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Why I won't be an affiliate for your company

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I receive a few advertising offers on my websites every month and most simply want to buy a banner/link for whatever reason - traffic, sales, branding, seo, etc. Honestly I don't care about their intention as long as it doesn't ruin my user experience.

The worst offers are people trying to get me to signup for their affiliate program.

Here is an example:


I am Harish from; we develop cost-effective next generation high quality VOIP products, such as Digital Telephony Cards, PBX Systems, Next Generation IP Phones and Analog Telephone Adapters…

We are interested in advertising our products on [my site redacted].

Please let me know who I should talk to.


What's wrong with this offer?

It's deceitful.

This looks like a normal advertising request to buy a banner/link. It's not. How do I know it's an affiliate offer?

24,000 Domains Article Postmortem: Traffic, Revenue, Business Models

I published a post listing 24,000 available brandable domain names that anyone could register a couple days ago.

It was far more successful than I ever imagined receiving over 17,000 page views. Ranking 3rd on HackerNews frontpage and 2nd in a major subreddit with over 30,000 subscribers.

I wanted to go through the entire setup of the article, the marketing, the goals, the traffic, the results and conclusion.

2643 Potential Brandable Startup Names with .com available

This is part 1 of a series I would like to call, the end of the 'there are no more good domains left' problem.

I heard it once too many times and cracked. I also was stuck on a particularly challenging problem and needed to distract myself for a while to distance myself and gain some perspective. So in the meantime, I came up with a way to generate millions (first run generated 350 million+ domain names, which is about 3.7 times the size of the .com zone file). Too many, to start with at least without ranking them somehow.

Ranking attempts:

  • Using letter frequency and assigning points based on frequency in English language.
  • Using bi/tri-grams and their frequencies from Peter Norvig's data
  • Modifying these techniques to penalize duplicate letters (stuff like was ranking at the top

Ultimately, none of it worked well enough to filter the top, it only removed the crap. So I went smaller (down to 5 letters from 7) and used only certain pronounceable patterns and only put letters that made sense in certain positions/orders.

The other problem is that, I couldn't find any objective way to identify what was or wasn't appealing as a brand name. It depends on a lot of factors such as country, language, region, business area, founders names, etc. There is no ultimate way to rank them (I tried using google search volume for a small sample... gave some very strange results).

I cherry-picked a few for myself for future projects and to give you an idea of what I found here are a few:

So I will present them alphabetically in the full story.

DISCLAIMER: these domains were checked against the zone file, NOT the registry. Some names ARE TAKEN but for whatever reason did not have name servers when the zone file was downloaded. Possible causes: somewhere in the delete cycle or simply no name servers registered.

My Internal SEO Checklist

I compiled a list of everything I know of that you can do internally (on your own webpage) to improve your SEO and rankings. I have broken it down into categories: header, content, navigation, graphic/image, and other. The header stuff is inside <head> tag. Content is about your actual text content. Navigation is structural/linking. Graphic/Image is about <IMG> and when to use it. Other is everything else.

This checklist does not tell you exactly how to resolve your specific seo issues. It is designed as a reminder about all the things you can do to try and improve your rankings.

Feel free to add anything you feel is missing for internal SEO and I would be happy to add it.

Header Related

  • Title Tags – Proper <title> tags with relevant keyword on each page.
  • Meta Description – Describe content of the page briefly (155 chars according to seomoz).

Thought Experiment: Google exposed a vulnerability in Bing's search ranking feature, could it be exploited?

Everyone in the tech world has heard about the latest spat between Google and Bing (Microsoft).
Matt Cutts has talked a lot about it.

The core issue is Bing is using clickstream data from either IE (Suggested Sites) and/or their
Bing Toolbar. They clearly are OK copying Google's results if users click them.

If I throw on my blackhat thinking cap, we can begin the thought experiment.

Big Questions:

  1. How does clickstream work: is it only looking at URLs or analyzing actual content?
  2. Does it only work for Google searches?

How does clickstream work: is it only looking at URLs or analyzing actual content?

This is an important distinction if we are looking to manipulate results for our benefit.

If Bing only looks at the stream of URLs, in theory, you might be able to inject any URL into there.
It may not have to show up on that Google search result at all. If that worked on long-tail, it
may also help with more competitive keywords, fooling Bing into thinking it was getting more clicks
on Google and sending a positive ranking signal.

If they are double checking content, this type of manipulation may not work when it tries to 'steal'
the information from the Google search result. Someone would have to test this to find out.

Does it only work for Google searches?

Clearly, they've decided Google is a valid source, but what else is? Could artificially creating
traffic patterns from important and/or relevant sites increase search rankings? This still depends
on how they gather data, whether it's only looking at the clickstream or actually analyzing content.


If I were doing some SEO for a super competitive niche, I might be exploring how could this type of
signal be adjusted for my own benefit. Google could manipulate it, why couldn't you?

Is Facebook one of the Largest Referrers to Porn?

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I was discussing new gTLDs with a friend and .xxx extension came up.

I was wondering how much type in traffic versus search engine traffic
these sites got. What impact would a new TLD make on the adult industry?

Then I stumbled on something fascinating (to me at least):



Note: for those wondering how these were chosen, I used related links on Alexa to find some big sites

I checked a bunch of sites and Facebook consistently showed up near the top.

These sites receive millions of visitors:

8% of 10 million uniques is 0.8 million visitors to YouPorn via Facebook monthly.

(note: most of these traffic stats like Compete estimate low in my experience)

Why is that interesting?

I didn't know Facebook allowed porn links
I wonder how they preview sharing porn links - I am certainly not going to try

I've never seen a porn link publicly posted
Where are these porn links? All private messages and chat?

I searched pages and didn't find any page large enough (largest was 100,000 fans)
for youporn to support this type of traffic (none of the larger ones seemed to link at all)

I also checked which searches public status updates.
I saw one link in the last 4 days posted. Not exactly huge volume.

Who is sharing all these porn links?
The numbers would suggest a large demographic or possibly mass market behavior.

If anyone has some insights please share in the comments below!

Getting on Twitter Lists

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In the least statistically significant sample ever (1), I noticed something interesting that fits well with marketing theories.

Nobody wants to list you first on Twitter
(qualifying statement: if they don't know you)

I have multiple accounts and some aren't really 'people' but services. I had one service with a couple thousand followers that has been at that level for over a year and is on zero lists. I have many similar accounts with equal or more followers that are on hundreds of lists. They are all very similar, but some are wildly successful and this one seemed dead. So I had another account that I own follow it, and within days, it got onto other lists.

Mind you, the first was automatically generated, but apparently just getting on one list got recognized by other automated systems somewhere as a form of tagging or social proof.

So for anyone trying to build a twitter account:

How I found a $100 AdWords Coupon Code / Discount

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I was trying to sign up for an Google AdWords accounts today and wanted to get some free money (seriously, always look for a coupon code for when you buy/signup for things!)

I could only find expired offers that had come in the mail (they never are valid when I want it seems) so I was off to the searches. Google apparently does not like people sharing codes and ties them to an account.

So, where might I be able to find a free coupon code? A little google fu led me to this: A list of all their offers through partners/programs.

I realized I use some of those services (Google Analytics, thanks!). So I checked my Analytics email account and voila! Coupon code still valid (you can see when coupons expired if you click on the offers at the bottom).

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