Mike Dillard Sues Website Owner Over Manipulative Search Engine Optimization Techniques

Mike Dillard, a “leading authority” on attraction marketing, internet marketing, and personal branding within the “network marketing” industry, is suing James Stein, owner of ArticlesProductions.com. Dillard claims that he and his companies have been defamed because Stein’s web site ranked higher in the search results for certain keywords in the Google search results.

Mike Dillard sued James Stein and received a temporary restraining order in the District Court of Travis County, Texas. The temporary restraining order was granted based on “Stein’s actions are causing immediate harm to the business reputation of Dillard and his businesses. Stein’s actions are interfering with existing and prospective contractual interests and causing confusion by misdirecting online traffic to Stein’s own competing web site.”

I have to say that this is the first time I have heard of someone being successful in getting a temporary restraining order for “misdirecting online traffic” to a competing web site. In fact, it appears that all of this is because of organic search engine listings in the Google search engine.

The following are statements taken directly from the affidavit:

“Stein quickly followed-up his discussion by identifying and targeting certain search-engine keywords to divert web traffic to his site, including:- “elevation group, the elevation, us elevation, best elevation, elevation media, elevation marketing” – to opportunistically palm off on my success…”

“By late on the night of December 14, 2010, Stein was expanding…by manipulating the ability of existing and prospective online customers to reach The Elevation Group website through a Google search by manipulative “search engine optimization” techniques…”

“Like most internet search engines, Google uses a large index of keywords and where those words can be found online. Google is unique, however, in how it ranks search results, which in turn determines the order in which Google displays search results. The following information was obtained concerning the amount of search results for each search term to demonstrate the degree to which Stein has endeavored to defame me by manipulating Google search results”

“Upon information and believe, Stein…has engaged in the use of “back-links” and content syndication…to willfully and maliciously manipulate search engine results so that actual and potential consumers attempting to locate The Elevation Group and/or The Elevation Group website are misdirected to Stein’s website…”

There are other issues involved here and other claims by Mr. Mike Dillard that James Stein has registered confusing domain names (cybersquatting), and posting disparaging comments about Mike Dillard and his business. There is also apparently a YouTube video that was ranking well in the organic search results that Mr. Mike Dillard wanted taken down, as well.

What I find interesting, though, is that a temporary restraining order was granted based on the fact that the defendent in the lawsuit was “manipulating the ability of existing and prospective online customers to reach The Elevation Group website through a Google search by manipulative “search engine optimization” techniques…”.

Since when are “manipulative search engine optimization techniques” a crime?

Granted, there are other issues and claims involved here in this case, but it appears that the primary issue at hand here is the fact that Mr. Stein was able to rank better in the organic search engine results on Google for certain keyword phrases.

What We Really Think of Internet Marketing Gurus

Imagine that you just lost your job and decided to start your own business. You have heard that you can make money online, at home, in your pajamas. So, you go on over to Google and search for “work from home opportunities” or “make money online”. What do you find? Probably something like this:

All sorts of “work at home” opportunities, from so-called “gurus”. They all want to sell you something. If you start digging through the search results, usually you will find all sorts of scams from so-called “guru” type personalities that promise to show you how to “get rich beyond your wildest dreams”, with the push of a button. Well, Jim Kukral and Shawn Collins has decided to change that. They’ve started a website called Unguru.me that is place for small business owners, entrepreneurs and marketers of all levels of experience to get together to learn and network in an unfiltered atmosphere that is void of hype.

Unguru.me put together a report called “The 2011 Unguru.me Report“. It offers an inside look as what people really think of gurus. Summary: It’s not pretty for the self-proclaimed gurus. Take a look at this:

Here is a sampling of what Unguru.me found:

– 89% of participants felt skeptical when the word guru was referenced, compared to only 11% who said they felt excited
– When asked whether or not they themselves would ever refer to themselves as a guru, only 5% said yes, while 19% answered maybe. 30% gave an absolute answer of never, and 46% said no
– When asked whether they would ever purchase a product from a guru, 41% said they would never, but 59% said they might if they needed the product

Unguru.me is the #1 way to build your business, without being obnoxious. It’s a community for small business owners, entrepreneurs and anyone else who want to learn and share with others ways to build a profitable and long-term business without having to resort to lame marketing and sales tactics that the gurus employ.

