John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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“We’re part of a much larger conversation”

Yeah, so am I. I’m part of a really large conversation called the Internet. Am I the only one in SEO world staring in disbelief at ClaimID, which turned a third-party links page for SEO into a Web 2.0 business?

If you’re not a search person, skip the rest of this. It might be misleading. You may misread it for cynicism or think I am being negative. Please leave now and don’t allow yourself to be so deceived. But if you understand search, what the heck is ClaimID? Third party links page a-la Bruce Clay circa 2001, but executed overtly and as a business model? Bottom feeding on people with very unique names, who think this is the answer to their SEO/PR problem, and listing the faithful as “favorite examples in the wild“? Look at those names…Brian Benzinger, Stowe Boyd, Ottmar Liebert, Alex Muntada, Patrick Cormier, Derek Punsalan. It doesn’t get much more unique than some of these. They can rank themselves with a small handful of links… internals even! It’s not like their non-web offline citizens… these are all bloggers!

Link bait sure, but as a company? Building a community of followers, sure, but ones who could be enlightened with a pen light? At first I thought it was a back door way to build a resume site, but there are too many blog posts, dutifuly commented by The Creators, for a bait ‘n switch like that. This is a pea green and light blue, rounded-corner grab at something for sure. But what?

Yeah yeah, I know. I just don’t get it. Save the wild card elastic claus for somebody else, I get it just fine. It encourages users to link to a page on *ClaimID* as the definitive reference for their own identity, instead of their own page on their own domain. Nice. Like selling ice at the North Pole, I guess. It’s a business as long as somebody buys.

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4 Responses to ““We’re part of a much larger conversation””

  1. Fred Says:

    All of this hand waving and yes, you don’t really get it. ClaimID isn’t a SEO company…any SEO effects are simply happy side effects of the nature of linking on the internet. ClaimID is a way to get people started managing their identity. Perhaps you don’t know this, but not everyone has a blog, or a website, or a johnon.com URL. Lots of people have stuff online about them and they don’t have any way to speak for that content. ClaimID is about contextualization, not personal SEO (please see the companies that actually do personal SEO if you want to rail against that.)

    We clearly state that ClaimID is in the same league as services like del.icio.us or flickr - a site that serves to let us easily aggregate stuff that is about us online. I should check your archive for a post against how people don’t need del.icio.us because browsers have bookmarks, right? I’m kidding you but I think you should step back and look at the bigger picture.

    The bigger picture is this. We don’t have identity figured out - not us, not the brilliant geniuses at Microsoft or Google, not the heads of the identity company - noone. We’re still learning, testing, trying stuff out. ClaimID is an experiement along those lines. Apparently you didn’t delve into the service to see how it supports OpenID, MicroID, link status checking, caching and a whole host of other things that are actually useful. Your link list is just a small part of the service, but I have a feeling that’s about as far as you cared to go.

    Oh yes - and about those names we chose - we didn’t select them because of their names. We selected them because they were people we knew, people who had created cool ClaimID pages, or people who had blogged about us. It was a way of saying thanks, not anything sinister.

    Anyway, back to our hand waving….

    [Editor: 6 additional comment spams from fred deleted]

  2. john andrews Says:

    I knew I wouldn’t get it. You didn’t need to post those other 6 spams, though Fred. I’m not spamming your site. If it’s the trackbacks, well, you need to manage those, ok?

    Bottom line appears to be that ClaimID is about something that’s not defined yet… ID of some kind. Yes, I have followed OpenID and now MicroID… for quite some time. I also SEO for ‘vanity searches” for select clients. But you put ClaimID into the search space, and proposed it as a way to manage identity on the web as represented by search engines. When you decided to do that, YOU put ClaimID into the realm of search engine spam, not me. Google defines such efforts as SPAM, by the way.

    My issue was with the representation that ClaimID is a good thing to do to manage SEARCH exposure, which is not quite accurate in my opinion. In fact, it runs counter to best practice for managing your appearance in search engines (because it hands control over to you.. another third party). It’s also beneficial to you and the claimID domain; sort of a double whammy for your users.

    The concept of third-party links pages as an SEO method is fine.. we even talk about it on this blog. ClaimID can be part of that. If I do that, as a user of ClaimID, will you call that “spamming claimID”?

  3. Fred Says:

    No, this is what I’m talking about:

    http://www.threadwatch.org/node/8465?from=90&comments_per_page=90

    You write a negative post about ClaimID, and then later that day show up promoting a newly-created false page about Danny Sullivan.

    Its one thing to be critical of the service, that I can deal with. But when you use the service to attack another person, that riles me up.

    Now on another tangent of ClaimID being search engine spam…hardly. ClaimID is a page of links, which Google doesn’t consider spam. If you look at all of our pivot points we’ve placed nonfollow/noindex - we actually know what we’re doing and we’re playing nice.

    I think I’ve addressed the rest of this.

  4. john andrews Says:

    Fred: Thanks for posting meaningful and thoughful comments.

    That threadWatch post re: Danny Sullivan was not an “attack”. Danny is a high-profile and much loved member of the search community, and I can assure you the playful SEO stuff in that ThreadWatch thread is no attack. In fact, I am pretty sure I introduced your ClaimID to a fairly large audience with that “exemplary use” of ClaimID. I did so in perfect context - a demonstration of how your service exists for situations *exactly* like the one presented there: a person desiring to manage his identity in the face of seach-influencing activity on the web. Checkit again.. nothing derogatory about it at all except perhaps the fact that it could easily be hijacked (which I did not point out nor acknowledge, although I could have). That’s a classic ID issue, isn’t it? Non repudiation? Authetication?

    By the way, Google says that anything done specifically to influence search rankings is spam. Yes, I agree that’s too much to swallow, but it’s the Word from Google nonetheless. Do you *not* expect Google to address your ClaimID pages as spam when you promote them as a way to influence search rankings?

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