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Reddit has an interesting ask me anything thread running at the moment: I run ThatHigh.com and it pays my rent in San Francisco. AMA. Someone asked how the owner built up traffic and established the advertising, prompting a candid reply…

How to build a social entertainment website:

  1. Build site
  2. fake lots of user activity
  3. steal a tiny bit of content from all around the internet
  4. reddit ads ($20)
  5. stumbleupon ads ($5)
  6. put easily shareable links on each story side note: I put facebook “like” buttons on each story when they unveiled their opengraph stuff and facebook referrers skyrocketed, so that was awesome.

For advertisers, I literally email them out of the blue. I had a seed seller in the UK for awhile that didn’t pan out, so he quit. I’ve had lots of humor sites advertise, some hydroponics stuff, and while prop 19 was under the media’s eye, adsense was giving me TONS of high CPC ads. I made $3k during that time period in one month. It was nice.

I use Google Doubleclick for Publishers to manage ads, I use freshbooks (the free plan) to charge advertisers with my paypal and google checkout accounts. One time someone wired me money from the UK.

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Google vs. the content farms

Throughout my investigation I had nagging doubts that we were seeing serious cracks in the algorithmic search foundations of the house that Google built. But I was afraid to write an article about it for fear I’d be claimed an incompetent kook. I wasn’t comfortable sharing that opinion widely, because we might be doing something obviously wrong. Which we tend to do frequently and often. Gravity can’t be wrong. We’re just clumsy … right?

I can’t help noticing that we’re not the only site to have serious problems with Google search results in the last few months. In fact, the drum beat of deteriorating Google search quality has been practically deafening of late:

Anecdotally, my personal search results have also been noticeably worse lately. As part of Christmas shopping for my wife, I searched for “iPhone 4 case” in Google. I had to give up completely on the first two pages of search results as utterly useless, and searched Amazon instead.

People whose opinions I respect have all been echoing the same sentiment — Google, the once essential tool, is somehow losing its edge. The spammers, scrapers, and SEO’ed-to-the-hilt content farms are winning.

via Trouble In the House of Google – codinghorror.com

Yesterday I was searching for CSS rounded corner techniques, and the majority of top Google results were utter trash. This is definitely a trend.

I’m going to have to do some research on measuring search engine quality