It is a rare chart that tells a whole, comprehensible story. I don’t have such a chart for you but I do have a chart that tells, in my opinion, an interesting story about how ignorance breeds change and growth. This is a story that has played itself out thousands of times over since civilization first began, and maybe for the past few hundred thousand years. Someone invents a perfectly good process but before it can become standardized someone else invents the process again and calls it by a different name. What most of you call “content marketing” is just another form of “search engine optimization” and it was only your collective shame that buried this expression. You were ashamed of all the penalties and downgrades and algorithmic surprises that your past methods and strategies led to, so you rebranded everything (including yourselves) as “digital marketers”, “content strategists”, “ social media managers”, etc.
It’s all still search engine optimization. You’re optimizing for image search on Pinterest, soundbite search on Twitter, share search on Facebook, content search on Google, etc. You never stepped away from SEO; you simply started optimizing for different kinds of search. But in doing so you invented phrases and names and descriptions that made it sound like you have moved on. And those rebranding efforts have paid off dramatically as this chart illustrates.
I want to share two older articles here that I have updated. You’ll find they are still quite relevant to what many of you are doing even after nearly 10 years. This is not what I call “10 year SEO”. This is what I call “ SEO fundamentals”. This stuff never changes. Ever. And those of you who keep saying that SEO has changed in the past few years need to learn the truth about what search engine optimization really is.
It’s not your latest bag of tricks and trendy SEO blog posts and conference presentations. Optimization gives the best performance possible. If you don’t know how to use the fundamentals to keep a Website going for ten years you’re not ready to evolve away from SEO. You still have much to learn. Hiding it behind new buzz expressions won’t change a thing.
- Social Media Websites ARE their own primary search engines
- Bing and Google index social media content, not (just) social media links
- The social media links are important for visibility, not search
In “Four Sources of Links” I described very high-level categories for linking that are still valid today. Most Web marketers who have convinced themselves that subfolders are more important for SEO than subdomains missed point number 1. It never mattered whether you put a blog on a subdomain or subfolder. What always mattered, and all that ever mattered, was how you linked to your blogs. And in every case I have investigated, including Salesforce’s blog (which my friend Todd Friesen recently used to support subfolders over subdomains), the culprit behind poor performance was not the subdomain but the lack of navigational support for the subdomain compared to the navigational support for the subfolder.
If you want more links you need more visibility, but visibility drives (brand value) search. How do you create visibility without forging link relationships all over the spammy Web? I shared several suggestions in “How to Use Search to Build Visibility”. Unfortunately, some people took away the wrong message. I didn’t mean for you to flood these channels with worthless “content marketing” in order to create links. You don’t need a link to create visibility. You do need a message that is on target and which makes clear reference (with or without the link) to what you want people to find.
Originally published in March 2007.
Everyone wants links. In today’s search environment, the key to linking success begins with understanding where links come from, how you get them, how you use them, and why you really need them.
There are four sources of links (in descending order of importance):
- Your internal navigational links
- The links you give yourself from other sites
- The links you ask other sites to give you
- The links other sites choose to give you
Internal navigational links outweigh all other links for several reasons. They are the first expression of trust in a complex system where trust has always been valued to one degree or another. It’s hard for a search engine to rationalize calling your root URL a spam page if 1,000 other well-linked pages on the same host all link to it.
Internal navigation links also ensure that your pages are found, if they are done properly. The more links you point at your internal pages, the more easily those pages will be found, crawled, and indexed. Not that links guarantee indexing — for they don’t — but if everything else is in order, then all that stands between your brand new page and ranking well in search results is the absence of inbound linkage.
Internal navigation links also help you boost page relevance through anchor text. It’s unfortunate that search engines such as Google stubbornly cling to the practice of allowing links to pass anchor text. Doing so in no way improves their search results and in fact reduces the quality of their search results because it induces people to be deceptive. Still, without being deceptive you can point instructive anchor text from one internal page to another to improve relevance.
You have complete control over your internal links. They give you total flexibility. You get more power from your own links than from any other source of links. (2016 Lesson: Screwing over your subdomain through poor internal navigation is bad SEO.)
Links you give yourself from other sites include all the classic spam links: forum signatures, blog comment links, guest book links, free-for-all page links, profile links, etc. They also include links embedded in biographical tag lines for press releases and free distribution articles. The inevitable rush among Webmasters to exploit these types of links has rendered most of them pretty much useless for passing anchor text although they may help promote your visibility and send you traffic.
