If you’ve been in a bubble or on vacation in the Bahamas or Tahiti for the past week, then you probably don’t know who Andrew Speaker is. He’s the recently-married Atlanta, Georgia attorney-turned tuberculosis patient (the man with TB) who thoughtfully decided to get on a plane and travel to Europe for a while even though he had been diagnosed with tuberculosis. In fact, the kind of tuberculosis he has is one that’s not very easily treatable by “normal” drugs. To make a long story short, he knew he had tuberculosis, traveled on several planes throughout Europe, was on the no fly list in the US, decided to fly to Canada and then enter the USA via the Canadian border, is been quarantined by the CDC, and is now currently undergoing treatment. But that’s not why I’ve decided to talk about Andrew Speaker and Power Advocates.
The Andrew Speaker case is big news. Big worldwide news. So much so that, according to Google Trends, “Andrew Speaker” and “Andrew Speaker wife” are two keyword phrases that are among the most searched-for phrases on the internet right now. Needless to say, the web sites that are showing up in the search results for “Andrew Speaker” and “Andrew Speaker wife” are getting a lot of traffic. That’s primarily the reason for talking about this.
Andrew Speaker and Power Advocates are missing a tremendous marketing opportunity right now. Why Power Advocates? Andrew Speaker’s bio (actually, it’s his law firm’s bio that mentions Andrew Speaker on the page) is hosted on a subdomain of the Power Advocates site. Instead of having (and paying for) their own domain name (by the way, they’re only $8.95 per year!), the law firm decided, for whatever reason, to host their web site at atlantadivorce.poweradvocates.com. Power Advocates says that they’re “a team of professionals focused exclusively on law firm website development and Internet marketing.” Let’s talk about the real reason for this article, which is the huge marketing opportunity that Andrew Speaker is missing.
By the way, if you’d like to see an archive of the bio page of Andrew Speaker, then you can see it here on Archive.org.
First of all, Andrew Speaker does not own his own domain name. In fact, a whois check of his name reveals that minutes (seconds?) after the “famous TB patient’s” name was revealed in the media, someone bought the andrewspeaker.com domain name. For lord’s sake, if you have a fairly unique name, then go out and buy your domain name. Hold onto it if you’re not going to do anything with it. (Actually, I suggest that you put up a blog or even a web page with a bio about yourself and a photo if nothing else. It’s important to do that for search engine marketing purposes because your site and your domain name will build up history and may even get a few links in the meantime. If you decide two years from now that you really want a web site on that domain name then you’ve already built up some history. History with domain names is generally a good thing.) Someone else now owns the andrewspeaker.com domain name, and probably was a fairly wise thing to do. I personally chose not to buy the name or attempt to buy the name because I don’t think this TB patient story has legs–meaning that phrases related to this news story won’t be popular for very long, perhaps only a few weeks. This brings me to some other points about this missed marketing opportunity by Andrew Speaker as well as by Power Advocates.
One of the biggest mistakes that Mr. Speaker made was that he allowed someone else to register “his domain name”, and there’s probably not a very good chance that he’ll be able to recover it–since he doesn’t own the trademark for his name and there is more than one “Andrew Speaker” in the USA. If the TB patient Andrew Speaker wants his domain name then most likely he’s going to have to pay (dearly) for it. So, that brings me to my next point: why didn’t Andrew Speaker’s law firm pay the extra $8.95 a year to have their domain name–instead, they chose to put the domain name on a subdomain of the Power Advocates domain.
Perhaps this was an “attempt” at search engine optimization by the Power Advocates company to help them show up in the search results for “Atlanta Divorce”. By the way–I have news for you: this is not a very good optimization technique. It’s much more effective to have your own domain name and build links from other web sites (in this case other lawyer and other divorce web sites) to your web site.
