"By the Sea" - © Max Magnus Norman 1994.
How to dominate the fucking Internet
So you're a webmaster envious of these sites that seem to get zillions of visitors and all the attention in the world for reasons you just can't quite figure out. A man's diary about eating monkey chow, someone explaining how to make LED grafitti, the Gardner Dragon, the Star Wars Kid etc. etc. You also post cool stuff on your site all the time but no one ever seem to take any notice, no matter how hard you try or how cool your video or flash-animation is you just can't seem to create that meme you so badly want to have the creds for.
Well, here's the pretty simple ABC on how to dominate the Internet of today. The first three steps are essential, if you do not fulfill them all you won't succeed at all.
The first essential step is something you probably heard about over and over again before; it's content. You need to offer something cool, fun and interesting.
Your language is important. If you use "forbidden" words such as "fuck" and "shit" in a sensible manner in your texts then sensible people will actually deem you as more hands-on and trustworthy - a daring and open minded person that won't withhold any facts in order to please some bigot moralists. Yes, you might loose a few readers from southern US but you will win the rest of the world. And, upsetting stupid people might gain you invaluable support from smart people.
I won't linger much more on the style of your writing, just remember that your readers are after your ideas, not your words. Follow the example of Hemingway and mercilessly cut your babble down to its essential core.
If you're out to earn money the easy way, from ads such as AdSense for instance (What! You haven't?! Then ASAP!), then you know that you won't get paid unless people click on the ads. The problem is that you're not allowed to blatantly tell people to click on your ads so you have to solve that in another way. The winning tactic is to not make your readers completely satisfied from your site, you want them to feel the need to look further for more information. Write a good enough article for it to be found and read and perhaps even linked to, but do not give away the complete encyclopedia. Give your readers a good aperitif, making them even more hungry for more... ...and where's the shortest path to dinner? Your well placed on-the-subject ads of course! In other words, do not write articles such as this one!
Monetizing free content the porno way...
...and the AdSense way - it's basically the same principle..
The second essential step is friends, and not any kind of friends but friends on the 'net, and lots of them, at least 20 people or more. You need your Internet friends mostly for short term tactics, mainly to get mentioned in forum posts and listed on and voted for in Internet's many social networks. When reading articles you might have noticed a row of icons such as this:
Those are a pledge to you to submit the article to one or more social bookmarking sites that you might have registered with. The writer of course wants you to do this so that he or she will get more readers and links to the article. Look at this page's source if you want to learn how to create similar buttons for your own site, they are basically only picture links with some additional data attached to their target URLs. As a publisher you can make posting to social bookmarking sites easier for you by joining OnlyWire where you can post links to your article to a whole bunch of such services at once.
Most of these social networking or social bookmarking sites are just wannabes and copycats and posting to them will only bring you visitors if you write about Eden Mor's boobs or things along those lines. Those listed above are a few that really work.
As with all other Internet stuff quantity is the only thing that counts. Sites such as Digg and Reddit works by voting systems, the more votes a posted link gets the better its placement, the longer it stays alive and the more clicks it gets. It's here your merry crew becomes really useful. Posting a link to Digg as a lonely wolf outsider perhaps earns you three or four visitors. Posting a link to Digg and getting thirty or more people voting it up and commenting on it will result in hundreds - even thousands of visitors if it ends up on the frontpage. It's important to understand that this part of the Internet is not dominated by highly set quality standards but of large groups of people scratching each other's backs. Same goes with art contests and all those other contests where people submit their work for other to vote on. It's never the best piece that wins - it's the piece submitted by the fellow who's got most friends that grabs the prize.
On a lesser note you should not forget to "ping" (this is not the kind of pinging you do to contact other computers in a network, but a modern misuse of that word) your new articles to feed reading sites, assuming you do have a RSS-feed for your site - if you haven't then fix that ASAP. Pinging your updated feeds are especially important for bloggers and in order to make such things easier for you sites such as Ping-o-Matic and iPings are created. When pinging, do ping during the right hours of the day. It's generally not a good idea to ping in middle of the night when most of your presumed readers sleep .
If you create really cool or weird content you might occasionally get listed on CLPs, Cool Link Portal. Examples of such are eBaumsWorld, FARK.com, zipped.org etc. Note that this kind traffic with short bursts of thousands of people during a few days is completely worthless if you want AdSense revenue. The people coming in from CLPs do not give a damn about your ads, they are going through the CLP's daily list of cool stuff in order to be entertained and will neither click your ads nor surf deeper into your site. When getting traffic from CLPs you will soon notice that the AdSense ads on the targeted page are replaced with either your alternate ads or their public service ads. If your site gets listed on eBaum or Fark you should not be surprised to see that AdSense revenue probably goes down during the days you're listed. The only way to earn anything from this kind of traffic is to find someone stupid enough to pay for views of their ads on your site or sell really cool T-shirts. I know what I'm talking about here, about every twentieth post I make on this blog ends up on one or more CLPs, those are posts such as The World's Largest Strawberry or the Moose Grafitti stunt and virtually anything I write about our cat. Notice the difference in number of comments for those posts compared to neighbouring posts - such visitors come, see and drift away toward the next stimuli. Quite a few of them are hardly literate.
