When people trash your name online, it can kill your business and destroy your personal reputation. In fact, many have committed suicide over what is said about them online. That’s how serious this issue is. Whether the allegations are true or not, when people search for you or your company’s name, if they find dirt it can be devastating even if it’s unfounded. Contacting Google or Bing on the grounds that it’s not true are nearly hopeless. You’ll have two chances of getting them to override the algorithm; slim and none. Google does not care about you specifically, they do the best they can at creating a system that works on autopilot and they are not designed to manually override their algorithm unless you are a Democratic candidate for President. Google absolutely has a Liberal bias. For example, when someone went viral with a photo of Michelle Obama blended with a monkey’s face, they manually panned the ranking of that photo in no time as where Google bombs which put George Bush in a bad light continued to rank highly for an extended period of time. So, if you’re not married to a Democratic President, don’t expect Google to help you set the record straight. The previous CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt and the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, promote Democratic causes. Many of them are public.
If you’d like to contact Google and ask them to help you, knock yourself out, here is the Google phone number and contact info (good luck!):
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: (650) 253-0000
Fax: (650) 253-0001
Or, even better, just drop by in person and ask Google for help (see map and may the Force be with you):
The process of cleaning your reputation can involve contacting the webmaster/author or administrator of the site where the negative piece is and negotiating the removal of the negative content. If contact information is not available on the site, sometimes you can use the WhoIs Database to find out who owns the site. When the registry says the domain name is owned by proxy, you can email the custodian and they will forward your email to the owner/administrator. When these methods are fruitless, you can use DomainTools.com to do even more private investigation research, but there will be a nominal charge to use their service. If they remove it, then mission accomplished, but often if that person holds a grudge against you, then they’ll be happy to know that you are twisting in the wind over their hit piece, so often this is a last resort. If they know it is keeping you up at night, then they’ll promote it even more causing you more pain.
The safest approach is quietly pushing positive content higher than the negative and they won’t even know you’re being proactive. The higher the positive sites rank, the further down the page the negative will drop until it’s off the first page. Then, you keep going until you scrub the second page of a search as well. The first page of a search is the most critical because most people never even go to the second page, in fact, studies show that 42% of clicks done after a search go to the site in position 1 on page one. About 12% of the clicks go to position 2. The last listing on page 1 in position 10 only get less than 3% of the traffic. You can mitigate over 97% of your problems by getting the negative off of page one of a Google search. You are golden if you can push the negative off of the first three pages of a Google search (SERP: search engine results page(s)).
One solution to someone slamming your name on the Internet is to hire an online reputation manager. A good one is worth every penny. Short of that, you can do some DIY or do it yourself online reputation management. If someone has something positive they wish to promote, then I push those sites higher in the Google ranking so they will get more sales and promotion, thus killing two birds with one stone. My services often more than pay for themselves using this technique. I find this personally gratifying.
Online Reputation Management Tips
1. Start by buying every domain name associated with your name or your company’s name you can afford. For example, if your name is Barack Obama, buy BarackObama.com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .us, .co, .ws, .mobi and .tv, etc., because people with bad intent can nab those and use them against you and they tend to come up higher in the search engines just by Google giving them a boost in ranking as part of their algorithm. If you can’t afford them all, the most important ones are the .com, .org and .net, in that order. Publish them as a website immediately, even if you don’t have time to put up any content. The sooner you publish them, the more authority they will have in ranking. I recommend putting them up as a self hosted WordPress blog if you can, because of the built-in rss feeds and free plugins to assist you with SEO (search engine optimization). I’d recommend hosting them at Bluehost.com; they have the best 24/7 American customer support I’ve ever experienced. For less than $8 a month, you can easily host 50 to 80 sites and you have push button installation of WordPress blogs. If you know what meta tags are, then you should at least put those in with your name or your company’s name in the title, description and keyword tags. Google will give you extra points for adding that optimization.
Next, buy the most obvious negative domain names with the words scam and sucks in them. There is evidence that Google ranks negative words like scam higher in the search results, especially in their drop down list in the Google suggestion list of relevant searches that appear instantly below the search form as you’re typing in your search. For example, if you are Wal-Mart, buy WalMartSucks.com and WalMartScam.com. An ounce of prevention gives you a pound of cure. Why leave those out there on the market to those with bad intent to use them against you? Those are super powerful negative domain names which are easy to use to put a cloud of doubt over your reputation. Often, perception is reality. I recommend buying your domains at: GoDaddy.com as they have some of the best prices in the industry along with 24/7 customer support by phone.
