Search Engine Optimizers (SEOs) concern themselves with monetization. Monetization can include AdSense, but usually the SEO is not too concerned with AdSense because AdSense pays so little. However, once the webmaster is dedicated to monetizing with AdSense, a whole genre of SEO kicks into gear. A Made For AdSense (MFA) site is a very unique beast, and can be quite profitable. Google even gives training classes for optimizing sites for AdSense. One of the popular MFA topics these days is free ringtones.
Archives for July 2006
I’m pretty tired of seeing so many otherwise intelligent people say that if you want to SEO get a standard blog platform and write good titles, use keywords, etc. At least one high-profile
failed ex-SEO even tells bloggers they don’t need SEO (and then tells them to do all that SEO stuff on their blogs).
I’m not one to give away free advice when that advice provides a competitive advantage. That is dumb, and if you think anyone is doing that you just don’t see the other angle from which they are approaching the issue (raising their own profile because their tactics no longer work and they need business, or seeking clients because they like to do client work more than they like to do SEO, or priming the market for a tool that makes it easy to do an otherwise unprofitable task, or perhaps misleading the masses to preserve a competitive edge, etc). I especially don’t give away good advice to people I don’t respect.
That said I will say this: Google knows you’re a blogger.
If that doesn’t bother you, go ahead and continue relying on your blogging platform to get you rank. Go ahead building sites that are exactly the same as everyone else’s, and expecting to rank above them (huh?) It’ a content game… oh, wait a sec, it’s a popularity game, no… it’s a search-engine-friendly-platform game, or is it… no, wait… yeah. That’s right. Blogging is all about ego and popularity, and Google knows that. Google is playing that game. Google knows you’re a blog because it is trivial to see a blog when compared to a “regular” web site.
Agan, if that doesn’t worry you, you are not an SEO and you are not competitive. That’s ok, because if you are making money off of bloggers who don’t get it, you want that to be the case. If they “got it”, they wouldn’t follow you, would they? Remember that prior point about misleading the masses…
Go ahead, search for something. Look for the blogs. Look hard, and you too, will see the pattern. Search something else…look for the blogs. Uh huh. See?
Now if you run dozens of test sites across the major CMS platforms (like I do) and even more blogs and “regular websites” and watch them in the Google and Yahoo! SERPs, you would have known this already. But would you have done anything about it? Not if you’re a blogger. For bloggers, it’s all about the blog, and ME, and MY FRIENDS, and MY TRAFFIC.
Take a look at that blog traffic. Does it convert for anything except satisfying your ego and causing clicks on AdSense? Not really. It is so-calld “long tail” stuff that converts for the low-value opportunities in contextual advertising and affiliate sales. It is *not* the traffic that converts for brick and mortar retail products and high-ticket items. Search Google for “new BMW” or “BMW seat covers” or “BMW accessories” and you don’t see blogs. Some people say that’s because those searches are competitive and use real hard-core seo that is “spammy”. Bah. Look at them and you’ll see that’s not true. Work in that niche and you’ll see it’s not so competitive. Google has it under control. Those are profitable commercial searches. Bloggers don’t get those.
Can you get around the controls? Sure. Blog incessantly on popular gadgets or incessantly and in-depth on a very specific aspect of a niche (high end audio, for example) and the combination of trendiness and depth of content will overcome much of the control imposed by Google…until there is strong competition. But is that cost effective? Not usually. It takes a ton of work, a half dozen or more substantial content items per day, and significant audience management. And perhaps even a better question, once you have all that investment in keeping up on that front, will the blog platform be holding you back? Sure it will. You should see most successful blog networks re-deploying on custom code bases pretty soon for that reason.
Google knows you’re a blog, so if you think bloggers don’t need SEO it just means you think bloggers only need blog traffic, whatever that is. Since Google defines that, you’re a pawn in the search game, no? That’s not SEO.
Mark Cuban asks for ideas on getting people to go see a movie in his post “The Movie Business Challenge“. I have some ideas, but they are not brilliant ideas. They are basic concepts of business. I think his assumption that people don’t want to go see movies is flawed. They do. Or at least I want to go to movies. And my family does. And most of my friends do. So why don’t we?
Well, partly because the movies suck. But I even want to go to a sucky movie sometimes, for the fun of it. I sat almost half way through Lara Croft: Tomb Raider because I really really really needed to escape from my environment for a few hours and just immerse myself in something different. That movie was truly aweful. Lucky for me after I left that theatre I wandered into School of Rock and caught almost the whole thing. That was a good movie.
Mark Cuban asks:
How do you get people out of the house to see your movie without spending a fortune. How can you convince 5 million people to give up their weekend and go to a theater to see a specific movie without spending 60mm dollars.
You do that by making it safe, for one. I can’t send my kids to the movies because it’s not safe for them to go alone (even together). If it were safe and the movies were good, they’d go often. OFTEN.
You also can do that by making it respectful. To offer me a fountain coke for $6 is to disrespect me. Ditto for an $8 box of popcorn. And a theatre that is not much bigger than my home theater? With seemingly uncontrolled audio levels and air conditioning? Or how about when the movie next door bleeds into your movie… completely inexcusable business practices.
And while we are on the topic of respect, how about the 20-30 minutes of commercials? And the product placements! Tody’s theaters seat so few comfortably, you have to arrive early to get a decent seat and then sit through all that nonsense. You know you’re being nickel and dimed. Nobody likes that. It’s disrespectful.
So sorry about the lack of originality Mark but I honestly believe you simply need to improve the movie theater if you want movie goers. We stand in long lines on opening night because we want to BE THERE, sharing the limelight of opening night, seeing neighbors further back in the line, and telling stories the next day about the new movie we saw last night. After that, wait for the DVD. Going to the movie theater is simply not a fulfilling entertainment experience.
I have lectured more than one person on Google specificity this year, but I can only suppose I’m not a good lecturer because nobody wants to believe me. Read my lips: Google wants to pigeon hole your page. Accept it, find the trust, and exploit it. A fool with conviction is an easier mark than a fool on the fence.
So today I noticed Google sending me traffic for a composite query “Christine Dolce video caps”. I used to call it “latent semantic imaging” but nowadays I just call it Google nonsense. Look how hard Google is working to satisfy this very specific user query “Christine Dolce video caps“:
johnon.comThese screen caps are from a proxy out of the US East Coast. … Christine Dolce nude no photo and no video. Christine Dolce Nude no photograph …
www.johnon.com/define/christine–dolce-naked – 31k – Jul 26, 2006 – Cached – Similar pages
That’s SERP 1, item #3 after #2 was indented. So the second most relevant result was created by Google out of the context of my page. Clever Google edited the content to create that nice snippet that genuinely appears to be about Christine Dolce video caps on my site.
We’ve had this debate before ealier this year. Someone said we SEOs no longer deceive Google, but instead deceive users (via baiting and such) and it’s the users that convince Google of the relevance. I call BS. Lookie here… Google is so keen on specificity it will even fabricate a snippet to achieve the appearance of a relevant result (and then serve it up at the top of the SERPs as well).
Needless to say this shit doesn’t convert. It’s good for no one but MFA publishers and porn sites.
On the web you get to pick your audience. If you are brick & mortar, and you move online, your audience is defined for you. But Internet pure-plays like, oh, say a blogger self-help site, get to pick their audience. Look at the blogger community as a pie, and grab a slice.
So do you want to go after the nicey-nicey bloggers? The newbies? The upper-crusty bloggers? Or maybe the nasty, cult-like ones. Your choice. Pick your poison. And if you have a personality that matches your selected audience, you should do well in serving them.
One caveat that comes to mind today though, is that it is pretty damn hard to hide your true self when you blog. The more you hide it, the less credible you are for your audience. Nobody likes a poser. They’ll rat you out eventually.
What if you don’t hide it, but try and keep it under wraps? Like, pretend you hate bloggers, but want to monetize an audience of bloggers? Pretend you built out a web site to cater to bloggers, and you try and keep your true dislike for them under wraps. I say that will never work.
Every time you slip and reveal a wee bit of that negativity, someone in your audience will identify with that and give you some positive feedback..some positive reinforcement for it. “Dude, you are right about that”. Since most everyone else in the community let that little error of negativity slip (while noting it for the record for later re-evaluation of their trust in you, by the way), the only feedback you got was a reinforcement for the negativity. That stuff starts to work on you. We all need reinforcement.
