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The Plague

While the Covid-19 ‘pandemic’ developed among our western societies, it was interesting to note how different political leverage was employed, and restrictions placed on large populations, were these really necessary to prevent infection, or was something else at work here?

I offered my help to individuals seeking web services, and so forth.

Podcasting The Big Picture

Podcasting The Big Picture

The huge explosion of Podcasting 

By Mike Gorman

It seems every man, woman and child these days is either producing their own Podcast, or giving the idea some serious thought!

And it is now possible to access a podcast based on just about any subject, hobby, interest, nuanced angle you can imagine, the demand for information, and resources seems to be growing if anything; I thought I would present a good general overview what is involved in putting a Podcast together, defining just what makes a Podcast, and some of the technical aspects which are not often talked about in the usual sources of general information out there.

When people talk about Podcasts, just what do they mean exactly?

We have to go back in time to understand this expression, back to the earlier days of the WWW, when people were becoming familiar with the types of media they could use to effectively reach others on the web.

We know that all of digital media is made up from four main types:

1. Written text

2. Audio

3. Video

4. Graphical

These are what we have to work with. People have been producing media and presenting this on websites, and later on ‘Apps’ since the earliest days of the internet.

When Apple produced their iTunes platform, and brought out their iPod audio device, it became a ‘thing’ to refer to the audio spoken word productions as being a ‘Podcast’; these had been around for ages but the influence of this community was such that this name has stuck to describe an essentially audio production.

Well what about YouTube, and all the people who refer to their videos as being a Podcast?

Well, yes some of the more savvy producers of Podcasts understood that their productions would gain a larger audience if they also made a video of their sessions, YouTube has an enormous traffic throughput, and if you can provide a video version of your shows you stand a better chance of building an audience; you will find if it is called a Podcast a purely audio version is always available on the podcast sites.

The audio format has enormous convenience built-in, we can take the audio with us wherever we go, and the ubiquitous earbuds allow us to listen to a Podcast in a wide range of daily life situations, and we don’t need to glue our eyes on it!

So, we need to understand that Podcasting has this audio pedigree, regardless of the video aspect. Oh, if you are wondering about the strict definitions:

Podcast = Audio/can also have a video version

Vlog = Purely video series, a video version of a Blog, there is no audio made available.

Well, I am glad we clarified all that, so what do we need to produce our podcast, where can we upload, present, and distribute it, what equipment do we need, do we need expensive microphones, is it best to write a script, can we make any money from it, is it worthwhile, is it all too saturated to make it worth our time?

All these questions, and probably some more I will attempt to either answer, or at least make some intelligible comments about, dear reader if you will stay with me here…

 

“Radio used to be described as being ‘The Theater of The Mind’ today Podcasts are the digital equivalent, they are kind of bringing all that radio stuff back, ironically enough!”

In their most basic form, Podcasts are most usually an MP3 file, sometimes they can be WAV files but the MP3 is the most technically easy to work with, and the smallest file size.Of course, if there is a video version, this will be an MP4, but I am focusing on the Audio aspect of these productions, because this is what makes Podcasts so hugely popular.

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The producer arrives at getting their Podcast MP3 by recording their voice, or voices of contributors, from a Microphone which is connected via an ‘Audio Interface’ to their computer, laptop, tablet or even smartphone. The audio interface behaves like a Pre-amp, allowing a boosted analog signal to be converted to a digital data stream, pass this to a Digital Audio Workstation application, which then allows the producer to make fine adjustments,  to enhance the quality, and even add sophisticated effects and audio treatments such as EQ, Reverb, Compression and additional effects (if desired); it is this DAW (digital audio workstation application) which also enables the ‘Rendering’ of the final result into an MP3 file.

One of the more popular Audio Interfaces the Focusrite is very affordable

What about these DAW applications? Well once upon a time, only a few years ago, this kind of software was very expensive, it is very sophisticated and clever stuff; today you can get a professional standard suite for the cost of ‘Zero’ dollars. Names such as: Reaper, ProTools (yep, the very same), Cubase, Ableton, Cakewalk all have free perfectly usable versions. 

Condenser microphones, with XLR/USB connection, don’t worry about the connectors there is a solution for any desired configuration, are available very cheaply. In fact all of the kit you need to produce your Podcast can be purchased from the usual platforms (Amazon, eBay and so forth) for a few hundreds of dollars and the results you can obtain are ridiculously good!

Once you have your production, and you have tweaked it, adjusted and primped it to your satisfaction you now need to make it available, and how do we make things available on the WWW? Yep, we need to assign a URL to it! In other words we need to host the MP3, there are many options, but because I am one of those pesky promoters of independent production, I suggest a private host.

This does not necessarily mean having to spend big. Amazon Web Services offers us 12 whole months of free services, which means we have an entire year to make our Podcast a money making concern, find some sponsors, if this is your ambition; don’t worry about this if not!

AWS has S3, and we can generate an RSS URL from our bucket (AWS speak for folder).

OK, so now we come to the next phase of our Podcast production: either joining with the mobs on the Silicon Valley media platforms, or going full independent. We can still distribute our Podcast on whatever audio sites we like, but if we have a ‘Media Platform’ otherwise known as a ‘Blog’ or website, we can publish our Podcast on that first, why?

The WWW is all about publishing, and domains, this is what makes it work, so if you are a domain owner, your Podcast will take a huge benefit from being published under your domain ‘SEO-wise’.

If we are using something like WordPress, we have the added benefit of a nicely laid out back-end, this has a significant benefit to us as producers, so many Podcast builders complain about visibility, and being picked up among all the noise! Well this is one very powerful way to overcome this.

It is the attention to all of the small details which incrementally add-up, this is what SEO is all about guys! You knew that.

