Sales Spam on Google Plus

By now, I’m pretty used to getting spam on LinkedIn, as I get it at least several times each week. But now, it seems as though the sales spammers are now targeting Google Plus, and somehow sending unsolicited sales spam that show up as notifications on Google Plus. Here’s the latest one, that I received just today. I have scratched out the name of the person and their company and URL, but you get the idea. [Read more…]

Facial Recognition: Microsoft Website Tells You How Old You Are

A website by Microsoft is using facial recognition to tell you how old you are. And if you ask me, it’s actually pretty accurate. Well, in at least most cases that I tested. The website, called How Old Do I Look?, allows you to find an image by searching on, or you can upload your own photo. Their facial recognition algorithm will analyze the photo and tell you how old the person in the photo is. Or, if there are several people in the photo, it will look at all the faces and determine how old they are.

I took a look at a few of my own photos, and, well, let’s just see how accurate this website is.

This photo of me, (taken about two years ago) says I’m 74:

Bill Hartzer [Read more…]

BuzzFeed Said No One Would Use This Stock Image

In a hilarious post, BuzzFeed said that no one would ever use any of the stock images that they posted in their article. Well, I have to say that they’re wrong. I mean, really, I can see a perfectly good use for their first image in the post:



You see, this is a photo of a nun, praying that their search engine rankings are going to get better after the nun’s website fell in rankings. Apparently, this nun’s website was hit by the Google Penguin algorithm.

And, she’s a small business (a small fish in a large sea), and apparently that’s why her website was hit by one of Google’s search engine algorithm updates. Because only large brands are ranking well now, those who have tons of money to spend on Google AdWords ads.

And why is this nun wearing Google-colored swim goggles? Well, duh! Google Glass doesn’t work under water, so she had to wear these Google goggles instead.

So there. There’s actually a really good reason why I needed to use this stock image from Getty Images. I just had to explain to you why a photo of a nun wearing goggles under water is praying to a small fish.

And yes, I just used this stock photo that BuzzFeed said would never be used.

GoDaddy Released Personally Identifiable Information To Spammer Without Permission

Now this is bizarre. But apparently GoDaddy is being accused of releasing personally identifiable information (a woman’s email address) to someone who she’s accusing of being a spammer. And GoDaddy apparently released her email address to the spammer after she filled out an abuse complaint. The spammer wanted to know who had complained about their website, so GoDaddy gave them her email address. Of course, without permission. [Read more…]

Google Files for Trademark on the Word Glass

Google has filed a trademark application on the word glass. The Wall Street Journal first reported that a trademark application has been filed.

Rob Garner Wearing Google Glass
Rob Garner wearing Google Glass

In July 2013, Google “originally submitted the application in July 2013 for the word “Glass” styled in a particular font as branding for its Google Glass smart glasses. The USPTO responded in the fall, saying there are two problems with trademarking “Glass.”,” according to arstechnica. Arstechnica goes on to say that the USPTO had responded to their original trademark application saying that there was a problem with it. “The first is that the word is “merely descriptive” and that the product does not actually contain any glass (it’s made of titanium and plastic). Second, the word is too similar to pre-existing trademarks, making confusion “as to the source of the goods” likely, the USPTO said.” [Read more…]

Microsoft Files DMCA Takedown Request, Claims Microsoft is Infringing on Copyright

Microsoft filed a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) request with Google. But, this one was one that might just deserve a Darwin Award. Who was the copyright infringer in this case? Yep, you guessed it. Microsoft.

Wait…. What?!? Yes, Microsoft filed a DMCA takedown request last week with Google, asking Google to remove and from the Google index. All because Microsoft is infringing on their copyright. Here is what was filed:

microsoft dmca takedown

A recent PC Word article explains what happened:

Copyright holders and the companies they hire to manage DMCA takedown requests—in Microsoft’s case, a third party called LeakID—frequently automate the process, resulting in a flood of requests that are sometimes erroneous and aren’t always checked for accuracy before filing.

PC World also explains more about the process of DMCA requests:

If a copyright holder feels that a particular website is ripping off its work, it can send Google a DMCA takedown request and ask for the infringing site to be removed from the search engine. If Google determines that the site does indeed stomp on the copyright holder’s intellectual property rights, the site’s links disappear from Google Searches.

I have seen a lot of DMCA takedown requests over the years, and it truly does make sense to file a DMCA request not only with the web host of the offending website who has actually infringed upon your rights, but it also make sense to file that DMCA request with Google and, as well. If you see that someone has taken content from your website, you should ask that the offending website remove your material–but also you need to tell Google. They will remove it from their search results, and it will look something like this:

google dmca search notice

That’s what the Google search will look like. The DMCA notice will appear at the bottom of the page of search results.

So, what seemed to be a pretty routine DMCA takedown request filed by Microsoft with Google, was, well, uh, not very routine.

Before Writing Code or Launching Your Website, Do This

I found a series of articles that I wrote more than 10 years ago. But, amazingly enough, all of this information is still valid and true. It’s a great primer on what you should, and should not do before launching any website, especially an e-commerce website.