Over time I guarantee your audience will devolve into an audience of like-minded people. The positive ones will move on, because they pick up on the bad vibe and prefer not to experience it. The others, the ones like you, will come back for more of themselves. More external validation. And there you have it. You reap what you sow.
In a flip of the words, look at the hit count for mentions of suicide on MySpace:
Google shows 29.1 million pages for site:myspace.com
Google shows 1.86 million of those include the word “suicide”
If you remove “goth” you still get 1.75 million, so that’s not it.
Adding “depressed” didn’t do much to the count (62,000), nor really did “depression“
SEO Audits. I wonder, are they any good?
I am sometimes asked to do audits, but I have declined. Something about the idea bothers me. I can certainly see how SEO Audits could be good for the SEO, but are they good for the typical seo audit requesting customer? Who asks for audits, anyway?
When I start a new project I do an “analysis” that might be considered similar to an audit, but it is not. I don’t go over an exhaustive checklist of standards, and I don’t have a template report. I do just what I say I do ( I as in me, John Andrews, the SEO himself. Not an assistant. Not a traineee. Not an overseas SEO service clerk).
One may wonder, is that efficient? Hell yes. I know what the current trends are, where the gotcha’s are, and I really don’t have much time for petty details so I will not waste your dollars checking your keyword density. If it’s spammy, it’s spammy.
I’ll cut right to the meat of the issue, review your site as if it were something I had just purchased and want to SEO. And then I will write it up with lower-cost clerical assistance.
To do analysis I have to check the SERPs where you expect to compete, and no trainee can do that as fast nor as well as an experienced SEO. I doubt very much an SEO firm can produce a meaningful or powerful “standard research form” for a trainee to fill out and an “SEO” to review. Things change too fast. No doubt they can produce volumes of checklists, of course.
I call my report an SEO Opinion. Not an SEO Audit, but an SEO Opinion. Not an “expert opinion” either. That’s another one of those things that rub me the wrong way…loose use of the expert moniker. You’re an expert if someone *else* says you are, not if you say you are or someone you pay says you are.
I conduct SEO analyses and I produce a deliverable called an SEO Opinion. And I get paid for that. So what do you think? Which is better, and SEO Opinion or an SEO Audit? Do you do SEO Audits? Are they good? For what? What about those free ones (free as in still-requires-a-backlink, LOL). Any good?
If you are an SEO and you offer audits, put your link into a comment right here and I’ll add it to the list. And if you look closely, you’ll notice that Ben has posted some good comments to this blog:
*** edited for quality
A PR guy says “this is not SEO. Really. It’s not SEO. Nope.” What does that tell you?
I have been interested in the cross roads of PR (public relations) and SEO for some time, but I have not seen a decent move from the PR guys lately so I wondered if they were capable. I mean, the Ad guys failed at “getting” the web. Oh sure SEO-PR got it long ago (and even got the domain name), but they are really PR guys. Whenever I heard Greg Jarboe speak he was like SEO is really PR…SEO is PR..if you are an SEO, you need to understand PR because SEO is PR. Personally, I’m more thinking that PR today has to include a lot of SEO.
So now I see promotional campaigns from Connors Communications (a PR firm) about a new service called HITTail. Since my audience is mostly SEO folk, I can simply say that Connors has decided to take one piece of SEO and hit the less sophisticated clients over the head with it, over and over and over again until sign up. That piece of SEO is referrer mining.
The more interesting facet of this is how a PR firm is staking a claim in the SEO world. As I have mentioned before, the PR folks seem to have a problem with commitment. On the web site, Connors first goes to great lengths to try and distance itself from SEO. I quote from the web site (and I am not quoting everything.. just enough to make my point):
“HitTailing is Not SEO”
“HitTailing is like search engine optimization without the trouble.”
“HitTailing is NOT Tweaked Out Super-SEO”
“HitTailing Co-Exists Happily with Professional SEO”
“HitTailing is no threat to that special brand of hyper-competitive, popular keyword SEO that thrives on tweaking densities and HTML tags.”
Umm, clue to the HitTail guys: SEO is not really concerned much with densities this millennium.
A little further down the page, they say:
“We are definitely positioning it as SEO for the masses of mainstream marketing departments who have yet to venture into the natural search arena.”
which leaves me more than a bit conflicted. But then, I was not part of the “beta”, which apparently went out to “professional SEO firms”. I suspect that the Professional SEOs that worked with HittTail were more of the boiler room type than the independent metrics-driven consultant type. I guess because of the way Connors dances around the edges of the clear overlap of HitTail and SEO:
“Yet, we are completely disclosing that HitTailing doesn’t solve the greater SEO problems that may plague your site. It only defers the discussion while you get some of the benefit in the short term through blogging, which you should be doing anyway. In short, we are attempting to precondition the marketing departments of the world to be receptive to the greater SEO “fix”, because they will be in a better position to see the value.”
So I guess the message is HitTail is *not* a threat to the SEO industry, but actual helps it by priming the pump! I see. Now for PR guys this “SEO Page” on the HitTail web site is really getting conversational the further down the page I read…more like a blog than a web page. And it ends with further evidence that these PR guys may not be too comfortable stepping into the wild and wacky world of SEO:
“Our original intent was to disclose everything we know about SEO, and have dubbed the “Connors Magic Bullet,” so that the mechanical best practices aspect of the discussion becomes assumed and fades into the background. But we have since thought better of this, because this is the role of the Professional SEO Industry. These factors are in constant, slow “continental drift” and it is not a wise use of our resources to keep the documentation up to date. We’d rather improve the HitTailing process, and let the SEO profession and search-savvy blog software deal with SEO drift.”
Wow. It almost sounds as if they are intimidated. Ooh… did the Black Hats threaten to bomb the HitTrack client sites out of the SERPs? Oh I’m just kidding. They would never do that! But I do suspect they were intimidated by the speed with which the real SEO world adapts. I do suspect that they got solid, factual, and specific advice from those large SEO firms, only to discover that there was sounder, more factual, and conflicting advice from other SEO firms a day later. I know, it makes my head spin sometimes, too.
After watching the demo and reading the web pages I see HitTrack as a user-friendly introduction to referrer mining, with instructions on how to use that with your blogging efforts to get more traffic volume right now. It’s a decent message, and it will increase traffic, but I think it is in over it’s head here. Just as do-it-yourself SEO almost always leads to trouble, this, too can lead a marketer down the wrong path in search of traffic. More traffic does not mean better results.
The key to good SEO is the quality and reliability of the traffic, coupled with organic search penetration and related momentum that can come from carefully-managed organic SEO efforts (including referrer mining). Unless HitTrack can add some serious intelligence to it’s algorithms for highlighting the keywords culled from referrer logs, following their advice may hinder the SEO momentum, and may broaden the traffic such that ROI suffers. I’m not sure the PR guys understand the importance of characterizing traffic. It’s one of the harder concepts to clear with most SEO clients. I guess people are just comfortable with percentages, and playing the odds. Too bad real SEO is not usually about playing the odds (in my opinion, it hasn’t been since the AltaVista days).
HitTail bills itself as “A Practical Alternative to Paying for Search Hits“. It claims to be able to help reduce the costs of buying traffic through PPC, and emphasizes the value of “natural” search engine referral traffic. HitTrack sells itself on the popularity of SEO. Plain and Simple, HitTrack is a PR firm’s initial shot at SEO, covered with layer after layer of disclaimer that appears to me to be classic “PR” intended to defer critique from real SEOs and avoid comparisons to SEO, while capitalizing on the negative image SEO has in certain circles (like skittish corporate marketing departments that hire PR firms). Guys, this is an SEO page. Really. And it needs to be corrected.
I can’t help but want to critique Connor’s “Magic Bullet” SEO when given the chance. Like when they say:
We’ve never measured a keyword density in developing the app, yet regularly score top-10 positions on important keywords that convert. But HitTailing is no threat to that special brand of hyper-competitive, popular keyword SEO that thrives on tweaking densities and HTML tags. HitTailing works best where tweaks matter least.
But I won’t. Instead, I welcome the PR guys to SEO. Watch out for the shovels, and bring your hip boots. It’s gonna get pretty deep in here.