Adding a nice wrapper, and laying out our meta tags allows us to gain an advantage on all the generic Podcasters who follow the usual trends and commonly described approaches.

Next, we have the Podcasting platforms, which seem to be multiplying every week.

iTunes is of course the original, and most obvious destination, this platform is rich with multiple ‘niche’ audiences and lots of people looking for content.

The big thing about iTunes is the fact that you have to meet a certain standard of production, you have to do things right in order to be approved.

Being an independent Podcast builder, with your own domain-based platform is a big plus for iTunes; you need a ‘wrapper’ or podcast banner of at least 1400 X 1400 px, and no bigger than 3000 px, your audio must be loud enough and clear, and the RSS address must be working 100%.

I find if you can satisfy these default parameters there is a good chance on being approved by the iTunes review team (yes, they have one).

SoundCloud, Buzzsprout, Stitcher, are some other distribution sites.

As I said earlier, I am not a fan of the Podcast hosting services, unless they allow you to be 100% independent, fuck their ‘terms of service’, if you want to publish your edgy, non-politically correct content, you can!  Especially if you own your media platform…

So, Podcasting, it is growing in popularity, and it allows us to publish to a broad audience if we go about it in the right way. You can be a modern media personality, and build your reputation. all kinds of people are producing these days. 

Freedom of speech, entertainment, the production of unique brands of humour is especially interesting, along with political commentary, and education, people love to learn from audio, there is something about that stream of information which tends to stick in people’s heads!

If you seek advice, technical guidance and most importantly resources, WebStruct offers you some mighty benefits; we use AWS and totally independent servers. Contact me, Mike Gorman and I will be happy to help you out and point you to the best deals for kit, and technical services.

Good condenser microphones are best for vocal production-Amazon/eBay have lots!

Writing For The Web

Writing For The Web

How to make your work stand out in the age of Silicon Valley media dominance

With sites like Medium, Quora seeming to dominate is writing independently even possible?

I speak with writers quite a lot. I read and comment on lots of writing these days because quite frankly there is a bunch of writing going on with the web now 30 years into its stride.

It seems incredible, but once upon a time prior to about 1997, if you wanted to be published you had only a limited scope of options, and those options were determined by very few powerful people.

As writers, and communicators we are terribly spoiled these days, and it is also true that just about anyone can publish whatever they wish but there is a caveat, just because you choose to publish does not mean your work will be noticed, let alone regularly consumed and acknowledged!

Yes, of course I am describing the one enormous problem all content creators have on today’s World Wide Web: gaining the attention of the right people.

When the WWW was first launched way back in 1990, it had begun as a CERN document management solution. That’s right, the web was originally a solution for project managers and scientific people to enable them to keep track of published documents, diagrams, and other media.

It was because of this origin that search engine technology was first put together as being heavily skewed towards the written word.

Of course, the web, and search technology has moved along since those earliest days of the 1990’s, and early 2000’s.

Today writing is exploding online, along with audio/video and graphical media; we have seen the rise of Silicon Valley media platforms.

For aspiring writers, and other content producers the choices seem to have shrunk down to publishing on Medium, and possibly finding freelance work on ‘Problogger’ and freelance sites.

But is this really the only way?

We are all striving to gain attention

The primary wisdom of building your independent media platform has begun to slide away, younger writers are being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers commanded by the Silicon Valley media projects, to the extent that setting up their own ‘blog’ or content headquarters seems futile. Because, well who is going to visit their domain-based site, let alone actually read/watch/listen to their content?

Don’t be seduced by this dynamic, we need to extend our vision and consider the very long term picture: you can keep contributing and publishing to the major platforms, this is a good idea, but always publish to your independent location first off. Publish everything you produce: Podcast, Video, Written work to your independent domain-site because this builds your foundations, it incrementally adds to your identity, it combines over time to represent your name and your sphere of work, your link with the subjects you choose to produce for.

Paradoxically, the numbers and the interested specificity of readers begin to gain focus, and you are at least now counted as being a web location, you are not merely being absorbed in The Borg’s empire.

This might take a couple of years to gain shape.

I am surprised with the impatience of some people, they tell me: “I published my own blog 3 months ago, and I am only getting 200 visitors per month!’ But the difference here is that those 200 souls have a precise interest in what you have produced, while the 3,000 readers on Medium could’t care less, even though 100 left a generic ‘great article man’ type comment. In 6 months it could very well be 500, this time next year 3,000.

Patience, belief in your destiny, solid forging ahead, stop expecting to ‘go viral’; this idea is poison.

Virality only occurs in coagulated groups, nobody ‘breaks the internet’, the vast majority of successful writers have a highly boutique appeal, not a mass audience.

I see it as my job to encourage, and bolster the mavericks, the quirky, the non-generic writers and content producers; not because I am so successful, but because I have a macro perspective on media based on over 25 years working with the web, and information technology, I am not loading up affiliate links to ‘Hostgator’ or offering the usual prescriptions to blogging here, I have a genuine intention to help creative, and thoughtful people, because, just because.

I Hate Marketing!

Crass Commercialism Bores Me Silly

Internet Marketing Sucks

The posturing of narcissistic money obsessed nincompoops who show off their wealth like spoiled bratty children, the greed, the superficial goals, not for me!

By MIKE GORMAN

I remember it very well, it was about 2007 and I was discovering the various online communities, not least The Warrior Forum, ClickBank, and of course all the independent smart alecs who had discovered the enormous benefits of building email lists, and flogging hope to the desperate hordes of wage slaves, all invested in the ‘make money online’ dream!

There were the eCommerce bunch also, and the sell on eBay/Amazon gurus.

Then of course the blogging experts, who always presented their affiliate links and the clever software chops to those of us who signed up on their blogs.

