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The Government Has Its Eye On You with “Mr. X” – Episode 113

It’s no secret that mega-corporations are in bed with the government, on so many, many levels. This is just as true with social media giants as well. However, the discriminating user can protect himself from the all-intrusive eye of government while taking maximum advantage of all the Internet has to offer.

Off The Grid Radio
Ep 113
Released: July 27, 2012

Bill:      Well greetings and welcome everybody. It is Bill Heid with Off the Grid Radio and we’ve got a very special guest in the studio today. We’re going to talk a little bit about… This is Off the Grid Radio and as always we kind of talk about off the grid subjects but what we’re going to do today is talk about like part of the grid—Google. And so I brought a guest in here to the studio. We’re not going to name his name because Google might not like him that much. We’re going to talk a little bit about the inner workings of Google. I’ve got also our friend Andy Sokolovich in here. Andy, welcome as well.

Andy:               Thank you, Bill.

Bill:      Mr. X, welcome to the show.

Mr. X:   Thank you very much.

Bill:      One of the things that we want to talk about is… First, there are a number of things to discuss. You’ve got the privacy issues and let’s talk a little bit about just what’s happening in terms of data mining and there was an article… I don’t know if you guys saw this not too long ago about President Obama data mining and stuff. But there was an article about just what people know about you and how they know it. And of course everyone uses Google, right? So we’ve got to learn how to use Google intelligently—number one. And we’re also going to talk about—if you’re not just interested in the privacy side—we’re also going to talk a little bit today about how to make money knowing this, which I think during a recession is a pretty interesting thing so we think with Mr. X’s help we’ve got some ideas about how we can turn this into some kind of leverage for people that have businesses. So what do we have to worry about? There are a lot of libertarian types that listen to this show, Mr. X. What do you think about using Google responsibly, just knowing what you know?

Mr. X:   Well basically they track and monitor and mine your… If you’ve got a Google account and you log into Gmail they track, mine and monitor all of your activity and if you’ll notice, for example if you have a Gmail account and you’re reading your messages you’ll see the ads up top that are related to the content and the context of the messages that you’re reading and receiving. So where they draw the line with what they do with that information is terrifying in and of itself but they could use that information for all sorts of things. So they definitely track you across their multiple properties as well like Gmail, YouTube, Google Images, Search, Calendar, Documents—if you use Google Documents or anything like that. They’ve got all that information and it’s tied to you and your account across all that stuff and the potential for that information to be used for marketing purposes or the government spying on you or doing a subpoena and getting the information and basically unfolding your entire activities is crazy.

Bill:      And sort of building a profile on who you are…

Mr. X:   Oh yeah.

Bill:      …or even what you might be.

Mr. X:   Yep.

Bill:      This is that old pre-crime idea, right? In terms of some of these mines, it’s just what’s this person made of and then you run a program against maybe a composite of what previous criminals may have thought and this person has… You could say like “This guy…”  What’s this…? Remember this guy in Norway? He played a certain game for a long time. Was it War Craft or what was it? The guy… The killer up there…? And so they have kind of a profile on him. They put a master profile together about all of these people, right? And so then if you start typing in similar things then bing!  No pun intended—Bing, right? But whatever noise Google… They wouldn’t say, “bing,” right? Because it’s Google.

Mr. X:   Yeah.

Bill:      But they would say something. Something would go off and then who gets that?

Mr. X:   Yeah. And information…

Bill:      Who gets that information?

Mr. X:   Information profiling is a huge business as well. I just read the other day where… I was reading a story and it talked about Target and what they do with the information. This is just an example of what’s possible with this. But they give you those cards that you scan and get a discount or whatever or get coupons in the mail and they track your purchasing habits and this and that and they established… Their data crunchers and statisticians developed a way to determine who was pregnant and how far along they were and a manager of a Target received a call from an angry father that his 16 year old daughter received a Target ad with pregnancy things and baby stuff in it and he called that Target and tore him a new one and then two or three weeks… And the store owner was totally befuddled because he has no… anything to do with that operation but then he called to apologize later to him again and that father apologized to him and said there were some things going on in his house that he did not know about and that in fact his daughter was pregnant and Target knew his daughter was pregnant…

Bill:      That’s unbelievable.

Mr. X:   …before he did.

Bill:      That’s unbelievable.

Mr. X:   Yeah. Yeah. Yep. It’s a fact. So they…

Bill:      So the marketing team at Target knew what was going on in his household before he did.

Mr. X:   Yep.

Bill:      Now that is a sign… That is a doomsday sign. I don’t care what anybody says.

Mr. X:   Yeah. Yeah, that was a… I just read that in one of the books I was just reading. It was in there. It was amazing.

