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Bad Hosting Company – My FastServers.net Experience

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Right, I’ve thought for ages about whether to post this or not. I’m not one to complain or slate people, companies or stuff unless I’m really pissed off. I’m really pissed off.

After my SEO Tools update, I mentioned that my biggest hurdle was the fact that the network of sites the SEO Tools use, was taking up way too much in the way of server resources and I really needed to move to a new dedicated server.

After doing this post, I was contacted by a guy called Aaron from FastServers, apparently a manager there. He made me a no-brainer offer, saying he would be willing to donate a pretty ace spec dedicated server to host some of the SEO tool network. He didn’t even want anything in exchange, but maybe an advert for FastServers would be nice.

I, of course, agreed immediately and said it wouldn’t be a problem having a “sponsored by FastServers” link/graphic on the site for the backlink juice and because it’s a great place to advertise and most people that read this blog and use SEO Tools would be webmasters. Also, I’d chuck in a free subscription for him. He said he would sort it at the end of the week.

So, I chatted to him some more and waited a week. It hadn’t been done, but fair enough, he’s probably a busy guy. I contacted him over MSN and he explained it would be done next week for sure, no problems. So again, during the following week – I was careful not to bug him, just asking him every couple of days if he had an update. Again, nothing got done.

Three weeks on, I was getting a bit concerned. So I again, contacted him via MSN and explained to him, if it was a problem or he had a change of mind, that’s okay. They don’t owe me anything, just let me know what the score is so I can move ahead accordingly. I stopped getting any response whatsoever. I tried contacting Aaron multiple times over the next week, he was definitely online, just ignoring me. So, I gave up.

At the end of the week, I gave it one last ditch attempt and asked why he was ignoring me. I got the response of “Really sorry, have totally been ignoring you, I’m in New York at the moment. I’ll definitely sort everything when I get back”. Fair enough I thought, everyone’s busy and he still wants to go ahead.

I gave him a few days to get sorted and return from NY, then try and contact him again. No response at all. Which was needless to say, frustrating. He was online, just ignoring me. As a last ditch attempt, I went to the FastServers.net website and logged onto their live chat. I spoke to a helpful assistant who added me to MSN and I explained the situation to them. They assured me Aaron was “a stand up businessman” and they would contact him for me. I would definitely hear back from him soon. So, they left him a note on his desk. Twice.

Now, I know I don’t owe him anything, but why make a promise with your company, not deliver then just ignore me? That’s just damn bad practice and makes me write posts like this. I’m really pissed off with FastServers.net and I’m damn pleased I’m not paying them any money.

If anyone has any recommendations for good web hosting (dedicated servers) then I’d be glad to hear from you (leave a comment). Or if you’re from a web hosting company and you can provide a dedicated server and you’d like to strike and advertising deal, I’d love to hear from you also.

Until then, I won’t talk about FastServers without giving them a link.

Bad hosting company

There you go, Aaron.

Posted in Digerati News | 14 Comments »

Back From SMX London

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Had a busy few days with traveling, SMX and trying to squeeze in some work between talks and sleeping, but it was worth it. I learnt a fair bit and met some really great people. As predicted, arriving on my own meant a lot of standing about sampling as much free food as possible and eavesdropping on conversations trying to navigate my way around the room by what I heard, i.e. trying to find some blackhats to hang out with (:

I’m still thinking about to write up some of the seminars I went to, the type of information on offer is quite different to that I normally blog about. Normally, I’ll focus on “ground level” stuff, meaning – we’re trying to achieve goal X, you can do this by doing Y and end product is Z. SMX was insightful in a different way, there was a lot more focus on the industry as a whole, looking more at the reasoning behind why we’re doing what we’re doing.

It reminded me of a conversation I have with a relative a few weeks ago. He was explaining how a particularly large, fast-reacting organisation he is involved with is run. Sometimes people at “ground level” doing what needs to be done can be so engrossed in what they’re doing, it is possible to miss the bigger picture. For this reason, the organisation as 3 tiers of management with the next tier up looking at why X is happening and at the repercussions of doing Y. The top-level will look at connections, trying to find out what is affecting X and make predictions and models of what will happen in the future, so it all gets a bit more “think tank” the nearer the top of the tree you get, but it works pretty well.