Note: I started this with a link to Mike Levin’s Bio on Connors. He’s an SEO, hired on in 2004 to bring SEO to Connor’s PR business. His bio includes:
Mike Levin has been involved with Search Engine Optimization since the late 90s. Inspired by the notion that Search Engine Optimization and Public Relations are founded on the same underlying principles, Mike joined Connors Communications, a New York based PR firm, in 2004. Since that time he has continuously promoted the merger of traditional public relations with organic SEO, bringing ideas, original tools and industry experience to Connors’ SEO team. By combining his grasp of SEO tactics and his unique blend of information design with Connors Communications’ 20 years of PR experience, Mike has helped build Connors into a leader in joining the two distinct, but inter-related fields.
I was asked for an example of a non-MySpace person doing a good job using MySpace for marketing. I looked around. I saw plenty of bad MySpace pages. They sort of look like Web1.0 pages in a Web2.0 world…stiff, stodgy, unstyled. And then I found someone had a Suicide Girl as her MySpace friend. Wow. Cool. I wonder if they loaded each one of the Suicide Girls onto separate MySpace pages, cross-linked them all, plastering the pages with ads for the Suicide Girls membership site? That’s what I would have done. Let’s face it, these girls look exactly like prototypical MySpacers (+15 years).
Well, they did one anyway. Not a bad job at all. 9,218 “friends” including a handful of promotional ones like “Subscribe to Suicide Girls Videos” and “Become a Suicide Girls photographer“. I’m sure it’s doing a fab job or raising awareness of the SG perversion amongst the MySpace teens, and I have little doubt those SG ads convert. Of course the subject matter fits into MySpace fairly naturally, but we know SG is actually old so this qualifies as an effective use of MySpace.
These days you can never be sure, and just about everything seems to be LinkBait. Enter PromotionTraders.com
Nice idea, but is it LinkBait? PromotionTraders is a marketng site about swapping services. Write a blog post for someone else, and they write one for you. Swap links (obviously) and also swap SEO for design, or design for coding, etc. It’s a needed function, and I would use it if I trusted it. Do I trust it? Not yet.
I only spent a few minutes on it, but didn’t see any NAME associated with it. Hi. I’m John Andrews and I am an independent SEO here in Seattle. Contact me via the links in the sidebar. Now why is that so hard to do?
We all need to study MySpace.
The MySpace generation needs to study it, because it represents the evolution of the “do your best to fit in” challenge. You are a dork by default, unless you can be accepted by the cool kids. How to be accepted is a cruel game, with no real rules. You have to play, and you have to risk it all. On MySpace, at least you can impress with some geek skillz without being labeled a geek.
The rest of us need to study MySpace because.. well because it exists and it is bizarre. That has to be important. Nothing as busy as MySpace could be unimportant. And so we study it.
I posted earlier about MySpace having a unique culture. I noted how others had classified MySpace as cruel and full of hate, yet hpeful and inclusive. It’s all a mish mash. A reality mashup. And today I saw a banner ad that summed it all up in one line:
Yes, that’s an animated banner ad of a blonde on a Hollywood red carpet, with a paparazzi, camera, and viewfinder cross hairs, and the copy reads “Shoot the pop star and get free ringtones”.
Anything for a ringtone. My if that doesn’t capture MySpace.
Since I re-started this blog under my own name I have been reading a few more blogs than usual. It dawns on me that this Internet thing that transformed our work environments, and transformed our careers, has simply removed inhibitions. The latent artists and writers that failed to “be themselves” but instead went onwards with school and traditional jobs, are finding their way (back) to their destinies via the web. Digital photography has helped them rationalize it as well.
You all best be careful, though, because that same society that didn’t pay artists nor writers will similarly attempt to enslave The Webologist.
I have always been a supporter of artists, emotionally and financially when possible. They are amazing. Like most normal people, I have artistic visions, yet lack the skills to express them. So when a free-thinking expressionist doesn’t say “look” and explain something in words, but rather looks away and starts to draw or sketch or paint, or simply goes away, coming back some time later to show me something he created that reflects the original ideas not-excessively-discussed, I think it’s cool.
Of course there are commercial artists. And technicians. And hopeless romantics. And talentless hacks. And gifted ones that self destruct, and not-so-gifted ones that self destruct. It’s funny just how many parallels there are between web thought pioneers and “traditional” artists.
Many years ago when I was learning what the web was all about, I found WebmasterWorld. Like everyone else, I found it via the search engines. In fact, once Google was fully operational, I could ask it just about any HTTP question and Google would say “here’s what WebmasterWorld has on that”.
I lurked for years. I had little reason to participate – I needed to learn. And as I recall, it was all knowledge. The past handful of years I participated with a handle. It was fun. And then everybody started to leave.
I ran a BBS back in the 80’s; I knew what a noob was and I knew what a dork was and what a flame war was. I knew what it was like to battle an attack, and recover a bbs from disaster (Mustang was very vulnerable, and SearchLight instilled false confidence with it’s security through obscurity in the beginning). “How about a big cup of STFU” is so funny because it is so true. (boy’s link | girl’s link)
These days I think WebmasterWorld needs to start serving STFU instead of bad hotel coffee. If you don’t have something meaningful to say, why clutter up the thread with your nonsense? Ummm..maybe because it makes for more page views :-)
Mind you snide remarks that make valid points are good content. So are quips like “I doubt it” when they come from people who obviously know the topic. You can learn from these, quickly and efficiently. Just imagine a high quality thread by 4 experts, who have demonstrated their worth already, when they answer a noobie queston about Google:
NewbiewanCanole: I want to put two title tags on my page, to increase my rank in Google. I saw it works. Is this a good idea?
Expert#4. No, that won’t thelp you.
Now , that same imaginary thread on Today’s WebmasterWorld would look like this:
WordManLuvvaSEO: The secret to rank is two title tags. I rank #1 everywhere, and that’s how I did it.
SEOSEOSEO_wnanaBEE_SEO: No way. That can’t work. There’s no way, I don’t think. Did you also put h6 tags? Maybe if you also put h6 tags. Did any body try two title tags *and* h6 tags? I could try it, but my site is down right now. AdSense sux. Well, lemme know if you try.
AsiaForSEOs: I’ve had two title tags for years, by accident, and I am very glad I just noticed and removed it because I am pretty sure it is against the Google TOS and there’s no sense in risking a ban. But I can assure you, it doesn’t work.
Non-SEO-PhD: In my view, blah blah blah blah blah…
New Jersey SEO: Well, duh you could just try it yourself. Or Google it. Duh.
WordManLuvvaSEO: Well it works for me so I’m sticking with it. That h6 tag sounds great. Can anybody help me with that? Is it 6 h1 tags, or is there an h6 tag? I never used anything beyond h4 tags yet (I am only doing SEO for 2 months).
Expert opinions are not the only things gone from WebmasterWorld. Gone are the days of debate and inquiry. Gone are the dissenting opinions, the challenged authority, and the meaningful content. Of course, that’s just my opinion.
So it’s goodbye WebmasterWorld for me. Time to change the password to some random keyboard leaning and forget about it. Will it oneday become the world’s largest MFA?
“412: Precondition Failed”
We’re sorry, but we could not fulfill your request for / on this server. We have established rules for access to this server, and any person or robot that violates these rules will be unable to access this site.
Oops. It appears I have pissed off GrayWolf’s server. Or he’s been drinking the IncrediBill Coolaide and installed anticrawl on his blog. That’s really too bad, because he just IP blocked a whole helluvalot of people on the t-mobile Starbucks network.
I make no apologies. Yes, I had my referrer spoofing Googlebot. I forgot to set it back; so sue me. But is that really a good enough reason to IP block all the innocent Starbucks customers? I’m going to guess it was a lack of checking robots.txt while appearing to be a bot. Violated his “MUST NOT pretend to be a robot” regulation. Ah well.
I saw a Squidoo comment in the Google SERPs, and hopped on over to read it. Alas, no more wolf-howl for now. I wonder how long we’ll be blocked? I mean, they’ll be blocked. I’ll just hop over to one of my proxies, but I am pretty sure the rest of the Starbuckers won’t be so well equipped. What will they do when the follow what looked like a good snippet in Google, only to get this 412 message? They will bail. Ferr sherr.
I just updated a webste sitewide with a single newline character, and watched it “recover” from a Google dump inside 30 days. That’s right, I added a single newline to the template and republished the entire site, reversing the steady downward trend Gogle had delivered for about 3 months. One month later it’s almost fully recovered.
