LinkMoses Resurrected #3 – When Cheaters Win, aka Peewater for Links

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(Editor’s note: See Peewater, as defined by Urban Dictionary)You’ll hear the following question/argument asked at just every online marketing conference, discussion/forum, and I’m asked it at least a few times a month.”Why should we play by the rules when it’s still possible to cheat and rank?”I understand your frustration, and I can’t argue your point, because every day my own analysis shows the

July 31st 2009 Google, Twitter, yahoo

How The MS/Bing/Yahoo Deal Changes SEO

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How The MS/Bing/Yahoo Deal Changes SEO:

It doesn't.

I mean, once they get it all done, there will be:

  1. One less spider crawling the web, reducing power and bandwidth needs of the web, and helping to combat global climate change. Not sure how much carbon the Yahoo bots were putting into the air, but it's probably more than all the gas-guzzling Hummers in service today.
  2. One less place for the rank checkers to check their rankings. Not that this will stop anyone – you will still check your rankings at Yahoo and MSN and Live and Bing, just like you still check them at AOL and Google. Stop checking so much – it's good for the environment.
  3. Plenty of laid-off or otherwise severed search engineers and the like, so that every big SEO firm can hire one, and pretend that they now have some special insight into Google. If they work from home, that's one less Hummer cranking out carbon on the Bayshore Freeway. Not that it matters once it gets repossessed.

So, although your SEO action item list is zero, at least Microsoft and Yahoo are doing their part to combat global climate change.

Now, you can do your part. No more "how this deal changes SEO" posts are needed. Save the electrons – who knows when we will need them.

We'll talk more soon.

PS – the rest of the stuff for my video studio arrives today. LLTV is coming soon.

How The MS/Bing/Yahoo Deal Changes SEO is a post from SEO Fast Start – the best SEO book is free, download it today!

July 30th 2009 News

LinkMoses Resurrected #2 – What If Everything You Know About Link Building Is Wrong?

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So let it begin.Over at Search Engine Land today I wrote Betting On The Link Building Boondoggle Bonanza. I mentioned a couple very specific link building tactics in that column, press releases and directory submissions. What’s being sold is, to be kind, bad and worse.As for directories, some of this you surely already know. I’ve written about it before. A year ago I wrote Don’t Blame Google

July 29th 2009 News

Google Street-View, StoreFront Barcodes & Extended Store Details

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Want to see how useful Google street-view may be in the future? Take a look at how Bokodes may change how our world is being digitized.

July 28th 2009 Uncategorized

West Coast Airfares Rising Faster than East Coast Airfares?

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Airfares are rising faster for flights on the West coast than on the East coast.

July 28th 2009 Uncategorized

LinkMoses Resurrected – Thirty Link Building Rants and Commandments

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By now most who know me know the LinkMoses backstory.I retired LinkMoses 15 months ago. LinkMoses had a fabulous run, earned over 100,000 links, (smoke that linkbait) and the post LinkMoses Linking Commandments – Part I remains one of my site’s top five most visited pages.So why bring LinkMoses back for thirty posts? Three reasons. First, it’s easier for me to speak my mind when I’m in

July 28th 2009 News

Saving Face: The Privacy Architecture of Facebook

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In his very interesting thesis draft Saving Face: The Privacy Architecture of Facebook, Chris Peterson, describes through a number of real life stories some very subtle and interesting issues concerning privacy and context that arose during the rapid evolution of the now 250 million member social network.

Perhaps the most revealing of these stories is that of Junior High School student Rachel who broadcast the following distress status message my grandmother just friend requested me. no Facebook, you have gone too far! Chris Peterson develops: Rachel and her grandmother are close. She trusts her grandmother. She confides in her grandmother. She tells her grandmother “private” things. She is certainly closer to her grandmother than many of her Facebook Friends. So what’s the big deal? Rachel explains:

Facebook started off as basically an online directory of COLLEGE STUDENTS. I couldn’t wait until I had my college email so that I could set up an account of my own, since no other emails would give you access to the site. Now, that was great. One could [meet] classmates online or stay in touch with high school mates [but it] has become a place, no longer for college students, but for anyone. [About] five days ago, the worst possible Facebook scenario occurred, so bizarre that it hadn’t even crossed my mind as possible. MY GRANDMOTHER!? How did she get onto facebook?…As my mouse hovered between the accept and decline button, images flashed through my mind of sweet Grandma [seeing] me drinking from an ice luge, tossing ping pong balls into solo cups full of beer, and countless pictures of drunken laughter, eyes half closed. Disgraceful, I know, but these are good memories to me. To her, the picture of my perfectly angelic self, studying hard away at school, would be shattered forever.

The paper is full of legally much more serious stories, but this one is especially revealing as it makes apparent how the flat friendship relation on Facebook does not take into account the context of the relationship. Not all frienships are equal. Most people have only very few friends they can tell everything to. And most often one tells very different stories to different groups of friends. In the physical world we intuitively understand how to behave in different contexts. One behaves one way in church, another in the bar, and yet another way in front of one’s teachers, or parents. The context in real life is set by the architecture of the space we are in (something Peter Sloterdijk develops at length in his philosophical trilogy Spheres). The space in which we are speaking and the distance others have to us guides us in what we should say, and how loud we can say it. On Facebook all your friends get to see everything you say.