There are other links you can give yourself as well. Social media taggers have already begun exploiting some of those types of links. So have classified ad spammers. Generally speaking, if someone out there is letting you create content on their Web site for free, SEOs and spammers are abusing the privilege in the insane pursuit of (now usually worthless) links.
If you want these types of links to pass value, you need to build value in them. It actually requires less effort but more patience to build value in external links than it does to generate hundreds or thousands of spam links, most of which won’t help you. You build value in linking sources by telling people about them. Link to those pages, or only use pages that many other people link to. But intruding or dropping links doesn’t build value. Instead, it destroys value. (2016 Lesson: The rush to build links in every corner of the Web destroyed the positive impression people once had for SEO.)
Links you ask other sites to give you are the most sought-after links, even though they tend to be less important than the first two types of links. These kinds of links include traditional reciprocal links, paid links, free directory links, etc. In general, these types of links are easily organized on a large scale. They lend themselves to categorization because people who are open to link requests usually receive many and therefore need to handle those requests as efficiently as possible.
These linking methods still work to some degree, but their return on investment has declined considerably for the same reasons that links you give yourself have lost value: the search engines do their best to filter out their value.
Another type of links you ask people to give you are the (presently) highly coveted baited links, the so-called “natural” links people give you for creating great content. If you create good link bait you’ll realize a spike in traffic and a surge in unrequited links. The problem with link baiting is that it doesn’t offer long-term value. You have to keep creating high-value content in order to keep the traffic/link spikes rolling. As soon as you rest on your laurels, your high traffic/link days are over.
And just because you baited yourself into drawing 400,000 links doesn’t mean you will dominate every search going forward. While having lots of “link juice” is always good to have, if you don’t assert relevance with your new copy, your new copy won’t rank for anything useful regardless of whether it enjoys lots of link love.
In other words: PageRank is not nearly as important for search engine rankings as SEOs tend to believe. It never has been. (2016 Lesson: Now many of you believe Google has devalued links in its algorithms. You’re wrong. It devalued the links in YOUR algorithms.)
The links other sites choose to give you tend to be weak because you really don’t have any influence over them. You don’t decide where they point to, what anchor text they use, or where they are placed. Now, I’m not saying you should turn your nose up at 1,000 truly organic links. If you’re not creating link bait and people still point links at your site over a long period of time, that’s a good thing.
Link bait goes for large numbers of links in a short period of time. That’s really not natural, not in the sense that a good Web page can accrue a handful of links every month for 5 or 6 years. Truly natural links don’t come because of all the pizzazz you formulaicly whipped up in your content. Truly natural links come because people share your passion with you and they discover your passionate content.
If you create link bait, the links you get are links you asked for. As soon as you create something for the sake of getting links, you leave the path of natural linking. That’s just the way it is.
Ultimately, the more control you exercise over links, the more they can help you, and hence the more powerful they are in terms of search engine optimization. (2016 Lesson: This is why I have been equating “content marketing” with link building for years.)
In search engine optimization, links get your content crawled, help your earn trust so your content will rank for multiple relevant queries, and improve relevance through the anchor text they pass to their destinations. Some search engines may also look at link anchor text favorably for the source pages.
In Web marketing, links create visibility, build brand value, and pass traffic. You tend to get more value by practicing Web marketing than by practicing search engine optimization, if only because pursuing visibility and brand value creates a more stable presence. In search engine optimization, everything you do is subject to the whims of the search engines.
In all four categories, the best links are those which convey intrinisic value to a human observer. If you feel compelled to hide your links, there’s something wrong with your linking strategy. The more willing you are to let your visitors see your links, the more effective your links will be. If you cringe because you’re grudgingly linking openly to a Ring Tones site, you’re not very willing to let people see that link.
In other words, the more you cringe over your own links, the less valuable those links — and whatever pages they point to — truly are. And why are you wasting your time and energy on links you really don’t care about?
Originally published in July 2008.
One very underdeveloped skill in the SEO community is search. If you browse a random selection of SEO blogs, forums, and articles that discuss ways to use search engines, you’ll mostly find rehashes of advanced query operator functionality, special query tricks that reveal “secret” stuff, and queries that really don’t have any relevance to promoting Web sites.