2. Grab all the social media accounts in your name that you can. The most powerful ones are Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter, but I suggest you use a tool to help you get a comprehensive list of what’s still available on lesser known sites. A great tool is NameChk.com. Before you do a search for your name, be sure you select the option under the search box that says: “Show All (159)”. See illustration below:
Other social media username availability sites are: KnowEm.com, CheckUsernames.com, NameCheck.com and NameCheckList.com for starters. Mashable.com has a list of 7 of the top social media username checkers here: http://mashable.com/2010/08/17/reserve-social-media-names/. I’d take every one off the market you can. It’s time consuming, but you can outsource it. To really get the most bang, I’d put a link to any site that you wish to rank higher in the profile of each account when permitted so you can promote the good while you’re fending off trolls who would love to drag your name through the mud. Make sure the link is complete by adding http:// and http://www. when appropriate to increase the probability it will show up as a live link. An anchor text link surrounded by relevant content is the most powerful link of all. Google anchor text link and learn how to create them on the highest ranking authority sites you can.
3. If they have a place for comments, you can give your rebuttal. I usually don’t do this because it fans the flame and draws more attention and it will likely start controversy and welcome other people’s opinions. The more comments and discussion, the usually it creates even more traffic and ranking to their position on a Google search and now traffic and time spent by visitors on a website are now part of the Google algorithm and it is usually best to let sleeping dogs lie. In rare cases, I have gotten things removed by countering the negative by telling the your side of the story, but it’s usually a risky tactic.
4. Get a YouTube channel in your name or your company’s name immediately. Google bought YouTube several years ago because of its popularity and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that Google favors their products in searches. Yes, they cheat, but what would you do if you were Google since they make a fortune from the ad network on YouTube, not to mention the killer traffic. It’s usually ranked in the top 3 for Internet traffic by Alexa.com/topsites and YouTube’s search engine has been ranked the 2nd most used search engine behind Google.com for a couple of years. Yes, the YouTube search engine beats Yahoo and Bing. Talk about owning traffic, whew! So use YouTube’s traffic to your advantage and as they say in advertising, ‘shoot where the ducks are flying’.
Next, put up a video and in the title, description and tags, add the name (keyword or keyword phrase) you’re are doing reputation management for whether it’s your personal name or your company’s name. If you wish to drive traffic to your primary site, begin your description with a link back to main site. Do a search for your site and see the complete url that Google has indexed on the search engine results page. If you died today, that video would keep sending your site traffic while you are playing your harp in the heavens. In order to make the link a clickable blue hypertext link, you’ve got to start with http:// or http://www depending on your actual url. For even more traffic, tell people in the video to click on the link in the description. It’s best to do a really good description loaded with your keywords because the search engines will index the whole description and it will help you come up higher in more searches for the keywords you add in the content. Most people don’t add the link or a good description; they usually just add a line or two because it takes extra work and they’re not aware that it can help them in the rankings.
YouTube is not just a place to watch videos, it’s a major social network as well and Google will reward you with higher search rankings and more traffic if you get involved with the social network. Frequently, friend people, watch their videos and comment. If you see a channel that you really like, subscribe to it. Every time you make a comment, it will leave a clickable link back to your channel and that will help you in ranking and more views. The more social you are, they more traffic you’ll get. Being social within the YouTube network is critical to rankings and traffic even if your videos are bland. So, if you don’t have a video of a water skiing squirrel, then you’ll need to be social and create value through virtual friendships. The difference is like night and day.
Another reason you’ll want to use YouTube videos to protect your name is that Google often shows a color thumbnail of the video on the search page and like a moth to flame, searchers can’t help but notice them more than a text listing, humans are naturally visual creatures and images paint a thousand words as the song goes. There are only 10 links on the default setting of a Google search, so have a goal to take up all the real estate on that page. The more of those 10 spots you control and the higher they rank, the more likely you’ll push the negative off of page one. If you focus on this technique, you can get several color thumbnail links on page one as well as page two, so jump in, the water’s fine. By ranking highly with YouTube videos, you can begin to control the two largest search engines, Google and YouTube.