SEO is a word game, mucked up by links and penalties and spam reports and guesses at intent projected by the search “engineers”. Google is the idiot next to you at a Scrabble tournament, blabbing on and on about his pet cat while you try and make a word out of IXYKQ. It’s imposible to make good content out of bad ingredients, if you have someone distracting you.
So forget it. Content is not king, and it never was. Those SEOs who say “write an article a day for a year you’ll rank” are being silly… that’s an hour a day for 365 days to rank page 1 for “knitted socks from Grandma” on your travel website, and even that will only deliver customers to your contact page…until the day you adjust it and even that traffic disappears.
The midnight database raids? Valuable for their efficiency, but that’s not SEO. And the clever link magnets you see today are for links, not SEO. You need links when you have IXYKQ and you can’t make any words. If you’re an SEO, you plop down “qi” on a tripple word score and move onto the next round.
Well, when everybody’s doing it, is it Black Hat anymore?
Here we go with YAMDHPRO (Yet Another Million Dollar Home Page Rip Off). TagsPage sells words, which are listed as tags, on a tag cloud page. BFD. But the twist is shown at the top of the page.
- TagsPage uses the same concept as the Million Dollar Page with tags instead of banners. Add your tag now!
- Special: Got a blog with Alexa rank smaller than 200,000? Post a review of our site, send us the link and you’ll get a tag with a top value of $69
- All exclusive tags will be added on top of two PageRank 6 pages and will stay there for 1 year
So this person is selling an ad which provides a larger ad for a higher price (the more you pay, the bigger your tag in the tag cloud). That has little to do with SEO and everything to do with traffic. The sitewide offered is based on PR, and he is also willing to trade wth sites that have Alex rank. That makes two ways he’s trading on rank. The site also offers free and shared (low cost) tags, which would be a way to generate additional traffic (which hopefully siphons off to the largest ads on the home page).
A mashup of pixel advertising and link selling?
I’m almost done with WordPress.
This has been tough, using WordPress for the past few weeks. I have always hand-coded my websites, and will continue to do so. It simply doesn’t make sense to use these bloated, slow, complex, and cumbersome CMS programs. As an editor, it’s too slow and unreliable. Firefox crashes under the weight of the js every once in a while, and more often than I like the WordPress editing page loads only partially, leaving some controls inaccessible.
One of the key factors in my SEO is…. oh, sorry. I’m not giving out info like that any more. Well anyway the pageload times are way slow with WordPress compared to my other sites on the same host. And I notice the page load time displayed by WordPress is not at all true… it even updates before the page is fully loaded. Sure it’s probably a browser parsing issue, but why should I care what it is? The page loads slowly. Period.
I worked with WordPress 1.2 and loved it, but it wasn’t secure nor stable enough to run a business on it. By the time 1.5 was stable, adoption was too high and the footprint too obvious. And now with 2, WP is bloated beyond recovery. Mambo was the same… not stable enough, too many features, and then too complex, too bloated, and too much risk. Now Joomla! and we’re back in the same cycle.
I always hated Dreamweaver for the way it interfered with my code, changing things when I hit save that it shouldn’t change. And TypePad… geesh, what they did to Typepad! I edit the HTML and they convert it into what-is-that, XUL? Well WordPress is doing the same funk to my posts. A p tag here and a BR there, here a P, there a BR… is that really necessary?
So no matter how much it makes me feel like an old-timer, and no matter how slow I think I am developing by hand with TextPad and an assortment of home-grown tools, I’m sticking with it. Of course that brings me back to the one real reason I returned to WordPress for this blog. For competitive reasons, it is not wise for me to show the world my standard technology toolset. Its’ what keeps me competitive. I don’t want to use my own tools on my publicly owned blog. Ahhhh…what to do.
In my post “37Signals reveals the Secrets of How and Why they disappoint me.. for $19.99” on ThreadWatch.org I said about the “Get real” book:
I believe there’s genius in that guy and his homies.
but I also expressed my disappointment in their execution of what they said they did. I didn’t see it ringing true. I said:
I guess I put more faith in my ability to extract value from the genius at 37signals (for $19.99) than their ability to execute in the marketplace. Funny how the ebook is sold as a tutorial for doing just that… executing in the marketplace. Classic irony?
Now I see from Adam Kalsey‘s blog post “37 Signals… small no more?” that 37Signals, despite all that talk about staying small and doing whatever it takes to bootstrap and avoid taking outside investments, has taken outside investments from a little guy named Jeff Bezos. They say they can do better with outside investments.
I’ve been noting how many people claim to be doing SEO these days, and wondering about that whole issue of SEO credibility. I’m starting to think that maybe I’ve been watching the wrong horse. Maybe SEO really is that easy these days, because expectations are so low. If you’ve gotten used to seeing 2 visitors a day to your website, and switching to WordPress (with all of it’s advanced “SEO Features“) got you over 150 per day, wow! Look mom, you really are an SEO.
I stumbled across this lawyer blog service and started reading the promotional copy and liked it for it’s explanation of why it is a good idea for lawyers to have blogs. And then I got down to the part where the lawyer-blogger posted about Matt Cutts, and SEO feedback. Huh? A lawyer blogger thinks he is doing SEO, and suggests other lawyer bloggers give Matt more feedback on what they want to know about SEO and Google.
Ahem. Keyword spam at the bottom of the page… yeah, that’s SEO:
Law Blogs By LexBlog For The Lawyer, Attorney and Law Firm.
Law Blog and Legal Blog Design For Lawyers, Attorneys and Law Firms.
Lawyer Blogs, Weblogs and Blawgs. Lawyer Blog, Blawg and Weblog Design. Law Firm Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization.
I’ve been watching the wrong horse, ferr sherrrr. Time for a correction I think. I had the write idea when I focused my efforts on “competitive webmastering” instead of SEO. The word SEO has gone to the dogs.
I’ll put it plain and simple. When you hear everyone and his cousin say the stock market is soaring, and you have to get in, that is when it is time toget out. When you see everyone and his brother saying “the stock market is dead. Wait for it to come back” that is the time to get in. And if you are a lawyer and you see other lawyers thinking they are doing their own SEO using a blog service, it’s a perfect time to hire an SEO.
I just did a search for “SEO” on Google. Here is what came back:
2 sponsored listings, which are actually paid advertisements with sales pitches. If you click them, Google gets paid.
#1 most relevant result: a set of links to the financial performance of stock market symbol SEO, a paper manufacturer.
#2 seochat.com, an SEO portal that started as a discussion forum many years ago.
#3 seo-ny.org, a non-profit “Sponsors of Educational Opportunity”
#4 Google’s own page warning you not to hire an SEO firm. They say things like “You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press” and “Ask your SEO firm if it reports every spam abuse that it finds to Google using our spam complaint form…Ethical SEO firms report deceptive sites that violate Google’s spam guidelines.” What a load of garbage.
#5 seotoday.com, an old seo website last updated October 2005 (?). But is has Google’s AdSense ads on it. Go figure.
#6 wikipedia’s article on SEO, which was torn apart by real SEOs as a terribly ignorant report on SEO by people who admitted they had little actual knowledge of SEO.
Now we know people search SEO looking for search engine optimization. So we also know that Google is “managing” this result set, because there is no way it could be “objective” and get this set (actually, we know Google hand manages the SEO queries… it’s been going on for years).
Now here is a tip for you… the next time you need a name for a company that you will want to rank for it’s own name, just call it SEO. There’s no competition.
Threadwatch published a post from Todd Sims of Business.com, with Tom stating that Business.com is removing the nofollow attributes from all Business.com listings effective immediately. I tend to agree with some of the TW comments; that business probably dropped quite a bit when they added those nofollows, creating concern within Business.com about the value of the use of that attribute. Why muddy the waters if the gains are not sufficient to justify the risk?
Let’s just say rel=nofollow is yet another Google beta program. Do you adopt things when they are still in beta? Should you?
Business.com’s use of nofollow was reported previously:
According to Reuters,
Web search leader Google Inc. on Thursday posted an industry-leading 110 percent rise in quarterly profits as the company dodged the slowing growth trend that has hurt rivals Yahoo and eBay.
Google increased profits 110%, with revenues up 77 percent to $2.46 billion.
Reuters compares Google to others, noting it grows 3-4 times faster than the other majors:
Debate is raging over whether Google — which enjoys growth rates three-to-four times faster than other major Internet companies — is vulnerable to slowing industry growth trends or is itself a disruptive force taking share from rivals. On Tuesday, rival Yahoo Inc. postponed an upgrade to an advertising system designed to compete with Google and its shares suffered its biggest one-day percentage decline ever.
