Oh no! Spammers stole my avatar! Or how I learned to speak SEO like a bot!

I’ve used the same avatar for a long time – I think it’s artistic, and representational, and more of an icon than a straight photo. I also have a more traditional portrait that I use occasionally, on some sites, but my main avatar is more fun!

A couple of times in the past I’ve discovered someone else using my avatar as their own. I understood. It’s a cool avatar! What did it matter if it wasn’t actually them? They just found an avatar they liked, and grabbed it. I never called anyone on it, but occasionally I do a search to keep track of it. And in fact I ran a search tonight, and didn’t find any real people using it this time, but I found quite a few spammers or bots that seemed to have scraped it up. Great… It’s one thing to have a real person grab and use it because they like it – it’s a completely different thing when spammers use my avatar to make spammy comments.

I’ve posted some screen grabs below. The sites ranged from a U.K. crime blog, to a political blog written in Albanian, a news site written in Lithuanian, a travel blog, and sites for a newspaper in South Africa, a life breath coach, a Houston bankruptcy lawyer, a filmmaker, a debt collection agency in the U.K., two Internet marketing sites, a lingerie store, and a site about Indonesia. It was also used to comment on a track featured on a hip hop blog – a track that generated over 7000 comments.

The one that got to me the most? A comment made on another photographer’s blog. At least they didn’t use my name, just my avatar…

Bottom line, if you ever see my avatar on a weirdly written comment, it’s probably not me…

Google Images

And if you want to run a search yourself? Go to Google, and click on Image Search – or click here.

See that little camera icon in the search field? Click on it, then click on Upload an Image, and upload your avatar. Google will then generate a list of some of the pages where that image appears. Hopefully most of the listings are for you!

Do you ego surf?

I do. I’ll admit it. And I bet you do too….

And sometimes I find cool stuff! Like today. I don’t know if it will last – Google has a tendency to make changes and adjust their results continually – so not everything sticks. But I’m sort of hoping this change sticks around! If you search for my name right now on Google, there are Image Results, right in the middle of the regular search results! Now, it may seem silly to get so excited over that – I mean, so what? So they included a few photos in the main search – big deal.

But in my world, it is sort of a big deal.

Google Results

I’m a photographer – so I want my images to show up when you search for my name – that’s a great thing! So that’s the practical reason why I care.

In the more ego-driven part of my mind, I care for entirely different reasons. As a former SEO Pro, I still am avidly interested in how Google presents their results – I notice when they add to, or change, or tweak their results, even slightly. And in the past I’ve only seen Image Results as shown above when you searched for fairly high-profile people. So when I saw the results for my name, I instantly started to search for my friend’s names, and guess what? I found nothing. Then I started to search for the names of people who are somewhat well-known in certain circles – other photographers with higher profiles than mine – and still found nothing. Then I searched for people with even bigger names, and still nothing. In other words, I may be the least famous person on Google with Image Results showing in the middle of the regular search results!

Why does that make me happy? Well it sort of tells me that while I’m no longer a practicing SEO Pro, what I’ve been doing is working – and that makes me super happy. It’s GREAT to see positive results come from your expertise!

Ego surfing is definitely the norm – make no mistake, everybody does it! And my fun new status may disappear tomorrow – I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it did – but for today, it’s a sign that I’m doing something right, and believe me, I’ll take it!

Free Promotional Offer for Web Site Owners

Clyana.com DirectoryIf you own a web site, I have an offer you might be interested in!

For this week only I’m offering a free listing in the Clyana.com Directory. Usually $25, the free promotion runs this week only, and ends at midnight on Friday, August 7th. If you’re at all interested in SEO then you know the value of links to your site – and now you can get one for free, if you act quickly.

Why am I doing this? Well the directory itself needs a little promotion! And it’s mid-summer, and it’s hot, and having a give-away sounds like fun! So go for it, and spread the word…

Click here to add your site to the Clyana.com Directory!

ETA: I got five new listings within a few minutes of posting this. Thanks guys!

RBL Rock Star: All-Stars

Back in July of 2006 I was lucky enough to get to go to the party MSN threw for Rock Star at the Roxy. Tommy Lee, Jason Newsted and Gilby Clarke were all there – and all the singers in the cast. That was the night that Dilana told me she loved ROCKBAND.COM and had been reading the posts before she left for the show, and she mentioned specifics that made me know she really had read it all!

The entertainment for the night was Dave Navarro’s band, The Panic Channel and my favorite band, the Lovehammers.

