Evil site scraping bastards

Yep, check it out. A mob called Web Propeller are scraping every single post I write on this blog, within an hour of me posting them. Compare my recent post to theirs.  They’ve even stolen my image!

I feel a site scraping bastards Googlebomb coming on! Anyone care to help?

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Dumbass of the Week: Gene Marks

DuhI had this week’s dumbass post all lined up and then I received a suggestion from Sphinnster Incrediblehelp about a more deserving candidate. So without further ado, I give you this week’s dumbass: Gene Marks.

Frighteningly, Gene writes for Business Week on MSNBC and his column is read by a large percentage of small businesses. The link above leads to his very unenlightened post titled Tech “Solutions” Your Small Biz Can’t Use. In the post, he basically states that having an online presence is a bad idea for small business.

This article contains possibly THE WORST advice for small business that I have ever read. Certainly the worst I’ve read this year.

Here are five 13 reasons why this article makes Gene Marks a dumbass:

1. He uses “highfalutin” as an adjective:

“A lot of highfalutin software and gadgets aim to help you run your company, but too little of it is suited for a small business environment.”

2. He claims to speak for ALL business owners:

“We business owners are subjected to an endless array of tools that never fail to disappoint. We’re promised. We pay. And we’re let down.”

3. He claims that the following technology doesn’t work when evidence to the contrary is staring him in the face:

“1. RSS Feeds 2. Spam Filters 3.Antivirus Software 4. Blogs 5. Search Engine Optimization 6. Mobile Applications 7. CRM Software 8. AdWords 9. Online Video 10. Web 2.0″

4. He recommends against using anti-virus software:

“Betsy was looking for just the right technology to slow down her employees’ computers and significantly degrade the performance of her business applications. Well, she found it, and it’s called anti-virus software.”

5. He tars all SEOs with the same brush because he was scammed by one:

“I forked over a bunch of dough to a firm in California that promised to get my company’s name on “all the major search engines” when someone was looking for products that we sell. How did they plan to do this? I’m still not really sure, but it had something to do with spiders, black hats, and link farms. That should’ve been enough of a hint that witchcraft was involved.

6. He recommends against using anti-spam software:

“I get this question at just about every presentation I give to business owners: ‘What spam filters do you recommend?’ My answer: ‘None.’ They all suck.”

7. He recommends AGAINST using anti-spam software! (Thought this one was worth repeating)

“In the end, it’s cheaper for your employees to just sort and delete spam as it comes in.”

8. He considers mobile apps (and renewable energy) science fiction:

“Mobile applications will be a great thing someday. Just like hovercrafts, telepods, and renewable energy. But for a small business on a limited budget, it’s still science fiction.”

9. He sold $20K worth of software to a customer who didn’t need it and blamed the customer:

“I’ve always been a big proponent of customer relationship management [CRM] software. One big reason is that my company sells this stuff… Unfortunately, we have a lot of other customers who haven’t been as successful. Fred, a manufacturer of roofing materials, is one of them. Fred and I both learned that a CRM system doesn’t work for a small business without an internal “champion” who takes ownership of it. His $20,000 system just sat there. No one used it.”

10. He encourages readers NOT to buy his company’s software:

See 9.

11. He writes off pay per click advertising for all small business just because HE can’t figure it out:

“Are you interested in a mind-numbing exercise? Give AdSense a shot. Or Yahoo SM or MSN AdCenter… Here’s a word of wisdom: Leave the mass-market advertising to Coke (KO) and Pepsi (PEP). Small business owners should stick to less mystifying forms of promotion.”

12. His comments about online video are pure fiction and display his total ignorance of the medium:

“Quality videos require production companies. Otherwise you’ll have grainy, useless footage. And videos that run beyond a certain length aren’t even YouTube-able.”

The final clue that shows Gene as a deserving candidate for Dumbass of the Week is this one:

13. He complains that RSS Feeds are meaningless, but his own articles appear in them:

“Bob, an electrical contractor, knows what RSS stands for, and I feel sorry for him. He had the misfortune of signing up for an RSS feed.”

In fact, there is an RSS feed directly under his article. Priceless!

Wow, I started this post assuming I’d only find 5 reasons why Mr Marks is a dumbass, but I ended up with 13. Well 12 really. Judging by the commentary his article has triggered, it seems I’m not alone in my assessment. But it’s scary to think of how many small business owners will read this article and take it as gospel. Let’s hope they read the comments!

Have you got an opinion on the article? Why not contact the editors of BusinessWeek directly, or simply comment on this post. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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Dumbass of the Week: The Call Center Cow

phone rage So it’s 10am at work and I am trying to wade through my mountain of tasks in the few hours I’ve got before I need to pick up my son from daycare. The phone rings. The conversation goes like this:

Me: “Hello, Kalena speaking”

Call Center Cow: “Is this Kalena?

Me: “Yes, who is this?”

Call Center Cow: “Hi
Kalena, how ARE you?”

Me: “Fine thanks, who is this?”

Call Center Cow: “Do you have a few minutes?”

Me: “Who IS this?”

Call Center Cow: “My name is
[whatever – didn’t catch it and it was probably made up anyway]. I’m calling from New York Commodities”

Me: [I hang up the phone]

30 second pause and then the phone rings again

Me: “Hello, Kalena speaking”

Call Center Cow: “Kalena, why did you just hang up on me?”

Me: “Didn’t you say you were calling from New York Commodities?”

Call Center Cow: “Yes, but I just wanted…”

Me: “Are you trying to sell me stocks?”

Call Center Cow: “No, actually options are different to stocks”

By now, I’ve got a serious case of phone rage.