With approximately 32% of advertising revenues paid out to AdSense partners, that means webmasters earnings were up 110% for the quarter, too. There are a whole lot of webmasters getting used to Google’s earnings growth.
OpenDNS is a new service available to web surfers, which promises to “make your Internet work better”. Safer. Faster. Smarter. All for FREE!
“The OpenDNS team is improving the safety and speed of the Domain Name System, a fundamental building block of the Internet.” They claim to be “making the Internet a better place.”
So would you trust these guys more than you trust your ISP?
Forgive me, but Google lives under a mantra of “Don’t be Evil” so I am a little skeptical of such pitches. What exactly, is under the hood of this OpenDNS?
DNS is the system that translates domain names (such as www.johnon.com) into IP addresses (such as 220.127.116.11) which are then used to retrieve web pages and such. The data is passed around by IP number, not domain name. So every single computer on the web has to translate those domain names into IP numbers on-the-fly, and we all use the DNS system to do that for us. You may not have heard about DNS because your ISP usually provides a few servers dedicated to DNS name serving. The typical Internet configuration includes setting the DNS name server addresses for you.
So why is DNS worthy of such attention? Well, think about what would happen if you asked for www.johnon.com, and your DNS server tricked you by telling your PC that www.johnon.com was at 18.104.22.168 (a Google IP address). Your browser would obediently accept that answer and fetch a page from Google, thinking it was from johnon.com. Not too sinister, until you ask for Citibank.com and a compromised DNS system gives you not to the real citibank but a fake citibank web site designed to collect your login details. A compromised DNS system can be used to steal all sorts of secret data, by substituting fake web sites (phishing sites) for real ones. it doesn’t happen all the time.
Maybe you didn’t know you were being so trustful of your DNS services. Actually, you are being trustful of your Internet Service Provider (ISP: Verizon, Comcast, RoadRunner, Earthlink, or whomever).
So the OpenDNS guys are saying “hey, don’t just accept whatever DNS service your ISP gave you. Use our free OpenDNS service instead, and we will make sure you don’t fall victim to DNS-based phishing attacks”.
I’m not sure. Of course I know my ISP is a competitive commercial entity. But I trust them largely because they are a large commercial entity. I figure that if they do something negligent or super obnoxious, they would be found out and possibly held liable. They have a lot to lose. Then again, I thought that about Worldcom even as I triple-checked my Worldcom T1 line billings over and over and kept finding the same apparent over billing month after month. That didn’t work out.
As a competitive webmaster, I see how OpenDNS could monetize their service offerings over time. They admit that they will be serving up parked pages with advertisements, when a user mistypes your URL:
“OpenDNS makes money by offering clearly labeled advertisements alongside search results on error pages. OpenDNS will provide additional services on top of its enhanced DNS service.”
So if you are using OpenDNS as your DNS service, and you mistakenly ask for johnon.cm (a typo) instead of johnon.com, OpenDNS will give you an error page with advertisements on it. I can only assume that in the future, for a fee, they might offer me the chance to buy that typo, so that they automatically send it to johnon.com where it was meant to go. I also have to assume that they would price that domain typo so that the revenue I provide in exchange for the traffic equals or exceeds the potential revenue generated by the parked page with ads. Otherwise, why would they sell it to me instead of leaving their parked advertisements page? And then I consider the impact of the middleman… Google or whomever might be serving the ads. in short, I am volunteering to give OpenDNS an opportunity to monetize my own typos. Why would I do that?
I am a web user and a web publisher, and this all smells bad to me. No matter how I view it, OpenDNS seems to want to monetize the typo traffic that I feel the Internet really should be sending my way for free. And it sounds to me like they offer it as a benevolent opportunity to improve the world. In this case, I’m not so sure the world of DNS needing improvement. I’m not so sure I hold typo squatters in high regard, and I’m not so sure I want to trust a group of entrepreneurial competitive webmasters banking on revenue from typo squatting more than I trust a deep-pocket ISP that has much, much better things to do than monetize the DNS errors. In fact, the large ISPs probably have a very strong desire to maintain a simple, secure, and efficient DNS setup just to avoid headaches.
One serious potential concern though, is how do I know that OpenDNS will never allow a man-in-the-middle attack using a substitute web site either because you are a bad guy, or because your DNS server has been compromised? Do I have to trust you as much as my ISP in order to use OpenDNS when doing banking transactions, etc.? (Except for safe sites that overcome this issue by adding a sign in step where they show a user selected picture and phrase in response to a username to prove to you that it is the real web site before you enter your password.) Even if you are good guys with secure DNS servers, can’t a bad guy who handles the DNS network traffic alter the IP address response of your DNS server (which is not a problem if the DNS response never travels outside my ISP’s trusted network) to create a man-in-the-middle attack?
There was no answer posted at the time I wrote this post.
Now OpenDNS has the opportunity to provide other value as well, and they promote that. By deploying a large cache, they can serve pages out of the cache so your browser gets them faster than a slow web site might send them directly. Think MySpace… if you want the Christine Dolce (ForbiddenXO) MySpace page, it currently loads in something like 4 minutes direct from MySpace. Were you an OpenDNS user, that page should load instantaneously from the OpenDNS cache. that is very, very nice for the Christine Dolce MySpace fans.
I have a lot of questions about this service idea. If I make a typo, I get an error page which tell sme I made a mistake. I hate it when I get a parked page from some typo squatter (especially when it redirects.. argh!). Why is this better than nothing?
What happens to a domain like johnon.ca that may exists as a separate site in Canada? Will US-based OpenDNS users get sent to my site (johnon.com), or the Canadian site? On the regular Internet, you get what you type in. That was a big part of the hullabaloo when Verisign hijacked the DNS with Site Finder. Right now if there is such a conflict there are rules for mediating that conflict. What will OpenDNS do? I would guess they would leave it alone, in which case they aren’t adding any value. And what about hyphenated domains I might buy or not buy yet? Will OpenDNS parse john-on.com (which doesn’t exist) to johnon.com? And if it does, what happens when I someone else registers john-on.com? Would they ever know if OpenDNS was serving john-on.com customers to johnon.com? I doubt it.
The jury is still out on whether or not this is good for the Internet, but I don’t see enough value to expend the effort and trust these guys over the other guys. When you add in my cynical side and the “making the Internet a better place” claim they make while scheming up ways to monetize the traffic you should probably be getting anyway, I have to pass. Now I can see the OpenDNS guys taking their monetization schemes to the big ISPs and partnering to capture and monetize the typos as a B2B endeavor… but please don’t do that while pitching me on how good it is for the Internet.
A friend just asked about getting up to speed with RSS and I sighed. What to suggest… Bloglines is so slow, I’m enjoying Earthlink’s new Feedreader but it’s…well, it’s Earthlink. So why not just put him onto Flock so he can enjoy what a modern browser feels like, and use it for feeds as well? Good idea.
For feeds in Flock just click an RSS icon and bingo.. Flock parses the feed into an HTML page *and* provides a left side column for subscribing. A feed reader in the browser. NICE. Firefox (current release) doesn’t know the feed: protocol. I’ve been redirecting to feedburner to give webified feeds to visitors and to facilitate the transition to syndicated reading, but if more people would adopt modern browsers like Flock (heh heh) I wouldn’t need to hand my traffic over to that third party commercial entity.
Yes, I know the next Firefox has all the greatest features and more, and Flock is better at getting them out to the world, etc etc. whatever. I leave that stuff to the ubergeeks that download the nightlies and such. I just need a browser that works and Flock works for me right now.
I’ve been succeeding at SEO since 1996 so obviously I have understood the nature of the game as it changed over time. Actually, I never really participated much in the “hard core” SEO of the late nineties, where small technical tweaks earned temporary top ranks. I always played the long term SEO game, where thematic associations (achieved hrough links, yes, but also significantly influenced by semantics), content, and relationships between web pages worked the SERPs.
Lately I have been enaged in discussions with more advertising and PR people. In the past, they did their own thing and hired SEOs when they needed technical web site work or link love. Nowadays they seem to agree that what-has-become-known-as-seo is critically important to their disciplines. Is SEO part of Public Relations? Not in the old SEO sense (technical web page factors) but yes for the modern SEO where words, content, and relationships rule. I think people’s perception of SEO is quite different from actual SEO. As usual, though, we have to deal with perceptions when we deal with clients, customers, and audiences.
