Category Archives: Ryan Deiss

Keeping the Attention of Google

Everybody who wants to rank on the first page, has mastered the art of getting and more importantly keeping Google’s eyes on them.

When I say attention getting, if your website/blog was a bubble,  would it be like the mesmerizing  ones in the video, growing over time, people can’t just help interact with? or say a lonely beach ball half-flat sitting in the sand?

What does Google look for these days?

I’ve been studying several 5+Million a year SEO gurus (reading 3+ courses at the same time is good way to become an “instant expert” on a subject as people cover different ground!).  While all have the same goals:

  • get ranked,
  • get traffic,
  • get money

and many have identical mantras:

more links, more content, more links, more links… more links!

As you may know that Google has changed recently and some of what worked 6 months ago is no longer working quite as well. The kicker is that somethings still appear to work initially, then 2 months in your site has dropped off.

One of the newest factors is what I call “proof of life” in particular that google can see.  The good news is you may already be doing some of this already, but maybe not for the exact reason you think you should be doing it, or the reason Google wants you too.

What is proof of life?  basically your website is a building of sorts -like your home , you can consider it’s rooms are your pages, it’s halls and doorways are links between them.   But what good is a building without people inside it?  Google is wondering since they aren’t allowed typically to go in, is anybody home?  So they listen for the sound of foot traffic, the raised voices, the sites of lights going on and off, the doors opening and closing, with people coming and going.  This evidence are what Google considers “proof of life”, and makes a home a home!

As omniscient as Google is marketed to be, Google can’t see very much really. Since they don’t own your site, they aren’t allowed to go inside unless you invite them (rightfully so).

Parked out in front of the house,  they can see people going in the front door..or sneaking in a side window, often they can’t see them leave through the back be it in disgust or full and happy.    They can’t see the party going on in the living room.   Even though on the floor plan the master closet is bigger than the bathroom, they can’t tell the later is way more important (regardless of what women say…).

Worse when driving down the street looking at one house after another,  they can’t tell the guy who’s on permanent vacation with the home automation  that turns the lights and stereo on/off, sprinklers to keep the plants alive, from the couch potato who is actually home but comatosed on the couch.   From the street they can only go with what they see on the surface.

Google wants to asses each site right,  as they want to see proof that you take care of the traffic they send you, it costs them a lot to get those eyeballs and in the right hands it is worth a lot of money.  There are also many thousands of others wanting to get the precious few 10 spots.  It’s no longer good enough to just get content and some links as that’s what most everybody else is doing.

Show Google you know how to abide by their rules, know how to throw a continual party, demonstrate to take care of people and keep them coming back for more, they give you a good quality score.  Contrarily if they see a big empty lifeless vacated building you get a low quality score no matter how impressive it looks, how much marble and gold and how much you attempt to pay them.   In paid traffic this is you may have heard of the “Quality Score” same thing now matters for SEO as the PPC world and SEO have ALREADY merged.

Let’s take an example.

Two people searches for the latest Harry Potter book, Google shows them a bunch of pages which have been out for awhile, they hope are what the user wants one of these is Amazon.com, the other is HarryPotterBooks.com

First user clicks through Amazon.com and see the paperback at this point google can no longer see what’s going on, the user is in the private proprietary world of Amazon.com’s store.   The end user decides like many others to get the brand new limited edition hardback version instead, which ideally they would have liked found first. Google and we would love to have that happen but it can’t see that, as it’s not allowed inside.

Second user clicks through HarryPotterBooks.com which has Google Analytics on it’s pages, and finds the same paperback and the same ad for the hardback. So clicks through to that second page. This time Google sees that and the hundreds of other people that day who did the exact same thing and starts boosting that hidden hardback book in the search engines.  Eventually because it has the HarryPotter in the domain name it eventually beats Amazon.com for that search term, despite Amazons awesome brand power and bazillions of backlinks, primarily as Google can see that the inner “hidden” page has value to real people by evidence of the repeat traffic to it.

NOTE: you shouldn’t put trademarked terms in domain names unless you get permission or like cease+desist letters from lawyers.

In order to see this Google has to see this traffic via it’s “eyes and ears”

I think most people think of Google like a giant brain.  Did you know Google had eyes and ears too?