Before Any Code is Written

1. Determine Product Viability

Will The Product Sell Over the Internet?

Seems like a no-brainer right? It isn’t. At least for a good number of potential clients. Will people order eggs and milk over the internet? I had a request for an “essential foods” site. It doesn’t happen often but people will ask you to optimize a site that has very little chance of success.

Find A Unique Selling Point

This is where market studies come into play and the USP is often overlooked, or worse, never even considered. If you can’t find a unique vantage point for selling a product, why bother? Why should anyone visit a site that has nothing new to offer or simply repeats a tired strategy.

Will The Margin Support The Site?

People are conditioned to believe that the Internet relies solely on volume for profit, often without regard to margins. If the margin is small a single support issue can eat up the profit. Fraud, chargebacks, etc, can all spell disaster for a site operating on a slim margin.

Order Fulfillment and Customer Service

Does the site rely on a single dropshipper? How are out-of-stocks handled? Damaged shipments? Returns? What is the turnaround time? Is there a backup? Who answers the phones? Mail? Email?

Ship Overseas?

If they’re selling Levi 501s there’s a market, if they’re selling candles why bother? Candles are heavy, shipping costs tear into the margin or force prices higher and unless the candle is a work of art, it’s just a candle…

Payment Processing

Nail that down before you start. Make sure the client can get a merchant account and that they can afford a cert. Yes, PayPal is an option, but on every site I’ve ever worked on sales increased after a real live CC option was in place. PayPal is cumbersome and it confuses people.

The Cart and The Backend

Before you touch an e-comm site it’s important to know what cart will be used and what backend is needed. Some carts are SEO nightmares and that fact will change how the site is set up. Don’t assume the client knows anything about the backend or shopping carts. It’s only after he purchases that StoreFront cart that you’ll find out that he promised to host his site on his friends *nix box.


Determine what system and with what company the site will be hosted on. You can avoid all kinds of problems by doing a little bit of research about the host. Some of those problems include trying to figure out how to get that .asp cart to function on a Unix box or finding out that raw logs aren’t available and you’re stuck with Joe Bob’s Vunderbar Stat Package.

Summary: If you followed all the steps above you know that you are working with a product that will sell over the Internet, the product has a unique selling point, the margin is big enough to make a profit, how the orders will be fulfilled and who is taking care of customer service issues. You also know whether or not you’re shipping overseas, how payments will be processed, what type of cart and backend will be used and you’ll have enough information on the host service to know what challenges are in front of you. And you’ll know all this before any code is written if it’s a new site. Now you can start working on some of the SEO aspects.

The Pre-Game Plan

1. Finding Those Keywords

(coming in Part 2) This is much too lengthy to cover in one post, so I’m breaking it into 3 parts. Rest assured I’ll cover every whitehat tactic and blackhat trick I have ever used. It won’t be comprehensive, hell, I don’t know all the tricks, so I’ll only write about what I know. 😉 Oh yeah, this is also what works and has worked for me. It’s not the only plan, or the best plan, but in the interest of sharing and keeping scarcity from being a factor, I figured this might help. 😉

Web Hosts Hijacking 404 Error Pages on Live Web Sites

Some web hosting companies have now taken it to a new low: they are monetizing (making money) from your web site without your knowledge. Web hosts are now hijacking their customers’ 404 error pages and putting up a slew of paid ads: advertisements, when clicked, make the company money. And most web site owners don’t even know that this is happening to them. It could be happening to you, on your web site, and you don’t even know it. It looks like this:


Google recently was caught hijacking 404 error pages when the users have installed their Google Toolbar. They do not make any money from these 404 errors, Google “helps you” by allowing you to easily search for something:


What Google is doing could be considered “ethical” since they’re not making any money from these user errors. But what your web hosting is doing is not right. Let me explain, in more detail, what is happening and what is becoming an increasingly common practice in the web hosting industy:

When you set up a website, you pay for two things: a domain name and web hosting. A domain name (like must be registered at an official Registrar. You then need pay another company, a web host, to “host” your web site’s computer files, the files that sit on a web server, the ones that are requested by web browsers when someone comes to your web site.

An expired domain name (or a parked domain name) at looks like this:


Many people register domain names but never actually set up web hosting for them. It is common practice now for domain name registrars to automatically put up “domain parking” or “landing pages” on those domain names that aren’t currently be used. The domain Registrar makes money when someone clicks on a link: these links are actually paid ads that usually come from an affiliate partnership with Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing. The domain name owner has NOT told the registrar where they want their domain name to “point”, like to a web host where they actually have a web site up and running. Some people, typically called “Domainers”, will register or own a domain name and then point the domain name to a domain name parking service that puts up the ads on behalf of the domain owner: and the domain owner shares the click-thru revenue with the domain parking company. [Read more…]

6 Reasons the Search Engine Optimization Industry Needs a Bailout

Since the United States Government has been giving out money recently and calling it a “bailout”, many different industries have been stepping forward and trying to stake their claim. We have already seen a bailout in the financial industry, and we have recently seen the automotive industry go to Capital Hill to explain and argue with government officials about getting a bailout. So, I thought it would be appropriate to come up with six reasons why the Search Engine Optimization industry needs a bailout.