Bill:      So knowing that, what do we…? I mean I think you have to be careful what you type in—how you type things in, obviously—so there are surfing rules. There are web surfing rules that might make it safer. Is there anything that you do to make your life easier?

Mr. X:   Yeah. Establish an alias or establish a… Like one of the things I tell my kids to do is never tell anybody your real name, your real location or just make up a profile. Okay, instead of Mr. X I’m Mr. Y and I go to create my account and I’m Mr. Y and I live at—make up an address, make up a birthday and make up a profile and put it in a text file or store it in RoboForm or whatever and anywhere I sign up or do anything online I use that profile so it’s not any of my real information. So I’m basically hidden behind that. So that’s something that you could do.

Bill:      You almost have to create a false front to use…

Mr. X:   Correct.

Bill:      …the internet. Here’s a little piece from this newsroom article about President Obama data mining. He’s got 150 techies hired to do this work and just in this article they’re talking about they know what you read, where you shop, what kind of work you do and who you count as friends. They also know who your mother voted for in the last election.

Mr. X:   Wow.

Bill:      So it’s a little bit like the same thing.

Mr. X:   I don’t even know who she voted for.

Bill:      Can you imagine…?

Mr. X:   I hope I know who she voted for.

Bill:      But think about… Just think about if Hitler would have had this data. That would have made his work a lot easier. Man, it’s scary—not that current administration are anybody as Hitler. I’m not trying to say that. I’m just saying just think about the technological perspective there. What if they would have had—people that had that devious twinge in their eye—what if they would have had that?

Mr. X:   Yeah. What’s the ethics and what’s acceptable and what’s not and who decides what’s acceptable and what’s not? Like also with Windows 8 that’s coming out, there is a kill switch within Windows 8 and there’s also a little known feature in all cell phones that’s a kill switch. A developer last month—two months ago—a developer in Norway noticed that within the Google app store lots of the most popular apps, they were changing the names of the publisher and the information across those was changing and so basically he noticed some malware going and published it online. Google found out and used their kill switch to uninstall that from over 200,000 smart phones without those users’ knowledge. And where can they go with that and what can they do with that? Microsoft’s got it incorporated into Windows 8 that’s coming out later this year but they claim—it’s in their TOC that they just released—but they claim that it will only affect applications that are bought from within their store but what’s to keep them from doing whatever they want?

Bill:      Well I think with certain executive orders that Bush and Obama have signed they have access to that kill switch. So really I think that’s a no-brainer where that can go. But would you selectively do it to certain groups? That would be interesting. “I’m going to kill this group of people or for the people that I’ve data mined. I’m going to kill their ability to access the internet or certain sites or whatever it might be but I’m not going to kill this group’s.”

Mr. X:   Yeah, the pack of the month with the biggest wallet.

Bill:      Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.

Andy:               One thing that I’ve noticed—real quick—just through social media, which I’m sure a lot of our listeners use… Facebook… Everybody always complains about privacy on Facebook and… But one of the things that’s always missed is if you don’t want it known don’t put it on Facebook. I always think it’s funny when people post “Leaving for a two-week vacation. Hope my dog will be okay. The only person who comes to let her out at 5:15 at night” so you’re basically telling anybody who can access your stuff through social media when you’re there and…

Mr. X:               And they do.

Andy:               And I know they do.

Mr. X:               Criminals profile Facebook.

Bill:      How would criminals use—let’s just say what Andy said—how would criminals use that, for example? Let’s say you live—let’s make up a fictitious city called St. Louis—there is no such city as St. Louis but let’s just say that there was. And you live in St. Louis and you put something like that up there. What…? How would someone…?

Mr. X:   With Facebook you can… With Facebook marketing you can niche down your demographic like to an extreme. You can say, “I want to target 26-32 year old women who live in St. Louis who are a member of this sorority or who do this or that” so you could identify that group of people, advertise to them, scrape for that ad and then crawl their profiles and that could all be automated and done really quickly, actually. And so you can just find out that information. You could hire somebody on O Desk or Elance and have an application to do it in a day or two for $20.

Andy:               Yeah. But my point is for the average user the key is just don’t put it on Facebook.

Bill:      Because someone’s probably got a program that can… that’s scraping—is that the word? Is that the right word?

Mr. X:   Yes. Yeah.

Bill:      That’s scraping and mining data, looking for little phrases like “the dog’s the only one home” or “I’m out of town” or “Would you feed my fish?” or whatever. And you don’t want to put that stuff on the internet.

Andy:               People are very concerned about the privacy policies and stuff through Facebook and other social media sites but I think a lot of it’s just self discipline. I mean you put your likes in there. You put your interests. You put times and dates and birthdays and they don’t require you put that stuff in. You’re doing it. You’re filling out that profile to the maximum extent possible. And I think one other thing just to be aware of is what you put on there will be seen by the entire worldwide web if they choose to find it.