You may already use these sources for your own purposes, then if so, congratulations you are ahead of the game!    What you may not have known is Google is watching those too to keep an eye on you! (whether you want them too or not).  This is to be able to find the people creating crap sites with no value, from the ones creating real value.

These poweful tools have cost millions to develop, the best part is that these are all free to use as theyare subsidized by google, as both you and Google need the same data to make heads or tails of your site doing well or not.
Google Analytics is direct sensing the viewers entering each room.  The javascript based, cookies can see people coming back multiple times, see if people are spending lots of time.  Spending time or not, they can even track what parts of a video are watched most often.
Feedburner is basically it helps keep google in touch with what’s going on in your world.  Be instantly notified when things changed on your site as they change, rather then them having to go door to door.

By signing up for feedburner, wordpress automatically notifices it when things (new content, changed content, comments etc)happen. This entrices the google search bot back to revist your site other wise it might not get back for weeks or months.

Unlike other rss aggragators, google can see the number of subscribers and the changes to subscribers this is another form of relevance..are people listening talking about or even stalking you?
Alexa is a 3rd party that they can hear the sound of footsteps across the internet. Alexa looks at the ISP traffic to get a first hand feel of the pulse going across the wire, to know say that AOL has more people than a small college ISP and that people on AOL like walmart, and college kids like facebook etc.  Like analytics they want you to claim your site is yours with a special

UPDATE this correction from Jonathan Van Clute, thanks Jonathan!

JONATHAN: Alexa as far as I know, only knows about
traffic that has the Alexa toolbar installed.  That’s why its data is
always so damn screwy and skewed towards internet marketing stuff,
because it’s mostly IMers who install the toolbar.

TROY:  You’re right!   I did a check and none of the various Alexa/compete have direct access to the traffic, thus use browser plugins to sample this data hoping to generalize and extrapolate to the whole web. This has limits.   All the Alexa/Compete/ are far from the actual pulse of data that say mobile networks and ISP’s see, which I’m sure google will eventually find a way to have anonymous access to.  Can’t help but wonder if that’s why they are also part interested in OS Android/etc.

Alexa is also owned by Amazon not Google doh!

How to keep Google’s Attention?

  • The fundamentals are more important than ever. Links are still important, content is still important.
    • with millions of pages, you need more links, higher quality keyword rich links and relevant links from relevant pages to relevant targets.
    • you still need a base of original valuable content that is well structured to catch keyword traffic. It’s not enough to write about whatever you want as that’s what 100,000 are doing the exact same thing.
  • Google needs proof of life on your website. This is a new one. Websites are living breathing creatures, Google wants to see proof of life with their own eyes and ears (google analytics, alexa, feedburner).  So signup for those services and get it integrated on your sites (you shouldn’t have anything to hide right?) When you start dipping in rankings, or just starting out get traffic anyway BUY your way or BRIBE your way, paid or not, until google is convinced you are still living and have value.
  • Constant content of value, again websites are living growing creatures, they should grow and change.  This isn’t too hard – 2-8 new articles/posts a month or more just enough keywords, outsource this if you have to. The better you do at this, the less you need to rely on tricks or hacks that stop working to get all you want.
  • Be human!, casual conversational even controversial as at the end of the day the net is all about people talking, thinking, linking and clicking! websites are a conversation just captured on the web, keep the conversation going!

Why Proof of Life became necessary and is way of the future.

As you know understanding what makes search engines tick can be worth millions or even billions and in this economy the difference between food on the table and rent paid, from no job. For shrewd/smart people it also means the difference from living the “internet” lifestyle with no job to working in some oppressive 9-5 work environment, with crappy commutes, bastard bosses, lame coworkers.

The web is largely machines trying to sort filter the mess of people scribbling whatever pops into mind at any given moment, that the web is.

Since it’s a machine, it can be fooled, so what has also happened is shrewed people have gamed and/or spammed every loophole they could so that Google would be “tricked” into getting better rankings to get big paychecks, with no real care for sustainability.

This unfortunately created a lot of disposable crap sites, that people like us hated. Google had to evolve defenses and grow more sophisticated to defend itself.

In the beginning backlinks were all that mattered (that’s what Google’s PageRank patent is about), Now links can be manufactured or gotten by the 10 of thousands via numerous legitimate or spammy ways. Obviously Google spends a massive amount of time walking over those links one by one so wants as few of them and as high quality of them as possible, but how do you tell if it’s a good link or not?

