Back from the Dead

>rent a car bulgaria, I’ve been a bit busy lately in the past few months. Tropical SEO got hacked (again), and a few months later, I finally got around to fixing it :-)
Google is still showing the site as ‘dangerous’, though Firefox doesn’t display a warning page anymore. Please comment if you’re still seeing a warning in your browser.

Must-Read Monday Links

Normally I try not to do posts like this but I think every competitive webmaster needs to read the following two posts:

    компютри втора употребаландшафт

  • Guilty Until Proven Innocent by Jay Weintraub
  • Excerpts from Google Reviewer at SEO Blackhat (and good for you if you have a membership to read the whole thing!)

Back to the first link by Jay Weintraub — whether or not you agree with his entire post, I have heard dozens of people all agree on one thing about Google: they have the worst customer service in the history of the world. Yes, worse than Best Buy, worse than Comcast, and far worse than Micro$oft or Yahoo!.

My Predictions for 2008

On the heels of some other guy’s, I give you my own…

  • Linkbaiting will not jump the shark. It’s here to stay. Online and Off-. Forever. Naysayers, please fast forward to 2026 — will Cosmopolitan publish “Collected Thoughts from a Writer on How to Have Sex Better” or “33 Ways to Drive Him Wild and Make Your Bedroom Sizzle?” Now, linkbaiting may get a bit more refined–no more publishing “The Geek’s Guide to Losing Weight” on your spammy dental plans affiliate site (*ahem*)–but good, baity content is the foundation of successful publishing, and that ain’t gonna change in 100 years.
  • Premium content will gain more momentum. OK, I already made this prediction six months ago, but I’m sticking with it. Aaron Wall’s switch to a premium model seems to be going well, SEOmoz’s “PRO” is gaining steam, and, outside our little SEO-sphere, I’m still addicted to the paid content at
  • Tropical SEO will post a total of 9 times. Hey, I’m just being honest. Besides, my not posting is really my way of sending you the message that working on non-revenue-producing activites is overrated.
  • Niche social media sites will reach critical mass. It’s already happening, of course. Once these guys start sending 500 referrals instead of 80, SEOs will start spamming en masse.

I’ll admit my predictions are pretty much gimme’s… what can I say, I’m conservative by nature. But feel free to rip any or all in the comments.

Digg’s “Florida Update”: Digg Anti-Spam 1, Linkbaiters 0

If you’re a n00b in the SEO world, you may not know about the Florida Update–basically, it was the single day in history when Google rolled out a new algo and thousands of SEOs said to each other, “Dammit, Google finally got smart.”

Well, as the latest Digg update rolled out, thousands of SMOs/linkbaiters reacted by saying–angrily, long-windedly, and periphrastically–”Dammit, Digg finally got smart.” (See a concise summary of the new changes at SEL.)

The good news is, we SMOs & linkbaiters still have dozens of other social media traffic sources, which, as long as they stay “medium size”, won’t roll out anything like Digg’s Florida Update. Meanwhile, a lot of the heavy users leaving Digg will juice the membership at alternatives like Mixx and Tweako. No need to cry or get angry. Come up with a Plan B, move on, evolve. Digg had peaked anyway.

Rand Fishkin & Tropical Give Advice to Startup CEO’s

From Rand’s advice to CEO’s:

I’ve also found that personally, it’s easy to spot someone who’s just in the business for the money vs. those who really care and want something great for the industry. It might be the optimism speaking, but I feel that the latter group usually produces the brightest innovations (and eventually, profit, too).

The urge to make a snarky reply is unbearable… Tropical… must… resist… impulse to… scratch itch… hippy jokes… overloading…

Not every CEO needs this, but I’ve found that in a web-based market, having watched dozens of people navigate (or try to navigate) websites has given me an extra edge in empathizing with the user and trying to understand what they need.

No disagreement here. Increasing usability is often the easiest/fastest/bestest way to quickly juice a site’s revenue.

I’m great at telling people when they’ve done a good job, but awful at criticizing any effort. In order to overcome, I’ve started hiring only those folks who have a deep, internal need for perfectionism. If you are your own harshest critic, it helps me to work around this pervasive flaw.