While there needs to be more discussion about advanced query operators (especially across search engines other than Google), using advanced query operators is only a small part of what you can fully accomplish with a robust search skill.
The majority of SEOs use search to find competition or a lack of competition. When they take their SEO hats off they use search to find content. This near-total disconnect between how many SEOs search on and off the job is evident in several ways across the SEOsphere. For example, you rarely see people in SEO forums talking about current events outside of their chat sections. Nor do you very often see people sharing their personal interest searches on their professional blogs. You see all sorts of techno-gadget posts on SEO blogs, and you see trashy critique posts, but how often do you see people use their SEO blogs to talk about whatever tickles their fancy?
Search engine optimization doesn’t work if you’re out of tune with people’s personal interests. And if you don’t share your own personal interests with other people, then how much do you inquire into other people’s personal interests? On SEO Theory I have occasionally ventured into discussions huckleberries, direct sales marketing, propaganda,mathematics principles like ordered pairs, science fiction and fantasy, ice cream, and other topics that — on the surface — don’t seem to have much to do with search engine optimization.
I’ve talked about huckleberries often enough that Todd Friesen has threatened to write a post on his own blog to steal my thunder (although I haven’t done anything about huckleberry optimization for a year). I love huckleberries and, quite frankly, huckleberries could teach us more about search engine optimization than the average SEO blog or forum. After all, actually doing the work is more productive than reading someone else’s schlocky tips on launching Web sites.
In fact, you can outperform the suggestions in nearly all “How to launch a new site” quickly articles and tutorials by NOT following their advice. Why? Because it’s usually vaguely worded, very generic advice that really doesn’t produce results. If you had complete freedom to do whatever you wanted, you could use search to build visibility for a Web site quickly. Except for adult-oriented industries, these techniques work to quickly build visibility. Everyone has used some of them at some point in their SEO career.
- Press releases.
- Forum posts
- News group posts
- Email discussion list posts
- Blog posts
Nothing new there, right? But you don’t need new places to drop links. What you need is to introduce new ideas into old discussions, and search can show you those ideas.
Staying on top of current events is more important than staying on top of search engine data pushes, algorithmic updates, and toolbar updates. Every SEO who is looking for information on the next Google PR update is NOT looking for information about what other people are interested in. Those other people’s interests lead to new queries, new content, and new opportunities.
At its most primal level this approach can be stated thus: “I see a conversation. How can I monetize it for myself?”
Of course, search engine optimization is NOT all about the money (it’s not all about anything in particular, other than obtaining maximum performance from a relationship with a search engine). The money is the metaphor. It represents your achievable self-interest. You monetize a discussion for yourself by contributing something of value to the discussion so that people will, in turn, give you something of value in return.
This is not about links. This is not about conversions. This is about building visibility. It is ONLY about building visibility. If you can get some links, great. If you spend any time thinking of how you can obtain links, you’re doing it wrong.
Here are a few practical examples to illustrate the concept. To help with this illustration, we’ll assume we’re promoting a Web site about charter bus service in some small town (I don’t have any charter bus service clients).
Press Releases – Is the company new? Announce that it’s open for business. Did the company just open a new route? Announce the new route. Did the company hire a new manager? Announce the new manager. Did the company buy new buses? Announce the new buses.
This is all pretty mundane news. It’s not necessarily going to inspire any journalists to write front-page, Pulitzer Prize-winning copy about your company. Nonetheless, mundane news give you an opportunity (and an excuse) to share your eccentricities with the public.
Your eccentricities are what make you unique. They are not your value proposition (because I guarantee you that every competitive charter bus company out there promises air conditioning, a smooth ride, courteous customer service, etc.). Your eccentricities are the 1 or 2 anecdotes you drop into your press release copy that show people you are human, interesting, and worth a second look.
Eccentricity copy is not link bait, it’s not sensational, it’s not gimmicky. It’s that sharing of random facts that makes you look like you’re not part of the crowd.
“Michael’s charter bus company started business in 1943, transporting new soldiers to boot camp. The company commemorates its World War II service in a small memorial section of its offices.”
How many companies talk about their early history in their press releases? Not many.
If your charter bus client happens to be in a small to mid-sized city, it has opportunities to participate in local events as a sponsor. Every event should be promoted with a press release that focuses on the event while mentioning the company’s contribution 2-3 times.