Links with relevant keywords in the anchor text were better than no words but still not much information there to know if the millions of people linking with the keyword “dog training” are good links or bad links.

Looking at the contents of the page would help, which took quite a bit of brainpower as that meant Google had to start reading the webpage much as you do, looking for “good”, “relevance”, “value” which can’t easily be measured objectively as Google being a machine doesn’t get. With the endless stream of pages this also is very expensive to process.

Really at the end it’s really about content right? we spend most time reading rather than clicking. Google figured this unlike links is also harder to fake, as it cost money and time to create good content. So they changed algorithms to focus on content.

But google isn’t a human, it can’t really understand much.  So content too was gamed and automated by smart people. By techniques of spinning content and ripping from others via data feeds and searches, it’s easy to create thousands of sites without any original content (aka autoblogs).  While this isn’t 100% bad, as some sites (e.g. newspapers) also use datafeeds (e.g. associated press)

This also gave rise to hundreds of thousands of crap sites, just enough structure to clumsily rank for a term, almost no content to qualify for adsense ads.  Basically a adsense classified ads.   However this is largely google’s fault as they incentivized this entire industry, and probably aren’t too put out as they have made billions off of it.   But still it’s gotten out of hand.

Even without the spam sites, with 100,000+ to millions of pages, having good content isn’t good enough to stand out.  So Google upgraded their content requirements again: now to be considered a serious player you need to also have a matching keyword rich domain name, and various other organization that makes it easy for Google to digest and understand your whole site.   Thankfully these things that are built into WordPress like tags and categorization..you again get for free and a little effort while posting.

Basically domain names are a part of content gauntlet. Getting new or aged is expensive and only a finite number of them exist.   You should think of the domain name as a part of your paid strategy and most probably should be looking into having more than one domain/site to reach all the keywords that are relevant, as the farther away from the main domainkeyword the harder it is to rank well. This tactic is are called by others feeder sites and is a more intermediate to advanced SEO trick.

This is basically where we are this year.

So where can Google go from here? what’s left.

We all generally want a smarter web, so we all find what exactly we want faster, as the problems get exponentially harder as you get up there. it’s easy to add to 10 with fingers, easy to multiple triple digits on a calculator, apparently next to impossible to balance the national debt.

For links you may have heard of the famous Travelling Salesman problem?  Wiki describes it as

Given a list of cities and their pairwise distances, the task is to find a shortest possible tour that visits each city exactly once.

Google has to deal with problems that are massively more complex every second of every day. As unlike the travelling salesman, google ‘s map grows massively everyday

Part of Google’s job is to travel every link it can across every webpage it can, grading and keeping score add up in a popularity contest who has the most legitimate links.   This is hard work! the more links that are added just finding your way around becomes…impossible.  The more chance for endless loops or no right answer to be found or at least at a affordable cost as there are bazillions of pages and links constantly coming in and being removed every second.

Even with Google’s massive resources, the web is much bigger than they are and growing exponentially. We are actually just at the dawn of the web.   Google already spends huge amounts on electrical power beyond many cities ability to supply, bazillions of computers to process all this data and PC’s are only so fast. There is only so much sense google can afford to make out of this never ending tangle of links so it takes shortcuts when it can.

Content-wise same difficult issues.   Google is at the core a machine, and while that machine is created by some of the brightest on the planet, Google bots still don’t get knock knock jokes, they can’t get the emotional truth of a song lyric and aren’t likely to anytime soon.  Even if google were perfect, there are limits to what google or *any of us* can do without more “real” data, take 1000 YouTube comments on Lady’s Gaga’s latest video saying “I love this song!” .  How do you tell if they are real or faked as they look the same!

Solving these are hard to potentially impossible problems with current hardware, and there is no likely breakthroughs for decades as they are that hard, some have been around for almost 100 years!

But as the web grows we still need a way to sort the 10 best out of the millions of possible contenders. You need to explore this proof of life to compete..it’s one of the few methods left and most aren’t using it strategically!

If you are aiming to get results SEO or PPC ask yourself if an how Google can see ALL your content activity and that of your viewers as it happens, to keep Google coming back for more. Show them your site is bustling with life. They will reward you for it.

So what do you think about this “proof of life”?