My nickname around the office is “H8er”. I call it “my critical eye”. Rand, where do you find these people with a deep need for perfectionism? I, ahem, haven’t found this trait much in our generation.

It’s a dictatorship. When tough decisions come up, they’re my responsibility. I’ve noticed that even with little things, when we take a company vote, dissent and discomfort abound. If you want to run a company with a pseudo-democracy, take everyone’s opinion and input, then make the decision. You need to be able to take the blame when something goes awry, and bowing to internal pressure is no excuse.

I’m impressed. Is the “team building” and “consensus” fad over yet? Good. You’re CEO for a reason: you have a higher batting average at decision-making.

I can remember dozens of times when I felt like the world was crashing down around me - that I could barely hold up another day. I think all CEOs probably need to have those experiences a few times before they start to recognize that nothing is as bad as it seems, the sun’s coming up tomorrow and time heals more than you think it could. That employee who’s struggled the last few months may indeed turn things around. The client who hasn’t paid might just need a little extra contact. The product that’s not taking off yet could, with a few tiny fixes, soar.

If you’re living in a dumpster, working on a stolen laptop online with stolen wireless, you’ve been indicted for embezzlement, and you’re trying to get a new social networking site off the ground, then, I’m sorry to tell you, things are indeed as bad as they seem. Also: employees don’t generally “turn around”. Underperformers have no place in a company that’s not publically traded, so ditch them as soon as you know. :-)

Sell Your Web Site to Tropical SEO, Lose 15 Lbs, and Attract Hot Women (or Men)

My last post offering to buy readers’ sites turned out to be a modest success, so it’s time to self-whore my blog once again.

My company DomainDev has an acquisitions budget we’d like to spend in the next few months, and I’d rather give it to an intelligent, snarky Tropical SEO reader than some random dude off the InterWebs.

So if you’re thinking you might like to cash in some of your virtual real estate sometime soon, why not take two minutes and fill out our form? We do have some things we’re actively looking for though, so please note the following:

  1. I am not interested in domains less than a year old, or with multiple hyphens ;-)
  2. Any niche is fine, except: pr0n, pills, casino, or celebrity
  3. I am not interested in domains which have been banned in Google
  4. Please don’t submit any site doing less then four figures a month in revenue

Please use the DomainDev ‘We Buy Sites’ form to submit your site for consideration.

p.s. thanks to for reminding me of what a good idea posts like these are!

A Festivus Gift for My Readers: 9 New Niche Social Media Sites

I hope all you readers had a good Festivus this year. The Airing of Grievings was pretty brutal to me, apparently I’ve been a real dick to a lot of people this year. But all ended well as I crushed T-bo in the Feats of Strength ceremony.

Meanwhile Tropical SEO is once again bringing you the good stuff–9 new niche social media sites that actually send traffic. I have to credit Improvetheweb for pointing me to some links where I found (and tested) these new sites. (p.s. those other lists have a TON of abandoned sites in them. All the more reason to bookmark the Tropical SEO list which I actually try to maintain.)

I have held off on including some sites which are TOO niche (Firefox only news?). And as usual I don’t include any which I’m not sure have sustainable communities, which are abandoned (or too new), or which don’t seem to send significant real traffic. Paraphrasing Jane Copeland, most of these web 2.0 sites are flaming piles of sh*t. The ones on my list aren’t.

Today’s additions:

  • ArmchairGM (Sports)
  • Daytipper (Tips & Tutorials)
  • Design Float (Design)
  • Hacker News (Web Development)
  • (Shopping)
  • IndianPad (India News)
  • KillerStartups (Startup Reviews)
  • tipstrs (Tips & Tutorials)
  • Value Investing News (Investing)

You can check out the entire updated list here. Happy linkbaiting!

Can You Make (a LOT) of Money with Premium Content?

I’m hereby naming 2008 the year of premium content. Yes, I’m aware that The New York Times is moving away from the premium content model, as are several other traditional general media outlets. But I’m actually seeing things move in the other direction. I think premium (paid) content is making a huge comeback, and will be part of the Web for many years to come.