How to Drive Word of Mouth in B2B Online Marketing

By Erika Penzer Kerekes

What’s the best way for B2B companies who market to small businesses to drive word of mouth? Here are some tips from marketing experts Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends and John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, who spoke at the Corporate Executive Board’s Enterprise Council on Small Businesses Summit last June:

Be human. Corporatespeak and heavy-duty marketing pitches turn small business owners off, says Campbell: “They love to see people’s faces.” Put employees’ pictures and individual voices on your website and other marketing materials, she suggested.

Cultivate your cheerleaders. Your business has enthusiastic advocates out there, counseled Campbell – find them, encourage them, support them. These folks are valuable assets in the world of word-of-mouth marketing: They’ll defend you to critics and praise you to anyone who asks.

Do your homework. Your customers are probably using social media, advised Jantsch – so friend them, follow them, and engage with them. Know what your targets have done on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn before you pitch them anything.

Add value. You’ll get more word-of-mouth power by using social media to educate your audience rather than selling to them, said Campbell.

Get it on video. Jantsch suggested interviewing customers on video about their experiences with your products and services. It’s great content that’s easily shareable on your site or theirs, or through other marketing channels – and customers love it.

Engage with unhappy customers. When you find disgruntled customers airing their grievances in public – for example, in online reviews of your company’s products or services – jump in and try to make it right, said Jantsch. And do so in public, where the rest of your target market can see you being responsive: That’s how you establish trust with your audience.

Take turns. Give different functions within your company a chance to respond directly to online comments and inquiries, right up to the CEO, said Jantsch. When top management understands the kind of conversation that’s already happening online with your customers and target market, they’ll really see the value in devoting resources to cultivating word of mouth.

Erika Penzer Kerekes heads product strategy and social media for Business.com.

The 11 Types of Alexa Hot URLs and How to Get There

Alexa Hot URLs
Alexa is a subsidiary company of Amazon.com typically known for its rankings of websites. The Alexa Toolbar collects data on the web browsing behavior of those who have it installed. That data is then used for its rankings of the top 500 websites and showing traffic details of sites like mine.

It is important to note that it has been widely rumored over the years that the Alexa rankings can be manipulated fairly easily. The Alexa Rankings, however, are different than the Alexa Hot URLs, which isn’t as easily manipulated and therefore I would assume is more accurate. The Alexa Hot URLs is a list of the hottest web pages on the internet right now according to the Alexa Toolbar; and the list is updated every five minutes.

There are several ways to use the Alexa Hot URLs list. From a website owner’s standpoint, getting one of your website’s URLs to show up on this list means that “you’ve made it”. It also means that your website’s search engine rankings are going to change (for the better) and your website is (or soon will be) getting better organic search engine rankings because your site traffic is up. And from a web surfer’s standpoint, it’s certainly an interesting place to start your web surfing: the list shows what’s hot right now, the websites that everyone’s visiting right now. Quite often it’s full of the latest top news stories, but it’s also filled with lots of other stuff: and that’s the whole point of me writing this.

I have watched the Alexa Top URLs for over a month and determined that the list can be broken into certain types of URLs. After categorizing them, I have analyzed each type to determine exactly how and why that type of web page appears on the list of Alexa Hot URLs and added comments on how you would get your site on the list if you own a similar website. These are not necessarily in any order of importance or any order of how often they appear.

The Mainstream Media News Article
If it’s major news, then it’s most likely going to be covered multiple times and all the major news websites are covering it. Quite often, there will be more than one article covering the same topic.
Examples – News.yahoo.com articles, CNN.com articles, local FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS news affiliate website articles
How often It Stays – As long as it’s news, people will still be interested in it. These don’t stay around for a while, a few hours at best. Longer if the article has gone popular or hot on a social bookmarking site like Digg.
How You Get There – If you’re a mainstream news site, putting the article on your site’s home page and promoting it on other sites will certainly help. Make sure the article is optimized with the proper title tag and include links to socialize the article like a link to Digg.com, Mixx.com, Propeller.com, Reddit.com, and Delicious.com. A link to StumbleUpon may help, as well. If it’s big news, getting picked up by Drudge will help. The news site should also be in Google News and in Yahoo News, which also helps.