I know some feel that being transparent is evil, and in someways it is, it can in some cases allow your competitors to spot you in the crowd, and in any competitive niche, being #1 is like having a target painted on the back of your head to take you down.

UPDATE: I’ve had one SEO Guru tell me privately that so far he has 0 proof that this “proof of life” is a ranking factor, and has some sites that rank #1 by quality links alone with no measurable activity from google.

I think it’s inevitable though that the web heads this direction.    With content and links being gamed and limits in there’s basically nowhere for Google to go by purely content and link approaches in deciding what is good and what is not. It has to measure activity, see proof of real human life.

Going to use it? if not why not? Sound off in the comments.

http://www.google.com/analytics/

Traffic and Conversion Summit Wrapup and Shocking News

TroyNotes, straight shooting in Texan shirt
TroyNotes, straight shooting in brand spakin' new Texan shirt...you should see the size of the belt buckle

Howdy Yall <–heavy Texan accent.

Right now I’m in Austin, unwinding after the amazing weekend at Perry Belcher and Ryan Deiss‘s Traffic and Conversion Summit. I wanted to Welcome the new people I met this weekend thanks for dropping by, and for those of you who didn’t go get you a brief update and share a few ninja or is that cowboy tidbits.

If you didn’t make it, sucks to be you.  Probably $25K+ worth of  information were presented this weekend, for some of us next to free, and there were some tips I’ve never heard anywhere including some real doozies submitted by audience members today, that took even Perry and Ryan back.

I’m going to use R+P from now to refer to Big Bear and Little Bear …er little Napolean, er Ryan and Perry.

The No BullSh!t  MiniReview – Traffic Conversion Summit

blue paper binder
The Texan sized organizational system

Sadly this is going to have to be a short review..there isn’t actually a repeat product, and none of you will get to see it, it’s more to let you know what happened.

A 3 day 100% content, pitch free, R+P only event?

That’s how the event was sold.   Definitely some Bullsh!t there.

First there WERE pitches:

  • a small 14 person $25K mastermind group P&R are putting together..not aggressively pitched but still a pitch. They should have made that known before hand, it might have been a selling point.
  • $200-$300 DVD copies of the 3 days audio and video,  only available to attendees and not for sale uncut…there are some Perry uncut moments which were hella funny. This is a reasonable cost, would prefer download, but I understand.
  • a plug for Infusionsoft and a few other vendors, but here it gets tricky…if you use a tool heavily and there’s not any other option on the market, is that a pitch?   R+P have a self proclaimed “frankenstein” approach, I was blown away at how many systems they use.
  • The worst pitches actually came from the audience, there should be a no pitch policy from attendees.  Some attendees I thought abused mic privledges..multiple long pitches while up, and religious ones, rambling on, please be respectful.

but on the scale of pitchfestness these almost didn’t register, at say 2-4% .

Perry & Ryan & US in a locked room together… with the lights dimmed.

Second it said only Perry and Ryan would be speaking.  Not true either, there was 1 other standalone speaker on CPV networks (which I’d never heard of…but very cool, if scary if you get wrong) and probably 3-6 other assists, including some enlighting time with Ryan’s implementation team which was somewhat  spontaneous.  There was a good section on offline marketing and some impressive stats when using these approaches effectively.

Drinking from the Firehose 3 days x 9am-7pm…

3 days of tasty information overload
3 days of tasty information overload

That’s how it was pitched.  Which immediately triggered, a bit of fear…that’s a lot time and info to focus. A tiny bit of bullsh!t.  We ended at 1pm on Sunday. Got started late.

Still this was true in spirit, there was so much information we went over every day it overflowed, and will still be having a long webinar and a video to cover the things we couldn’t get to today. Like customer stick rate and the mysterious “Weapon”

Sometimes bigger is not better.  My biggest concern about big multiday long seminars is wondering how much of the material that will be retained or can acted on once home.  My experience with most events is the take away is very low, especially if there are multiple fast speakers.   Even if your taking detailed notes as fast as I.

However they did several great tactics definitely worth cloning  in your seminars, to maintain attention and tack comprehension. These I can share, use them!

4 Tips to explode seminar attendees attention and take away.

These are excellent strategies used by R+P.