Go to YouTube and create an account: http://www.youtube.com/create_account. It takes about 60 seconds. They just want the name of your account, an email and a password, so no reason to procrastinate.
5. As light overcomes the darkness, promoting good content will overcome the negative content. Unless you’re dealing with a black hole, darkness can never overcome light. Light is more powerful than darkness. Simply walk in to any dark room and turn on the light and the darkness is gone. You can’t walk into a room filled with light and turn on a darkness switch. This principle of physics applies to the Internet as well. 99% of all negative pages can pushed into oblivion by simply promoting content you are comfortable with over negative links. When you push your good sites to higher positions of a search, the bad sites will vanish like roaches into places where no one will see them. If a tree falls in the woods when no one is around to hear it, then the noise it makes affects no one, so the hit pieces remain on the web, but no one sees them, so their power to hurt you is minimized to the point where you can have a normal life again.
Some people call this technique Reverse SEO, but it’s not, one selectively chooses which content they wish to promote while avoiding doing anything to help the bad urls. Reverse SEO would be doing something to harm the ranking of the bad content. Short of hacking in to the negative site’s account and changing or deleting the content, it shouldn’t be attempted by doing anything offsite to the offending site. It is possible to run bots building massive spam links to a harmful site and have it drop off the first page, but the results will be temporary. After a brief sandboxing or Google Dance, those spam links will likely end up helping the bad site in the long run. If Google permitted this tactic, then the healthy search process would be destroyed. E-commerce sites would have SEOs build bad links 24/7 to their competitors sites to destroy their ranking. So, the rule of thumb is that you can never hurt the ranking of someone else’s site by off site link building.
Analyze which sites you think say positive things about you and promote them by quality link building, the bread and butter task of an SEO. Those sites do not have to be your sites, they can be anyone’s site you think represents you or your company in a good light. Link building and SEO strategies are evolving daily because Google can tweak their algorithm overnight so that is a topic I can cover in another post so you can do it yourself or you can hire an SEO expert to do this for you. A good link builder is hard to find, they are not created equally. You can do a search for a link builder or SEO specialist, but odds are against you to find a good one without a lot of frustrating trial and error.
Be relentless in building quality links to your positive sites until the negative site is relegated to a page you can live with. Make sure your site has the keywords you are trying to protect in the title, description and keyword meta tags. Meta tags are published in the admin account of your website and they are not visible by simply going to your web page, only people who pull up the source code to your page or the search engines will ever see them but they are powerful strategies for ranking. Also, it’s good to have them in the h1 title tags on the actual page which are visible to all. Usually, this is displayed at the top of the page or in the header in large bold type. If this is beyond your ability, any common web developer can do this for you for peanuts as it’s a task that can take as little as two minutes if you know the basics of HTML. Using the keywords you are guarding in the regular content is a plus as well.
6. How do you fight a major media site like the New York Times if they are bashing you or your company? This is the nightmare scenario that hopefully never happens in your lifetime, but if it does, you are facing the black hole of search engine reputation management (SERM).
In this dire case, you’re going to need to pay a lot of money, especially if you are a presidential candidate where the media is just itching to devour your reputation. Different strategies are:
1. Spin the story to your advantage.
2. Beat the others to the punch by getting ahead of the story so you can frame the bad news and control the message. Speed is everything.
3. Hire a company like Hill & Knowlton, a PR firm, to change the news even if you have to massage the story. Large Public Relations firms have many people on their staff that used to work in Main Stream Media and they use their connections to syndicate your story among the top influencers while making them think they are breaking something juicy.
4. Publish a bogus study or whitepaper to support your argument.
5. Do all the above while doing a massive link building campaign to push sites you’re comfortable with thus making negative stories fall in the rankings. Pull out all the stops.
6. Simply tell the truth. Admit you screwed up. Apologize. Ask for forgiveness. Move on to other pressing issues. The public is forgiving and it makes those who attack you look like vultures. This technique is my favorite.