There is definitely room for PR people (public relations firms) in the modern SEO world. True, I get a backlink in minutes where a relationship manager might take a week of client massaging (and spend some change on drinks or lunches), but those slow links are valuable as well. If the SEO guides the PR guy to
buy obtain those links from the right places, in the proper SEO form, an SEO-PR Guy team could be quite powerful.
If you are a PR guy and interested in exploring PR-SEO relationships, let’s talk. I’m in Seattle and Vancouver quite a bit, and New York and Denver every few months (so you can buy me lunches). Otherwise, I am very comfortable working from home over the web. Let’s do it your way to start. Your way seems like more fun.
Someone calling himself “Daniel R.” has started a blog that explores the integration of Public relations (PR) and SEO. I call him “someone calling himself Daniel R.” because that is part of that I consider a problem with traditional PR when it says it wants to “get” the web. The web is largely about commitment. You need to blurt it out, take a stand, express your opinion, and be prepared to handle the consequences. And that handling of consequences will characterize you.
Daniel R. says he is a member of NetImpact, which he refers to as “a young professionals organization focusing on Social Corporate Responsibility”. I went and looked at the netimpact web pages because I am very much interested in social responsibility. I had never heard of NetImpact, but that’s not too surprising. On the web pages I saw a picture of a group of NetImpact “young MBAs” standing in front of a white truck marked “Food Bank”:
Now Food Bank sounds great. But what is that corporate logo on the truck? You know, the big red lettering? Right where it says CONAGRA FOODS? You know Conagra, one of the largest processed foods manufacturers in the world. One of the big players, often named alongside Archer Daniels Midland. Think genetically modified foods slipping into the distribution chain (search StarLink fiasco), think global corporations prohibiting farmers from saving their own seeds to replant, think food companies that seek to use chemicals in place of natural foods whenever possible in order to save pennies, when there remain significant unanswered questions about the safety of food additives, the safety of huge scale processed foods, possible connections between food additives and ADHD and other childhood disorders, etc.
Now I am not at all accusing ConAgra Foods of any wrong doing. And of course they are AT LEAST providing some sort of support to this Food Bank (at least the picture says so..). As a cynic tough, I wonder what the tax writeoff was on the foods they donated to the food bank? As a marketer I wonder what that branding and “PR” was really worth… if they had needed to purchase it. As a human I wonder about the value of all of those high-energy MBAs volunteering to work for NetImpact. Hmmm….
Anyway the point is not ConAgra or NetImpact… the point is commitment. I welcome Daniel R. to the SEO space (as if I had any diplomatic role to play in the SEO space! Hah! Now that’s funny!). He’s only written a few posts, but his topics are good… Public Relations needs SEO, and SEO may benefit from working with Public Relations people. The question in my mind is, why should they? And why should I listen to Daniel R. If I don’t even know his full name?
SEO is fast moving and aggressive. SEO is opinionated, because as SEOs we see the real deal and work on metrics. We know what works, even though the web guy and the systems guy with 30 years experience might think otherwise. We know what will get results, even if the marketing department wants to wait until Nielson or Comscore say it’s ok. Perhaps most importantly, we want to be proven wrong, because if you can’t prove us wrong we know we are right. And if you can prove us wrong, all that does is enable us to fix what’s wrong and move ahead.
SEO is about metrics and results, which come with accountablity. Is PR too often about propaganda and cover up? Does today’s crop of PR people have what it takes to run with SEO? Is that even a smart thing to do?
No. Your copy (or text) probably reads (or is read) more easily than this copy, also known as web content or web page copy. But your web copy is not as keyword rich (web copy with many embedded keywords is known as keyword rich web copy, or web page copy) than this web copy on this web page. No, I didn’t use a web copywriter for this, although there are many good web copywriters I could have hired to write my web page copy.
Some SEOs say writing web copy is a job for an seo or an seo copywriter. If there were ever a short term opportunistic approach to web copy writing, that would be it. Sell your soul to the devil for short-term profits.
Instead, your copy should be easy to read, and engaging. It has to make a point. With impact. On the first read. But if it isn’t spammy, it won’t rank. So it has to either be spammy, or be clever. As proof positive of the state of copy writing on the web today, consider this FACT: I write a good percentage of the copy that my clients use on their web sites. Really, is that appropriate? We let the Internet re-define entire industries, labeling dinosaurs and hailing new economies. Puleeeze lets’ not re-define copywriting as what SEO copywriters tell us we need today.
I am no copywriter. I am no writer, in fact. I have been a geek my whole life. I went to technical schools and earned technical degrees. I was forced to take classes in expository writing in college, and even then those classes were basically a joke. At that time, it was shameful waste of engineering student time (or so many of us thought then). Now that I spend the majority of my time earning top ranks in search engines for my web pages and those of my clients, I look back and wish I had studied more “communications”. I value my engineering background tremendously – it serves my analytical nature, and enables me to quickly understand concepts. But if I am writing web content for others, I think something in search engine world is very, very wrong.
I recently highlighted the sad state of SEO web copy when I hyperbolically reported on “New Jersey Web Design Firm” on ThreadWatch. I had been researching some web designers and couldn’t get past the keyword spam. I honestly could not find an honest depiction of web designs firms in New Jersey via Google. I knew they existed, and eventually I found a really cool one (if there were ever a New Jersey Web Design Firm, Allie and Hans take the prize. Check it out. Click the picture to hear them sing.)
These guys poke fun at Joisey, while turning the comedy-that-is-new-jersey into a sales pitch for CyberXDesigns. Next to the flash animations and wonderful barber shop quartet rendition of “I’m from Jersey and I’m proud A Bout It” is stuff like this:
Bruce Springstein and the E Street Band. Bon Jovi. Trixter. Cyber X Designs. What do all of the above have in common? You got it! They’re all award-winning families that came out of New Jersey. Fuggedaboudit.
Consumer Reports. Abbott Laboratories. SYMS Clothing. ALTANA Pharma. Pfizer. Specialized Bicycles.What do all of these companies have in common? You got it! They trust Cyber X Designs for their valuable web and IT properties.
The first baseball game was played in Hoboken, New Jersey on Elysian Fields on June 19, 1846. New York Baseball Club defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1. How about that 23-1 spread! At Cyber X Designs, we feel we have a similar advantage over our Manhattan competition. And, we wouldn’t wear knickerbockers, even if they were all the rage at Fashion Week.
Now why didn’t I find CyberXDesigns in Google when I was searching for New Jersey Web Design Firm? They are clearly relevant, no?
Well, that hyperbolic (i.e. exaggerated ;-) example turned out to be truer than I initially thought. The spam is showing up everywhere these days. That copywriter copy is much more realistic than my “Web Design Firms in New Jersey” example. Do you write like that? Do you READ like that? Some would argue that if you don’t today, you will soon. Some garbage about attention spans and busy lives, no time to read, etc. Nonsense.
Bill Slawski is an SEO I admire. I have never met Bill, but I see references to him all the time. I admire him only for one reason: when I was 9 years into “living” in Northern New Jersey and working in and around the New York Metro area, taking New Jersey Transit between Princeton and Hoboken, meeting with Realtors and stock brokers and PHP programmers and web page design firms, Bill Slawski was relaxing on the shores of the Chesapeake doing his SEO thing. While I was sweating through a 55 minute stuck-on-the-tracks-outside-the-tunnel “New Jersey Transit Senior Moment” , I imagined Bill was searing the better side of a Maryland crab cake.
I was reading Bill’s his web site back when he offered an open invitation for SEOs to come down for what looked like a back yard BBQ. I almost went. I didn’t know anyone in SEO world, yet I almost went down. I had a brother living in Baltimore. I knew Havr d’Grace from the highway signs, and I was an avid striped bass fisherman (or at least I dreamed about it a lot on the New Jersey transit train), so of course I knew the Chesapeake.
So Bill just noted a new patent on search that offers a way to scan text and highlight “relevant” portions, based on the reader’s expressed interest. It utilizes latent semantic indexing methods, as well as other modern linguistic methods, to highlight what matters. Bill links out to a PDF article on the idea, and it sounds grand:
We are generating interactive dynamic summaries for electronic text. Previously, only statically computed summaries are offered to users. By taking ephemeral information needs via search keywords, we can dynamically highlight portions of the text for users to heed.
