wikipedia, you find other like historical references, and before you even get to a single news article, it’s pretty crazy how Google’s changed the way that the SERP is intended."

    That change reflects the permanent change to the news media ecosystem brought on by the web.

    The Internet commoditized the distribution of facts. The "news" media responded by pivoting wholesale into opinions and entertainment.— Naval (@naval) May 26, 2016

    YMYL

    A blog post by Lily Ray from Path Interactive used Sistrix data to show many of the sites which saw high volatility were in the healthcare vertical & other your money, your life (YMYL) categories.

    Aggressive Monetization

    One of the more interesting pieces of feedback on the update was from Rank Ranger, where they looked at particular pages that jumped or fell hard on the update. They noticed sites that put ads or ad-like content front and center may have seen sharp falls on some of those big money pages which were aggressively monetized:

    Seeing this all but cements the notion (in my mind at least) that Google did not want content unrelated to the main purpose of the page to appear above the fold to the exclusion of the page's main content! Now for the second wrinkle in my theory.... A lot of the pages being swapped out for new ones did not use the above-indicated format where a series of "navigation boxes" dominated the page above the fold.

    The above shift had a big impact on some sites which are worth serious money. Intuit paid over $7 billion to acquire Credit Karma, but their credit card affiliate pages recently slid hard.

    Credit Karma lost 40% traffic from May core update. That’s insane, they do major TV ads and likely pay millions in SEO expenses. Think about that folks. Your site isn’t safe. Google changes what they want radically with every update, while telling us nothing!— SEOwner (@tehseowner) May 14, 2020

    The above sort of shift reflects Google getting more granular with their algorithms. Early Panda was all or nothing. Then it started to have different levels of impact throughout different portions of a site.

    Brand was sort of a band aid or a rising tide that lifted all (branded) boats. Now we are seeing Google get more granular with their algorithms where a strong brand might not be enough if they view the monetization as being excessive. That same focus on page layout can have a more adverse impact on small niche websites.

    One of my old legacy clients had a site which was primarily monetized by the Amazon affiliate program. About a month ago Amazon chopped affiliate commissions in half & then the aggressive ad placement caused search traffic to the site to get chopped in half when rankings slid on this update.

    Their site has been trending down over the past couple years largely due to neglect as it was always a small side project. They recently improved some of the content about a month or so ago and that ended up leading to a bit of a boost, but then this update came. As long as that ad placement doesn't change the declines are likely to continue.

    They just recently removed that ad unit, but that meant another drop in income as until there is another big algo update they're likely to stay at around half search traffic. So now they have a half of a half of a half. Good thing the site did not have any full time employees or they'd be among the millions of newly unemployed. That experience though really reflects how websites can be almost like debt levered companies in terms of going under virtually overnight. Who can have revenue slide around 88% and then take increase investment in the property using the remaining 12% while they wait for the site to be rescored for a quarter year or more?

    "If you have been negatively impacted by a core update, you (mostly) cannot see recovery from that until another core update. In addition, you will only see recovery if you significantly improve the site over the long-term. If you haven’t done enough to improve the site overall, you might have to wait several updates to see an increase as you keep improving the site. And since core updates are typically separated by 3-4 months, that means you might need to wait a while."

    Almost nobody can afford to do that unless the site is just a side project.

    Google could choose to run major updates more frequently, allowing sites to recover more quickly, but they gain economic benefit in defunding SEO investments & adding opportunity cost to aggressive SEO strategies by ensuring ranking declines on major updates last a season or more.

    Choosing a Strategy vs Letting Things Come at You

    They probably should have lowered their ad density when they did those other upgrades. If they had they likely would have seen rankings at worst flat or likely up as some other competing sites fell. Instead they are rolling with a half of a half of a half on the revenue front. Glenn Gabe preaches the importance of fixing all the problems you can find rather than just fixing one or two things and hoping it is enough. If you have a site which is on the edge you sort of have to consider the trade offs between various approaches to monetization.

    • monetize it lightly and hope the site does well for many years
    • monetize it slightly aggressively while using the extra income to further improve the site elsewhere and ensure you have enough to get by any lean months
    • aggressively monetize the shortly after a major ranking update if it was previously lightly monetized & then hope to sell it off a month or two later before the next major algorithm update clips it again

    Outcomes will depend partly on timing and luck, but consciously choosing a strategy is likely to yield better returns than doing a bit of mix-n-match while having your head buried in the sand.

    Reading the Algo Updates

    You can spend 50 or 100 hours reading blog posts about the update and learn precisely nothing in the process if you do not know which authors are bullshitting and which authors are writing about the correct signals.

    But how do you know who knows what they are talking about?

    It is more than a bit tricky as the people who know the most often do not have any economic advantage in writing specifics about the update. If you primarily monetize your own websites, then the ignorance of the broader market is a big part of your competitive advantage.

    Making things even trickier, the less you know the more likely Google would be to trust you with sending official messaging through you. If you syndicate their messaging without questioning it, you get a treat - more exclusives. If you question their messaging in a way that undermines their goals, you'd quickly become persona non grata - something cNet learned many years ago when they published Eric Schmidt's address.

    It would be unlikely you'd see the following sort of Tweet from say Blue Hat SEO or Fantomaster or such.

    I asked Gary about E-A-T. He said it's largely based on links and mentions on authoritative sites. i.e. if the Washington post mentions you, that's good.