It seems the community has not really changed too much, despite the passage of time, there are always new crops of hopeful newbies to stock the email list platforms of the unscrupulous operators who soft sell their wares, presenting photos of their home based offices, and affable selves, connecting with their audiences and not caring one iota about the folks who invest in their programmes, caveat emptor is always the excuse, let the buyer beware, it is up to you.

“I hate the internet marketing scams and some of the psychopaths who rip off people, but I love what the WWW can offer us as independent operators, this is a paradox I have to live with!”

The reality is that we can indeed forge our own path, and build income streams, but it requires a lot of work and investment in resources. Most of the newbies just don’t have a clue what is involved, they sign up to a guru’s blog, or platform and are seduced by the personality and easy casual style of that personality; not understanding what has been involved in reaching that level.

If you are expecting to obtain results by investing in a $7.00 eBook, and a Wix blog, forget it!

While I am turned off by the crass commercial attitude of much of the online communities, I am passionately interested with the web, and digital culture; I am involved with publication, and the distribution of ideas, the potential for genuine involvement by creative and authentic people.

Don't be imprisoned by a Guru!

This word ‘authentic’ is bandied around a great deal these days. I think there is another word which is more accurate concerning much of the Internet Marketing community and that would be: Disingenuous.

It is all too common, this creation of a ‘likable personality’ for the express purpose of seducing people to your overpriced, exclusive little packages.

I have no argument with independent and distinctive community builders, those who set out to help, and nurture their people; I just don’t like many of them and how they operate.

The real story is that you need to learn a great deal, you need to hone and refine your skills, you need to become a ‘Media Specialist’; the shortcuts being offered may seem appealing and exciting, they are designed to make gurus wealthy, they couldn’t care less about you and you need to understand this.

This might sound very negative, but I write this to help you, not hinder you.

It is very true that there are a lot of narcissistic personalities involved with the ‘make money online’ niche community, these are people who spot the opportunity of being teachers, guides, authorities in their field, some of them are 100% real in their intentions, many are not.

The cleverness and ruthlessness of some have the cunning of the insane.

You are in the position of having to discern who you are dealing with, and I do not envy your choices; the industry, niche, field or whatever you want to call it, is rotten with corruption and deceptive practices.

I speak as an insider, because I have been watching and studying these people for a long time, I have been involved with many communities, and I have invested lots of time/money myself to arrive at my current assessment.

The tragedy of trying to help people is compounded by their own lack of experience, it is difficult to reach people when they are in that excitable phase and the possibilities seem opened before them.

That friendly, affable character who is delivering his/her videos is intent on only one thing, no matter how convincing and ‘natural’ their kitchen setting appears!

Behind that mask of empathy, there is a large team of people who produce the guru’s content, videographers, editors, writers, marketing experts, customer relationship slippery psycho types; they know precisely what you are experiencing, they have done this many times.

The launch you sign up for carefully grooms the audience, weeding out the more seasoned players, removing awkward questions and the more astute comments; these guys want the fresh meat, the completely inexperienced who will be impressed and emotionally moved by the story of how the guru used be a ‘stay at home dad/mom’ but they overcame hardship and the bad times through their own tenacity and resolve!

You too can become another one of their success stories, and you are warmly reminded of this at each stage of their launch.

The guru might have an adorable pet, or small child to assist them in their emotional invasion of your heart; females in particular are vulnerable to this and they reach for their credit card willingly, ‘take my money’, they whisper to the guru.

So, what do you get for your 10,000 dollars, or whatever the ‘high ticket’ price tag is?

You get to feel part of an exclusive club.

You will be presented with training, because, well you need to know the basics; there is no moving forward without these basics.

But it is the community angle which will be most seductive.

All of the information, training these internet marketing gurus offer you is widely accessible if you look for it, but few newbies understand this, or they don’t value anything they have not paid for, because they don’t have anything to compare it with.

When people tell you to ‘beware’, this is what they are trying to tell you; let the snobs and those who think they are getting high value information from an exclusive source carry on! I am talking to you, the smart, but inexperienced punter because I know you are there, I was just like you many years ago.

Don’t be yet another name on a guru email list, try to break out of the hypnotic spell, this person does not even know you exist beyond the fee you hand over each month.

There are real people and genuine helpful web tutors, these are usually not the ones delivering fancy webinars, and glamorous launches (even ones filmed in kitchens), we are mostly very modest in our approach. When you have been through a few gurus communities, you can always come back here, I will be waiting to provide 100% real resources and skills to help you.

 

Your Experiences

Have you had some bad experiences, been ripped off, or deceived by a 'make money online' or web guru? Let me know! I will publish your story as a helpful service to others. Just hit the 'contact' page 🙂

SEO What Is The Real Deal?

SEO means 'search engine optimisation'
but this huge area has changed it is not just about "search" anymore!

Experts abound, and there is still a ‘snake oil’ stigma attached to this very modern specialty, but optimisation of your web content is a vital matter, what is valid today?

The tricks and strategies of the mid 2000's no longer apply to SEO, how to compete today?

A Listed Group of significant elements
with explanations below!

  • Semantic, the web has always been about writing
  • Multimedia production plays a huge role today
  • Social Signals, what the heck are these?
  • Meta Tagging & Backend Page Optimisations
  • Search How Has This Changed?
  • Human Response to Content = Vital!
  • Hosting Contributions
  • Search Engine Tech Developments

how do all of these elements play together?

I am being brave, and also taking a gamble by daring to reveal my own insights in this most contentious, competitive field. Many people claim to know what SEO is actually all about, but too many of these spout hot air, too many are profiting by the trends among progressive tech groups, I report from the trenches and what I see being credible.