Bill:      But you know what’s really interesting about what you just said, Andy, is that if you read Orwell, at least on Orwell’s perspective it’s this intrusive camera in your house and they’ve got this black booted, jack booted group of people that enforce this stuff, where here we’re surrendering all the data voluntarily. That would have been a dream for someone. Orwell never would have thought that people would say, “Hey, we’d like you to put cameras in every room. Don’t just put the camera in the living room to watch our every move there. Put cameras everywhere. Let us… Not only that—let us tell you when we’re born and where we’re going tonight and who are friends are and who we voted for and who we like and who we don’t like.”

Mr. X:   Yeah. And people let their guard down and don’t even… It’s not even a consideration for most people. They just let their guard down completely and don’t realize the implications of what they’re doing. As well as like the video cameras on our phones—our computers and stuff like that can be hacked and things like that so…

Andy:               And inactivated and… Yeah.

Mr. X:   Yeah.

Bill:      Yeah, there’s a lot of cases where… I remember a school. This was a little while back where the principal was… They gave laptops out to everybody and then of course when the principal had an opportunity he apparently was heterosexual because he spent a lot more time watching the young girls that got the computers than he did the young boys but irrespective of what your perspective is there, it’s just bizarre that your principal or someone from the school would be watching you while you’re home. And then he had some excuse why he wanted to make sure everybody was studying or something like that.

Andy:               Well there’s no doubt about it that technology is going to continue to just move along like it is and it’s going to get… It’s not so much intrusive. I mean there are a lot of great things you can do with social media and the internet and stuff nowadays that—whether it’s staying in touch with loved ones that are across… overseas or on the other side of the country. I know when I was deployed in Iraq Facebook and some of that…

Bill:      I bet it was a great thing for you.

Andy:               Oh it was… Yeah. Remember the days of my grandfather being in World War II, sending a letter that never got to my grandmother. Now I just… I would go into a little—they call it the media tent or the media hooch—and we’d go in there and we just get on Facebook and I could talk to my wife on Facebook chat or I could Skype with her and…

Bill:      And was that protected somehow from…?

Andy:               Oh absolutely not. No. I mean… I’m sure… I don’t know. I mean the government may have had a certain… But I doubt it.

Bill:      Could that have been hacked by Iraqi insurgent intelligence and to find out more about you?

Andy:               That’s… As they say, that’s well above my pay grade.

Mr. X:   Everything can be hacked. Everything can be hacked.

Bill:      But wouldn’t you want to know? Here’s one for you. This is kind of going a direction not like I had planned. But here’s an interesting thing. There was a newsletter years ago in a book called Megatrends. Ever heard about Megatrends?

Mr. X:   Yeah. Oh yeah.

Bill:      And it got its orientation and its beginning based on how we broke up the Nazis and what we did was we profiled their newspapers—in other words their hometown newspapers—we did a scraping… This was all scraping by hand. But we… One of these little articles in the Metro section of the Berlin paper—and all the papers in Germany—and our country’s intelligence—and they did a wonderful job—they began to build a profile of what was happening psychologically in Germany. In other words, this is a little bit like we were talking about with Halbert this morning, like what did the headlines say? And are the headlines positive? Are they sort of becoming more gray? Are they negative? Are they…? What’s the attitude of the people?

And so we… our intelligence discovered really Germany was beginning to crack long before it really showed up in a “We bombed more of your tanks than you’ve bombed ours” and we started to see that they were vulnerable. That gave our political and military leaders the impetus to push harder because we knew that they were… that it was starting to crack. The people were starting to crack back home and that’s what the most important thing was—not necessarily “How is Hitler doing today?” Facebook page. It was “How are the people doing at home?” because they were making the ball bearings. They were making the guns. They were making all the stuff to create the supply lines.

Andy:               To support the effort, yeah.

Bill:      Yeah, and once they started to flag a bit… I think this was genius. And so the guy that started Megatrends, he… That was his first thing. He said, “Well here’s the prototype.”  All I’m saying is could you do that…? Iraq is a small thing but what if you got into it with Russia or China or somebody where there would be… Obama’s got 150 techies where what if China said, “Look. We’d like to put 15,000 techies on. How are the troops in America doing? And we’re going to scrape Facebook and really come up with a kind of a profile and then we’re going to measure that. How is it doing it today? Where are they today? What’s the aggregate? What’s the summary?”

Mr. X:   There are applications that they can do that right now, actually, too. They are commercially available applications where you can measure market sediment or you can determine things like that.