1. Search Engine Rankings are Dead. Bruce Clay recently declared that search engine rankings are dead. Pretty soon companies won’t be going to Google to check their rankings for their top 3 most important keywords. They won’t have a need to keep paying for search engine rank checking programs and services that will “check your rankings” every 5 hours. The software developers who write and update those scripts will soon be out of a job. By giving the SEO industry a financial bailout, those who will soon be out of a job will be able to get trained on how to create content. And it will keep them out of the unemployment line.

2. Barack Obama was elected because of Social Media Marketing Barack Obama successfully used social media marketing to get elected. He’s all behind social media and hasn’t spent a dime on Search Engine Optimization. Barack Obama needs to help SEOs with a bailout because everything seems to be leaning more towards marketing in the social arena..and more SEOs need to start to understand marketing in this new social media economy.

3. It helps the Online Retailers indirectly. Bailing out the SEO industry is really an efficient way of directing fiscal stimulus towards the online retailers who really need the cash. Giving money to SEOs will help them be more efficient and will help get better search engine rankings for their clients, the online retailers.

4. It will help the Internet stocks. Ultimately, it helps the Search Engine Optimization companies buy more links. I can’t believe I said that. But, we all know that lazy SEO companies buy links. By bailing out the SEO industry, you’re pumping more money into the internet. It will ultimately help those internet stocks go up.

5. It might be cheaper than the alternative of letting SEO companies fail. If any SEO company fails, then all of those snake oil SEO salesmen will be forced to move on to another industry: and then the government will spend lots of money hiring Federal Prosecutors to go after them. We all know that the FCC and the US Government is not doing much to prosecute all the rip-off SEO snake oil salesmen out there. Bail out the SEO industry and you’ll keep them in the SEO industry: they won’t move on to another industry where they the government will have to prosecute them.

6. Pumping money into the SEO industry will help the internet companies be more profitable. I said it before. By pumping money into the SEO industry the search engine optimization companies and SEO consultants will be able to make those internet companies more profitable. More profitable internet companies mean their stocks will go up.

I can envision a financial bailout that goes directly to the search engine optimization industry and those who work in the SEO industry, including search engine optimizers and the search engine optimization companies themselves. By pumping more money into the SEO industry, SEO companies will be able to hire more writers and web developers to create more content. By creating more content for clients the internet companies will do better: they will then be able to spend more money on paid search campaigns, which will ultimately not only help themselves (the online retailers and those companies that actually have web sites) but it will also help the search engines because they’re paying more for PPC ads.

So count me in on a strategically-oriented bail-out financial package that benefits the SEOs and SEO companies rather than giving money to the auto industry or any other industry that might beg for a financial bailout.

Worst Demographic Targeting Ever: Hannah Montana Tickets Given Away on Digg

Digg   Hannah Montana
I usually do not make it a habit of pointing out badly implemented online promotional campaigns. However, in this case, I could not help but point out one of the worst demographic targeting that I have ever seen on the web. Hannah Montana tickets are being given away on Digg.

As you know, I am a pretty big fan of I try to get over there as often as I can. For the last few days I could not help but notice the Hannah Montana tickets being given away on Digg. Seriously. I keep seeing an ad for Reliant Energy; if you switch to Reliant Energy then you will have a chance to win Hannah Montana Tickets. Here is a screen capture I made of the ad running on Digg:

Hannah Montana Tickets

Whoever made the decision to run an advertisement for Hannah Montana tickets on didn’t make a very bright decision, in my opinion. In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and say that it’s one of the worst demographic targeting decisions that you can every possibly make.

Hannah Montana Tickets

I’m not saying that there are not any pre-teen girls from Texas who hang out on Digg and talk about techy stuff, but the last time I checked, pre-teen girls are not typical users:

According to, “Recent published Digg demographics indicate that the Digg community is 94% male and generally twenty or thirty something techies earning $75,000 or more.”

As you might recall, if you want to advertise on Digg, you need to go through Microsoft. Even Microsoft publishes the demographics on Digg to their advertisers:

These are the key demographic* indicators:

– 66 percent male
– 42 percent 35 to 49 years old,
– 26 percent 21 to 34 years old
– 44 percent with annual income $75K and above
– 68 percent college and above education
– 14 percent professionals
– 10 percent executive or managerial occupation

* Source:, June 2007

Hannah Montana Tickets ad

Nowhere do I see any indication that anyone possibly remotely interested in Hannah Montana or Hannah Montana tickets would be hanging out on Digg. But again, perhaps I might be interested in switching to Reliant Energy and giving the tickets to my daughter. Wait. I don’t have a daughter, I have two sons, aged 7 and 20 months.

I just don’t get it. Someone please enlighten me.