As I’ve been adding additional content to this post as time allows, I can’t help but remember where I got my original foundation in SEO. Several years ago, after investing $40,000 in courses on Internet marketing and SEO, one name kept popping up over and over: Brad Fallon. I wish to shine a spotlight on Brad Fallon, because after I realized that most of what is out there on the net about SEO is snake oil, I came across an 8 hour audio interview that Andy Jenkins did with him in a course called, ‘Stomping the Search Engines’, and it literally changed my life. After hours of listening to Brad talk about techniques that work along with the logic behind them, he said that SEO is a moving target because the algorithms are changed all the time, so it was his intention to equip his listeners with the ability to respond to the changes in the Google algorithm in realtime and therefore one could always stay on the cutting edge based on solid principles and not Internet chatter. Brad gave me that solid foundation and everything I have built since then began with his rock solid SEO understanding. Brad Fallon saved me about 3 years of aimless wandering and for that, I am grateful.
If you’ve ever heard of blog and ping then you might have uncovered one of the secrets why blogs are loved by Google. If a blog is well established, then if you make a post, the RSS and atom feeds go to work notifying the search engines that there is fresh content on this new post. Sometimes the new content will be indexed by Google in a matter of minutes. The Google bot will visit your new post and scan your content, then make a cache page for the index; therefore making your new post appear in the search engines. Otherwise, your new post is like a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear the sound.
The RSS (really simple syndication) ping system is built-in to the WordPress blog system by default. It notifies Ping-o-Matic which in turn notifies up to over 20 ping services.
The Atom feed has to be turned on in the WordPress Dashboard before it will start working. You can sign in to your Dashboard (WordPress admin or back office), then look in the left margin for the heading: ‘Setting’, then click on it to open several other options under it. You must click on the ‘Writing’ link. Scroll down near the bottom of that page until you see the ‘Enable the Atom Publishing Protocol’ option. Put a checkmark in the box next to it and then make sure you click the save button to finalize your choice.
If you click on the title to any of my blog posts, you’ll go to what is called the ‘Permalink’ page. On those post pages, I have enabled over 15 different feeds. I’m a feed freak with the philosophy that the more feeds, the better.
I’ve enabled at least 5 feeds on static pages like the home page and the bio page.
I never met a feed I didn’t like. The more feeds, the merrier.
Twitter has announced that it no longer supports or displays your Twitter feed on their site in plain view; however, there are many reasons you might want to continue to use it, say in a WordPress blog text widget that displays your latest Tweets. As you can see from the link below that the Twitter feed no longer works:
Some searchers may have found this post when searching for ‘how to find your Twitter RSS feed url‘ or ‘how to find my Twitter timeline’. These are one in the same.
If you wish to find your Twitter Profile ID number, go to: http://idfromuser.org/ and type in your Twitter account name. Mine is: glenwoodfin.
If the site above is down, which it is from time to time, I suggest you try: http://www.idfromuser.com/ as an alternative to find your Twitter profile id number.
When the sites don’t seem to be working, instead of trying to figure out your numerical id, just use your Twitter profile name instead since it gives you an rss feed with the same content:
https://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=put-your-Twitter-account-name-here . Mine is: https://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=GlenWoodfin. Forget the number id!
If you wish to show your Twitter RSS feed on your website that automatically displays your latest Tweets, there are several ways you can do this. This post is created on WordPress blog software and it comes with a free default plugin/widget that lets you copy and paste your Twitter RSS feed url in it and it will instantly display in the sidebar.
To find this RSS widget, login to your WordPress dashboard and look down the left side to locate the ‘Appearance’ category. When you click on it, you’ll see the ‘Widgets’ tab, click on that and you’ll see the default RSS widget. Drag and drop it into the sidebar area, then insert your Twitter RSS feed url in the form, click save then click publish. You can show any feed in this widget, it doesn’t have to be a Twitter feed. In fact, look down the right side of this page and you’ll see my Tweets displayed in the RSS widget. If you have a static website, you can do a Google search for ‘RSS widget’ and find free ones or reasonably priced ones. Some of the free ones have a link back to the designer’s site, so I’d take that out of the code if you wish to hold more link juice on your page or buy a premium one without a back link to the widget designer’s site.
Does Adding a Twitter Feed to Your Site Increase Page Rank?