The Mainstream Media Link Bait Article
Classic linkbait articles with nifty headlines still will pull in readers. Linkbait is not just for bloggers, the mainstream media has been using it for years and still use it. “How to” articles and “Things you didn’t know” type of articles still are highly read.
Examples – MSN and Yahoo! are notorious for these types of mainstream linkbait articles. Here’s one by MSN and
How often It Stays – Usually at least a day or so, it really depends on how long the main site wants is featuring it. If it’s an MSN.com article, then the traffic is usually from MSN and they’re pushing it. If it’s a subdomain of Yahoo!, like RealEstate.Yahoo.com, then the traffic is mainly from Yahoo.com.
How You Get There – The mainstream sites know how to get their article there: feature it on the home page. Certainly pushing it out through social media bookmarking sites will help, but mainly the traffic is already there and it’s just a matter of featuring it somewhere. [Read more...]

Visible Measures Unveils Solution for Measuring Effectiveness of Internet Video Advertising Campaigns


Visible Measures has unveiled a new solution for measuring the effectiveness of internet video advertising campaigns. This new solution, called “VisibleCampaign”, provides advertisers and ad agencies with true viral reach and audience campaign performance metrics. Visible Measures is an independent third-party measurement firm for Internet video publishers and advertisers.

VisibleCampaign(TM) is a new solution that measures the true viral reach and audience engagement of Internet video advertising campaigns. VisibleCampaign helps advertisers and agencies understand the effectiveness of in-market campaigns and make better decisions about future video advertising investments.

As part of its ongoing efforts to determine the true value of Internet video as an advertising medium, Visible Measures also has agreed to conduct a series of joint projects in collaboration with Dynamic Logic, the leading digital advertising effectiveness research company.

Industry analyst firm IDC recently predicted that, over the next five years, Internet video advertising will be the fastest growing segment of the online marketing industry, expanding sevenfold to more than $3.8 billion by 2012(1). This strong projected market growth is predicated on brand advertisers shifting their advertising investments from traditional broadcast budgets to the emerging medium of Internet video. The industry, however, is only now beginning to explore how to measure the effectiveness of digital video advertising, and standard practices for gauging success have yet to be established. (1) IDC, US Internet Advertising 2008-2012 Forecast and Analysis: Defying Economic Crisis, Doc # 212149, May 2008.

VisibleCampaign gives advertisers and agencies the ability to measure the True Reach(TM) of their online video campaigns, from brand-driven paid placements to community-driven responses and reposts. At its core, the service is powered by the company’s unique Viral Reach Database(TM), a constantly updated repository that tracks video performance of over 80 million unique videos across 150 video sharing sites. As a result, VisibleCampaign can report campaign reach metrics no matter where the campaign goes or how the community responds.

VisibleCampaign also provides detailed measurements that show how audiences engage with video-based campaigns, so advertisers and their agencies can see not just how many times a particular ad was viewed, but whether or not the central brand messages were delivered. Understanding audience engagement makes it possible to detect emerging viewership trends, pre-test content in advance of deploying a campaign, and benchmark performance against other campaigns. This capability is made possible by Visible Measures’ Video Metrics Engine(TM), which captures every interaction by every viewer in every video and computes critical engagement metrics like message exposure and initial attention.

Immediately available and priced on both a per-campaign and an annual subscription basis, VisibleCampaign is a technology-enabled service that provides independent third-party measurement of Internet video advertising campaigns. By measuring the True Reach and precise audience engagement of every campaign, VisibleCampaign enables advertisers and their agencies to improve campaign performance in the short-term and make data-driven decision about future video advertising investments in the long-term.

Visible Measures is an independent third-party measurement firm for Internet video publishers and advertisers. Their patented approach has been designed from the ground up to meet the unique challenges of measuring digital video reach and engagement. By capturing every video interaction by every viewer in every video, we provide organizations with unprecedented visibility into their online video audiences and how they engage with both content assets and advertising placements. Visible Measures is a member of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Digital Video Committee and the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).

Generating Traffic with the Publicity Wheel

Guest Post by Mark Schumann

There are many ways to increase traffic and exposure for your website, but these techniques can often take a long time and provide frustratingly minimal results. Instead, try to imagine what could happen if your site was being advertised on hundreds of similar sites continuously for several days. This is the goal of the Publicity Wheel, a new concept for generating a boost in traffic and exposure for website owners. Rather than the banner/link exchanges used to generate a steady trickle of visitors, the Publicity Wheel aims to give one website (per category) full exposure and resultant benefits in traffic for an extended period of time.