The second biggest marketing mistake here is being made by Power Advocates. Like I said earlier, they are hosting the “site” on a subdomain. Therefore, the Power Advocates server is most likely getting a lot of traffic because a page on that subdomain ranks number one in Google for “Andrew Speaker”. On the Power Advocates site, they have issued a statement that says that they subdomain was getting a lot of hits–thus eating up a lot of bandwidth, which is costing them money. However, there are ways to deal with this issue. Furthermore, the publicity that Power Advocates and, more importantly, the links that the subdomain will get by keeping the site live will, by far, outweigh the additional cost of bandwidth. Also, I don’t expect that this search phrase (Andrew Speaker) to have a lot of staying power: most likely, from my experience, there will be a lot of searches for a week or two at the most and then this story will fade out into the news archive oblivion and won’t be an issue anymore.
If Power Advocates were to keep the Andrew Speaker law firm’s subdomain live it will receive a lot of links from bloggers, news sites, and a lot of other influential web sites. The key here is that this is a subdomain of the poweradvocates.com site. Therefore, the poweradvocates.com domain name will benefit greatly from these links. Also, by keeping the Andrew Speaker law firm subdomain up and running throughout this entire ordeal, it’s an opportunity to “show off” their web design and (ahem) search engine optimization skills to other law firms who have never heard of Power Advocates. If the issue really is the fact that this subdomain is eating up a tremendous amount of bandwidth like Power Advocates is saying, then I personally say, “deal with it.” Borrow the money to pay the bandwidth bill if necessary. You cannot go out and buy this type of marketing opportunity, especially because it is the top story on just about every major news portal everywhere. These types of marketing opportunities do not come along in most marketer’s lifetimes: and if you don’t play your cards right, it could actually end up sinking your company and having a bad effect on the marketing. Right now, there’s probably some attorneys out there seeing the site and saying to themselves, “what, that company couldn’t keep the website up and running? I’m not going to use that company to do my law firm’s website, the don’t know that they’re doing”.
On the slight chance that the Andrew Speaker law firm decided to ask Power Advocates to take down their web site, I personally think that, too, would have been a mistake. The public should know about the law firm, especially if there’s someone who might want to use your services–by the way, did I mention the linking opportunities here? This is a goldmine for links, and if the Andrew Speaker law firm decides, at some point, to get their own domain name then a 301 Permanent Redirect from the subdomain to the new domain name would take care of the issue, transferring any PageRank and other “link credit” to the new domain/new site. Furthermore, if Andrew Speaker decides to stay with the law firm in the future or not, the links will remain for a very long time, and will have a huge effect on that subdomain (and a future domain) much more powerful in the future.
Perhaps there is an issue with bandwidth, and I’ve mentioned that there are several ways to deal with bandwidth issues. First, one could purchase “a block of” bandwidth from many different hosting providers out there (bandwidth is fairly cheap nowadays if you shop around). Most likely this bandwidth surge will last less than 30 days and won’t come back in the future, so hosting that subdomain somewhere else temporarily would be an option.
Another option for dealing with a surge in traffic I learned from my friend Todd Malicoat. Turns out that you can use one of many “caching servers” that will handle the surge of traffic from you. Essentially, if you’re getting a lot of traffic all of a sudden, sites like nyud.net will actually handle the surge of traffic for you. You could theoretically redirect the traffic for a period of time to their caching server just to keep the site/page up and running. Another option would be to “frame” the page and still make use of the caching server. Jeremy also has information about how to deal with temporary surges in traffic. I’ve had sites on the home page of Netscape.com and Digg.com, which sends a lot of traffic–and this is the perfect solution in dealing with these types of issues.
In any case, it’s extremely difficult to buy the type of publicity that Andrew Speaker and Power Advocates is receiving right now. From what I can tell, they’re not doing a very good job of using this publicity from the mainstream worldwide press and turning it into a positive marketing opportunity. Furthermore, it appears to me that there’s a real great opportunity to get links from other web sites–and both the subdomain and the main domain will benefit from these links. In the search engine marketing world, if you have an opportunity to get one-way quality links to your web site and you don’t take full advantage of it, then you’re missing the mark.
UPDATE: June 1st, 5:00pm EST: I’ve spoken with the Power Advocates group and, as it was explained to me, the subdomain in question was receiving a lot of traffic–as one could imagine. Power Advocates had to quickly make some changes in order to keep the server up and running. I just checked the site and the subdomain in question and it’s back up and running.
Update: Links in this post have been removed, as they weren’t working at last check. November 16, 2014.