The third essential step, that which covers your long time tactics, is SEO, which means Search Engine Optimization. You need your site to appear at the first page on Google and MSN when people search for stuff such as yours and SEO is the name of the technique used to accomplish this.
Starting with your own site you need to think of what the people you're aiming your page at will search for. What will they type into Google's searchbox when they want to find your article? What you deem most likely to be typed in that field are the keywords or the keyphrases you need to put into strategic positions on your page. The most important position is the title tag (this is no HTML-tutorial so you have to learn that stuff somewhere else ;)), on shared second place is the page's file name, its URL, and the heading tags. When those are taken care of you should not forget to drop the desired words a few times in the regular text also. Of lesser importance - but no way worthless - are the keywords- and description meta tags.
You can't do decent SEO if you do not master HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language)- there's no escape from this if you wish to reach the top not just by incident. HTML is not a "real" programming language but a rather uncomplicated text formatting standard used in most Internet pages. Today most people take the easy path and use standardized templates and WYSIWYG-tools (What You See Is What You Get). WYSIWYG-tools and templates might spit out pages which on one hand look decent, but below the orderly surface they are always a spaghetti overkill of shitty code in which your precious keywords are sure to be entangled and drowned. It's common that standardized pages look too similar compared to each other in the "eyes" of the search engines indexing bots - bots that are programmed to reward unique content and depreciate or disregard non-unique content.
The only down coding you site from scratch and becoming successful is that you will inevitable become dissed by some freshly graduated designer ballerinas tip toeing around in their standardized blogs claiming that your site is the ugliest thing they've seen and that it's so "ninetish" in style. Due to some reason they all tend to sound the same. And yes, your hand coded site will probably look somewhat like sites made during the nineties - that is because during that decade people had to know how to program in order to make a decent site. Today people don't need to know how to write HTML in order to publish their message, but they do in order to get anyone other than their friends and family to read that message. So shut your ears to those drama queens, let them whine on in their small bubbles - their almost inaudible squeaks will always come from below if you follow my advice. To put it short: The only criticism you need to take seriously are your visitor stats.
Regarding SEO it is what happens outside your site which is actually more important than your tinkering within your site. You need links. You really need links. Without inbound links from other sites you will be completely invisible on the 'net. Most search engines have as their core a ranking system, and the most important factor when ranking a page is its number of inbound links. The ranking decides how close to the top of the search engine's list of search results the page in question will end up. If you do cool stuff, awesome art, funny flash games, helpful tutorials or anything that appeal to people then a few of them will link to your site all by themselves. Exchanging links with similar sites is also necessary - search engines do generally not favour sites without outgoing links, because such dead end sites rhymes badly with the idea of the Internet being just that, a net.
There is an easy way to see the ranking of pages on the Internet:
TBPR is measured on a scale spanning between 0 and 10. A TBPR of 3 is OK, 4 is better, 5 and up is really good.
Note that this Toolbar PageRank is updated quite rarely and pages newer than six months seldom have got any PR assigned to them. TBPR is also not the same as the PR used internally by Google when calculating search results, but it still gives a hint of a page's net value.
The problem is that it's not enough with a handful of inbound links to rank well for popular search terms - you will need thousands of them. The need for an astronomical sum of inbound links is one side of the problem, the other is that not any kind of links will do. Picture links and links on low-ranked pages or links on pages with zillions of other links are almost worthless. Links of value are those links from highly trafficked pages and text links that contain your keywords.
Thousands of text links with the right keywords from hundreds of other people's sites... Sounds pretty impossible doesn't it?
Well it's far from impossible. People have long ago faced this problem and come up with a number of solutions, I've already mentioned social networks and bookmarking sites. Signing up for a handful of such and regularly posting to them will give you lots of links. But the most effective way regarding SEO is to run some sort of campaign, preferably without having to spend too much money on it.
And now pay attention, because I'm going to hand over the most effective weapon known to man regarding this.
There are systems made by small groups of webmasters in order to create extremely effective campaigns, getting thousands of inbound text links and thus eventually totally dominate the Internet (that is the Internet dictated by the search engines). Basically these systems are link exchanges, you let up some space on your site for other people's links, and get paid in points or credits, how much depends on the ranking of the page you let up for those links. You can then use these credits to buy link space for your site on other member's sites. Roughly counting if you have a site with 100 pages and allow links on all these pages you will earn credits enough to buy you perhaps 500 inbound links to your site. Links whose texts you decide. If you point all those links to one important page on your site that will mean a whole lot for its ranking. ReceiveLinks and LinkVault are the names of two such systems. Do though beware that there are risks involved when utilizing such systems - use them for spamming and your sites are likely to be banned from the search engines, use them to promote and bring forth good content and they will open the world for you.
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