Affiliate Summit West 2009 – Oilman And A Giant Crab

Wow – was Affiliate Summit already a month ago? Crap. They were super cool to give me a press pass and I’m only now getting around to writing up my thoughts on the show. Sorry Shawn.

I wanted the stir to die down so I could re-engergize the coverage…yeah…that’s my story.

As many of you know I started my SEO career as an affiliate selling Phentermine and Viagra. Back then there was no real affiliate community like we see today. I’ve been out of the game for several years now so you can only imagine my jaw was on the floor when I showed up in Vegas last month. The place was crawling with affiliates, merchants, technology companies, and affiliate network companies. The show floor was packed. I haven’t seen that many booths at conference outside of maybe SES NY in a long time. You literally could hardly move through the aisles.

The other thing that really struck me was how well attended the vast majority of the sessions where. People were hungry for information and by and large were asking very well thought out questions. I even unoffically joined the SEO panel with some of my good friends (@davesnyder, @cshel, @ericlander and @scottpolk). I ran around with the microphone doing my best Vanna White impression. The panel went really well. We even wound up with this great video review:


On the last day of the show I was having coffee with Heather Paulsons and ran into a long time friend of mine, Kris Jones, from PepperJam. We talked at length about the lack of crossover between the affiliate conferences and the more traditional confernces. I can safely say I will be working hard this year to make it to ASE09 in NY – maybe even as a speaker – hint hint ;).

The show was refreshing to me and I’m motivated to use some the that time I spend watching TV in the evenings to get back into some affilaite marketing for a little extra pocket change as well as some new learning opportunities. I’m actually starting to learn how to do some PPC for my own stuff but don’t tell all my SEO buddies – they’ll disown me.

This was my second Affiliate Summit. I went one of the very first shows years ago and I am absolutley impressed with what Shawn and Missy have built over the years. Well done. I’ll be back.

As a parting gift – here’s me with a giant crab at ASW09:

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Martin Schaedel – One In A Billion

A long time friend of mine was tragically killed in a plane crash this week. If you didn’t get the chance to meet the mysterious and charismatic Matin Schaedel then you missed out. I had the opportunity spend a fair amount of time with him over the years at various conferences here and abroad and my life, both personally and professionally, is better for it.

I met Martin for the first time in London in 2002 and I remember thinking to myself “How did that kid get in here?” Then I spoke to him and found myself speaking to a bona fide business man that had knowledge and ability far beyond his years. For years after that I was constantly amazed and baffled when I would hear about his business exploits. If I can be half the entreprenuer he was I’ll be happy. The connections Martin made over the years are truly impressive and I’ve never met a singler person that didn’t out right love him within 30 seconds of meeting him. He took us all along with him in some way or another by always thinking of his friends and including us in opportunities at every possible turn.

Martin my friend, I wish I’d had more time and been more intentional with our friendship. Rest In Peace.

Thanks to Brett Tabke for sending me this picture. I’m glad to have it:

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More memories of Martin:

  • Morten Lund
  • Dave Naylor
  • WebmasterWorld
  • Fred Wilson
  • Danny Sullivan
  • LA Times
  • Twitter @martin
  • Silicon Alley Insider
  • Martins Flickr Stream
  • All Things Digital
  • Joe The Plumber Didn’t Vote

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    IT’S A WOOT OFF!!!

    I love WOOT – they crack me up all the time. There’s a WOOT OFF happening right now and they let me know about it with a fake internal email. It made me laugh so hard I had to share:


    Attention Woot employees –

    We are now entering the final phase of preparations for the Woot-Off planned for midnight tonight. This is when we depart from our usual deal-a-day model and sell one product after another, offering a new deal as soon as the previous one sells out. For some reason, Woot members like oilmanseo continue to have high expectations for this event. We must make every effort to ensure that they feel disappointed and betrayed.