So the Lovehammers are finally up on stage, and it had been almost five months since I’d last seen them live, so I’m really looking forward to it. And then lead singer and season one contestant, Marty Casey, makes a comment about how he might have been better suited to the current season – which makes sense on the surface since his music is harder than INXS. So maybe he would have been a better fit on the year with the harder rocking band? And the crowd cheered and Tommy Lee nodded in agreement and the singers all clapped enthusiastically. Yeah, I can buy that.

But later I kept thinking about it, and Marty was the top vote-getter in season one. INXS chose JD Fortune to be their new lead singer, but the public made Marty the top vote-getter. You can’t really do better than that! So it got me thinking – what if they did a show with no band, and the winner truly was the popular vote-getter? It’s was an interesting premise. And guess what? The exact same thing happened in season two. Toby Rand was the top vote-getter, but Supernova wanted Lukas Rossi. I am ALL for the band choosing who they like best – no disagreements from me on that process! But it is still interesting to consider what would happen if there was no band.

In 2007 CBS failed to renew Rock Star, so at RBL we started the Big Letter Writing Campaign – and I believe we sent in a pile of mail. But still no more Rock Star. Then at the end of the year with the writer’s strike looming, it seemed like there was perhaps an opening to get Rock Star back into production. Plus I was looking for a little fun… So we cooked up RBL Rock Star: All-Stars! The premise was to pit the nineteen favorite singers from both seasons against each other in a competition that would last fourteen weeks, and with no band and no judges, it would be the people voting who would select the Ultimate Rock Star.

We’ve been watching videos and voting like crazy for fourteen weeks, and we’re now down to the finale week. And it’s been a blast! Our finalists are…

JD Fortune
JD Fortune from Canada, winner of season one and lead singer of INXS.

Toby Rand
Australia’s Toby Rand, the top vote-getter in season two, and lead singer for Juke Kartel.

/ Photo: Cheryl Spelts
And finally, the top vote-getter in season one, and lead singer of the Lovehammers, Marty Casey, from Chicago, Illinois.

If you have time on Sunday and Tuesday, stop by and vote! And write a letter to CBS – I want Rock Star back on my TV!

How did you get here?

I always get a kick out of the search terms people use to find this site. Most are of course photography-related – and there are a lot that are music or model-related as well. I also get hits for Trashing the Dress and Rock Star and INXS and Lukas Rossi – all of which I’d expect.

But then there are some just plain fun ones! Like all the people searching for a red clawfoot bathtub – who knew it was such a sought after item? I love mine – I mean I did blog about it! But there are dozens of people every month that find this blog, because they’re looking for a red tub. This last month I mentioned jack rabbits and mountain lions and I’m now getting hits related to that kind of wildlife. If that’s what you’re looking for – sorry! All I did was mention them, there’s not really much here on either animal. I also get hits for simple modern desk or a variation of that – and yeah, I do have one, but no photos of it posted yet.

But the most interesting to me this month are the searches for “sold rockband.com” or “rockband.com sold for” or “rockband.com domain name.” The game was released this month, and the domain name has been splashed all over the media and in their ads, so it’s no wonder there’s some interest right now. But wow! There are a lot of mighty curious people out there!

Right Brain vs Left Brain

This is the craziest thing – and very cool! In this fun little test, if you see the dancer moving clockwise, then supposedly you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

It says that most people will see it move counter-clockwise – which I find interesting. Evidently some people are also able to try to focus and change the direction. I wasn’t able to.

Oh, and their descriptions of both types are very good – they go a little deeper than the typical left brained are practical and right brained are emotional.

Can you guess which way I saw it turn?

I’ve Been Tagged!

The super-talented Denice Woyski tagged me over a week ago, and now I’m passing it on. It’s just for fun – list 8 things people probably don’t know about you, and then tag another 8 friends. It’s the Power of Eight!

Eight things about Cheryl

  • I’ve never been drunk or tried any drugs.
  • Despite my best efforts to simplify, I still own far too much clutter.
  • I love my iPhone despite the first bill I got, which was $2000.
  • I like a desk with NOTHING on it, except my monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  • I’m not over reality TV yet. I still love it!
  • I don’t own a convertible right now, and it’s really rough…
  • One of my favorite things is a room service cheeseburger at a $400 a night hotel!
  • I still have all my old darkroom equipment and will someday set it up again. I love silver!

I am tagging:

The real point of all this is to spread some link-love around and get Google to notice some of my friends…