Semantic basis of the Web: If you have ever done any study into the origins of the World Wide Web you will have come across the name Tim Berners-Lee, this is inescapable! Tim came up with a brilliant document management system while he was working at the CERN research facility in 1989. I won’t delve into the dry technical details of this because there is a plethora of historical and very technical detail already available for you to study. What interests me, and a lot of others, about this original intention of the WWW is the fact that it has determined the development of search engines.

The algorithms which underpin Google, and other search engines (but let’s face it Google is the main one) are engineered to observe this original emphasis on the written word. The organisation of words has always been the principal driving rationale of the URL, location of universal resources is one thing, but the document management intentions of the web cannot be avoided.

This has meant that people have attempted to ‘game’ the search engines by producing reams of words. I has not mattered in the past if these words held much value to human readers, just so long as ‘Keywords’ were interspersed in the body of articles, white papers, eBooks, and all textual production.This is now of course completely invalid, the updates to the Google A.I and RankBrain have weeded out the spammers, and the producers of low quality articles with successive releases with cute names such as: FRED, HUMMINGBIRD,PIDGEON, PANDA, PAY DAY, RANKBRAIN and so forth.

This should mean that an article such as this one, penned with sincere and research based materials, will perform much better on the web than those generic, terrible examples published by online magazine moguls who hire teams of English graduates from a plethora of locations to crank out low value descriptions of equally generic topics. In theory this will be the case!

I have discovered however that independent writing is now being shunted aside by people with deep pockets, and connections. An article I wrote about 4 years ago used to rank globally as #1 in its topic, this was a well written piece and it has some valuable things to say, even if I do say so myself, I see that some agency has muscled its way into this topic; networking is still alive and well, the covert associations and connections with backlinking can overcome even excellent quality content.

So while we can become very interested with SEO, and technical services which promise you all kinds of benefits, for a steep price, there are never any genuine assurances able to be given these days.

There are so many people who think they have all of this worked out, and everything from getting Wikipedia articles written, to old fashioned blog networks (yes people still sell these), linking services, on-page, back end options; none of this can match a consistent media presence.

MULTIMEDIA

We have all noticed the astronomical rise of popularity of Podcasting. Let’s be very clear here: Podcasts are audio productions, yes some people also video their sessions, but podcasts are available on platforms like iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, they are RSS fully hosted MP3 files. I think many people get confused about media types, and because YouTube is a major media platform, podcasts can also show up here, people mix up Vlogging with podcasting.

Now the big thing about producing media is that we have many options for publishing, but don’t be seduced by ‘Free hosted’ anything, building your own Media Platform is THE big opportunity in today’s world. This is what Tim Berners-Lee intended when he gifted the entire WWW to the people of the world. 

Be A Media Owner what does this mean?

If you look at this site, this www.webstruct.xyz you will see that I have published a podcast to the site. I have not placed any videos so far, but I can do this also.

My podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher also, but I publish every episode here first, and even though I only have 3 episodes thus far this gives it a distinctive identity, I don’t use ‘Anchor’ or any of those Silicon Valley Saas locations, because I prefer to be an independent media owner, a platform owner with my own brand.

It makes zero difference if my WebStruct name is ‘well known’ or not, I am not seeking to ‘go viral’ because that is not my intention, that is a waste of time. I prefer to be known by a specific group of people who recognise what I am providing, what i am delivering: namely specialised communication refinement for specialised topics, academics, writers, authors, political journalists, analysts, independent project builders, and the like!

If you can build a distinctive location that has your domain name, your identity over the top, this is waaay more powerful than being absorbed by The Borg, immersed into the jelly mold of media generic.

You need to understand that SEO is about being distinctive so that human beings will be attracted to you, forget about ‘Crawlers’ and algorithms, they look after their own game.

Your task, should you decide to accept it Jim, is to become your own media entity. A content management system allows us to publish any type of media, along with text, white papers, studies, and this is ideal as our platform.

The advantages of this have nothing to do with being famous, or a world brand, this is not the idea, the objective is to create a single platform from which your content is distributed, because this is the long term goal, we are not interested with spasms of virality, or cute tricks which make you some kind of one off income spike; we want a consistent, powerful build in visibility and relevant connection.

SOCIAL SIGNALS

This term gets bandied about a lot in SEO circles, and believe this or not, it does not mean having 10,000 followers on Instagram, or being an ‘influencer’; social signals are the organic and also paid streams of traffic which arise from your presence overall on whichever social media sites you involve yourself with.

In terms of Google, activity from genuine social activity is an indication your content is of true interest to human beings.

Here we have this emphasis on living, breathing responses to web content. This is largest signal of them all.

Bouncerate. 

Contrary to popular webmaster forum beliefs your bouncerate is not just an annoying technical glitch, it means if you have a high rate of bounce from your content it means it is just not doing anything for your visitors.

I expect a certain rate of ‘bounce’ on my site, because it has lots of writing, and not many videos, it attracts only a certain slice of web users, people who are genuinely interested with the WWW, and building their content, it is very much non-generic.

META TAGGING

There is a mystique concerning the back-end of pages. This is due to the digital literacy of people, all that code, all those tags, what do they mean and what effect do they truly have on your publications?

There are a lot of informative posts, white papers, videos and other material which discuss and describe the ‘Meta’ parts of web publication, but few of them seem to offer cogent and clear reasons for why you devote so much attention to these activities.

The principal focus we need to have is with creating ‘snippets’, and titles, for text these are the primary areas of human value, and ‘crawler’ clarity. The meta information is really just a fancy way of referring to ‘descriptive about’ information; people tend to skim around and if you provide good pithy meta content, you have a stronger opportunity of catching attention.