“We have been hosting the Senior Citizens’ Bag Race for three years,” says Charter Bus Service founder and President Michael Martinez. “My grandparents love participating in it!”
If the charter bus company has no opportunities to participate in local events it always has an open opportunity to create them. Start a fundraiser for the local children’s sports teams. Help the local library raise money for books, sell off old books, or set up a popular events lecture series tied to entertainment or politics. Get local businesses together to do a charity cook off and car wash for the nearest children’s hospital, cancer hospital, summer camp, etc. The guy who launches the event gets the most press. The guy who makes the biggest contribution to the event gets a lot of press.
Charter bus companies are allowed to toot their own horns, as it were. Mundane, boring press releases can be spiced up with relevant information that is worded eloquently. Leave out the superlatives like “proudly announces”, “pleased to inform you”, “longest tradition”, “oldest member”, “best whatever”, blahblahblah. Press releases are about events, not about self-promotional hype.
Distribute the press releases over 2-3 services that are indexed by the news search services. Where possible, create 3-5 press releases per event and release them on a schedule (weekly or monthly). It’s okay to rewrite a press release for 2-3 different services (the different versions count as one press release). Why write different versions? First, it’s good practice for press release writing. Second, it helps avoid the duplicate content filters (hint: don’t just move sentences around). Third, it increases your immediate visibility.
Press releases create visibility in News Search and Web Search, as well as through PR distribution site services (XML feeds, email subscriptions, and site search).
(2016 Lesson: Although spam has forced Web search engines to devalue press release content it still drives a lot of traffic in news search, both directly and indirectly.)
Forum posts – Question: Which forums should you post business announcements in?
Answer: Only forums that welcome random business announcements.
As a forum operator I instantly hate anyone who uses my forums for self-promotion. I did not create my forums so that you could announce your business to my visitors. I did create my forums so that you can come talk about your interests with other visitors to my site.
If you have a well-established record of participation in discussions, most forum operators will tolerate your one-time announcement, provided it’s written as a discussion topic for people to comment on and not an advertisement. This is not easy to do until you know how to do it. Then you sort of have a “Doh!” moment as you realize just how many forums you participate in where you can actually talk about your business.
Let’s say you, the SEO, participate in a fishing forum. You’ve been part of the discussion for years. People there like you. Your charter bus company offers trips up to a local fishing spot but it doesn’t get much business. Which of the following would be the best option for you to take:
- Write a post in the off-topic discussion section telling people you know about a great charter bus service in the so-and-so area and that they should contact you offline for more information.
- Post an announcement (maybe even a press release) in the chat area and hope someone cares enough to read your advertisement.
- Start a discussion with your buddies, explaining the situation (you have an unnamed client who is struggling to get business from people like them) and asking them how they select charter bus services for their fishing groups.
- Create a sock puppet account and use an anonymous surfing service to drop links in the forum, hoping the moderators are on vacation or doing drugs.
- Embed a link in your signature to your client’s charter bus service site and just keep talking about fishing.
For the record, I HAVE seen moderators ask people to change their signatures. Even I have been asked to do that (although the only occasion I can think of was when I violated a 2-lines-only rule by adding a third line). Forum signatures are great for telling people about yourself and your interests. I would not advise using them as billboards for advertising.
The sock puppet trick has been done to death. It doesn’t work, as far as I am concerned. Any forum that lets you drop links is probably not getting much traffic anyway. But that’s not always the case. I created a forum for authors who want to promote their books and that forum DOES allow authors to announce their books to each other (although I feel that’s not the best marketing approach, authors can and do buy and recommend books).
As a forum operator I have posted occasional press releases in appropriate discussion groups. I have also occasionally allowed businesses to announce themselves after they contacted me and explained the value their goods and services provide my community. In most cases I say “No”, but sometimes you can create visibility (and even get a link!) by politely explaining to the forum operator how your business is different from every other shmuck on the Internet who is just looking for links and profit.
Just learn to take “No” for an answer the first time. And don’t wait until AFTER your announcement has been deleted to ask permission. Also, I believe most forum operators would politely decline to accept your promotional announcements. That’s just the way it is.