You know how Google highlights your search words in yellow when it shows you the cached copy? Well, that’s the “static” stuff. This new method is “dynamic” in that it uses more a priori knowledge (in this case, knowledge from your search query and your past search activity) to highlight more than just the keywords. Some suggest that we are so busy, we actually want to skip everything but that semantically relevant stuff. I say hogwash.
I say we want to read. I say we want to read the nuance, and get the gist, and enjoy the writer’s personality. We want to find ourselves within the words laid out by the author. Repackage content all you like, but it will only be good for search engines and propagandists. It’s easily spammed, so expect that as well. Readers will always seek out writers, and writers will always write for either their worst critics or readers. Writers who write for search engines? We don’t need that…we have machines for that. But then again, if we can convince the ignorant majority that they no longer need to read, if we can convince the ingorant masses to just read the highlighted parts we put before their eyes, well, let’s just say that’s a part of modern society I’d prefer not to contribute to at this time.
I doubt I will ever get down to one of Bill’s SEO By The Sea gatherings, as I righteously abandoned Northern New Jersey for the Pacific Northwest last year. this morning I dropped my son off at his sailing class, made an extra slow pass by the H-R 342 I have been eyeing, and dropped into the coffee shop were I will SEO for the first half of today. I still have my surf rods, but salmon poles are looking mighty fun with all that flex. I don’t envy Bill any more.
Hey thanks for visiting. Sign my guest book so I know you were here. Happy travels around the web, and I hope you’ll come back again some time. And if you’re ever up here along the shores of The Northwest Corner, stop in and say hello in person. I’ll fire up the barbeque, or if the weather cooperates, we can take in a sail around the San Juans. And if you ever need an SEO by the sea ….. my name is John Andrews.
Shoemoney, Paris Hilton, and the little man with the red cape in SEO Secret No. 7
SEO Secret is like Post Secret, but for online marketers. You know who you are. Number 6 i sposted… my how we distort reality with our online personalities….SEO SECRET
For all those “Black Hatters” out there cloaking Google by User Agent (heh heh) we have one new UA to add to your list. Michael Gray reports that Google is now using yet one more user agent string for it’s AdWords Quality Checker. So, if you are a cloaker and have been using UA strings like these:
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)
Googlebot/1.0 (email@example.com http://googlebot.com/)
Googlebot/2.0 beta (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Google WAP Proxy/1.0
you now have one more to add:
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1)
My my my, what has the world come to.
DISCLAIMER: Well, for some reason I feel I must save the newbie from getting misled by my tongue in cheek posts around here. First, it is always a bad idea to cloak based on User Agent. Anybody can spoof that from their own browser and reveal your deception. Also, Google can control UA as it wants, thus detecting your deception. The consequences of cloaking are said to be serious (I would not know :-)
It has been said for years that Google sends stealth bots out without UA strings, from non-Google IPs as a test for cloaking. I always believed it, but never tested it. Why should I? I know UA cloaking is easy to defeat, so why use it? Well now Mr. Gray shows pretty solid evidence that Google is more than willing to cloak for competitive gain. Proof. There ya go.
This post of mine jokingly suggests you add that generic IE UA string to your cloaking list… that would be stupid. It’s a basic UA string used by versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. You’d be cloaking a large percentage of your users. Don’t do that, ok? Don’t be stupid. The point (if your head doesn’t already have one) is that you can’t effectively cloak by UA. See?
Feedburner bought BogBeat for analytics, and got a new analytics exec. Everybody is busy watching Google.
Here come the Cutlets, where are the nuggets?
Matt Cutts is a Google employee. He tried to be a leader among SEOs interested in Google, but has failed at that. Instead, he has gathered (some say created) a flock of hyper-aggressive, almost righteous “Cutlets” who listen to his gospel and fill his blog with oddly naive observations and “evidence” of sites that are breaking the Google rules.
They have become known as The Cutlets.
History repeats itself. A long time ago someone discovered that chicken tasted bad. It was a pinkish meat that basically smelled bad. A plucked chicken always looked dirty, because the farmer could never get all of the quills, and those left behind made the chicken look like it had a 5 o’clock shadow.
One day a farmer decided that if he could sell chickens, he could make a good profit because chickens were easy to raise. So he changed the feed to improve the smell and lighten the color, and started selectively breeding only the lightest colored chickens. Chickens breed quickly, and over a reasonable amount of time this farmer bred himself a flock of white chickens. When plucked, you couldn’t see the left-behind quills because they had no pigment. He started selling it as a replacement for beef, and it took off. Chicken was cheap protein. Cheap cheep cheep.
Chicken became synonymous with white meat. Go figure. It’s not white meat. Most of the chicken is dark meat. That’s simply how nature intended the chicken to be. In fact, the dark meat is where the action is — virtually all of the flavor and nutrients that chicken offers is in the dark meat.
Anyway over time the propaganda that created the white chicken led to chicken breast meat sold separate from the chicken (for a premium). Yes, people are always willing to pay more for breasts. These became known as chicken cutlets. Just the select breasts, chosen to represent the chicken which actually is a dark meat bird.
Now you may recognize that chicken cutlet farming is not a sustainable business. You can’t grow a cutlet. Putting that aside as an exercise for the reader (what happens to the rest of the chicken if your gospel praises only the cutlet), how does a cutlet promoter maintain his business? Enter the “tender”.
Chicken Tenders are basically chicken cutlets cut into strips. Initially, the “tender” was created as a marketing vehicle to sell that portion of the cutlet that contained an unsavory white, stringy tendon. Most people cut it off and threw it away. A propagandist re-named that piece the “chicken tender” and sold it separately, at a premium. Any Engineer (the real kind – the ones who went to Engineering school) can show you that surface area increases “exponentially” as a cutlet is sliced into pieces. Since each piece gets breaded all the way around, the amount of actual chicken decreases as breading is added to cover the increased surface area. And bread is far cheaper than chicken. So nowadays every restaurant in America sells these strips of chicken cutlet, usually breaded and deep fried, at an incredible profit.
But of course there is more to the evolution of the chicken people are eating today. The cutlet didn’t only spawn the “tender” (or “chicken finger”, oddly enough). Not satisfied with 6 ounces of small white strips of meat representing a 2.5 pound mostly-dark meat bird (reminder: what happened to the rest of the chicken?), they created the “chicken nugget“.
Chicken Nuggets are probably the most prolific form of chicken in the modern commercial food markets. McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s.. they sell far more chicken nuggets than hamburgers. The chicken nugget was marketed as the prime white portion of the chicken, at first, hence the reference to gold nuggets. Of course, we know it is really a mash up of all of those parts of that dark-meat bird that do not qualify to be chicken tenders or chicken cutlets. That’s right, the bones, beaks, wings and what not. The chicken nugget is the hot dog of the chicken world. Did you ever really look up close at what’s behind the secret recipe bread covering of your favorite chicken nugget? Yuck.
Of course no one with a taste bud would eat those things, unless you coated them with sugar. So now chicken nuggets are sold with.. “barbeque sauce“. Did you ever watch a chicken nugget lover pack his take out order with a few napkins, a straw for his coke, and a huge handful of “sauce”? Ounce for ounce, he’s eating more sauce and bread than chicken. Certainly more sauce than white meat chicken. But he’s paying a premium for that breaded crap. What a moron.
So Matt Cutts has begun breeding SEO Cutlets. History suggests the real profits are in the dark meat, where all of the volume and flavor is found. History suggests that those white meat advocates have an agenda, and the consumers of white meat harbor a secret insatiable appetite for dark meat covered in sugary goo.
Nobody knows how it will evolve, but one thing is for sure. When I decide to serve chicken at my table, it is an organic whole bird, roasted to perfection so the dark meat is properly juicy, the white meat is not all dried out (and is delicately spiced), and the only sauce available is the natural gravy one gets by serving only the best organic efforts. Nuggets are for fools, and cutlets are for sissies.
SEO swag, and how having a passion for what you promote is for sissies. See SEO Secret No 5.
I have been known to suggest that Matt Cutts of Google likes to foster propaganda that makes competitive webmasters look like evil Black Hat wearing villains hurting the community-owned and all-magnificent public resource known as the Web. I think he loves the idea of “spam” being associated with “search engine”, and has on more than a few occasions extended effort to combine SEO with “search engine spam”. Maybe it’s just his job. He is a PR person, last I heard.