Publicity Wheel Homepage

It works by providing a piece of code to site owners that will generate the banner/link to the currently-featured site within a particular category. Every time a visitor clicks on one of these links, the Publicity Wheel member is given an associated number of “publicity points”. These points then contribute to the selection of the forthcoming featured site generated during the next “spin”. Consider a “wheel of fortune” scenario, where each publicity point owned provides one “slice” of the wheel. It’s also like a lottery, but instead of buying a new ticket after each draw, points continue to accumulate even after a winner is selected, so members have a much better chance to win over time. Winner points are reset to zero to avoid having the same sites featured each round. This allows sites with low-traffic to benefit by still having a chance of winning each round, even with a small number of points.

Background
The Publicity Wheel was launched in early April 2008 by myself, Mark Schumann (follow me on Twitter). I work as an e-Learning Developer in a K-12 school in Melbourne, Australia, and own 2 other websites. The first is Edutagger, a K-12 social bookmarking site (much like Digg), which was developed primarily to provide K-12 teachers with a repository of quality resources. The second is a concept known as the Fame Experiment, which is where the original idea for the Publicity Wheel was born.

The Fame Experiment, as the name implies, is an experiment on the internet fame and society’s response to it. I had wondered about this phenomenon, where (often by accident) certain people had become famous overnight for any number of reasons. I questioned whether this fame was restricted to the internet, and whether these people were being recognised and approached in “real life”. As a result, the Fame Experiment was developed in an attempt to artificially generate fame by promoting a single person’s image to as may places online as possible. Fame points are generated in the same was as publicity points, but there is only one winner. Incidentally, this winner is yet to be selected as the experiment is still running.

Over time, I noticed a number of people signing up to the Fame Experiment with the hope of achieving “fame” for their websites, which of course sparked the idea for the Publicity Wheel. The concept is similar, but the implementation and goals are very different. Instead of one winner, the Publicity Wheel generates one winner for each category, and repeats to process every few days.

The Publicity Wheel certainly isn’t for everyone, but it provides a great alternative approach to internet marketing and traffic-building that is simple to setup and use.

Sphinn is a Dysfunctional Social Network Because Internet Marketers Don’t Understand Social Networking

Eric Lander has a great blog post about Sphinn. If you have not heard of Sphinn.com, Sphinn is a “News, Discussion Forums & Networking for Search & Internet Marketing Professionals” site. It’s Danny Sullivan’s social networking site for internet marketing professionals.

Eric Lander's Blog

Since Eric has written a great post and has pointed to my activity on Sphinn, I thought that I would respond to his blog post and make some observations about Eric’s post, about Sphinn, and, more importantly, point out that the typical search engine marketer does not understand social networking.

Eric points to some interesting statistics. I agree that these statistics are a few weeks old. Nevertheless, they definitely get the point across. Let’s look at the statistics of Sphinn that Eric has collected:

Registered Users: 12,410
Users with 5+ Submissions: 750
Users with 2+ Comments: ~1,300
Users with 1+ Sphinn: 6,259

To be honest with you, Eric, I have to say that I’m not surprised at all with the numbers. Really. You have to understand that the majority of the people who are members of Sphinn are internet marketers, SEOs, Online Marketers, or whatever you want to call them. What they are not is social networkers. Yes, you heard me correctly, the majority of Sphinners (Sphinn members) are not social networkers. Frankly, I would say that the majority of the users on Sphinn “don’t get it”. They do not understand that to build your own personal social network you have to add friends. You have to submit stuff. You have to comment. You have to be active. Yes, you have to vote on stuff.

Unless I’m entirely off base here, and I know I could be – I believe that five submissions would classify a casual user of the network, not a leader.

No, Eric, you’re absolutely not off-base here. You are correct. I would actually say that those Sphinn users who have only submitted 5 things are not even casual users. They are probably search engine marketers who have just “jumped on the bandwagon” and become a member of Sphinn because others in their industry are members there. I would not even all those people casual users, they’re just registered users. That’s it.

Bill Hartzer, The Sphinnmaster
Bill Hartzer (bhartzer) has cast 10,427 Sphinns. The next active user, Maki (DoshDosh) has 5,108 Sphinns. That’s 48.9% of the actvity of Bill. In other words, Bill’s out there giving our Sphinns like candy on Halloween. Stopping short of accusing Bill of just sphinning everything he sees, I’ll say this… Bill has 1 comment for every 100 sphinns cast. Continuing the comparison, DoshDosh has nearly 5 comments per 100 sphinns cast. aimclear, Sphinn’s third most active user produces nearly 12 commens per 100 sphinns.