However, I find this is the main-stay of most SEO blogs, talking about the industry as a whole, trends, analytics and what’s new and shiny. The Digerati “niche” as I see it, is more technical guts and “real(?) world” examples of SEO. I don’t want to lose that side of the blog and turn more into a “reporting” blog about what’s hot on SearchEngineLand. They do it well, so no need for me to be an echo.

My favorite sessions were Leveraging Social Media Networks and Local Search Tactics, partially because they are relevant to projects I am working on at the moment and I think they definitely provided some of the best insights. Local Search Tactics particularly gave me a new line of thinking with some naughty things that can be done, so I’m doing a few tests at the moment and I’ll report back on what I’ve found.

From the talks as a whole, Andrew Girdwood stood out for me. He presented some solid talks (with apparently very little preparation) with humour and I think a lot more veiled knowledge that he didn’t have time to get across.

I also got the pleasure of meeting Lyndon Antcliff from Cornwall SEO, who seems to make light work of pwning most social network sites. Kelvin Newman from Site Visibility, who gave me some relief showing me the only LOLcat I’d seen all day in his presentation on levering social media. Also big points to Stephen Pavlovich from Bony Toad who wins for diving in at the LondonSEO meetup to buy me a drink and generally being a top chap!

I spied Jane from SEOmoz a couple of times. The first time she was swamped with people and the second she was tucking into a massive portion of chips & peas, so I decided not to disturb. Although I did get a nod – it’s funny what happens when you stare ^_^

Here’s a photo from the LondonSEO after party, that I stole from Andrew:

Posted in Digerati News | 1 Comment »

SMX London

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

This Thursday & Friday I’ll be jetting off (okay, driving) to SMX London. I usually try and avoid conferences because I normally find myself in one of a few situations. Either, the company delivering the talk is more concerned with selling themselves rather than delivering good content, which I think annoys me more than anything. Equally frustrating is attending so-called “advanced” seminars on subjects, where I reach the end with a blank notebook because the speaker has talked about “why x is so great” and recycling the same basic principles, rather than ripping the subject open and giving decent insights.

SMX seems to be the place to be and I really hope it changes my opinion on conferences and the highlight isn’t just the networking. I’ve had a look through the agenda and I plan to attend seminars on:

I’ll have my laptop with me and the plan is to do a brief write-up of each seminar for those of you who can’t make it or aren’t lucky enough to have a kind SEO agency to sponsor you to go (:

The way things have panned out, I’ll be going solo to SMX. I see I’ve got a whole bunch of London readers, so if you do see me nursing a pint by myself, do come over and say hi (:

Posted in Digerati News | 4 Comments »

SEO Tools Released

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

I’ve been meaning to post an update for a while on the SEO Tools that I launched on the first of this month. Yes, probably the least shouted about launch in history, but there was reasoning behind the apparent madness.

After all of the ideas, tricks and special SEO treats were put into the thought melting pot, developing most of the tools was a fairly straight forward (but time consuming process). I’m being very cautious with the roll out of subscriptions for several reasons:

The tools will constantly be updated, added to; and if needed, scrapped if they become obsolete. For this reason, managing usage is top of the agenda at the moment. The tools are scalable, but this demands increases on the size of the networks, both internal (server) and external (other sites) that they depend upon. I am still trying to find the optimum balance of usage vs. resources.

As I see it:
Effectiveness of tools = (Resources / Number of users)

and of course:
Value of tools = Effectiveness of tools

So, from perhaps a selfish viewpoint (which actually is mutually beneficial to you guys), the subscription roll out will be incremental as I fine tune these variables as I try to maintain the effectiveness of the tools.

