Archive for January, 2008

Reputation Management Case Study: Baptism by Fire

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Pubcon 2007 was my first SEO convention, and I absolutely loved it. I went looking for new link building ideas, and was floored by one – social media marketing. I listened to Cameron Olthius, Neil Patel, Michael Gray, & Rand talk about methodology & case studies, and I soaked it up.

I’m not an SEO by trade – I’m a real estate broker who SEO’s his own sites (and works on side projects.) I knew going into SMM, that selling anything real estate related to the digg crowd would be difficult. But…..

I got the digg rush, and then the typical digg overdose. My server crashed, the digg guys talked smack about it, I stayed on the phone w/ my host for 2 hours, and then I went back live. I climbed to 1000+ digs, it was picked up & went popular on Reddit, and the Stumblers found & loved it. Over the next week the backlinks just kept rolling in.

Then…I was forwarded this: (click on images for full communication)

And… baptism by fire into the world of reputation management was rolling.

I was floored. I knew of Mert Sahinoglu, but had never really had any direct contact with him – he’d commented on my blog a couple of times, but that was it. I immediately called him to see if he’d actually sent the contact form. He answered the phone, I introduced myself, and he immediately hung up.

I shot him an email asking, “what’s up?” He responded by firing a mass email, blind copying the recipients.

The same day, I received two emails from other agents featured in the original digg post. They were pissed. They had not seen the digg post until Mert contacted them and informed them of the post. His email not only told them of the post, but advised them to sue.

And then….more attacks:

Reputation Management by Fire

Step #1 Assess & prioritize the damages

  1. Threats of Litigation
  2. Damage to reputation through email & forum attacks
  3. Potential damage through search rankings

Step #2 React to Each Attack

  1. The only winners in any lawsuit are the attorneys, so I immediately pulled the piece and apologized to the angry agents. No attorneys contacted me.
  2. I immediately sent a mass email to agents I speculated would be on Mert’s original mailing list, in order to explain what had occurred, and to clarify that I had done nothing to provoke the attack. I received many supportive emails & phone calls as a result.
  3. I then posted , and 301 redirected the original piece to the new blog, in the hopes that I would not lose any garnered backlinks. At last count, the original post has 1700+ links.
  4. I emailed friends & colleagues & asked that they comment on my response, in order to guide the conversation. This got the ball rolling in a positive direction, and there were 19 supportive comments at last count.

Important Points to Note

  1. I’ve always been active on many social networking sites, and I have more than a few blogs w/ decent PR. Because of this, Mert’s blog wasn’t able to climb any higher than the bottom of page 2 for my name.

  2. Silence speaks volumes. Mert’s forum & blog posts . Because of the lack of response, there was no need to lend it any credibility through a response.

  3. Unless you’re wrong, stick to your guns. My blog explanation clarified my position, but did not apologize.

  4. .

  5. 700+ diggs & another crashed server.

Google Coming to Austin

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Google has recently acquired 25k sq ft of office space in downtown Austin’s Scarbrough Building.  They are expected to employ 125-150 engineers & other employees.  You know what this means….easier to meet one at a bar, drop ‘em a roofy, and get all the secrets!

Promoting a Digg Piece? Mixx It Up, Meng

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Everyone’s up in arms over the new digg. The digg guys have tweaked the algo, and now it’s a different process to promote a piece to go popular. I say different, because in my opinion, it’s not harder or easier. that rings true.

Basically, the algo seems to track voting patterns, and devalues votes from the same group(s) of voters. So…if you have a small, but very consistent digg SOI, you’re going to have problems. Where as in the past, 50 voters that would always vote when you asked was a pretty good resource to get you dugg, now you need to have more sources, and they don’t need to be as consistent.

In the past, many diggers would keep a tight circle of ~100 mutual friends to shout to. Now, they need a bigger SOI to vary the vote sources, and go popular.

So…one technique is to mixx it up, meng! Mixx has turned into somewhat of a refuge for spited diggers. Social bookmarkers that are pissed b/c they’re having problems promoting on digg are turning to mixx, and other sites like it in order to get their fix.

I’ve briefly promoted on Mixx, and it doesn’t drive much traffic. However, it’s a good resource. Mixx allows you to easily directly email your followers – not simply a “shout” but a real, direct email to their inbox. Because the mixxers are pissed at digg, they’re receptive when you ask them to digg a story. Give it a “hey, let’s get this pushed popular on digg” spinn…fight the power – and the power, in this case, is digg.

Killer Email Solution From Google

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Everyone knows that gmail rocks. However, the branding opportunity from using a “” email address outweighs the functionality (and lack of spam) that gmail provides. I don’t know how long this has been around, but turned me onto it the other day, and I’m forever grateful.

Google apps allows you to dial your MX settings to Google’s servers, and manage your email using their servers & tools. They provide free POP & IMAP support, so you can use whatever email client you would like, and easily set up your smart phone. The free service provides almost 7gb of storage, and up to 100 user accounts. More than enough for personal or small business. .

The coolest (weirdest) part? There’s no advertising anywhere! It seems that they’re offering this purely to create brand loyalty…Well, that, and data mining.

The process is fairly simple:

  1. Go to & sign up
  2. Change your MX records at your domain registrar or host
  3. Verify your site
  4. Set up POP or IMAP, if necessary

That’s it…really easy. It brought my daily spam count down from 15-20 per day to 1-2.

Now Rocking on a Digg Proof Server

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Alright…I’m in not an affiliate of inmotionhosting, and I’m popping this logo in below because I’m a big believer in a photo on every blog. *edit* Now it’s an affiliate link for my buddy Terry, who turned me onto this.

Anyways….we’re now sitting on the bomb-diggity-proof server…guaranteed. We have 1gb of RAM bursting to 3gb, and can handle as many inquiries as can be thrown at us. It’s a VPS, but if we go over our allocated share of system resources, they automatically reallocate, and set up a call within 30 days to talk about possible upgrades.

Inmotion was the only hosting company I talked to that was familiar with the digg effect, and their customer support has been absolutely awesome thus far.

Server Migration & Database Dump

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

And there are problems….obviously.  I have someone working on it the next couple of days.  Should be back up soon.

Google PR Update Happening Now

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Apparently, Google’s propagating a PR update right now.  I only checked a couple of pages, and didn’t see any movement on them, but it’s confirmed by good sources that it’s happening.  Always fun to whip ‘em out & measure!