Eliminate Interference Just like taking off an in an airline. Have them turn off cellphones and laptops, encourage peer pressure so nobody has a laptop open. Email and web surfing are huge attention busters…

Do frequent breaks so people can get their coffee, net, nicotine fix as well as feed them sugar

Prenote Take notes for them ahead of time.  Like use this printout to make taking notes for your audience 4x easier.

they printed out all the slides like this.

Effective prenoted slide thumbnails and room to write notes on the side
Effective prenoted slide thumbnails and room to write notes on the side

With the slide thumbnail on the left and several lines to jot notes on, about 6 per page, amazingly most the slides were perfectly readible at that size. Except for some white text on yellow background which is 100% readable exactly nowhere and drawing lines to point out important features on screenshots.

Give an action item page and hot tips. Basically a single page each for people to summarize key stuff, and keep it from getting lost in 100’s of pages of notes.

They offered relatively low cost unedited versions of the event in a non-downloadable version for attendees which is great. By day 3 my head was already full so I missed a ton.  It would be even better if they had a transcription of the event so it can be skimmed.

Timed Delivery just like coated asprin. One of the most subtle tips is they handed out the printouts  for the section right before the presentation. While this was somewhat a break in the flow it kept people from jumping forward and not paying attention, diminishing overload, and somewhat of an icebreaker when people were handing things out. Same trick works in continuity programs.

Rotate speakers. having multiple speakers with different styles helps keep peoples attention and on long breaks like this, keep people from burning their voice out.  Ryan and Perry are perfect, almost like good cop and bad cop. They play off each other well.

Oh and deliver good content, and allow people to ask questions and raise objections is huge at keeping people’s attention.

The resultant focus was so intense you could hear the audience turn the pages of notes at the same time!

Unanimous Standing Ovations

Perry and Ryan setout to create an unsurpassed value and totally overdeliver and pulled it off into  standing ovation territory.

Standing ovations can be cliche, and generally being contrarian, I don’t feel compelled to join the crowd.  However I’ve put on seminars of this scale and it was amazingly smooth. Most people will not appreciate how hard it is to make it look this easy AND record it AND order stuff.  There were a few camera and remote control glithes, minor details, but they are par for the course.  When it came to thank Perry + Ryan,  and the options were, clap or stand or scream, I chose a and b, and I was one of the first ones up.

It’s the  things you can’t predict that make going to these events so exciting.  I have  P+R’s stuff already from the solid and cheap get money from google system which has most of their products which I know reasonably well. I expected far less new information. For every hour of material there are onionskins peeled back, revealing of  insights and tactics they never put into courses.  The candid nature of talking about vendors, who’s good bad etc is something that usually costs seriously tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in testing and headaches

I’m pretty sure this would be an IM  event of the year,  how often do you get the peek behind the curtain of guru’s actually making money in action?  Unreserved access for 3 days to interrupt them while presenting with questions.  The use of  the nifty named things like  “The machine”  was just 1 of about 12 specific new invaluable things I learned, each of them alone being worth the trip. I’m so excited to start putting these things into action…and improving on them in a few cases.

One of the shocking and sad things is that this will be the last seminar like this for awhile..possibly ever. Unlike most Guru’s and one of the reasons I like them, is  Perry and Ryan actually make more money of the real niche businesses than the do the IM training business, and since they haven’t touched those businesses in 6 months or more and have many new tricks will be returning to focusing on their biggest money makers and turning of the lights on new product creation for an unknown period of time.

2 Instant Businesses created FOR me in 4 hours.

Talk about Shock and Awe, I basically dropped everything I came to the conference with and came home with  not 1 but 2 *Instant* businesses mostly created for me.   This is how I feel:

Playing Texan sized guitar, in Austin music capital
Playing Texan sized guitar, in Austin music capital

Once backends in place, both are easily million dollar a year businesses, and eventually way way more and much better than the products I’ve been working on for awhile.

Friday my top product in development were:

  1. Infoproduct Health And Vanity
  2. Infoproduct Productivity
  3. Infoproduct Weight Loss

Today it looks like

  1. New Application
  2. New Info product

My mastermind group is going to be so confused shifting gears 😉

This was despite by best efforts at being a wall flower. Counter intuitivelyI ended up landing new amazing connections and new opportunities.

