SEO Toolbar

January 15, 2009 in 3 out of 5 stars, SEO/SEM

What is it?

SEO Toolbar: A tool bar providing very valuable (and juicy) SEO intelligence for any site. If you have a site and are serious about SEO, this is an excellent resource.

seo toolbar logo Who makes it?

Aaron Wall of SEO

Why is it the killerest?

First of all, Aaron has had most of these tools available in other forms before now. They are all excellent tools that I've used for a while (SEO Rank Checker and SEO XRay). The SEO Toolbar just packages them into an even easier-to-use interface, with a few more features. In so doing, he has really created something valuable.

It provides valuable SEO information like Page Rank, page links, and Alexa scores, site comparison tools, and much more, all at a glance. It also integrated helpful tools like a Keyword Suggest tool that reaches out a dozen keyword tools to help you get the juices flowing and gather intelligence to make decisions.

In addition to the excellent comparison tool built in, it’s handy to load your site, along with your competitors sites up in different tabs, then click across the tabs at the top to see the different scores. 

This is a pretty exciting tool – can’t wait to see it evolve. Watch the video Aaron has put together to learn more.

What could be improved?

BUG: Using the keyword highlight box at the top clears form data on any form page. So don’t write a big blog post online, then use this box or you’ll lose everything. This is evil, and surely a bug, I'm sure it'll be addressed in future versions.

Also, the toolbar should be off by default every time the browser is launched. Otherwise people will install this out of curiosity and leave it running forever on every site they ever visit, forever. In addition to slowing down their browsing experience, it will tax the servers providing this information and potentially jeopardize the ability to freely grab it with tools like this. Make sure you turn it off yourself if you’re just browsing around and not actively doing SEO research.

I’d like to be able to show/hide certain parts of the bar – not sure if this is even possible, but it would be nice. There are a few things I don’t imagine many people will find useful, or that are covered by better tools already. The RSS aggregator, for example.

How much does it cost?

Free (for now, he says that may change at a later date).


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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Help a Reporter Out

January 14, 2009 in 5 out of 5 stars, PR and Publicity

What is it?

Help a Reporter Out - Logo Help a Reporter Out: An email list you can join, which sends out several emails a day with notices of stories for which reporters need a source. You can then respond, and potentially be used, linked to, or otherwise publicized in the news piece.

Who makes it?

Peter Shankman

Why is it the killerest?

It has great potential to help you get press, and establish yourself as a source, and authority in your area of expertise.

Some queries are interested in products, services, or just expertise in a given area.

Some of the queries come from large news organizations like MSNBC and FoxNews, magazines like Redbook Magazine and Popular Mechanics, newspapers like The New York Times, and bloggers and podcasters looking for content.

If you’re serious about PR (and if you’re an entrepreneur, why wouldn't you be?) then this can be a great resource.

What could be improved?

This is not a list of the feint of heart. You get about three emails a day, packed full of queries, roughly organized. The potential upside is quite large, but it may take a good week of sifting through these before you find something you really can respond to with authority.

With the growing popularity of the list, there’s no guarantee that responding will get you ink.

How much does it cost?

Free for all parties (sources, and journalists). You just get a big ad at the top of the email to help Peter pay for it all.


See a screenshot below from part of an email sent out this morning.

HARO screenshot

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Happy Quote

January 14, 2009 in Happy Quotes

“Work smart not hard. If all you do is work hard making incremental improvements you are just like a hamster running in a wheel and never really getting anywhere… Far too many people think entrepreneurship is like an attendance award, where you can win just by showing up.”

Markus Frind

(Sorry for the Markus Frind overload, moving future Frindisms to my twitter).

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January 13, 2009 in 4 out of 5 stars, A service, File uploading services

What is it?

senduit: A beautifully spare and elegant file sharing tool.

Who makes it?

Davidville, Inc. (the crew who created Tumblr)

Why is it the killerest?

Last week I reviewed which was also clean and simple, but full-featured. If you don't need all those features, it'd be hard to beat senduit for uncompromised simplicity and elegance. It's another site I can (and will) use with my family and clients and won’t have to explain anything.

Here’s the process:

1. To send a file: Browse for File – Click Upload Button – Copy Link – Paste Link (to email/IM).

2. For the recipient: Click Pasted Link – Save Download.

The End.

No login, short easy-to-share urls.

You can set the expiration on a file for from 30 minutes up to 1 week.

The download page couldn’t be simpler. It starts the download without any user action needed (while you look at an ad). 

It has 100% of what you need to share a file, and 0% of what you don’t.

It does not get any tighter than this.

What could be improved?