I’ve seen the off-topic post option actually work. When a discussion becomes so long, involved, and popular that everyone starts asking questions, in forums where business promotion is not allowed people ARE usually allowed to start a “Request for more information” thread where they answer replies offline. Forum operators are happy because their community is respecting the rules, helping each other, and using the forum as a resource. Everyone else SHOULD be happy because the forum operators are not being total jerks and refusing to allow any commerce.
In my opinion, the best option is to ask your long-time buddies how they would select a charter bus service to take a fishing group somewhere. At some point someone may ask for more information about the company, but the real opportunity here is for you to describe the company’s service in such a way that anyone who starts searching for information about fishing in your area finds your client’s Web site. Yes, you’re seeding queries in a discussion. It works like a charm. I’ve used that tactic for years.
It’s discreet. It helps build query spaces. It allows me to ramble on at length about what makes me passionate. And it helps me shape the query traffic so that people search for whatever I’ve created. I’ve never had a forum operator complain about a discussion like that. Not once.
Forum posts create visibility in Blog Search, Web Search, and forum site search.
(2016 Lesson: I still operate a forum and I still welcome relevant news announcements. I encourage them from film makers and authors. But now people are afraid to risk the anger of forum owners. Do it right and all will be well.)
News group posts – See forum posts.
However, there are other things you can do in news groups that you often cannot do in forums. For example, you CAN create sock puppets for news group posts (but you have to be sophisticated enough to know what you are doing — there are people who can literally track you down to your front door from news groups posts — that has happened to me). Sock puppetry is not well-respected on the news groups, although most people use screen names to “hide” their identities (hint: you can’t hide it from anyone other than yourself without going to a lot of effort).
Still, some people have been using promotional screen names for years to JUST post business announcements in appropriate groups. These advertising groups provide little value, in my opinion, but people did historically read the classified ad groups. Think of Craigslist without moderation and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Another thing you can do in news groups is create a FAQ about a topic (such as “Great places to fish near my client charter bus company”) that provides links to local businesses. Yes, you can drop your client link into the list and no one will know who your client is.
Tricks that I have seen backfire in the news groups include:
- Pretending to be a satisfied customer who just wants to share his gratitude for the service he got
- Pretending to be an angry EX-customer who just rants about an unknown company, only to be answered by several anonymous defenders of the company
- Drive-by spamming, where you post (or cross-post, not the same thing) an announcement to dozens of news groups
- Faux recommendations. These are the obvious posts from relative newcomers to discussion groups. Usually they try to puff up their post count with “me too!” posts and then drop the advertisement. Yeah, that makes you look REALLY clever. No one could possibly see through that smokescreen.
Generally speaking, news groups are hotbeds for flame wars, name-calling, character assassination, and grass roots conspiracy movements. The return on investment is extremely low if you try to monetize news groups. You can leverage your participation in news groups and you can participate in news groups where the sharing of factual information is automated, but there are rules and you would do well to play those rules religiously.
News Group posts create visibility in news groups search, Web search, and in site search on news group gateway sites.
(2016 Lesson: I still occasionally browse news groups. They are spammier than they were all those years ago and this is a less productive channel. But substitute your favorite social media platform for “news groups” and you have much the same situation.)
Email discussion lists – Through the years, people have demanded the right to flame and attack other people on Web forums. Web forums are private property and under U.S. law you don’t have the right to say whatever you please (and Freedom of Speech doesn’t protect defamation anyway). Invading Web forums with personal attacks, advertisements, and link drops is like dumping your garbage in your neighbor’s living room while he is having a few friends over to chat.
If Web forums are equivalent to people’s living rooms, email discussion lists are equivalent to their bedrooms. Dropping promotional announcements on an email list could mark you for life in ways you never dreamed of, and I do not exaggerate in the least. The repercussions of violating email list protocols can be far more vicious than anything bad that might happen to you in the news groups. You strike at your own risk, but you’re not David going up against Goliath on an email list, you’re an idiot moron who will be promptly squashed, dis-emnbowled, and publicly derided and laughed at for years.
News of email discussion list violations can spread like wildfire. Those list members are almost certainly subscribed to more than one mailing list. With 24 hours, several tens of thousands of people can be told to avoid you like the plague without ever having seen one word from you. I’ve watched this happen to other people. It’s not pretty and there is no way to recover from that kind of ostracization.