Images, you need to be aware of the value of Alt descriptions, graphical data is not fully understood by machines, plus presentation conditions can vary between devices, so this textual information can provide additional clues as to what is being presented!

For text the headline tags indicate the hierarchy of importance you assign, just like in a newspaper (remember those?) the headlines have different weights, with the BIG headlines of the front page being the main point of attention. This convention has persisted, so we should be diligent and at least look after the H1 & H2 levels; I don’t think being overly scrupulous with the additional levels is quite so necessary; this is a moot point.

Spending some time researching the Meta areas of pages, and other media markups is valuable, while this is not exactly thrilling stuff, it has an impact on our publication.

SEARCH

The history of the internet is deeply concerned with search, seeking out information, retrieving data from ‘Bases’, organizing media and information; you might say that networking is all about storage and retrieval of data.

Search, research = Browsing. The behavior of people has changed over the past 30 years regarding their use of the internet.We can see that so called ‘organic’ discovery of content now supplants intentional search and we get much less traffic from advertising, the entire quality of search has altered, and is changing rapidly.

This leads in to this Human response to content idea. With the mass distribution of content being directed by much more boutique driven social and independent production.

The effectiveness, real value of SEO services have to be experienced and evaluated over time; this is not like buying a ‘widget’ that you can immediately gain the measure of unfortunately.

If you have a good general knowledge of World Wide Web publication processes, technologies and practices then you will already be aware that SEO involves many different elements, this is a complex area and nobody has the ultimate advantage over others, you might say that SEO services are mainly concerned with ‘best practice’, and we all know what this implies.

We can break down search engine optimisation services into two distinct groups, two very complimentary but different types of activities:

  1. Meta tagging and back-end layout conventions, this includes both on-page and off page aspects, linking, backlinking.
  2. Content strategies and production.

These two principal areas involve very different skill sets.

You often find that professional SEO companies tend to concentrate on one or another of these two areas, but the better ones offer both.

Essentially, SEO as a service industry has undergone a major change over the past 10 years. Prior to 2010 the technical tricks and systems, link farms and bogus ‘blog systems’ tended to be offered, we had a distinctive separation between ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ techniques.

Google and other search technologies underwent a huge change and development phase around the 2010 mark. We are all familiar with the different project names: RankBrain, FRED, MobileGeddon, Payday, Pigeon, Penguin, Panda, Intrusive Interstitials, Hummingbird, Page Layout Algorithm…and more!

What these updates represent is the collective wisdom of Google engineering, arriving at a web environment that ostensibly is much fairer, less prone to ‘gaming’ and spam tactics, less easy for the scumbuckets to win.

Of course, nothing in computing, or networking is ever perfect.

What SEO ‘experts’ used to offer, including black hat, is really no longer valid or credible; we essentially have a very different Google from 2010 onward, and this favors human response to content over just about anything else.

The Hoth is an SEO company I tend to mention quite a lot, not because I am associated with these people, or an ‘affiliate’, but because they give me a good insight into the current state of professional SEO, they are like the ‘General Motors’ of SEO if you like.

There are still lots of independent, and rogue SEO experts out there, the name Rand Fishkin is still spoken of with deference, I am also aware of Matthew Woodward who runs one of the most successful SEO blogs in these times, Matthew is a very smart web-savvy individual and even to this cynical seasoned campaigner he represents a genuine source of credible, and very practical SEO knowledge. (Once again I stress that I have zero affiliation with Matthew).

Link building, and the Meta area of SEO is incredibly important for gaining visibility, and positioning our publications in the correct locations, but it is always the value of our content which determines if people are going to actually engage with your content on a long term basis!

So yes, your 3rd party SEO services can help you enormously, IF you select the right people, this is the main caveat, I would not for example just choose any old offer of SEO services, I would be inclined to study the field and at least educate myself with the basic concepts, evaluate the landscape, check out the action, as they say.

 

If you seek further inquiry, if you seek communing on the vast topic of SEO it is a subject that both fascinates and intrigues me, I am a practicing technologist, an independent ‘digital media’ producer and analyst, I work with academic, and cultural areas from my own SEO blog: WebStruct – Digital Media for a Noisy World, I am not quite so immersed into the world of commercial SEO like Matthew Woodward is, but I also work with the web and media, this is a rapidly growing and very active field.

 

CONCLUSIONS


I was going to produce a short video for my conclusions, but I have run out of time for this publication, I will definitely include SEO and my assessment of Matthew Woodward’s brilliant
new post about ‘Back linking’ and other approaches in future podcast and videos. I have big plans for more dedicated, practical content for WebStruct, because this is what I am passionate about, the value and practical details behind publishing on the web.

Keep positive out there, understand that this too will pass, we all have the WWW to work with and we should not waste time with negativity and gloomy speculation. We are the publishers of the mass media of the 21st Century, and that is definitely something to be upbeat about, speak with you all very soon!

 

The semantic basis of the web means that good quality writing will always perform well!
Mike Gorman

Mike Gorman

Mike Gorman has worked with the web since the 1990's, he offers insights and practical skills/resources, oh and the occasional writing assignment also!

The Plague

What Will Make You Successful?

What Are The Truly Important Questions & Answers Regarding Websites?

Do You Really Need A Website?

No, not in every case. A lot of people think having a website is just what you do. This is just not true! We need to look at the precise circumstances of your objectives, subject space, For some people a website just isn’t needed, they can be more effective with different media.

Does Social Media Really Work?

Again, this has many variables. Some people make social work for them incredibly well, while others struggle with it, and gain very little traction. The world has changed, many people have not caught up with this yet. There is no default answer to this, but we know that billions of people are active on social, it makes sense to look at different approaches, the specifics matter!

Can I Do This All Myself?