It might be nice to also enter an email address to send the file to after its uploaded. This would be a compromise on the perfect simplicity of the beast though, so it’s a hard call.

How much does it cost?



Reviewed by Carson McComas

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Blog Blazers

January 12, 2009 in 3 out of 5 stars, A book, Blogging

What is it?

Blog Blazers: 40 Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets: A book of interviews with 40 bloggers, including some high profile ones like Seth Godin, Dan Lyons (A.K.A. The Fake Steve Jobs) and Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion. The interview questions center around what has made their blogs successful.

Who makes it?

Stephane Geniere

Why is it the killerest?

Grenier isn't the author so much as he is the editor - but he does ask an interesting set of questions (mostly common amongst all the interviews) and uncovers some insightful perspectives from bloggers who have found success in terms of readership, influence, revenue and opportunities.

This book should appeal to two audiences:

  1. Those who are very serious about creating a successful blog. One of the common questions with interesting responses was “If you knew what you  know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?” I enjoyed those answers the most.
  2. Big fans of some of the bloggers profiled who want more.

If you’re serious about blogging, this is a motivating snapshot of what can help you be successful.

What could be improved?

Packaging it into a book made it convenient, and it accomplishes what it wants to, but it's not a profound or terribly in-depth book. 

Some of the interviews are very concisely answered so if you’re buying it for the responses of just one or two of the bloggers, it might be disappointing.

How much does it cost?



Reviewed by Carson McComas

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Happy Links (Chicken Little Edition!)

January 9, 2009 in Happy Links, Happy Quotes


  • The Startup Depression. The opening salvo here from Jason Calacanis (who has retired from blogging, so don’t mistake this, or his dozens of other recent blog posts for, um, blog posts).

    When the market is in the middle of correcting, as I believe it is currently doing, people tend to underestimate everything including:
    a) how bad it will be
    b) how quickly it will get worse
    c) how long it will take to recover

    It’s not short, but it is reasoned and interesting (including some personal details), and ends with 10 things you can do. He then follows up that post with this further commentary: Good News for People Who Hate Bad News.
  • Employees, Freelancers and Entrepreneurs - How to recession-proof yourself includes a list of rather drastic steps Ryan Carson has taken with his company (cutting some employees, and his Audi), and some panicky tips for weathering it.

    As hard as it may be, it’s time to lay off staff who aren’t directly generating revenue. If you avoid doing this now, you might go out of business later which means you have to lay off everyone, which will be much, much worse.

  • Recession Tips for Web Designers provides counsel (and a bit less panic) applicable to more than just web designers, from the sage and entertaining Jeffery Zelman.

    There are four keys to surviving bad economic times: do good work, charge a fair price, lower your overhead, and be sure you are communicating with your client.

Ok, now that we have done our due diligence and ingested, contemplated and processed these downers, it’s time to do what good and successful entrepreneurs do – put on the hat of ridiculous and unfounded optimism, and make sure we’re the exception. You are the exception right? If you’re reading this, you’re the exception, trust me. And as the exception, we recognize that a down time means competition is lighter, opportunities greater, and that those who work hard, and smart enough to survive will be in control when the cycle recovers. Now let’s do it.

“You have to be an optimist – almost delusionally optimistic – otherwise you’ll never ever think about creating something new, like a business.” – Guy Kawasaki

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Remember Markus Frind - the "AdSense Millionaire?"

January 8, 2009

When I interviewed him back in 2006 he was rocking the blogosphere with barely credible claims of making $25,000 a day from Google AdSense. Many took one look at his (then, quite unattractive) site and scoffed in disbelief.

Today? he's on the cover of Inc. Magazine.

His site, gets 1.6 billion (yes, with a B) pages views per month (yes, per month). And he brings in a cool $10million a year for his trouble. And his trouble? Less than an hour of work per day.

To demonstrate, Frind turns to his computer and begins fiddling with a free software program that he uses to manage his advertising inventory...Then, six minutes and 38 seconds after beginning his workday, Frind closes his Web browser and announces, "All done."

All done? Are you serious? "The site pretty much runs itself," he explains. "Most of the time, I just sit on my ass and watch it." There's so little to do that he and his girlfriend, Annie Kanciar, spent the better part of last summer sunning themselves on the French Riviera. Frind would log on at night, spend a minute or two making sure there were no serious error messages, and then go back to sipping expensive wine. A year ago, they relaxed for a couple of weeks in Mexico with a yacht, a captain, and four of Kanciar's friends. "Me and five girls," he says. "Rough life."

Rough life is right, sheesh.

The site, to be charitable, is still plain. 