That said, the “discuss your situation with your buddies” option works fairly well on email discussion lists, up to a point. People are a captive audience on an email list. They don’t easily have the ability to ignore a long thread like they do in news groups and Web forums. At some point complaints will start to roll in about the lengthy discussion. That is when you need to gracefully bow out. There will be a lag time where other people continue to reply for a while, but you should just invite people who want to know more to contact you offlist after you’ve received a decent number of feedback/tip replies.
The only exception to email list promotion taboos is that NEWSLETTERS obviously allow people to announce businesses and products. They sell advertising. The problem is that I have never found any good newsletter clearing houses. That’s a business niche waiting to happen. If you can pick up ads in popular newsletters, they have a very good chance of doing well.
Email discussion list posts may be indexed in Web search if the lists are archived.
(2016 Lesson: I still subscribe to some mailing lists. Everything above is still valid. But mailing lists are less popular than they once were.)
Blog posts – Question: How many blogs should you start for any client?
Answer: As many blogs as you can reasonably maintain (or that the client will reasonably maintain).
Blogs make great information distribution tools. Of course, many SEOs condemn the idea of creating large numbers of blogs (or even more than one blog) to promote any business. I think most so-called White Hat SEOs would say one blog is reasonable and two blogs are spam.
I’ll say that blogs become spam only when they don’t provide any interesting content for strangers to read. If you can maintain ten unique blogs that people like to read, who am I to call you a spammer?
It’s that “people like to read” part where blog spammers obviously fall short of the mark. You have to make an interesting blog. It doesn’t have to tell the greatest jokes. It doesn’t have to include a link list every day (in fact, I personally detest link list blog posts). Your blog is interesting when it captures someone’s attention and they go away thinking, “Hey, I’m glad I read that.”
The best place to put a blog is on a blogging service that sends random visitors to member blog sites. I know of two that do this for sure: Blogger and WordPress. Most SEOs would tell you to put the blog on your own domain (this “looks professional”) and just ping the search services.
Sorry. That dog won’t hunt.
When you are creating visibility and capturing traffic, you MUST put your blog where the most people are likely to find it. That does not mean use DIGG, Del.ic.io.us, Technorati, Sphinn, StumbleUpon, whatever to drop links. That means you put the freaking blog WHERE RANDOM STRANGERS WILL FIND IT.
The only cardinal sin in blogging is to create a blog that no one wants to read. Where the blog resides doesn’t matter as long as people find it and read it.
Both Blogger and WordPress ping the search services.
Both Blogger and WordPress give their visitors the ability to visit random blogs (and people DO visit random blogs).
Both Blogger and WordPress give you a sub-domain to work with (and despite all the crap you may read on SOME SEO blogs about sub-domains being dead, they are still mostly treated as unique hosts by all the major search engines).
Swallow your white hat pride, shut up about your principles, and tell your clients to do what is necessary, permissable,and effective. The original Blogger-hosted version of SEO Theory is STILL getting random traffic (and sending it here) more than a year after we moved this blog to its own domain. THAT is the power of putting content in front of people.
Now, if the client goes for blogging, make sure they follow these rules:
- Only post original content (to each blog — absolutely no duplication)
- Post at least once a week (to each blog — absolutely no variation)
- DO NOT RECIPROCATE LINKS (they can link to people in their Blogrolls and leave it at that)
- DO NOT SELL LINKS (don’t even let them think about it)
- DO NOT EMBED ADVERTISING (the blogs ARE advertising)
- Ramble. Discuss your passions. Relate them to your business. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
- DO NOT DROP A LINK TO THE COMPANY SITE IN EVERY POST
- Spend some time searching for other blogs to discuss — blogs that share your passion but which are not business competitive blogs
- Forget that social media promotional sites exist. Just let the blog build natural traffic. If your passion comes through, other people will DIGG, Stumble, and Sphinn for you. Give them reasons to want to help you by focusing on content.
Blogging should never be about links. It should always be about content.
Blog posts create visibility through Blog Search, Web Search, and blog-hosting service site searches.
Okay, campers. There are obviously other things you can do to help create visibility for clients. Don’t forget the Local Search directories, for example. But hopefully I’ve given enough information here to get people thinking about how they can introduce new ideas into old discussions. That’s the key to success: the old ways are the best ways when everyone is happy.
(2016 Lesson: Blog networks have come and gone. Blogs are still here. Everything I wrote above is still true.)