Today we have many tools, systems, Saas platforms, builders, you could build everything you need yourself BUT this is a lot of work, and the results are not guaranteed! It is always great if you have help, and expertise working for you. Cutting costs can sometimes be deceptive, you waste a lot of time and energy trying to do it all by yourself, a combination of specialised help combined with your efforts works best.

Is "Full Stack" The Best?

Many people think that hiring a full on tech team is going to get them better results. So-called ‘Full Stack” refers to coders, the software engineers who build bespoke web projects, this is a VERY expensive option, and the results show us that projects fail just as much with these hand coded projects. The variables are not about ‘Full Stack’ they are more about what is effective, and this is down to many other factors, ‘Communication’ chops are more important.

Cheap Hosting OK?

Not really. Hosting is a critical part of any web publication, your hosting determines page load speeds, and the overall performance of your pages, either in a site, or stand alone. You really do need good quality hosting, This is one area where seeking out very cheap options can work against your goals.

The Gurus

There are a lot of people claiming to be ‘experts’ out there, and some of them are exceptionally clever with convincing you to pay them enormous fees. We live in the ‘Information Age’ and knowledge is open to us all, but we need guidance and advice, not to mention technical resources that truly work! The value of a genuine web specialist is incalculable, but judgement is needed here!

Caveat Emptor…

What Are The Means Of Production?

If we are working with the World Wide Web then “Communication” is the name of the game. You might think that ‘Technology’ is what the internet, and WWW is all about, many people seem to, but I disagree!

Yes, all of the internet, and the WWW is made possible and sustained by technology, but this is not the true business of computers, or networks, the real business of our internetworked world is the amplification of our communication.

We can get very intellectual here, and talk about the nature of communication, but I don’t want to do that. I want to provide a clear, useful description of what the web is all about, and why you need to reassess your ideas about it.

The truly successful projects on the web are all about how well they make sense, and fit with groups of people. Google, for example has a very complicated objective and the back-0end of Google would stagger you in terms of its technical complexity, check out this single installation of ONE of their data and server farms:

The same applies to FACEBOOK, and all of the Silicon Valley media projects, these people have enormous resources and highly complex operations, bu in terms of Google their main page is very simple indeed:

Their main objective is to offer you a simple solution to a hugely complex task. Networks are communication amplifiers, they store enormous volumes of data and make that data available to us instantly.

Our task is to present what we are offering to a specific bunch of people very easy and understandable. This could be your teaching, your ideas, your thoughts and feelings, your goods and services.

Each case is highly specific, and each case requires a unique approach. The big problem with much of the web services we see out there is this tendency to make everything GENERIC, this is toxic to your goals, we need to avoid generic like the plague!

Being typical, ubiquitous (looking the same everywhere you go), offers us a pattern, but it also has the effect of making us disappear into the background.

The true outcome we want is to capture the attention of whoever it is we seek to reach, right?

If you look and sound just like everything else, you will vanish into the smudged grey sameness of the noise.

This is why the tagline of my website is: ‘Digital Media for a Noisy World’

My goal is to produce media which stands out and has a distinctive quality, this does not mean being loud and garish, it means being essentially authentic and true to purpose.

You want to achieve a certain result, this can only be achieved by taking a close look at what this is, and reverse engineering the steps which are going to make that possible.

THE TOOLS:

1. Domain Name – there are over 1,000 options for your domain top level, that bit after the dot. Too many supposed experts are still telling you that the .com is the favored choice, and once upon a time they were right, back in the earlier days of the web having a dot com ensured you were more easily able to rank. This just isn’t the case today. Smart linking, and the move away from ‘Search’ as the primary type of activity means that your dot.sport TLD has as much SEO potential as any other choice. Alphabet, the parent company of Google has .XYZ, are Google worried about having a .com TLD?

2. Hosting – all the blogging gurus are trying to get you to buy from their affiliate link to Hostgator, or Bluehost. These businesses offer a handsome reward for gurus sending them customers, many of the gurus make a substantial part of their living from such affiliate links. I get it, I really do. If you want good results you need decent hosting, these guys are genuinely good: Liquid Web. I too offer hosting from AWS, if you are interested with good hosting, let me know. Page load speeds, and the overall performance of your pages/podcasts/videos depend on this.

3. Media Production Platform – Owning your media platform is an incredible opportunity. The idea of being in control of your own media has been dumbed down in recent years. The plethora, and scale of Silicon Valley, and other mass platforms work to aggregate the production of masses of people, so the concept of being a ‘media owner’ has cleverly been obscured by this, people feel Hip and cool if they participate with ‘Anchor’ or ‘Spotify’, but their distinctive identity is also obscured, and their ability to produce exactly what they want is determined by someone else’s ‘Terms of Service’. By owning your media publishing platform you always have this ‘fall back’ position of being able to publish to the web under your unique image, your logo and name. Wide distribution of your work is still the objective, but always from your own media location! 

I promote WordPress as the ideal choice, not because there is any money involved, WordPress is Open Source mate, but because it is the best media publishing platform. I am invariably agnostic when it comes to technology, but I do like stuff that works.

I was speaking with a pretty switched on guy recently who had been publishing to LinkedIn for the past 6 years, a great writer and someone who knows his own field extremely well, he had built up quite a following on LinkedIn. Well this dude put a foot wrong, he posted one too many ‘edgy’ articles or placed too many affiliate links in his work, in any case LinkedIn deleted 6 years worth of work!

I asked him if he had his own blog, or site…Nope!

“Do people still bother with this kind of thing’? This is what he asked me.

Well mate, if you had published to your own media platform you would still have all your articles and so forth, you could have published them on Medium/Quora/Facebook as well, but still had your brand working for you.