Frind is aware of his site's flaws but isn't eager to fix them. "There's no point in making trivial adjustments," he says. Frind's approach -- and the reason he spends so little time actually working -- is to do no harm. This has two virtues: First, you can't waste money if you are not doing anything. And second, on a site this big and this complex, it is impossible to predict how even the smallest changes might affect the bottom line. Fixing the wonky images, for instance, might actually hurt Plenty of Fish. Right now, users are compelled to click on people's profiles in order to get to the next screen and view proper headshots. That causes people to view more profiles and allows Frind, who gets paid by the page view, to serve more ads. "The site works," he says. "Why should I change what works?"

This article is a great read.

See also: 

Photo from Inc. Magazine.

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January 7, 2009 in 5 out of 5 stars, A service, File uploading services

What is it? A gloriously clean and simple file-sharing tool. It's amazing that with all the solutions to this already out there, none have done it this well. If you need to share a too-big-to-email* file (or set of files) with someone, or share the same large-ish file(s) with multiple people, this is the best solution I've found. (Plus, knowledge of FTP soup: Not required.)

*For easy emailing of files, also see, built on top of Who makes it? (these guys)

Why is it the killerest?

Because it's so simple all my clients and family can use it without a personal education session with me first. And it works. Well.

No signup required, it takes literally a few seconds (plus upload time) to share a file.

You can pick your own url suffix (provided it's available). So, or, for example.

You can easily password protect the upload, and expire the upload as soon as 1 day later, up to as late as a year later.

Once shared, you can track how many times the drop has been accessed.

Somewhat helpfully, each “drop” comes with an email address you can send files to, which will make them available for download.

Somewhat amusingly, each “drop” comes with a voice mail number you can call to add an mp3 of yourself to the drop (it also offers a full enclosures RSS feed of anything added - poor man’s podcasting tool?) plus, a private conference call number for meetings (I guess so you can share files, and chat about them).

An extra nifty feature is the ability to set up a pay wall so you can sell downloads through Selling art? Photos? Music? An ebook? This might be a good solution. It can be pay per use, or a subscription. Pretty killer.

Premium users can send faxes with it. Anyone can receive faxes – but it’s clunky.

And there’s a lot more too, all without an overwhelming UI. It’s impressive.

They also have an API allowing brilliant solutions like

What could be improved?

The premium code prominence on the upload page feels obtrusive and mildly confusing.

100MB limit per file (for free) might be a bit skimpy for some.

The help disappoints.

The faxing functionality is just too clunky, and while the help claimed it exists, I couldn’t see where or how.

It utilizes the right-click in a few places, which no one expects in a web app.

How much does it cost?

Free for 100MB per drop. Upgrade for $10 per year per extra GB.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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January 6, 2009 in 4 out of 5 stars, A service, Faxing

What is it?

FaxPipe: After initially recommending, and then getting hosed by Send2Fax (they significantly raised the prices, didn't let me know, made it hard to cancel and get a refund, didn't give a full refund), I was on the hunt for a replacement. I've been using FaxPipe now for several months, and can say it's everything I need and want in an electronic fax system.

faxpipe Who makes it?

AirCom LLC.

Why is it the killerest?

When someone  faxes you, you get a PDF attachment of the fax in an email.

To send a fax, you send an email with an attachment to a special email address, put the recipient fax number as the body of the message, and you're done.

You get a toll-free or local number.

Highly affordable.

There's isn't much to it, it's just what you need, and nothing you don't.

What could be improved?

Paying yearly on the lower tier plans isn't my favorite (although, not a big deal).

How much does it cost?

$48/yr for 25 pages/mo, $0.15 for more pages. Other plans.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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Creative solutions (and high drama)

January 5, 2009

Carsonified-comments Ryan Carson over at Carsonified opens up about some of his recent successes, and failures - which offer some interesting insights:

DropSend was built on a budget, grown to a profitable monthly revenue and sold for a healthy sum of money.


But we’ve also failed pretty badly with another web app called Amigo. We launched it in late 2006 and received some great press. The idea was solid (pay-per-click advertising in email newsletters) but the problem is that we were naive and we thought we could run it in our free time.

Then it gets good. He talks about a creative approach he's taking on his next venture, a new web application. In summary: he's contracting to have the developer (Elliot) build the application and be compensated with a revenue split of 10-25% of net, depending on a few factors.

First - the idea presents an interesting and thought-provoking (if not entirely original) approach, but as you might imagine, a wide range of vociferous comments in response ranging from claims that Ryan is exploiting Elliot, to accolades for the brilliant approach.

Ryan's various responses - including a rather touching chiming-in by Ryan's dad (!) make the entire post - and most of the 153 comments (so far) a very educational mental exercise for those considering alternative ways of moving forward during challenging economic times.

[Full Post]

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