Bill:      Yeah. So even if you’re communicating with your family, which as Andy says, it’s a wonderful thing, guard your language because you don’t want to do your country or your family any disservice in what you’re saying. Don’t put the country down or don’t do this or that thinking… You need to keep a strong front, you know?

Andy:               Again, used correctly it was a wonderful thing but just another tale from the past—my military experience—the first ordinance that we had, the enlisted guys who were kind of in charge of overseeing all the other enlisted guys would actually build false Facebook accounts and go and friend request people that were in their squadron and actually look at the pictures they were posting because not everybody would get over there at Iraq and they would lose their minds and take pictures of all this stuff they thought was super cool, which to us it was awesome but it was also very… You want to post pictures of it on Facebook…

Bill:      [inaudible 0:17:27.0] girl pictures. That’s not something you want to…

Andy:               Yeah. The back ends of certain aircraft and things like that were classified and they would be posting their pictures or holding their guns or…

Bill:      So our own intelligence almost had to patrol what we’re doing to…

Andy:               Right. Yeah. To see what we were doing for that same reason. So yeah, you’ve got to… Don’t want to live in a police state but sometimes you’ve got to watch what you do online.

Bill:      Well that’s a good place to kind of segue. This is sort of the dark side of what can happen and as Andy has been saying, these can be blessings in many ways but also there is a downside. Let’s kind of turn this a little bit to the business. One of the things we’ve been talking about with our good friend, Mr. X, is what happens with Google on a business… in a business framework and in a business context. It’s a pretty important thing to have your company listed and I think many of the listeners that listen to Off the Grid News have a business or would aspire to own a business at some point and my own personal business experience—and I know Andy’s as he’s been working with me with some of the internet marketing, some of the things that we try to do—is that we are so confused by Google. We think we’re trying to do something right and then they change something and then all the work that we’ve done, it’s like somebody flushed the big Google toilet because everything goes for naught. And we said, “We’re playing by the rules. What’s going on?”  And then all of a sudden we get downgraded for something. Just a couple months ago that happened. Do you want to talk a little bit about what happened?

Mr. X:   Yeah. Over… Actually, like about last year about this time they targeted sites like content publishing sites like E-zine Articles and other article directories and those sites were hit very hard and devalued and went down and everything like that and it lasted a couple months and then they came back up and then they started with the Panda updates, which basically went after… Over the past year they’ve attacked content. They’ve attacked—or quality of content—they’ve attacked links and quality of links as well as blog farms, which they’ve attacked manually. They don’t have the ability to algorithmically detect those but they’ve gone after sites that have published huge… used automated programs to create huge numbers of links and then de-indexed those. So they… It’s basically like a merry go round and it’s like “What’s on Google’s target for this quarter or this month or two?”

And then that and then it moves on to something else and something else and quite often there is a very, very fine line between what’s acceptable and what’s not and that fine line even being just perspective on what it is because you can either have a blog farm or you can have a site with quality content with links back to the sites of which the content is about. Which is it? So it’s a point of view type thing but the quality of content contributes to the legitimacy of it as opposed to a blog farm with scraped content or spun and garbage content. But yeah, they quite frequently do change the rules as they have this past month with Google Places, which they’ve forced quite a few… Well actually, they forced all into Google+ now so Google Places…

Bill:      Do they make up Google Places?

Mr. X:   Yes.

Bill:      Google Places is something they made up and then… So then they killed Google Places. They killed their own thing that everybody built up and then now they wanted you to do something different.

Mr. X:   Yeah, they pushed it into Google+, which is their social media play, which is interesting timing with the Facebook IPO that they do that and pulled that out and so now they’ve forced you into Google+ so you now have to have a Google account and if you have a Google email address or whatever now you can tie your Google+ page into that as well so they can further identify you with that. But you can also get considerable amounts of business if you have a Google+ page and it’s listed for… Say you’re a Chicago plumber or say you’re a Pittsburgh roofing company and you create your Google+ page and you get that ranked so it shows up on the first page when you type in “Chicago plumbing” or “Pittsburgh roofing” and that shows up. You can just kill it. You can make it solely on the listing.

Bill:      If you’ve got a business one thing you need to do is create a Google+ page?

Mr. X:   Yes. Yeah. Yeah.

Bill:      So if nothing else, if people listen to this whole thing and that’s all they do, they’re going to have a real strategic advantage because Google likes that and Google’s… That’s their foray into social media and so they’re starting to say, “This is what matters” so they’re going to start to rank you based on how much social media you’re participating in on Google.

Mr. X:   Yeah. And on how complete your profile is and then also the location of your business and also citations like other mentions of your business address in different places and things like that and links to it as well. The more complete your profile is the better and of course you want to get your keywords in. And there is a lot of things that you’ve got to get right with it but you could build a business solely on having a successful Google+ page.

