Is the budget “crisis” an exercise in self promotion?

One side effect of the so called “budget criss” is that everyone who never heard of congressman John Boehner, speaker of the house of representatives and representative of Ohio’s 8th congressional district, has now heard of him.

Here’s Google trends showing the rise of Boehner:

Google Trends showing Boehner's popularity

The longer this spectacle continues, the more famous Boehner and everyone else involved in the process becomes. One wonders if this is self promotion at the cost of massive market uncertainty.

It’s hard to believe that Boehner and everyone else in the process doesn’t dream of a scenario where they get maximum publicity until the very last moment and then pull a “solution to this criss” out of the bag on 11:59pm on August 1st.

I doubt he’s crying now.

Is Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Worth $45 a pound?

About 3 weeks ago I had the worst cup of coffee imaginable – whole beans from the local supermarket and just unbelievably bitter. So to get over my coffee PTSD I decided to spring $45.55 (incl. shipping) for a pound of Jamaican Blue Mountain. I ordered it from Coffee Bean Direct. It arrived on time and in great condition. The bag is pictured on left. Whole beans, already roasted.

My first cupping was, I must admit not as impressive as I thought it would be. I didn’t grow wings. Angels did not sing.

I drink my coffee black with no sugar or cream. I grind whole beans in a regular old $10 grinder and use a french press. I’ll use 2 tablespoons of beans for 1 cup and let it brew for anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes depending on how rushed I am.

After drinking blue mountain for a little more than a week now I am on the fence. It’s great coffee. There’s no bitterness and it has a wonderful mild flavour. But it doesn’t quite have that $45.55 feel to it that I was hoping for.

I usually get my coffee from Peets. Don’t bother with the supermarket stuff. Get it from the Peets store because it’s better quality, more selection and they clear out old stock after 10 days – and probably send it to the supermarkets. Peets Major Dickenson is almost as good as blue mountain. The bean quality, which I think is really important, is great with both coffees. Peets has one or two dull or smashed beans but on the whole they look almost as good as Blue Mountain.

So I want to be able to say: Blue Mountain is all I drink because it’s the only real coffee. But it’s only about twice as good as Peets and 10 times as good as SB.


I’m selling a 6 month old viral business in a hot space.

In January this year I started researching keywords with high search volume and high earnings per click. I wrote a tool that extracts data from Google AdWords Tool and Traffic Estimator. I built intelligence into it that spotted high earning keywords, retrieved more suggestions and recursed in that fashion.

I then looked at at the resulting high earning keywords and analyzed the search results for each keyword or phrase. What I was interested in was finding a space where the earning potential was high, the search volume was high but the top ranking website or websites were of poor quality and innovation had stopped.

I found it in the Nutrition and Weight Loss space. The top ranking site is low quality and is owned by a media empire, meaning they’ve stopped innovating. Paydirt!

I grabbed a huge pile of government nutrition data and developed a large nutrition website. I employed someone to add a high quality meta-data to the site that made it more useful and attractive.

To make the site truly competitive, I added a viral model that tied into SEO. The viral hook is not a “Facebook Like” button or other gimmick. It’s a full blown application that other websites install, providing the site with valuable backlinks and increased marketing and distribution.

I launched the site in late January. Three months later it had enough credibility with the search engines to start getting traffic and the SE traffic took a nice jump.

Thankfully the site survived the Panda Google update and has continued to grow. In the last week it’s taken another healthy jump in traffic.

Here are the current stats:

  • The site currently gets over 700 visits a day from a vertical audience interested purely in nutrition.
  • Over 500 visits per day are from search engines.
  • SEO traffic is rising.
  • 50% of traffic is North America i.e. USA and Canada.
  • Hosting costs are $20 per month on Linode and costs will remain low because the site is well engineered and optimized.
  • Yahoo Site Explorer lists the site as having 5,377 backlinks from external sites.
  • Site currently has 350,000 pages of content indexed by Google with more crawled daily.
  • Site has over 7,000 photos that were hand added by my staff.
  • It has several features in the space it’s in that are unique and useful.
  • It provides a needed and genuinely useful public service that is unique in the nutrition space.
  • The site is barely 6 months old so it has a ton of growth potential.
While this site will continue to grow with very little incremental work from my side, I’d like to see the project taken over by someone firmly in the Nutrition space. Someone who can complement the great online distribution the site has with a bricks and mortar nutrition business.
I’m selling the site for $29,000 which includes handover and some of my time to get you set up. I’m looking for the right buyer that can take it to the next level and get a great long term ROI. If you’re interested contact me at mmaunder at gmail dot com.
Here’s the traffic going back to April.

I’m calling it: Google+ is a flop.

Does anyone else not care about Google plus? Hitwise released a report that says Google+ traffic had declined by 3% for the week ending July 23. Google are of course in damage control mode and claiming that Hitwise ignores Android, iPhone and traffic to the web app and only takes into account traffic to the site itself.

Shouldn’t they all be growing virally? Google claims they’re in limited field trials, it’s invite only, etc, but I can get in and so can you I’m sure.

What worries me is that a social app that is truly engaging and social should have a very strong viral loop. New users invite new users.

If you’re Google, you’re starting with an audience of over a billion people. That’s a pretty good seed for your viral loop. They should be having to fight the traffic off with a sharp stick.

I think their strategy of softly-softly when launching new products hurts them in the long run. They’re so worried about down-time they’re sacrificing valuable PR buzz and new product momentum to avoid it. Twitter still goes down regularly and that hasn’t hurt them yet.

But the real problem I have with Google Plus is it’s fugly.

I don’t mean purely on design. The language they use to describe each product feature is like something out of The Boo Hoo Bird: “Circles”, “Hangouts”, “Sparks”.

I also think the designers are still suffering from PTSD from the Google Buzz debacle:

[box]Circles let you share with just the right audience.[/box]

i.e. We didn’t screw up this time. Pinkie promise!