    All workers should be physically and mentally straining to make this Woot-Off a success, like every muscle in a wolf’s body strains to capture and devour its prey. We expect total compliance with the following objectives:

    • Make sure the stables are thoroughly cleaned and the horses properly groomed and shod. As you know, Commander Rutledge prefers to lead us on horseback during Woot-Offs. Charge!
    • Customer Service department: all vacation requests for this week and next are approved. If you have not filed a vacation request, take one anyway.
    • The little green pills in the kitchen are there to keep you alert and working. Take as many as you need. Officially, Woot does not believe in the concept of “overdose”.
    • Take at least one of our servers offline, just for laughs.
    • Go to the landfill and dig up some more Sansa media players. If you see any Digipro Graphics Tablets (and you will), grab those, too. If you want to know the definition of led screen related to graphics, visit
    • Place crap bags in company latrines so those orders can be “filled”. To this end, the company will provide free lunch today from El Feo, the filthiest burrito joint in Dallas. Do your worst, guys.
    • Neutralize all negative thinking among our members. We simply cannot tolerate any more posts like “do not want” or “Woot-Off killer”. If electronic means like word filters and IP bans do not work, we must reactivate the rapid-response teams to physically eliminate all threats to our reputation.
    • Last time, spot checks revealed that approximately 25% of products shipped are broken, incomplete, or excessively dirty. This is unacceptable. For this Woot-Off, defective shipments must make up at least 40%.
    • Remind SmartPost that there’s no need to hurry on these orders. Prompt delivery makes our customers spoiled and argumentative. Let them learn humility and gratitude while they wait.

    Above all, we must strive to make this Woot-Off even more tedious, disappointing, and lucrative than the last one. The employee who achieves the most toward this end will be rewarded with one brown Zune. Second place: two brown Zunes.

    Forward into battle! Remember: to give one’s life for Woot is glorious!

    Larry Stalin
    eCommerce eKommissar
    Woot, Inc.


    Vote Damnit! I Would If I Could.

    Generally when somebody tags me in one of these blogger meme things I just ignore it but this one is worth commenting on. So watch the video then read the post then have a beer or three if you like.


    You all know by now that I’m Canadian. I know you all know because pretty much none of you pass up the opportunity to make a joke about it. I’m cool with that. I’m secure in my Canadianism. With that security and national pride comes a propensity to vote. Voter turnout in Canada in 2006 was 47% of the population or blazing 64.7% of registered voters vs 59% in the US. Honestly, until I researched that I thought the numbers would be way lower. I thought that because, to be blunt, I simply don’t care. I should say I simply DIDN’T care. Now I do. What’s changed?

    I don’t live in Canada anymore. I move to the US just in time for an amazingly interesting election and just in time to watch the economy fall apart around me. I also have kids and I worry about their future. When I lived in Canada I didn’t (free healthcare etc etc). In short, I’ve grown up and it occurred to be that part of being an adult is doing my part to make the world a better place. Yeah, I know, that’s a nice platitude and you can probably get it printed on a decorative plate to hang on the wall but there’s simply not a better way to say it.

    Make the world a better place. Go vote. I think the world will be better when we use your voices to propel it in a direction. We may not agree on the direction we want to move but we can all agree that where we are right now is not a place worth staying.

    I can’t vote but you can so don’t waste it. I’m gonna go hassle my wife right now to make sure she’s registered.

    What are you doing still reading this? Go register…

    Tagging: Jeremiah Andrick, Rhea Drysdale, Kenny Hyder, Lindsay Perkin, Monica Wright

    Cuz I Know Y’all Been Wondering…

    ADDED: I’m not moving. I’m staying in the Seattle area 🙂

    Well it’s been a long, weird year so far but it’s finally settling down for me and life is resuming a normal routine very similar to what it was back in my days at Range Online Media.

    I don’t really like typing so I’ll keep this breif and bring you all up date.

    In January to this year I left Range after 2 and a half amazing years there and struck out on an adventure with a tech startup in Seattle called Visible Technologies. To be honest it was a rocky few months and in spite of the good people and great products and services it became clear pretty quickly that VT and I were not a good fit so with the blessing of the VT management we parted ways in a very amicable fashion. The only hitch was that I am a Canadian (toque, aboot, prOcess, zee) and I was on a work visa through Visible and once I quit I was not allowed to work for anybody else.

    Long story short…while I waited for my new work authorization I simply took the summer off and stayed home and drove my family nuts. Three and a half months later I have some new papers in my hands that say I can work for whomever I want. Talk about a freeing feeling. The timing could not be better since my wife is about to kill me and we’ve pretty much burned up the savings account.