Bill:      That’s pretty amazing that they’ve changed that. And this is one of those things—like we said when we first started—kind of this is the grid that if you’re a business you have to be on.

Andy:               Oh. No, definitely.

Bill:      Even if you are selling honey along the roadside you want to make sure somebody that’s driving down the highway, if they want to be mobile and they want to type in “honey,” you want—like I have an iPhone—you want that girl to say, “I found four places to buy honey close to you.”  You have to be able to pull this off.

Mr. X:   Yeah, and when you go to Google and you type in a search term Google will try to determine the intent, whether the search if of local intent or if it’s a national intent. If you type in “hotels” you may or may not get back the Google Places but you probably will because you’re probably looking for a hotel near where you’re at. If you type in “headphones” you’re probably not going to get a bunch of local… the Google+ pages. You’ll get the normal, organic search results. But if you type in “24 hour emergency Chicago plumbing” you’ll get a bunch of the local results right there.

Bill:      As you should. So that’s kind of a good thing that they’re doing.

Andy:               I was talking to my mom last night and I was preparing for this interview and one of the things… My mother is 53 years old and is not very tech savvy. But she does have a smart phone and she just never understood why when she typed something in her little search bar on her smart phone that it just—like witchcraft—it magically appeared and told her where the closest thing was. So I was trying to explain this to her but one of the things to know is when you do a Google search and you have the top three search items that show up—those items… Those search terms and stuff and those advertisements are actually being… Somebody is paying for that.

Below that there is a listing of Google search results that aren’t highlighted and those are what is called “organic results” and those are results—as we’re talking about with the Google+ pages and make sure they’re their keyword relevant and how you have your website set us—that’s kind of where you want to be. So Google has got a big sandbox and if you want to play in it you’ve kind of got to follow the rules. That all leads back to everything from social media to website development. So it’s a huge, broad topic and we could probably do like an eight-hour interview on it.

Bill:      Exactly. We want to kind of cover some of the basics so that—as we said—the people that have businesses are able to function properly. What are some other ways…? Okay, you need a Google+ page in this world. What’s next? What would you say would be the next thing that somebody should try to figure out how to do?

Mr. X:   Basically, if I were going to start a local business today I would create a web page, a mobile version of that web page, a Google+ page, a Facebook fan page or a Facebook business page for my business and then start with that. And then with the regular web page you rank that by doing some on page things as well as link building.

Bill:      What do you have to do? What do you have to do on page? Let’s talk about that really quickly because I think you can make mistakes there just by… Can you…? If you stuff words on your page Google will crawl that and find out that that’s a poor…

Mr. X:   Spamming their keywords and stuff like that.

Bill:      Yeah, you’re stuffing something. You’re spamming.

Mr. X:   Yeah. Basically, minimally you say… Okay, let’s go back to like the Chicago plumber example. You want to get your keywords and your URL if possible, which is your web page name—so you’d want to go check and see if www.chicagoplumber.com were available and if not, maybe chicagoplumber247.com or some variation. You want to get your keywords in your domain name. That way Google knows what your business is about. You don’t want it to be like thebrooksbrothers or you don’t want it to be like…

Andy:               Your name or…

Mr. X:   Yeah—sandfordandson—or anything. That doesn’t tell them anything about what it’s about. You want it to be chicagoplumbing247 or chicagoplumbingemergency247. You want to get your keywords first in your URL if possible. After that you want to incorporate your keywords into your title tag, which is the words that are displayed at the very top of your browser, above the search box—where you type in the address—the address bar. Right above that it usually says something-something dash Internet Explorer or whatever browser you’re using or…

Andy:               So just real quick—when you say “keywords” you’re referring to the words that are most closely identified with your website content—what you’re all about.

Mr. X:   Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Like what somebody would go into Google and type in to find your business. So like if you’re… Like “Chicago plumbing” or “Chicago emergency 24/7 plumbing” or “emergency plumbing Chicago” or… And you can actually go… There is a tool on Google you can go to check it out. Just go to Google and type in “keyword tool” and hit enter. The number one result is the Google keyword tool. You can go there and then type in a bunch of different keywords that you come up with and it’ll actually tell you how many times those are searched each month and then you can determine which ones you want to work on based on the competition level and the number of searches they return each month.

So you can go there, find your keywords and then get it there. And then again, put your… Put it in your title tag and then your meta description and meta keywords, which are getting a little advanced, and then just in your body copy on your page, just a couple times per hundred words get your keywords in there. But you want it to be like the first word on the page or in the headline—first word, first paragraph—and then after that just a couple times sprinkled throughout, naturally throughout your body text. And then you want to build links.