    He recommended reading the sections in the QRG on E-A-T as it outlines things well.@methode #Pubcon— Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes) February 21, 2018

    To be able to read the algorithms well you have to have some market sectors and keyword groups you know well. Passively collecting an archive of historical data makes the big changes stand out quickly.

    Everyone who depends on SEO to make a living should subscribe to an online rank tracking service or run something like Serposcope locally to track at least a dozen or two dozen keywords. If you track rankings locally it makes sense to use a set of web proxies and run the queries slowly through each so you don't get blocked.

    You should track at least a diverse range to get a true sense of the algorithmic changes.

    • a couple different industries
    • a couple different geographic markets (or at least some local-intent vs national-intent terms within a country)
    • some head, midtail and longtail keywords
    • sites of different size, age & brand awareness within a particular market

    Some tools make it easy to quickly add or remove graphing of anything which moved big and is in the top 50 or 100 results, which can help you quickly find outliers. And some tools also make it easy to compare their rankings over time. As updates develop you'll often see multiple sites making big moves at the same time & if you know a lot about the keyword, the market & the sites you can get a good idea of what might have been likely to change to cause those shifts.

    Once you see someone mention outliers most people miss that align with what you see in a data set, your level of confidence increases and you can spend more time trying to unravel what signals changed.

    I've read influential industry writers mention that links were heavily discounted on this update. I have also read Tweets like this one which could potentially indicate the opposite.

    Check out https://t.co/1GhD2U01ch . Up even more than Pinterest and ranking for some real freaky shit.— Paul Macnamara (@TheRealpmac) May 12, 2020

    If I had little to no data, I wouldn't be able to get any signal out of that range of opinions. I'd sort of be stuck at "who knows."

    By having my own data I track I can quickly figure out which message is more inline with what I saw in my subset of data & form a more solid hypothesis.

    No Single Smoking Gun

    As Glenn Gabe is fond of saying, sites that tank usually have multiple major issues.

    Google rolls out major updates infrequently enough that they can sandwich a couple different aspects into major updates at the same time in order to make it harder to reverse engineer updates. So it does help to read widely with an open mind and imagine what signal shifts could cause the sorts of ranking shifts you are seeing.

    Sometimes site level data is more than enough to figure out what changed, but as the above Credit Karma example showed sometimes you need to get far more granular and look at page-level data to form a solid hypothesis.

    As the World Changes, the Web Also Changes

    About 15 years ago online dating was seen as a weird niche for recluses who perhaps typically repulsed real people in person. Now there are all sorts of niche specialty dating sites including a variety of DTF type apps. What was once weird & absurd had over time become normal.

    The COVID-19 scare is going to cause lasting shifts in consumer behavior that accelerate the movement of commerce online. A decade of change will happen in a year or two across many markets.

    Telemedicine will grow quickly. Facebook is adding commerce featured directly onto their platform through partnering with Shopify. Spotify is spending big money to buy exclusives rights to distribute widely followed podcasters like Joe Rogan. Uber recently offered to acquire GrubHub. Google and Apple will continue adding financing features to their mobile devices. Movie theaters have lost much of their appeal.

    Tons of offline "value" businesses ended up having no value after months of revenue disappearing while large outstanding debts accumulated interest. There is a belief that some of those brands will have strong latent brand value that carries over online, but if they were weak even when the offline stores acting like interactive billboards subsidized consumer awareness of their brands then as those stores close the consumer awareness & loyalty from in-person interactions will also dry up. A shell of a company rebuilt around the Toys R' Us brand is unlikely to beat out Amazon's parallel offering or a company which still runs stores offline.

    Big box retailers like Target & Walmart are growing their online sales at hundreds of percent year over year.

    There will be waves of bankruptcies, dramatic shifts in commercial real estate prices (already reflected in plunging REIT prices), and more people working remotely (shifting residential real estate demand from the urban core back out into suburbs).

    People who work remote are easier to hire and easier to fire. Those who keep leveling up their skills will eventually get rewarded while those who don't will rotate jobs every year or two. The lack of stability will increase demand for education, though much of that incremental demand will be around new technologies and specific sectors - certificates or informal training programs instead of degrees.

    More and more activities will become normal online activities.

    The University of California has about a half-million students & in the fall semester they are going to try to have most of those classes happen online. How much usage data does Google gain as thousands of institutions put more and more of their infrastructure and service online?

    Colleges have to convince students for the next year that a remote education is worth every bit as much as an in-person one, and then pivot back before students actually start believing it.

    It’s like only being able to sell your competitor’s product for a year.— Naval (@naval) May 6, 2020

    A lot of B & C level schools are going to go under as the like-vs-like comparison gets easier. Back when I ran a membership site here a college paid us to have students gain access to our membership area of the site. As online education gets normalized many unofficial trade-related sites will look more economically attractive on a relative basis.

    If core institutions of the state deliver most of their services online, then other companies can be expected to follow. When big cities publish lists of crimes they will not respond to during economic downturns they are effectively subsidizing more crime. That in turn makes moving to somewhere a bit more rural & cheaper make sense, particularly when you no longer need to live near your employer.

    The most important implication of this permanent WFH movement are state income taxes.

    The warm, sunny states with affordable housing and zero taxes will see an influx of educated, rich workers. States will need to cut taxes to keep up.

    The biggest loser in this is CA.— Chamath Palihapitiya (@chamath) May 21, 2020

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  • 03/02/2011 Clicksteam For Dummies: How The Ranking Factor Works
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