Me: “Just a minute…”

At this point, I place the receiver on top of my PC speaker and turn the volume waaay up. It happens to be playing the world’s most annoying song, The Reflex by Duran Duran. (I knew those 80’s CDs would come in handy some day).

When I checked 5 minutes later, Call Center Cow had hung up. What a shame.

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Dumbass of the Week: The Article Broker

I’m introducing a new feature here on the blog. Dumbass of the Week will showcase an email I’ve received from a differentDuh spammer each week as a way of both publicly humiliating them and providing a way to rid myself of the pent-up frustration they have caused me at the same time.

This week’s dumbass is Krishna, who writes:

Dear Kalena…

Hello How are you? Recently I have visited and analyzed your website. We propose to have a text link on your home page that leads to a content based folder hosted at your end. This folder would contain content in the form of articles on various financial and general topics. Eg – www.searchenginecollege.com/folder This business agreement would give an international platform to a number of people to express their skills. These articles are written by a wide variety of professionals who have done extensive study and research and are experts in their respective fields. In the event of us entering into a business relationship, I ascertain that in addition to an agreed monthly fee, you will also benefit from heavy traffic to your site which would in turn increase your earnings.

Krishna

Dear Krishna

I have 3 things to say to you:

1) As it states quite clearly at the top of the page, this blog is for QUESTIONS relating to SEARCH ENGINES. Not for your unsolicited and unwelcome business propositions.

2) If you’d bothered to do your homework, you’d already know that Search Engine College has an extensive Article Library already.

3) Now, put your hand out in front of you with your palm facing inward, then slap your forehead three times saying: “DON’T. (slap) BE. (slap) A DUMBASS!” (slap).

At least I feel better now.

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A lesson in how to lose friends and isolate people online

angryAnyone who knows me well knows that I am a pretty patient person. I rarely lose my temper and my tolerance level is set quite high from years of educating newcomers to the world of search engine marketing. Newbies to this industry tend to ask very basic questions and people often ask me if I get frustrated seeing the same questions over and over. The answer is no. Every question is a good question, if the answer educates and informs. If people are asking for advice and are open to feedback, I believe that’s a very positive thing and I honestly don’t mind helping people if they are willing to learn.

But what really presses my buttons is ignorance from people who should know better. Take today for example. I began receiving emails at the rate of 1 every hour or so from a person I didn’t recognize, at a domain I didn’t recognize, to an email address that I hardly use. The titles for these emails were always the same: “A comment has been posted on [site name]”. The content read:

“A comment was posted about one of your articles on [site URL].

Article: The Top 10 Dumbest Web Site Decisions

Article URL: [URL of my article on their site]

Rating: 3

Comment:”

Turns out that the site is an article directory and the owner republishes various articles from across the Internet. He had found some of my recent articles on SiteProNews and decided to republish them all in his directory. So far, so good. SPN allows webmasters to republish their articles provided the author by-line and resource box are left intact, which they were. BUT I couldn’t understand why I was being sent multiple emails whenever somebody rated an article or left a comment.

This email exchange I had with him today reveals all:

Dear Joe*

It’s one thing to republish one of my articles from SiteProNews. It’s
quite another to automatically sign me up to receive multiple emails
whenever somebody rates my article or leaves a comment. I did NOT
sign up to receive these and they are unsolicited so please take me off
your mailing list immediately.

thanks
Kalena

Dear Kalena

You have my sincere apologies for the inconvenience. However, just for
the record, you are not on my mailing list. The system automatically
sends you an e-mail whenever someone rates one of your articles. Be
that as it may, I will make sure that it never happens again.

All the best,
Joe

Dear Joe

But my point is that I don’t recall providing my email address in the
first place and I don’t know how you got it. I didn’t submit the
article to you either – it has only been circulated via SiteProNews.

Kalena

Kalena

Getting your e-mail address was just a matter of me using some basic
common sense. I just assumed that it was your first name at your
domain.com. Many webmasters set up their e-mail accounts that way. I
happen to use my first and last name.

Also, no you did not submit the article to me. I got it from Site Pro
News. The content was not altered in any way, and your copyright info
is included at the end of the article.

If this is a problem for you, I have no problem removing your bio and
all your articles from my website.

I’m not looking for any trouble. I’m only trying to provide my readers
with the best marketing and SEO information possible. Just say the
word, and I’ll delete everything as it pertains to you.

Joe

Joe

You are completely missing the point. Your actions (as described in your first paragraph below) have actually broken the law. I suggest you read http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/canspam.shtm. I’ve got no interest in receiving 10 emails a day that I didn’t sign up for. Make no mistake – that’s a mailing list, no matter how you try to justify it.

Yes, this is a big problem for me and YES I would like you to remove my bio and articles from your site immediately.

Kalena

I’m sorry but there is ZERO EXCUSE for someone to sign me up to receive system emails from a web site I’ve never heard of and give me no way to opt-out, whether they are publishing my content or not. It’s even against the law! Most webmasters know this and I’m sure he did too.

The fact that he tried to justify it by explaining how easy it was to guess my email address just made my blood boil. Not to mention his threatening tone about removing my content like he was doing me some type of big favor in the first place. He probably assumed I’d think “Geez, I’d better keep my mouth shut or I might lose those valuable links from his highly-trafficked site.” Well he was wrong.

A short time later, I read Jennifer’s latest article Be Nice – You Never Know Who That Email is From and I laughed to think that perhaps I’d missed an opportunity to make a friend in Joe.

Then I had a coffee, got fired up again and realized that I handled the situation exactly right. Maybe some people will think I overreacted here, but believe me, when you already have to wade through hundreds of emails on a daily basis, you don’t want to see another 10 unsolicited ones.

If Joe’s approach had been more professional, perhaps things could have been different. But he isolated me from the very first contact and lost my trust immediately. His loss!

* Not his real name

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