Bill:      And it has to appear kind of… You just used the word “natural.”  It has to sort of appear naturally.

Mr. X:   Yeah, you don’t want it to be like “Plumbing, plumbing, plumbing, plumbing, plumbing, plumbing…” Your site will just sink. Yeah.

Bill:      Whether it’s local or national?

Mr. X:   Yeah.

Bill:      It can sink.

Mr. X:   Yeah. Correct. Yeah. Correct. Yeah.

Bill:      And now the war is… I think the thing that we’re talking about is the war—in this case—among businesses is really being fought at the local level. Certainly you have these grand keywords when somebody types in “bank run,” for example. Those are big things that have a lot of searches but this local business is really where the action is and local businesses… You’ve got some great examples of businesses going from nothing to amazing. You don’t have to use the business names but do you want to share a few of those? Just so people can realize here is what can happen to you if you get this right.

Mr. X:   We took an attorney… He was a personal… What was it? A personal injury attorney in a city so “personal injury attorney city” and we got him on the first page of Google in about two months. He was ROI positive in about a month and a half and he’s getting cases right now. And we’ve worked on his site for two months. We took another site…

Bill:      And it’s normally what? Six, eight months to a year?

Mr. X:   It could be that. It can.

Bill:      I mean that’s been the situation for us.

Mr. X:   Yeah, it can. It absolutely can. Yeah. That’s not typical results. It… Like for a local term, like if you have “profession city,” for something like that three to six months is acceptable for results. If you’ve got a national term like… or like “men’s suits” or something like that then six to nine months, maybe twelve months depending on the competition. If you’re going with something ultra competitive like “hotels” or things like that it can take you—or “casinos” or things—it could take you a year plus to get there. So local terms—three to six months, national terms—up to a year. But then again, you absolutely can get results quicker.

Bill:      Can the average guy—here is another one for you, for both you guys—just based on everything that the research you’ve been doing and all of the folks that you’ve talked to—can the average guy without any help start a national… grab something nationally and go from point A to point B? In other words, could I grab a search term and take it from—and I’m working out of my garage—and take it from zero to number one? Is it possible for somebody to do that anymore or are those days over?

Mr. X:   Yes. But it’s time.

Bill:      Yes, those days are over or yes you can do it?

Mr. X:   Yes, you can do it.

Bill:      You can still do it?

Mr. X:   Yes.

Andy:               My opinion is, I think, more than ever now is a great time to do it. With the introduction to social media it’s given you the option to—with zero cost to you—promote your business through three, four, five different social media websites, which helps get yourself ranked on Google. There are a lot of techniques you can do but now… 15 years ago it would cost you a lot of money to get yourself in a position of not only authority but recognition amongst people nationally. Now there are a lot of good stories about Mom and Pop shops that have taken the time to…

Bill:      But aren’t they niches though too? In other words, let’s say if I want to be competitive in New York City and I own… Maybe I’m not in the back but let’s say I own a small bank. I’m going to compete with Bank of America, with Citibank—you know what I’m saying? And they’re going to be throwing a huge amount of money to all of the secrets that you have availed to us in the last few days. I think it’s hard to do it for a national term—I mean a big, strong term that you’re going to have big money chasing you on. Yet it’s still possible.

Mr. X:   Yes. Yes. It depends like… Because you can… There are hundreds and hundreds of factors but if you could acquire an old existing domain that had your keywords in it, which you can do—you might have to pay some money for it but if you could buy an older domain that had a history, has a bunch of inbound links already and is existing already and then rework it—that would give you a leg up on it as well as building links and just putting in the time because once you start and start going after it and doing like what Andy said—implementing social media to drive people to your site and show activity though Google as well as building links and a bunch of other things—you can absolutely get it.

Bill:      You did a national project—whether you want to mention the company or not is up to you—but you took a national company from relative obscurity to pretty high up under hotels and…

Mr. X:   Yeah. Yeah, we took a company from number six to number one for the term “hotels” in a month and a half.

Bill:      And that was a pretty big company. It’s a name that everyone would recognize.

Mr. X:   Yeah. Yep.

Bill:      So this can still be… It’s still a nut that can be cracked but at that level what are you doing to win that game? And I don’t expect you to reveal all the things you do because I know a lot of those things are proprietary. They’re a lot like the back of the C1… the transport planes that Andy was talking about. We’re not going to take pictures of those things and put them on Facebook because that’s something that you’ve built your whole life developing.