  • Intimate Dinner for 2,with the $80 Million Dollar Man. .. and he paid for it. Wait that came out wrong, rather trying to keep things on the cheap while I dump 110% of my funds into products dev. However If I were into believing in Fate, this would be one of those supporting cases.     I got there late the first day opting to take the bus, and of the 300 seats only a couple were left.  Like guided by traffic cops,  I got directed to the right side with a few pointed arms, and waved to sit down next to a fellow we shall name R.  During the breaks we got to talking, turns out we are about the same age in internet marketing.  Existing in parallel universes he in the business world and I in the tech+creative. We hit it off so well, we spent probably 5 hours tag teaming helping each other’s business from our vantage points.  Ironically both of us are not prone to socializing.   I discovered later he runs about a dozen corporations, just one that does $80 million a year spread across paintball to freight logistics, and has a vast amount of passion and experience he loves sharing it.  There were 300 people in that room, talk about luck!
  • Instant Business,. R and I got to talking about one of his new projects a Millionaire Support Group, and he got a little stuck trying to market it.  I have several tools in my content creation framework, I pulled out one of my favorites called Aida’s Aces, a checklist system for creating marketing campaigns for personality based businesses which fit perfectly for what he was needing.  I ran through the I’Do’m mindset activator right before, walked him through it and he loved it.  The lightbulb in his head immediately lit up, and he then proceeded to exploded that single nugget it into a massive industry I was kinda blown away.. much as the inventor of post it notes is probably blown away by how many are sold.  Just not something that occurred to me that is a huge business..in addition if he said I’d make it into a product has the network to get it out to them. And creating that product would only take me a couple of weeks due to my high standards.
  • How I landed a JV deal with Ryan Deiss with no list, no connections, and no real product. That would totally sound like internet marketing crap but it’s crazily true.   Let me summarize,
    • Saturday morning I had nothing, not even an intention of changing course.
    • Saturday afternoon I had a new idea from using the I’Do’m on the presentation and just listening. Opportunities pop up all the time if you listen for them.
    • Saturday evening I had a viable working prototype…Admitedly this is because I’ve very good at this sort of thing.  I’m going to keep things quiet for now as to what it is.
    • I create a demo video, I took word pad to create some ‘slides’ and used Jing to create a short 2 minute video, as real software always breaks in first demo, I swapped between wordpad and the playback to do the title sections no editing other than pausing Jing, how’s that for ghetto?
    • Sunday afternoon I presented the audio version to the crowd in an Ninja tricks section, which got Ryan’s attention, and gave my email out after the benefit had been established.
    • Sunday late afternoon I had both a invitation from Ryan to have him do a mailing for me on it when it’s done, and one of Ryan’s team essentially design the next version of the product for me, use their many products as beta test with me (proof!), and give me a price point.  *BAM*

This shows creating products is easy and doesn’t have to be complicated, just listen to what people *really* want, look for holes in what’s out there or ways to make things better or  faster or easier or cheaper, and can be made inexpensively and in time.  Tap into pain points and enthusiasm of your core audience, interview them, if you ask the right questions and they will often amaze you with the insights of what they want and what they don’t want,

In more potential fun, one of the books at the hostel lending library is perfect for an iphone app. ..and it’s mostly pictures and almost doesn’t make sense as a book.  4 PhD’s created it, free and out of print. Same idea, different medium.

Back to Los Angeles in 12 hours.

At the hostel I’m staying at, Beatles “Come Together” is playing, perfect theme….everything truly is coming together at a far more rapid rate than I had imagined.  Needless to say I’m ecstatic about all that’s transpired.   So I went out to celebrate, Guinness + skeeball, cafe’s, live music, wandering around downtown Austin, so many things to experience

Truly wierd seeing tie dye shirts in Texas and not Berkeley
Truly wierd seeing tie dye shirts in Texas and not Berkeley

Austin is a weird town, half of it is partying and half of it is closed on Saturday and more so on Sunday.  Wandering in and out of stores, I ended up getting a killer if slightly loud texan shirt as a souvenir.

Heavy rock is everywhere here, the cab driver on the way back had DevilDriver cranked up and pointed me to a video of the largest mosh pit 3500 people and propellor hair spinning (watch it). Tripppy

It feels good to be heading home to LA tomorrow.  Rock on!

Be sure to check out the TroyNotes special report Rock’n Austin 2009

be happier than this dog, download the TroyNotes special report
be happier than this dog, download the TroyNotes special report