    So where am I going? What will I being? Who will I be doing it for? Good questions.

    I’ve accepted a position as VP of Search for Position Technologies. PT is based just outside of Chicago in St Charles IL and also has an office in Santa Barbara. Jim, the founder, and I are long time friends and have talke about working together for years now and I’m ecstatic to finally be part of the PT family. I’ll be running the SEO and consulting department as well as representing PT on the conference circuit.

    So there you have it. A brief explanation of where I’ve been for the past few months and if you can put 2 and 2 together you’ll also figure out that leaving VT was the demise of TrainTalkWithTodd. TTwT may come back in some form once I settling into an official office space and a daily routine. We’ll see.

    The brief side trip into startup land was fun but it’s good to be back in Search doing what I know and love.

    Shame Shame Shame Findlaw

    So we all know who is. Yeah – those guys – the largest legal website out there. In their words:

    FindLaw is the #1 online destination serving legal professionals from law firms, corporate in-house legal departments, and government agencies nationwide and globally.

    That said I was a bit surprised to find out they are now expanding their service offering in the most logical direction possible: Search Engine Marketing. How do I know this? The sent me a very nice email:


    Id like to help you increase your company’s visibility, rank and penetration within natural search results on major search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and more with our new FindLaw Search Engine Marketing Product (SEM-C).

    Search engine marketing, or SEM, is the art and science of increasing qualified leads to a Web site from search engines and other Internet sources. When people search, theyre looking for answers. If they receive search results that will get them those answers, theyre more likely to convert into a customer.

    Studies by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a respected nonprofit research organization, show that more than 73% of American adults use the Internet. More than 60 million Americans use search engines on any given day according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

    The results of implementing this product are to gain more clients by generating more traffic to your companys Web site and converting those prospects to clients at a high rate.

    If youd like to learn more about our new SEM-C Marketing Product, please call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

    Best Regards,

    xxxxx xxxxxxx
    Account Executive, Corporate Sales Department

    That email isn’t really that bad other than it was unsolicited. My guess is so whois info was harvested from a legal related site I own. So why a post about Findlaw offering SEM? Cuz it gets so much better. Enjoy this email a friend of mine got:

    Hi xxxx,

    I’m delighted to announce the launch of Findlaw’s new Search Engine
    Marketing (SEM) program specifically geared for for legal software and
    service providers. Whether you are a software company, a legal
    recruiter or an expert witness service, Findlaw’s new SEM product will
    help you generate more business from all of the major search engines by
    leveraging Findlaw’s authoritative position as the top online
    destination serving the Legal Professionals market. The goal of the
    SEM program is to help position your natural search results more
    prominently on Google, Yahoo and MSN, which account for 90% of all
    searches conducted online. SEM is something we have been providing law
    firms exclusively for the last 4-5 years, so I am very excited to be
    able to offer this impactful program to you.

    Here are the details of the program: up to 3 hard coded links will be
    placed on editorially relevant pages of content. Links will be placed
    at the recommendation of our SEO specialists, who have been assisting
    law firms with these programs. They will conduct a brief audit of your
    site and submit their link recommendations. You will also be allowed
    to submit up to 5 articles to be placed in the area mentioned above.
    Each article will have a hard coded link. So essentially the program
    consists of 8 hard coded links on relevant, high value pages of Findlaw.

    We will provide a White Paper that explains how to write web and SEO
    friendly content and a White Paper detailing standard SEO practices.
    We will also provide a piece that explains how you can monitor
    performance, as value is determined by increased traffic to your site.

    The program is set up for 12 months with the option to cancel by
    providing a 30 day notice at any point after the first 30 days (minimum
    60 day run required). The cost is $1k per month for the package. We
    have 5 different SEM modules to choose from: Legal Forms/DIY (4
    remaining) , Legal Experts/Consultants, Legal Technology, Legal Careers
    (3 remaining) and Corporate Counsel / In-House Legal.

    Please let me know if you would like to secure one of these. We have a
    limited number of programs available.

    xxxx xxxxxx

    xxxx xxxxxx

    Account Executive

    Holy crap! Is it 2002 again? That’s just a straight up link buy on a high PR site. The price isn’t too bad – 3 links for $1000. I can practically hear Matt Cutts firing up his burn tools right now.