It turns out that it is possible to create an equivalent contextual space on Facebook using a little know and recently added feature, which allows one to build groups of friends and specify access control policies on posts per group. Chris shows clearly that this by itself is not enough: it requires a much more thorough embedding in the User Interface so that the intuitive feel one has in real life for who hears what and to whom one is speaking is available with the same clarity in the digital space. In the later part of the thesis Chris explores what such a User Interface would need to do to enable a similarly intuitive notion of space to be available.

Applications to the Social Web

One serious element of the privacy architecture of Facebook (and other similar social networks) not covered by this thesis, yet that has a very serious impact in a very large number of domains, is the constant presence of a third party in the room: Facebook itself. Whatever you say on these Social Networks, is visible not only to your group of friends, but also to Facebook itself, and indirectly to its advertisers. Communicating in Facebook puts one then in a similar frame of mind to what people in the middle ages would have been in, when mankind was under the constant, omnipotent and omniscient presence of God who could read every thought, even the most personal. Except that this God is incorporated and has a stock market value fluctuating daily.

For those who wish to escape such an omni-presence yet reap the benefits of online electronic communication, the only solution lies in the development of distributed secure social networks, of a Social Web where every body could own what they say and control who sees it. It turns out that this is possible with semantic web technologies such as foaf and access control mechanisms based on ssl.

One very positive element I take from this thesis is that the minimal technical building blocks for reconstituting a sense of context is the notion of a group and access control of resources. In a the Social Web we should be able to reconstitute this using the foaf:Group class and foaf+ssl for access control. On this basis Chris Peterson’s user interface suggestions should be applicable in a distributed social network.

All in all then I found this thesis to be very rewarding and a very interesting read. I recommend it to all people interested in the Social Web.

July 25th 2009 Uncategorized

How to write a simple foaf+ssl authentication servlet

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After having set up a web server so that it listens to an https socket that accepts certificates signed by any Certification Authority (CA) (see the Tomcat post), we can write a servlet that uses these retrieved certificates to authenticate the user. I will detail one simple way of doing this here.

Retrieving the certificate from the servlet

In Tomcat compatible servlets it is possible to retrieve the certificates used in a connection with the following code:

protected void doGet(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response)
             throws ServletException, IOException {
       X509Certificate[] certificates = (X509Certificate[]) request

Verifying the WebId

This can be done very easily by using a class such as DereferencingFoafSslVerifier (see source), available as a maven project from so(m)mer repository (in the foafssl/ directory).

Use it like this:

  Collection<? extends FoafSslPrincipal> verifiedWebIDs = null;

  try {
     FoafSslVerifier FOAF_SSL_VERIFIER = new DereferencingFoafSslVerifier();
     verifiedWebIDs = FOAF_SSL_VERIFIER.verifyFoafSslCertificate(foafSslCertificate);
  } catch (Exception e) {
     redirect(response,...); //redirect appropriately

If the certificate is authenticated by the WebId, you will then end up with a collection of FoafSslPrincipals, which can be used for as an identifier for the user who just logged in. Otherwise you should redirect the user to a page enabling him to login with either OpenId, or the usual username/password pair, or point him to a page such as this one where he can get a foaf+ssl certificate.

For a complete example application that uses this code, have a look at the Identity Provider Servlet, which is running at (note this servlet was trying to create a workaround for an iPhone bug. Ignore that code for the moment).


The current library is too simple and has a few gaping usability holes. Some of the most evident are:

  • No support for rdfa or turtle formats.
  • The Sesame RDF framework/database should be run as a service, so that it can be queried directly by the servlet. Currently the data gathered by the foaf file is lost as soon as the FOAF_SSL_VERIFIER.verifyFoafSslCertificate(foafSslCertificate); method returns. This is ok for a Identity Provider Servlet, but not for most other servers. A Java/RDF mapper such as the So(m)mer mapper would then make it easy for Java programmers to use the information in the database to personalize the site with the information given by the foaf file.
  • develop an access control library that makes it easy to specify which resources can be accessed by which groups of users, specified declaratively. It would be useful for example to be able to specify that a number of resources can be accessed by friends of someone, or friends of friends of someone, or family members, ….

But this is good enough to get going. If you have suggestions on the best way to architect some of these improvements so that we have a more flexible and powerful library, please contact me. I welcome all contributions. 🙂

July 24th 2009 security

Bing / Microsoft Ramp Up Usage of msnbot/2.0b

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The bing blog recently told us that they will be ramping up usage of their new crawler/bot msnbot/2.0b

July 21st 2009 Uncategorized

By: joanne hart

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Thanks for the feedback, Tricia and Eric!

It will definitely be interesting to see when/what (if anything) the FDA does to address pharma ppc marketing.

July 18th 2009 Uncategorized