You have to be careful when decoding anything a representative from Google says on this subject. Notice Matt Cutts doesn’t talk about the ranking power of always having fresh content on your site or whether there is an added ranking benefit to people staying longer on your site while they are reading your Twitter feed, he only talks about adding a Twitter feed to get links. A sticky site (one that keeps people on your site longer, thus minimizing the bounce rate) can be good for ranking even though it’s only a small factor in the Google ranking algorithm.
Matt Cutts only refers to one aspect of ranking, Page Rank, but there are well over 200 ranking factors in the Google algorithm. I say adding a feed is good for ranking all things being equal because it adds new content to your page every time you Tweet.
Google Page Rank is a number assigned to a web page that starts at 0 and goes all the way up to 10. The scale is largely based on the number of other sites that link back to your site and the Page Rank of those sites linking in. To increase one’s Page Rank by one digit, you have to increase the links coming in by 8 times. Each level is exponentially based by a factor of 8. This is an educated guess, but it’s proven to be a good rule of thumb. You can install a Page Rank checker add-on to many browsers like Firefox, or simply go to a site like PageRankCheck.net and you’ll be able to find what any page is ranked. Bare in mind that Page Rank is only one of the factors in determining where your site comes up in a search, but it’s a strong indicator.
If you Tweet about a subject relevant to your website, then I think it’s logical to conclude adding a Twitter feed to your site is a good thing. As an online reputation manager, I must have the edge over all other sites, especially major media like newspapers. I believe it will help in ranking even if the content of your Tweets is unrelated to your site, but it’s even better if your Tweets contain relevant content and keywords that have similar topics.
Please re-Tweet this, Google Plus, and share on Facebook if you’d like me to continue to share content that makes a difference in your SEO and web site traffic. It means the world to me.
If you’ve ever done any online reputation management (clearing the first page of a Google search for any negative listings for an individual or corporation), you’ve surely noticed that the Google algorithm artificially boosts words like scam, criminal, prison, jail and many negative words unfairly. Not only do they push words that promote slander in their organic search, but it’s just as easy to see this synthetic promotion in their Google Instant Autosuggest feature where a drop down list of possible keyword searches are promoted to you as if they are trying to read your mind.
“A Paris court of appeal has ruled against Google in a defamation case lodged by the Centre National Privé de Formation a Distance (CNFDI) in a suit which claimed the search engine’s ‘Suggest’ feature linked the organisation to the word ‘scam’.
The Mountain View giant has been ordered to take necessary measures to remove this suggestion from its search functions, according to French legal site Legalis.net.”
Given time, I could illustrate thousands of examples, but I wouldn’t do so because it would only perpetuate the evil practice against good businesses. I will share one because the company has been a punching bag for ridicule, yet has continued to thrive for over 50 years. I refer to the Amway corporation. Personally, I think Amway has a lawsuit against Google just waiting to happen.
As of 5/28/2011, as one types into the Google search bar, the instant Google Autosuggest feature catapults the keyword phrase, “Amway Scam” in third place before you’ve even finished typing the word: Amway. Yet their own Keyword Tool says that searches for these keywords have many more searches per month (all created with a broad match search for the keyword, “Amway”):
Even though the keyword phrase ‘amway scam’ is at the bottom of the list, the Google algo rockets it to the 3rd position on their autosuggest feature and even in the natural search index. They do not determine this by actual search demand, they hide behind their secret sauce formula called relevance. Like Coca-Cola, Google will not reveal how they determine relevance, yet will little effort, a casual observer can see that negative words get a big boost in relevance from approximately 2 to 4 times more in comparison to actual search demand.
When sharing this discrepancy with other Google Gurus, they laugh at me when I try to make the case that this prejudged practice doesn’t help Google. They say, if the newspapers only printed positive news, then they’d go out of business. They lecture me saying Google is not really a ‘search’ business, they are an ‘advertising’ business model. Google is looking for rubberneckers who can’t drive by a minor accident on the freeway without making hundreds behind them slow down and take a look, thus allowing them time to spring their pay per click ads and other secret sales of search data to the corporate world as well as the hungry government intelligence services that are on an autopay relationship with Google. The Google experts point to hundreds of articles showing how AT&T and Google have seamlessly worked together to data farm all communication and searches in violation of the United States Constitution and turn it the info over to the Feds for a fee or favors. If you think I’m fabricating this story, just Google: ‘at&t illegal wiretapping’ or ‘google nsa’. Even Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, questioned, “What do you have to hide…?”