It is like so many aspiring journalists I see these days. Medium is IT, they don’t want to know about anything else.

Be a media owner, be a contender, have a distinctive identity, differentiate yourself from the great mass of ‘me too’ writers and businesses.

4. Produce Content- do you know that with a media platform, such as this very one you are looking at, you can publish:

1. Articles and essays together with graphics and charts

2. Podcasts, series and episodes

3.Videos

You can combine all that you produce under the one roof, and from here I can distribute all of this right across the WWW, do you understand how significant this is? Do you?

eCommerce is pretty big these days, do you know what improves your sales from eCommerce? Email

Those people who can capture the email address of their customers have a golden opportunity to build a rapport, and conduit of communication with them. It is all about communication, everything that we do as people is based on communication. This one measure can massively change your results.

Twilio, mobile numbers. Have you heard of Twilio? If Email is good business, imagine what being able to directly reach your customers with a bespoke SMS system is? You can send them opportunities to buy stuff, and reach them from their beloved phones.

The upshot of what I am telling you here, is that the specifics matter a great a deal, stop being so GENERIC in your thinking, the WWW is the most powerful communication medium ever built, we need to get very particular, very specific, very focused, the best way to build your identity and gain visibility is to be a MEDIA OWNER. Don’t let them distract you from this.




Building Specialist Subject Media

Creative Responses To Life

OR...Affiliate Income, Web Publications, The Web & You

This time we are all experiencing, where many of us are being confined to our homes, directed to avoid mass gathering and really, the complete shut down of our usual society is making many of us reconsider our path.

This is natural, for many of us even our work has been closed down!

There will be many people who can no longer make their living doing what they usually do.

I think even when the main threat of the virus has been mitigated, lived through and it has become a faded memory the momentum of its effects will be continuing.

The wisdom, or otherwise of this economic ‘correction’ is not really relevant to us as individuals.

What we do have in our favor is the World Wide Web. We as digitally literate people can become creative with our skills.

Do you know how to publish pages, sites, place ‘buy buttons’ on images?

Do you know how to produce a podcast, a video?

Can you write reasonably well, can you describe goods and services in convincing and socially relevant ways?

These are all skills which can get you started on a different path.

If you are in the position of needing to reinvent yourself, now might the ideal time to look at building your digital skills.

The ‘recipe’ I advocate for you, Grasshopper, is to purchase a domain name, get some decent web hosting, and learn how to work with WordPress, and HTML editors such as ‘Kompozer’.

If you already have some web chops, all the better!

The difference of working with an experienced web communicator who can help you get your project published and visible, provide top tier technical resources and crucially support, this is priceless. 

You can get going with the crappy cheap resources everyone else uses, or get the inside edge with me, I can be your guide, your technical aide.

What is ‘affiliate marketing’?

This is one of the oldest ways of promoting goods and services in our society.

Basically, if you form a commercial relationship with a business, and you agree to promote their offering/s to people which you have access to, like your social media following, or your blog readership, your YouTube viewers (or any video platform), the people you include in your ‘audience’ that business agrees to pay you a percentage of the increased sales.

You might recall the T.V personalities, the movie stars, and other media personalities who suggest to you different products and services, this affiliate marketing.

This can take many forms.

We can be creative with this, and present high value content, for example you could build a specific type of subject site, ‘Nourishing Food from the old days’ for example, or ‘Pioneer Methods of Farming’, or ‘Vaping’, or ‘Technology For Accountants’. The more specific, and specialised we can be the more likely it is we attract a genuine audience.

We can deploy our media production skills, and provide opportunities for people to purchase particular goods and services which match their particular style of living, their beliefs, values and position.

Moreover, we can produce high value subject sites which specific people in society seek, and rent them out, or sell them.

We can have many creative options with media, we have to position ourselves to leverage our skills. What people call ‘internet marketing’ is simply using the publication opportunities of the web to present different kinds of content.

Internet marketing is forecasted to grow into a $335+ billion dollar industry by the year 2021

 

The Creative Reinvention Recipe

Your Domain name is your home address on the web. Just like a real estate address you can build what you choose at this location. Today there are upward of 1,000 choices for what comes after the ‘dot’-this does not have to be either ‘com’ or a ‘Net’, we have even highly specific choices such .beer, .sport, .site, .xyz and hundreds more. Do you think Google knows a little about top level domains? Well Google’s parent company ‘Alphabet’ uses the .XYZ domain type, what does this tell you about the ‘only .com’ brigade? Today it makes zero difference to your outcomes and your SEO. Read up on this for yourself, check out what Google say about it. Anyway, you need your domain name to begin building your own property, this is the first move you make. It does not matter where you buy it, shop around, get a good price.

The hosting service is actually critical to your final outcomes, because we need good overheads, reliable and well managed servers which perform at optimum levels. All this results in the page load speeds of our sites and pages. One of the finest web hosting services I have come across would be Liquid Web. These guys run a specialised, and highly professional  service. They are fantastic with WordPress sites, which leads me to the next item in our recipe!

For the aspiring and professional media builder alike there is no finer set of tools than WordPress. If names such as: The San francisco Chronicle, RollingStone Magazine, Bloomberg, Disney sound familiar then if I tell you that these all use WordPress for their business it should give you a good idea of the quality of this framework. Check out the Showcase tab of the WordPress home site and see for yourself what this software is supporting. We are talking about a versatile, flexible and extremely powerful web media building platform, and it can be yours to use, it is open source which means you do not pay any upfront fees to use it, pretty incredible I think. We can pay for some slick tools which we can use to build our media, but the foundations won’t cost us a cent.