The other reason I have decided to do this incremental launch is because the dependency of the tools on various networks of thousands of pages of content that has been created. Having a full ship launch will of course result in all new users hammering their sites with the tools, damaging the overall effectiveness and perhaps compromising the integrity and stability of the networks.

That being said, I currently have just under 50 people subscribed and using the tools; mostly people I know who requested personal invites (sorry if I missed you, it’s nothing personal, it was more in alphabetical e-mail order!). I’ve had a couple of network issues, mainly due to the fact I had run some of the networks on shared servers. All of the components that make up the tools are being moved onto dedicated servers to ensure they can always deal with the load. To date, we have generated and indexed over 90,000 pages in Google and this number is growing everyday, increasing the strength of the network for subscribers to use.

Once this transfer to dedicated servers is complete, which I’m looking at a timescale of 2-3 weeks, I will begin incremental subscriptions again, once all users are totally happy with performance.

If you would like to reserve a place e-mail me at: tools [at] digeratimarketing.co.uk

You will then be placed in a first come, first served queue and e-mailed individually as subscription places are opened up. Don’t ask questions at this address, they won’t be answered, I am simply using it as a tally system to contact you guys in a fair manner.

A few bonuses in the box
We are also packaging a site creator program, which will be free to download for all subscribers. This allows you to generate full, SEO friendly designed websites, with unique content, all linked into Adsense and affiliate feeds, in under 5 minutes. This tool really allows you to hammer long-tail searches by generating sites quickly and efficiently to corner markets. It is more than possible to generate dozens of these sites per day – and they look damn good. Here’s one I made earlier in under a minute:

All of the menu structure and layout is generated from mashing up various feeds and using search data for key phrases.

I hope that is enough to wet your appetite! Lastly, I’ve come across a fairly reliable way to get competitors’ pages de-ranked in Google. The process can be automated and it was something I considered adding as a tool, however I’m pretty certain it won’t make the final cut now. The process uses up resources which could be better spend improving your own rankings, rather than trying to harm another site.

Would you prefer to raise your sites ranking, or try to damage your competitors at a greater cost of time? I’ll leave the final decision with you guys.

Posted in Digerati News | 15 Comments »

Update on SEO Tools & Affiliate Guide

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Thanks to everyone who’s e-mailed me for progress on the SEO Tools and the 2nd part of the Making Money With An Affiliate Empire, I just thought I’d clear the air and give you all a status update

SEO Tools
The SEO Toolset that I announced earlier is still on schedule for release on the 1st November. I was originally combining the tools I use into a lovely interface in PHP. I’ve become a little frustrated with the design (I’m no expert designer) and how it works, so I’ve bitten the bullet and I’ve got a proper full development team on board now to help out with some of the programming and design. Apart from the tools being awesome, I want the whole thing to the most beautiful, easy to use, ajax faced mofo on the Internet and it bloody well will be! I’ve started contacting those who left trackbacks on an individual basis and chatting to them via e-mail/IM, so hold ya horses, I’m still working through them all. These tools aren’t vapourware and I’m determined to meet the deadline of 01/11/07.

Affiliate Guide Part 2
The delivery was somewhat late because of the time I’ve been spending on the tools side of things. Eli has kind of blown me out of the water on this one as he did a mega (basically e-book size) post called SEO Empire which covered a lot of the ground Part 2 of the Affiliate guide was going to cover in terms of building up web real estate with small niche sites and using these to power your mothership. I’m not going to sit for hours and essentially re-write what he’s spent so long producing, so I’ll have to rethink this guide and maybe publish it has a one off later..

More stuff…
The SEO Tools side of things is growing as a developer friend of mine popped up with an amazing bit of code, which I’m going to try my hardest to get him to share with everyone, but I’ll have to keep zipped until I have his permission to spill the beans. I’ve also got some other gems which will all be released with the SEO Tools – which will be hosted on a different site now. Apart from that, there’s a lot of things in my head which I really need to blog about too, it’s been a hectic few months – thanks to all those who are sticking with me!

Hope this clears things up!

Posted in Digerati News | 4 Comments »