Many authorities demonstrate that Fascism, where governments and corporations become “One” to dominate the little guy, is the driving force in geopolitics in American and Global politics, but what do I know?
The bottom line is this: if you want to beat your competition if they are doing a better job than you, take your authority site and couch your position so that you are not delivering libelous content by the letter of the law, yet you destroy the companies who produce a better product, for less money with passion. That’s the Google Way.
While living in Rio de Janeiro in 2006, I was frustrated that I couldn’t work as a foreigner in Brazil. I reasoned that if I could learn how to promote things on the Internet, then I could work from anywhere in the world in the American market as long as I could get an Internet connection. Imagining that even if I was old with one tooth and unable to walk, I could still make a living if I could simply lay in bed as an invalid with a laptop. I decided then and there that I would learn how to make a living online.
For the next couple of years, I burned through over $40,000 investing in online courses and live seminars struggling to crack the code on how to make a living on the net. Gurus lurked everywhere in wait for me to see their ads and lure me in to buy their over priced courses. Everything looked so shiny and I confess, I often took the bait. Over time I realized that most gurus where only good at selling their courses, Internet marketers were simply marketing to other Internet marketers. I gained a few general tips along the way, but most of the courses lacked real “how to” content or they made me feel I was jumping on a horse and riding in 50 directions at the same time.
Fresh air arrived when I came across some reviews about Brad Fallon, Stomping the Search Engines and SEO. Online marketers were raving about Brad and mentioned how much a course called “Stomping the Search Engines” about search engine optimization had made a difference for them. I finally found a place to order a copy of it for $300. Everyone’s review sounded like it was really old and out of print so I felt lucky I was able to still buy it.
When Brad Fallon’s course arrived, I found it to be an 8 hour audio interview with him going from the basics to more advanced methods on how to get your website to the top of the search engines for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. Brad even covered black hat techniques that some marketers tried in violation of the search engines terms of service. I found the course astounding. Brad Fallon spoke with such authority.
Since the Bose iPod Docking station came out years ago, I put one in my bathroom and listened to podcasts and educational courses every time I took a shower. When I purchased Brad’s course, it immediately became the only thing I listened to for a year and a half. I must have listened to that 8 hour audio course over 60 times. I listened to it in my car; I listened to it while jogging. To me, it opened a door that was worthy of my commitment.
I started experimenting with Brad Fallon’s techniques on some small time sites, sheepishly. I was so afraid that I’d make a mistake, so I’d build some links then sit back and wait hoping I wouldn’t be banned by the search engines. It was a slow agonizing process until I started to realize that the techniques were working. In fact, I found that by dedicating myself to the execution of his theories, I was getting websites to the top of the search engines at will. For the next few years, I dedicated myself more and more, going from local sites to helping multinational corporations and international broadcasting media companies get to the top of the search engines. I started devouring everything I could get my hands on in organic search until I lost all fear of SEO. I practiced my craft for a couple of years and during that time, I got everything to the top of Google that I desired. I always succeeded. It became child’s play. The Google algorithm was a joke to me, even though they claimed there were over 200 factors in their rankings. Whoop-tee-doo…I found that, like politicians, Google’s declarations about SEO were duplicitous.
Invitation to Speak at Brad Fallon’s SEO PRO at $20,000 a Seat
I rarely go to live events because most of them are just sell-a-thons to create even more revenue while fleecing attendees when they are on an emotional high. However, Brad Fallon’s Stompernet events had a reputation of attracting serious Internet marketers while keeping the upsells to a minimum, so after Brad’s $300 Stomping the Search Engines course gave me such a solid foundation with zero hype, I decided to go to a Stompernet Live event at the W in downtown Atlanta.
One should know that I’ve been self-employed for over 20 years so I rarely show up for a seminar on time, I come and go as I please. True to tradition, I came into the event in the middle of a session while the speaker was talking. I tried to let the door close behind me quietly and the first thing I saw was Brad Fallon sitting in the back row taking it all in. I could have been a good little attendee and find a seat, instead, I beelined right over to Brad to introduce myself. I was a bit shocked that he was open to a quick quiet chat and asked if I had a card. I didn’t, so I told him I’d talk to him later.