We are going to need some more tools, for the production of podcasts, videos which we can also publish to our WordPress projects. Along with text, and graphics this represents the spectrum of digital media which we can produce, and publish. I will describe and discuss these tools in greater detail. Suffice it to say for Audio you need: Microphone (condenser), Digital audio workstation (DAW) such as ‘Reaper’. For videos something like a Logitech webcam, or a digital camera is useful. Actually the webcam is preferable because we can also produce screen based videos, along with a small window for our ‘talking head’ for demonstration and educational type videos. Graphics we can access all over the web, stock photographs from sources such as ‘Unsplash’ and Pixabay. Text of course we have our own talents, or those of hired talent if we choose.

Affliliate Connections

The process of our creative reinvention includes seeking out the means to monetise our work. If we are going to become publishers of content, and erstwhile ‘citizen journalists’ then like any good media company we need form affiliate relationships, so that we can ethically suggest to, and influence our readers and followers to purchase high quality goods and services which we derive a gratuity, a fee for delivering to our partners. There is absolutely nothing wrong with working this way. If this is good enough for major T.V networks, for Hollywood personalities, it is good enough for us. Our clever reinvention requires the means to deliver a reasonable standard of living. So this is our ‘recipe’, the modern person’s response to being compromised by the plague. This offers us a means to go forward. I work with all of this, I can provide the resources and the wisdom, the knowledge to publish online. I think this is pretty good actually. If any of this interests you, you can get started very quickly, with my help and a little learning you can have a whole different career, a new life. Sound like hyperbole? Think again.

Everything Is About Communication

The Web And You

By MIKE GORMAN

When I arrived at the point of writing this article, I was thinking about all of the content that is being pumped out across the web today. We are presented with an incredible volume of every type of media that is popular to employ these days: Audio, Video, Text, Graphical, we are immersed in a very deep ocean of communication!

And yet, so much of this media production is aimed at one form of selling, or another, it seems everyone is striving to convince each other to buy something from them; this is an age of mass commerce. We make our choices about which goods and services to select based on a complex range of variables.

As anyone who has signed up with a contract appreciates, the ‘devil is always with the details’, what you are promised and assured of in the sales copy never quite seems to translate into full reality once you have made the purchase, and if you read the ‘fine print’ in the contract you begin to understand the true limits of what you have bought. This can either result in ‘buyer’s remorse’, or you accept those limits and simply make a different choice next time.

I find with clients and customers of web services, and buyers of information technology services this happens a lot. People can have all kinds of expectations, ideas and assumptions when it comes to the web, and the internet, and indeed devices.

The World Wide Web was not put together as a consumer service, many people are surprised with this, but the internet and the web were not designed or intended to be consumer products; they both arose out of the world of military, and scientific research, academic and classified projects.

This insight provides a clue, a particular nuance for how we can organise our media, our communication style when we publish to the web, this is generically referred to as Search Engine Optimisation.

Search engines themselves are engineered to work with the World Wide Web, and this also adds to our store of clues regarding this same process of publishing.

I mention this because this all comes together with the topic I have been thinking about recently, that of Communication.

Human beings are communicators.

This is in fact what defines us all as being ‘human’.

Everything that is possible to achieve, everything that we have achieved is because we can communicate in the ways that we have developed.

What we must understand about the web is that it has completely changed the communication game. The Broadcast era was all about a single direction of content going one way into our awareness; our passivity in this dynamic is what gave the owners of media their enormous power in our society.

Now, this is what I am seeing, the shift of this single direction of communication into the real time two-way dynamic has essentially removed the base of power from the media machine.

Instead of switching on a television, or radio, and then absorbing the stream of content passively, we interact with the devices, we also have the capacity to respond to what we are presented with (very often); and this is what has confounded the propagandists, and barons of media production.

What was the first aspect of online media which was removed from the large, legacy media organisations online operations? That’s right, ‘commenting’ on their narratives!

I think one of the big reasons we love podcasts so much, apart from the huge convenience of portable non-demanding consumption, is this passive dynamic of absorbing a stream of content. Perhaps we are reminded of the old days when we did not have to think too deeply about what were were experiencing?

There is much to consider, much to take into account with our web publishing. Many people like to emphasise the purely financial aspects of being online, the ever present ‘make money online’ brigade. However, the most significant feature of the web is not economic, as compelling as this is, it is the amplification of our communication, and the egalitarian opportunity we all now have to externalise, present, and massively distribute our communication. 

 

 

 

 

“The biggest difference with communication on the World Wide Web is that the dynamic is essentially two-way, this makes all the difference”

My intention with writing this article was not to craft an opportunity to conceal some affiliate links, or to influence you to purchase something, this is an example of what the web was originally engineered to service: organising ideas, and sharing information.

This humble document will be published, and it will exist on the WWW for a time, possibly hundreds of years if we are all still around; if you happen to have read this far, let’s perform an old fashioned experiment, send me an email, to this address: gorman.mi@gmail.com and let me know that you have seen this article on your travels; this just tickles me and it will provide an indication of how far web publishing can potentially reach. Will you do this, I promise to reply and who knows, perhaps it will result in something interesting?

 

 

I will conclude this short, but I hope pithy and valuable little piece of text content by asking you a question: “How is what you have been doing with your web publishing ‘career’ been going, is your name linked with what you do, are you visible and linked with a specific area/niche/topic/subject?

I ask you this because I think that is the critical part of producing any kind of digital content, we offer our productions to others, but we also leave our mark, we cut our initials into the giant Oak tree of the World Wide Web, that is the objective, to associate our identity with an overarching area of human activity.

Webstruct.xyz is one of my ‘initials’, which also happens to be a means for you also to commence producing your publishing project. Communication is what I am interested with, and this happily coincides with being able to help others, this is really my intention, the rest of it is simply the means by which I try to let you know I am available to assist.