Mr. X:   Yeah. I mean in the first place we had a quality authoritative site to work with so we weren’t working with a brand new site. We weren’t working with a new, unproven, untrusted, un-authoritative site. We were working with an established, authoritative site. What we basically did was build links to their site monitoring the anchor text of those links and had content written and put those links in that content and built it up and that’s basically what… That is exactly what we did. I mean the technical of how and where and all that stuff…

Bill:      So the difference to them from being way down the page towards being at the top of the page for terms like “hotel” has to be seven figures, probably, in terms of what the difference is.

Mr. X:   Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. On a standard search engine page a number one result gets about 46% click through rate. Let’s see… I can actually pull it up and find out exactly. But if you’re not in the top three you drop off like a cliff after the top… After the top five and top ten then page two is negligible. But if you really want to do some strong business you need to be on the first page and then preferably top five and then after that preferably top three.

Andy:               So just to shed some light on some of the terms that you’re using, when we talk about links or backlinks what we’re referring to is say you have a bakery somewhere in Seattle Washington and a blogger—a local food blog—does an article on your bakery and they include the link to your website on their blog. That would be considered a backlink because they’re actually discussing your website on their blog and that helps you in the Google rankings. The more of those you get the more people realize that you have quality content and that you are a reputable website.

Bill:      But what if…? Guys, what if the blog was a low quality blog? In other words, that’s a factor too, right? Maybe beyond what we’re talking about here for the moment but…

Mr. X:   Yeah, the content of a blog…

Bill:      Is that a pretty important thing?

Mr. X:   Yeah. If it was like a porn blog or they had a bunch of casino or pills or Viagra and stuff like that then that’s a bad neighborhood. But if it’s a brand new blog that doesn’t necessarily have any history but it’s decent content on it then it would be beneficial. Yeah.

Bill:      So if someone’s… Let’s say you got laid off and you’re starting to construct a business out of your house because you see a very dismal economic picture and you’ve got some passion—maybe it’s brewing beer—it could be anything, right? Let’s say it’s growing plants or something. Maybe you want to start selling seeds or whatever it could be. You’re going to start out with a website giving all the things that you were talking about but for you to rank locally that’s one set of direction that you have to head very specifically over against if you want to have a national thing—let’s say you have a book that you want to sell nationally. Let’s say you’re a homeschool family and you come up with some book—some ancient, archived book—you want to reprint it. And so you’re not going to sell many of those to people in your area.

A handful of people could buy it but you need to go nationally under those books and so that’s a different course of action that you need to take and understanding the difference between those two things is a very important difference because there is still room out there. Let’s say you want to republish a book that was published in 1852 and you do like our friend Mark at Lamplighters or something and that’s your little business. You’ve got to reach out and find some keywords nationally and internationally that are friendly to that whereas if you wanted to start selling—I used honey before—your honey locally, you have a very different website campaign and a different social campaign, different campaigns at every level. Do you guys want to talk about that just a hair?

Andy:               Yeah, you do. When you talk about local business, I just read an interesting article the other day that said a lot of local business owners are concerned about these internet based businesses just wiping them off the grid. But one of the things that’s interesting is 80% of the people still purchase things within a ten-mile radius of their home. So if you have a local business, like you said it’s going to be a lot different. You’re going to take steps towards first developing a content rich website and even if you don’t you could definitely get yourself at least a little bit of brand awareness through social media. But do you have more on that?

Mr. X:   Yeah. I mean absolutely. And also you have a leg up because the local results are going to be displayed above the organic results so if you are a local business your results are going… If it’s a local intent search you’re going to show up above the national businesses and people still like to reach out and touch somebody and have somebody that can provide them results and people are just killing it in local markets with local search right now. I’ve seen businesses double or triple. One of the guys I’m working with, he was a single owner-operator of a business two years ago. We had been working with him since and now he’s got, I believe, two crews that he’s running and I don’t know the multiple increase in his business but he’s… I mean he’s into higher office staff and he’s got multiple crews whereas before it was just him cruising around in a truck. So it definitely…

Bill:      Despite the bad economy…

Mr. X:   Yeah. Yeah. What bad economy?

Bill:      What bad economy? He’s found a way…

Mr. X:   Yeah. I don’t see any bad economy.

Bill:      …to get through that. Yeah, that’s a great point. The people that are intelligent about how they’re marketing are not experiencing the same results as those that are using archaic ways to communicate with people, right? I mean… And in some cases you’re seeing unbelievable results where people have gone from nothing to…

Mr. X:   Yeah. Just killing it in this market. Like starting businesses or taking existing businesses and growing it like double digit multiples even. I mean insane. And it’s so possible; it’s just execution, execution, execution, execution. Get up, get up, get up—do it.