After the speaker finished his seminar, people remained in the room to share ideas one on one and in smaller groups. After saying hello to the people around me, I zipped up to Brad Fallon and I talked about what a difference he’d made in my life and how I took his solid SEO principles and evolved them into strategies for defending someone’s reputation online. I called it online reputation management (ORM) and Brad called it SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management). I did ORM for a living and I’d never heard of SERM. My ideas intrigued him and he invited me to speak to a select group of committed marketers who had not only attended his SEO Pro events, but they had opted for his intensive high level training at $20,000 a person. This elite team featured guests from all over the world. Brad wanted a strong connection with this select group of marketers, so he invited them to come to his house for many of the sessions.
I came in the night before the event and I brought an old salt friend named John, who’d built a business for 30 years and had the scars and stories to show for it. Brad met us outside and we talked a few minutes before going into his Buckhead home.
Within minutes Brad sat down at his dining room table in front of his laptop and John and I sat in the living room about 20 feet away. The living room, dining room and kitchen were really all one big room visually divided in sections. The living room was separated from the kitchen with an island bar and the dining area was off to one side creating a large L shaped room with a high ceiling.
As John and I had light conversation, Brad became entranced on his Mac. Brad asked me a few minutes later if I’d seen his new uQast project that he was about to launch. I didn’t know much about it so he scooped up his laptop and brought it over and set it on the coffee table in front of me. Brad started clicking around the admin area talking about everything the site could do. His hair was on fire as he talked. Before long I realized he’d created a propriety platform for content providers to brand their own space on the site and share any type of content imaginable from written word to high def video. He said people could share their content or create a membership section for a fee. The owner would have complete control over their own space including whether links were follow or no follow.
Brad enthusiastically went on and on about it. He talked about how long he’d worked on the project and mentioned a little about each of the coders that he’d attracted to the site’s structure. I remember that they were from various countries, but in the end I think I remember him saying one of the lead programmers lived in Costa Rica. I think he’d dropped a few coders along the way as Brad was clearly a perfectionist. He even mentioned the price tag to date which I seem to remember was over 2 million at that time. Whew! When Brad jumps into something he jumps in with both feet. I could tell from his intensity that Brad spent a lot of all-nighters testing and retesting the site and making design changes until his vision was a reality. I completely respected his commitment level. Few are able to be that focused on anything, for Brad, he didn’t know any other way.
He mentioned a tip jar and asked me if I thought it was a good idea. He said people could see your content and then give you a tip if they found value. It could be a tip as small as 10 cents. Brad asked, “Glen, have you heard of micro payments”? I said no. He explained a viewer might want to leave a small tip for good content all over the web, but the problem would be that the merchant account would actually cost more for the transaction than the tip itself. I knew that was correct, because usually banks charge 25 cents per transaction, then an additional 1 to 3% of the total. He said to solve that problem, he’d set up a way one could create an account for say $50 with a one time traditional merchant fee, then once funded, they could tip people without any further charges regardless of the amount. Sounded smart.
He and his team had worked hard on creating a proprietary search engine with ranking determined through social feedback; so, the better the content, the higher in the search engine it would rank. Very cool.
We all started talking about going out for dinner and since Brad lived there, we let him decide. We went out to his garage and got into his late-model Mercedes that had that airplane wing arch from front to back. At first I thought it was a Maybach. It wouldn’t have surprised me as I knew he’d had businesses that had grossed 20 and 30 million a year. That was common knowledge.
The first restaurant he took us to was packed, so we all agreed that it was too much of a zoo. He asked if we had any preferences for the next choice. I said that I’d always wanted to go to a Brazilian restaurant that was closing their doors on a Sunday night right as we entered. I said I think it’s in Buckhead. Brad said, he liked it and it was just down the street. Yippie! I was excited because if you’re not familiar with Brazilian steakhouses, you’re in for a treat. They typically have multiple people waiting on you and you’ll never leave hungry with their rodizio style dining.