    Hold on. It gets better. I’ve managed to get my grubby paws on a copy of the word document that outlines the whole program. I’ll just highlight the fun bits below:

    Product Elements for SEM-C
    The SEM-C product runs for 12 months and includes the following:
    1) Link modules – to be placed on relevant content pages. The product includes 3 links.

    Link placement will be determined by chosen audience segments/industries which are as follows:
    o Legal Technology
    o Corporate Counsel
    o Career/Education
    o DIY (Do It Yourself) – i.e., Forms, Contracts, etc.
    o Experts – i.e., Expert Witnesses, Practice Support & Consultants, etc.
    An advertiser selects an audience segment/industry and then FindLaw’s engineering team will place links on contextually relevant pages. These links will appear on pre-determined buckets of pages and are chosen at FindLaw’s discretion.

    2) Articles that appear in various sections and are provided by the customer. This product includes up to 5 articles. Articles will contain a hard coded link to advertiser’s web site. Like the link modules, placement is determined by audience segments and at the discretion of FindLaw.

    3) White Paper detailing standard SEO practices. Advertiser can use these practices to optimize their site, and thus improve and monitor traffic. The value of this product is determined by increased traffic to a Web site.

    Ok – so we’re selling text link ads and embedding links in articles. Pretty standard fare. Next…

    FindLaw can measure page views to advertiser’s articles but with the SEM-C product, the Corporate Team will not be able to monitor traffic to the advertiser’s web site. The advertiser will need to track this performance.

    The advertiser will need to track? So that means no redirects, counters etc. A nice straight up text link.

    Next and last if the Creative Suggestion section of the document that helps the customer determine how to decide what goes in their anchor text. I’ll just past the whole thing but I guarantee you have a chuckle points 1,2 and 3 like I did.

    Search engines consider anchor text when evaluating inbound link quality so it is important that this text is optimized appropriately. Anchor text is highlighted words on a page that link to another web page or resource. Clicking on the text, called hypertext, loads the linked resource in the user’s browser. Anchor text is important to the user and should describe the content of the target page and subject matter.

    Before creating anchor text, keyword research is the first thing that should be done. What are people searching on that relate to a product or service? After answering this question, decide on the terms that would be most effective. By identifying pages through relevant keyword links, you are “telling” the search engine which keywords the linked pages represent. An inbound link that includes keywords in the link title (anchor text) is more important than a link that just says “click here.”

    Anchor text will be successful if the guidelines below are followed:
    1. Do what’s best for the user
    2. Make it easily understood by the user
    3. Don’t try to hide your intentions
    4. Be honest about the anchor text. What it says is what you should get.
    5. Avoid “stop words” such as and, with, by, from etc.
    6. Mix and match the keyword phrases targeted through anchor links in order to associate keyword phrases with specific internal pages

    It’s been nice knowing you Findlaw.

    Unfortunately the reality here is that Findlaw won’t be going anywhere but it’s likely their links won’t be worth $1000 a month anymore. Damn shame really. That was a hell of a price. The should have stayed underground and partnered with a decent broker.

    I Bought A Toy – Flip Mino

    Microsoft Advance08 Live Blogging

    Hi all – I know it’s been a long long time since I posted anything to this blog so I thank all you that have stayed on as subscribers 🙂

    Today I’m attending Advance08 at Microsoft. The line up of speakers for this event is absolutely amazing:

    • Bill Gates
    • Michael Eisner
    • James Cameon
    • Arianna Huffington
    • Philippe Dauman
    • and more

    I’ll be live blogging several of the key presentations but here’s the catch: I’m blogging it over at the Visible Technologies blogs at So tune in and enjoy the day with me.


    Where is Communicado? Not sure but I’ll mostly be hangin out there for the next few days as we pack up the big truck and move the fam to Gig Harbor WA.

    It’s funny how right after a conference the Linkedin and Facebook invites start flowing in fast and furious. I’ll get to all you folks in a week or so and confirm all your friend requests.

    To all you long lost friends that have emailed…I got the emails and it was great to see you all again as well. I’ll work on some specific replies when I can. Yeah MDS, I’ll drop you a line soon 🙂

    Hang tight peeps – see you on the flip side.