  • SEOmoz appears to be making more money with their new paid subscription model then they ever did otherwise (based on their “financial transparency” posts in the past).
  • Aaron Wall, ever the forward-thinking-highly-strategic-web-trending thinker, is planning on moving to the premium subscription model for several stated reasons.
  • While ESPN still barely even offers free content covering the UFC, Sherdog’s paid membership program is ticking along.
  • I just renewed my premium subscription. I just have to have every single piece of info about the Cleveland Browns as soon as it comes out. We just signed a new #3 punter to the practice squad? Yes, I need to know that. OK, this bullet point was completely subjective. But it passes my gut check–if I have ever paid for premium content, and there are other people in the world like me, then…

Of course, the paid content model isn’t right for everyone, and for every success story above there’s another story about a site cancelling their premium content section. But when paid content works it really works. Here’s a handy, no-BS quiz to help you find out if the paid content model could possibly work for you:

  1. Have you built a free readership of at least 10,000 subscribers or daily readers? My napkin calculation says that you can reasonably expect (best case) 1% of readers to pay for a premium membership. Unless you can successfully charge a thousand bucks a month for membership, I’d guess you need a base of at least 100 members to break even on content production costs. :-)
  2. Are you a recognized authority in your field? This is a huge selling point in being able to convince people they should actually pay for your information when other less formal or less expert informational channels are free. e.g., isn’t just a bunch of bloggers–they have real reporters and NFL insiders whose journalistic integrity I actually trust.
  3. Do you have serve a regular dosage of exclusive content? This could be videos, in-depth guides, research, tools, or whatever, but if you don’t have exclusives, why wouldn’t a reader go to your free competitor? e.g, gets plenty of (usually true) rumor stories not carried by ESPN, and also has an exclusive “Ask the Insiders” forum, etc.
  4. Is your content niche enough? If you’re reporting on world news, you are competing with approximately 1000000 other free sites. If you’re reporting on the Cleveland Browns, you’re competing with approximately five other sites. If you’re SEOmoz, you’re competing with approximately 5 or 10 really good, regularly updated SEO information channels (along with about a thousand crappy or quasi-crappy blogs like this one). The point is, if you’re not niche enough, you’re going run into some heavy problems–a large number of free competitors, a larger hurdle to brand yourself as an “expert”, a harder time getting true exclusives, etc.
  5. I’m sure I’m missing other bullet points that ought to be here. Comment and let me know :-)

Now, all this being said, I can’t say I’m currently experimenting with the premium content / subscription model–I’m too busy with my big project right now. But damn, I wish I was. Godspeed, SEOmoz. You hippies in Seattle may get the last laugh after all.

5 New Niche Social Media Sites, Vegas Updates, a Domainer Sh*tstorm and a Special Surprise

Mr. Tropical is back after a short blogging hiatus. After I convincingly won the bet with Scoreboard (first man to 350 bloglines subs got $500 Cleveland Browns tickets), I was uninspired to write for a while. But you know what? I miss your guys’ snarky comments. I miss the glamour. And I miss all the action I get every time I post. So here’s an update with a little bit of everything!

1. I’ve update my niche social media site list. 5 new sites have shown me enough to join the exclusive club:

  • BuzzFlash (News)
  • Mixx (Anything)
  • PhotographyVoter (Photography)
  • ShowHype (Entertainment)
  • Small Business Brief (Business & Entrepreneurship)

Check out the whole updated list here and remember to make submitting to niche social media sites part of your regular link baiting flow!

2. I have to say I’m a bit hurt no one has joined the Scoreboard Media Vegas Contest. I was promised that when I became a successful SEO I’d have groupies. So where are the groupies, I ask you? Where are my godd*mn groupies!?

3. The Domainersphere was rocked with scandal the past few days. I don’t fully understand all what went on or understand who’s at fault, but one thing I do know is every time I get really emotional about business I usually regret it afterwards.

4. Along with a few other smart folks, I’ve started a new company: DomainDev. Come check us out if you’re in Houston. We have a Ms Pac-man machine in our office.

Party Like a Coked-up Has-Been Rockstar at Pubcon: Tropical SEO and Scoreboard Contest

On the heels of Shoemoney and Neil Patel’s announcement, Scoreboard Media has announced a contest of his own. Winners “get” to “party” with us at “Vegas”. Check out the details here and submit your entry. And don’t forget to bring cash. Lots and lots of cash.