The Wikipedia defines it like this: “Rodízio (pronounced [ʁoˈdʒiziu] in Brazil, is a style of restaurant service in Brazilian restaurants. One pays a fixed price (prix fixe) and the waiters bring an offering of food to each customer at several times throughout the meal, until the customers signify that they have had enough. In churrascarias, servers come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of meat, most commonly local cuts of beef, pork, or chicken. There are other rodízio style restaurants, for example serving pasta or pizza rodizio (where various pizzas are brought on trays). Its common, also, rodízio style sushi restaurants in Brazil.”
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
The one thing the Wikipedia didn’t mention is that it’s customary for the waiters to place a coaster in front of you as you sit down. They put it green side up which tells the servers to keep bringing you unlimited food. When you’re about to pop, you flip it over to the red side which let’s them know you’re finished. They’ll never create an atmosphere of guilt if you leave it green, they have the attitude of your grandmother where they get great joy watching you eat and are always happy to give you one more serving. That’s one thing I really miss from living in Brazil. There restaurants are world-class. I consider them better than American restaurants. Their eagerness to serve you is much better than the typical wait staff of even expensive restaurants in the states.
We had a great conversation and Brad Fallon insisted on picking up the check. I’m sure the wine cost as much as the food. Oo la la…thanks Brad! It was a treat I’ll never forget.
When we arrived back at his home, we went into the living room and as we were sitting down he asked us if we wanted a drink. I gladly accepted as I really wanted to let my hair down and get into a juicy conversation about life and business. Brad opted for an American light beer. I think he grabbed something like a Coors Light or a Bud Light. All I remember is that it was American and light. As I reflect, I think Brad was health conscious and I was flavor conscious. I had zero interest in a light beer, so I boldly asked if he had any Whiskey. He pointed towards the cabinet and said to help myself. I did. It was free pour for the rest of the evening for me. There wasn’t a shy bone in my body.
To my delight, Brad and John hit it off. When I could see that Brad liked John’s entrepreneurial stories, I remember, I kept telling John, oh oh, tell him about the time…John can tell a story like it’s an adventure and he shared gripping tales of how he saved his business from a sure demise over and over. They were accounts filled with humor and sheer guts. They were his solutions to ‘no way out’ situations. I must confess, his true stories keep you on the edge of your seat. John is the master of recreating an event as if you were there. He knows exactly how to pull you in and make you feel like you’re watching a good movie.
Brad asked me questions about my business and it was obvious he was disappointed that I did so much of the work myself. I could tell he thought I could delegate or automate a lot more of the work.
After hammering Brad with a bunch of personal questions, I could tell he was getting restless with my line of questioning. In fact, I’m sure I was irritating. I tend to push things until people open up, but that wasn’t Brad’s style. I like to force things until I can see where a person’s boundaries are, you know, where someone begins and ends. I became the odd man out at times.
We stayed up till 4 a.m. then realized we had a seminar to do in the morning which was fast approaching, so John and I headed back to our hotel.
We rolled in late the next morning and people from around the world had gathered in the same rooms we had spent time in a Brad’s house the night before. He had catered the event so everyone had food and drinks in front of them. Brad had food delivered all day.
Brad gave me a great introduction, then I went wild in front of a white board for an hour or more. The Internet marketers had great questions and to my delight Brad had scooted up close and sat on the edge of his seat. He was very interested in my SEO techniques. It felt great to see he was so into it.
Then, he invited my friend John to tell his story as an example of how to overcome the odds in business and got a hearty round of applause at the end. I was proud of him. He was inspiring and he had an audience that really appreciated his risk taking style.
That’s it, we hung out at the end of the day as we had dinner with the savvy attendee, then we headed back to South Carolina to our respective homes.
One thing I hope you get out of my post is that you can start in obscurity struggling online to crack the code on how to become an expert in online marketing and one day for all the dedication you’ve done in private, it can one day be rewarded in public. It’s like you have to go through a dark tunnel, but take heart, there is light at the end of it when you emerge. Try not to be like me when you surf the net and every guru has a course that sells for a boatload of money and they all look shiny. Have discretion and be skeptical. I dropped $40,000 one year on Internet marketing courses, but the only one that changed my life was a $300 course from Brad called Stomping the Search Engines.
As I finish this post, I’m looking across the room at that stack of products just sitting there and I shake my head.