I’m sorry Bill, I just don’t see how you can vote for that many items without providing more commentary. I’m certainly open to your response though. Am I just assuming too much on the numbers?

Thanks for bringing this up. Yes, really. I’m very glad that you have pointed out that I am active. Obviously very active. Take a look at how many friends I have on Sphinn. I have to admit that I visit every single day (sometimes more than once a day) and look at the Sphinn home page. And yes, I don’t have any problem with Sphinning (or voting) on everything on the home page. I actually use the Sphinn home page as one of my personal news sources. It’s a great way to keep up with what’s really going on in the industry.

who sphunn this

Let’s take a look at another reason why I am so active on Sphinn. I love being active. In fact, voting is a part of being active in the social networking communities. Part of being active means that you vote on your friends’ stuff. And oh yeah, have you seen the “who Sphunn this” link on the Sphinn pages?

who sphinned this

Wow, that’s a link back to your profile. In fact, those are links back to your profile. I guess you could actually say that there are probably 10,427 links back to my profile page on Sphinn.

Regarding the comments? Well, let me just say that you probably have never met me in person. I do admit, though, that I really need to start commenting more. Could you consider this blog post one large comment. Perhaps. Take a look, though at how many others are commenting. Some are just more talkative than others.

Is there enough data?

Sphinn is a new social networking community. There is enough data to make some pretty broad assumptions here. In fact, although Sphinn’s goal is to be a social networking community for search marketers and SEM topics, you have to realize what they community is made up of. A social network is only as good as its user base. Sphinn is made up search engine marketers. Search engine marketers are search engine marketers, They know PPC, they know SEO, they know how to get links to sites. Search engine marketers, the majority of Sphinn users, are not social networking experts. The typical search engine marketer does not understand social media. And the numbers really show it. The majority of Sphinn users are not active. Friends’ stats are not available, but I would imagine that most Sphinn users have not added a lot of friends to their network.

Is there enough data? Yes. Is Sphinn the typical social networking community? Absolutely not. It’s a great community of search engine marketers. The typical Internet Marketer does not understand social networking. And that is not a bad thing.

Moving On from Dallas Interactive Marketing Firm VIZION Interactive

For several years now, I had been the main search engine marketing expert at MarketNet in Dallas, Texas. After talking for quite some time with Mark Jackson over at VIZION Interactive, I had decided to make a move.

I worked at Vizion Interactive as the Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing Manager, and have decided to move on. If you’re interested in getting in touch with me, you’re at the right place. My contact information is on my contact page.

Starting Monday, March 1, 2010, I am no longer with VIZION Interactive.

Mark Jackson VIZION Interactive

VIZION Interactive was founded by Mark Jackson on the premise that honesty, integrity, and transparency forge the pillars that strong partnerships should be based upon. That’s one reason (okay, that’s several reasons) why I chose to work with Mark and VIZION Interactive. I’m proud to say that I will be a part of this amazing team of online marketers.

While I’m moving over to VIZION Interactive, I cannot say enough about the amazing people at MarketNet. My time at MarketNet has been inspiring and amazing to say the least.

VIZION Interactive

My emphasis at VIZION Interactive will be primarily focused on organic or “natural” search engine optimization and social media marketing. I look forward to combining my SEO, content creation (writing), and social media marketing expertise to make our clients successful in their online businesses.

Andy Beal Launches Marketing Pilgrim Internet Marketing Job Board

Andy Beal, the Marketing Pilgrim, is launching a job board in an effort to assist ex-MarketSmart Interactive employees. As you might recall, MarketSmart Interactive has recently laid off their internet marketing employees and is no longer offering internet marketing/search engine marketing services.

With the laying-off of so many talented marketers from MarketSmart Interactive, I wanted to give them as much help as I can in finding a new home. So, I’m inviting any employer to post their job listing for FREE, using the coupon code “PILGRIMBETA”. The coupon is good for a single-category, 30-day listing and expires February 12th. After that it’s just $47 a listing.

If you use the PILGRIMBETA code then you can get listed for free; it expires February 12, 2007. These free listings are primarily for MarketSmart Interactive, but there are actually other reasons why Andy is launching this internet marketing job board. I, too, have been inundated by requests from recruiters looking to help hire people in the internet marketing industry. [Read more...]