Bill:      What’s the money that somebody can make? We’ve been talking since yesterday morning and today about some of… some financial… And I think it’s helpful for people to see that there is a light here and that it is possible, if you work at it—but not only work at it but if you work at it intelligently and you know all of the secrets behind how to do it—what are…? Do you have some samples of people that have worked with you and started with some guy that was starting with very little that maybe got laid off or maybe his business got slammed somehow, some way and he reinvented himself? Because I think that’s what this country has to do. A lot of people are getting laid off. They don’t have jobs. So they’ve got to reinvent themselves.

Mr. X:   I could give my numbers if that’s…

Andy:               Yeah, go ahead.

Mr. X:   Okay. My background is in corporate IT. I’m a Microsoft certified systems engineer, Microsoft certified professional. I have worked in networks since ’97. I left corporate land in 2008 hating my job for the past two to three years that I had it and studying… I’ve been doing search engine optimization since ’97 as well but doing my own affiliate sites on the side and not breaking off and doing a full business. In 2008 after giving the finger to corporate land and ejecting I started… I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do. We had a little bit of money in the bank—not a whole lot.

And in probably about April of 2009 I started rolling and figuring out and started hitting my stride and figuring out what I was going to do in actually getting online, marketing it, going to some local business get-togethers and networking and everything like that. I think we had… One of our cars was repossessed that year. Our electricity was being shut off probably every three months. We’d been going to the pawnshop—pawning something, turning our electricity back on. And 2009 I hit 150 grand. Was it last year we hit $600,000 and this year we’ll probably turn three times that. So next year we’ll do ten times that.

Bill:      So you’ve really taken it—the secrets that you’ve learned along this way, along this pathway—you’ve turned again, something into nothing. It’s a remarkable story and there are a lot of businesses that could do the very same thing. As we get ready to kind of close it down here is the announcement that we want to kind of make on this is we want to help a select number of businesses. I don’t think that we can help everybody that listens to this. I think we can only help a handful of people but we’d really like to find a handful of people that we could work with and that we could take you…

I’m pretty confident through the copywriting that we have and through the expertise in web building and Mr. X’s search engine secrets that almost nobody in the world knows how to do, we could take your small business or your aspiring small business and take it from nothing into something really substantial in—I don’t want to say a very short period of time because I don’t know what folks, what their situation is and I’d like to kind of be a little more reserved about it—but maybe you’re one of those businesses and we’re trying to set up a little program that we can handle… You could call us. What’s the number, Andy?

Andy:               Yeah. Sure. Just give me a ring. Again, it’s Andy—815-259-0122.

Bill:      Say that one more time.

Andy:               815-259-0122.

Bill:      And what we’ll have you do is explain to Andy what kind of business that you have and what your situation is, where you’d like to go with it and then Andy will fill out kind of a profile sheet and what we’ll do is—because we’ll get hundreds of people that want us to help them—and we’ll pick a handful of them and Mr. X and I and Andy will go to work on these businesses and we’ll try to do it at a rate that you can afford and try to… What I’d like to do for the sake of this is find—I don’t know—five to ten businesses that we could use as sort of test… I almost said “test rats” but not lab rats but… We could take you and turn you into something and then we would… We’re going to charge you for it but you’ll be happy with what we charge you.

And then we… But here’s what we want in return. Instead of charging you so much that you can’t afford what we’d like to do is then use your story to tell. If we do these things for you we would like you to tell those stories to other people so that others then could avail themselves of the techniques that we’ve developed, that Mr. X has developed and so forth, that we think can leverage your business from where it’s at now into something extraordinary. Is that kind of…?

Andy:               No, that sounds great.

Mr. X:   Awesome.

Andy:               You know just in closing real quick, my final thoughts are quality content and a passion towards your business is what’s going to guarantee success. If you put out quality content and you’re really just motivated and you’re speaking about something that you’re passionate about the sky is the limit for you. So all the logistical stuff we would take care of for you and hopefully get you ranked up there high in Google and get you moving and get you a nice, fancy website and you’ll be up and running. You’ve just got to put pen to paper and actually make it work.

Mr. X:   Yep.

Bill:      And you’ve got to be passionate. So have a passion about something. Don’t call Andy if you don’t have a passion and if you don’t really need to increase your business. If you’re doing great I think our time would be spent better off talking to someone who is maybe in a little more of a desperate… who had their power go off once or twice or somebody down the level. We’d like to help somebody and we’d like to turn it into something special and we’d love to work with just a handful of people. So with that, thank you Andy and thank you Mr. X for spending your time with us.

Mr. X:   Thank you all. It was awesome.

Bill:      It’s been great and we know that—our listener—your time is very valuable as well and we hope that we’ve enlightened you a little bit on this SEO thing. We look forward to having you tune in again with Off the Grid Radio. Thanks again.

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