Well it takes one to know one. Here we see Matt providing a didactic lecture on spin. He shows us how some metrics firms seem to spin their results, such that they present the facts, yet influence the reader towards a conclusion that may not be supported by the facts. That’s spin, Matt. Some call it perspective. It’s what makes SEO look evil, and Google look benevolent. Oh, you knew that? Sorry. I forgot. Of course you knew that. How else could you spot it so easily, and explain it to us all so well?
This post is a bit premature. But I post it anyway. hell, I can always update it.
Here come the MySpace SEOs. Where? Well, I said it was premature. But they will come. And when they do, will you be ready?
I am a big fan of newbie SEOs. I was a big fan of Matt of WordPress fame back before his darker days, when he had just started out on the SEO route. I called him an SEO. Yes, before the doorway pages. Just because of the way he fostered the WP community, and set up his Photomatt community. Dead-on SEO character.
My prior MySpace post made me consider what will happen when all those MySpace community diggers learn their way out of their paper bags and realize that their skillz might actually be used *outside of myspace*, on the broader Internet where people actually click on ads and buy things. Homepages pushed people to learn Web programming back in the day. MySpace is pushing people to learn how to garner attention for their web *pages* on MySpace today. MySpace: Training Grounds for How to Make Friends and Influence People. Markus targeted the aging AOL adopters of the very early nineties. They did the “online chat thing” back then, and their doing the online dating community involvement thing with Markus now. And Markus is taking the check to the bank.
I think my next eBook will be “How to Transfer your MySpace Skills to make Millions on the Web” or something like that :-)
MySpace. The biggest thing on the net since Instant Messenger. MySpace. The #1 destination on the web if you chop up Yahoo! into separate domains and services. MySpace, where dancing bears and shoveling construction workers can’t hold a candle to embedded video clips and simultaneous ring tone wavs blaring out from dark gray on black text with a red-hearts-on-black bg gif. Only the 35+ webmasters will get the “dancing bears” joke. That’s ok. MySpace is not for 35 year olds. MySpace is for those other people. The ones everyone has always ignored. You know, the younger crowd.
Well now MySpace is the big opportunity. Christine Dolce is a star, and she STARted on MySpace. From her website:
Christine quickly established herself as an icon with looks that kill, great style and personality to match. Dubbed as the “Queen of Myspace” in a feature story in March’s issue of Vanity Fair Magazine, with over 30 million profile views and 900,000 “friends”, Christine is one of the top 3 popular out of the 80 million profiles on the site.
And those stats are old. She has since become MySpace “friends” with more than 1 million MySpace users, has launched a clothing line, modeled for Playboy, and generally replaced al lthose other blondes on the publicity circuit. Remember the “Slimfast, baby” blond star? What was her name again? See?
Chrstina Dolce didn’t get there by kismet. She didn’t get all that early attention with your typical Mash-up MySpace page. She had Baker Media setting her up. Pros at MySpace. Handlers, you might say. In the Web 1.0 SEO world on the Internet, the “SEO Rock Stars” are all in their 30’s and forties. Their classic moves are classic like in “classic rock”. Sure there are youngsters, but the real action follows on the hip hop revolution into MySpace, and the MySpace generation.
But all SEO’s know it’s never too late to adapt, and I found a blog article that presents that very, very nicely. In “Secrets to Launching Your Empire (or how to become an A-Lister overnight) Part Two“, Cowboy says this deep inside an excellent pesonal review of MySpace, in the section called “Speak Their Language”:
The Myspace crowd is a lovey dovey population, its also a hate filled population. It’s a young population that is much different than our parents. The MySpace generation has been exposed to more in a shorter period of time. Consider all the school shootings. Consider 9/11, the first attack on the mainland in our history. Consider all the useless wars we are fighting, the taking away of our rights, consider our socio-economic dumbing down. The MySpace is the Underground America. It’s where the future wars will be fought for the minds and hearts of Americans. The MySpace generation is highly emotional. It’s very real. Many people on MySpace communicate on Myspace better than in real life. To them MySpace is a reality….It’s friends without borders. Many people on Myspace use it to communicate with people they have been friends with but are separated with. Many people on MySpace could care less about commercialization of society but desire to recreate some community that they most definetly have lost due to broken relationships at home, a bitter war, and a fucked up reality being drowned out by commercialization.
I added the bolds and fixed a typo or two, and ellipses (…) mean I skipped some. But all of it is good. You should read it. Especially the part that goes
it’s time to simplify your business and begin to communicate with your customers. Blogs are a great way to do this. Like wise your blog is a great place to launch a business. Even if your blog only has a handful of readers. I would much rather have a business launch with a handful of customers who believe in my brand than launch a business with 10 million dollars in extra cash. And that’s what Web 3.0 really is. It’s about communicating and leveraging your friends into developing the only the brand that matters and that’s yours.
Did you see it? I know you did. You definitely saw it. Web 3.0. That’s right, we can now happily skip right over that useless, unremarkable industrial era of tool development known as Web 2.0, and jump right into the culturally immense upside-down anarchy of MySpace and community development. Whew. I thought it would never get here.
I posted about Chrstine Dolce Naked two days ago. There you go. After just two days, on a poorly-configured blog that is but a week old, on a domain that is about the same age, #1 in Yahoo! for Christine Dolce Nude and #3 for Christine Dolce Naked. Wow, look Mom, I’m an SEO!
These screen caps are from a proxy out of the US East Coast. When I hit Yahoo! from the west coast, I see DaveN’s Christine Dolce post just below me at #4. Sorry Dave, you don’t rank on the East Coast.
Wow look at all those myspace pages surrounding me in the SERPs. All those SEOs…..geesh.
I am a consultant. People hire me to think for them, and communicate my thoughts to them and their “enablers”. They tell me what to ponder, and I ask that they introduce me to their people (those enablers… the people who work for them, you know, enabling them to be rich and successful and whatnot). I insist on meeting the enablers because I am a very good judge of people, and often they are more capable enablers than anybody has yet realized. It’s always easier to fix the engine when you have good tools at hand.
The big topic lately is competition. How to compete. Where to compete. When to compete. It is often surprising just how non-competitive a team is. They can be doing very well and still, when you take a look at the details, they are not very “competitive”. Many times it is because they are too nice.
Sometimes to be competitive you have to think like a Dirty Bastard™.
No, I didn’t say you had to ACT like a dirty bastard! PLEASE don’t do that! But in order to SEE where you are not competitive, in order to RECOGNIZE your soft spots, you have to have the perspective of a competitor. And let’s face it, the worst competitor out there is the mean old Dirty Bastard™. Nobody wants to go up against the Dirty Bastard™.
Back in the 90s when Cendant and Sapient and all those other ‘ENT consulting firms were making the board members of brick and mortar companies feel bad for not having promising Internet strategies, I listened to one 22 year old that I will never forget. I am sure his presentations was scripted by a senior partner, but I credit him with it anyway. He showed a slide of a Humvee blasting through the side of a tractor trailer on the highway, zooming out of the other side of the smashed trailer. To this he said
“if someone is going to drive a truck through your business model, it might as well be you”
Hah. Funny. Not exactly true, but clever. He had a good point though – sometimes you have to think like a Dirty Bastard™.
How would a Dirty Bastard™ try and steal your customers? How would a Dirty Bastard™ submit repeated customer service inquiries via your website to sidetrack your staff? How would a Dirty Bastard™ determine your campaign mailing date, and pre-empt your offer with a better one the day before? How would a Dirty Bastard™ raid your online database during the wee hours of the morning? How would the Dirty Bastard™ set up a web services delivery model to satisfy the market you created, simultaneously obsoleting your software product? Ho would the Dirty Bastard re-publish your RSS feed with ads for your competitor? How would the Dirty Bastard™ list your 800 number on an adult chat forum so it was flooded with callers looking for a “limited time offer – free phone sex for the first 1000 callers”, once a week, for months? Okay, I made that one up, but you get the idea.
The web is an interwoven network of cooperating services, and built into that network of cooperation is a great deal of trust. And everywhere there is trust, there is a potential exploit that can be utilized by your competitor. The system that is the Internet has already externalized as much of that risk as possible. Everybody who knows better has innoculated their systems and servers to defer that trust-related risk back out onto the Internet. More is being pushed back out onto the copperative network every day. They pass the risk along to those who are openly “cooperating” without such safeguards in place. Is that you?
Can another webmaster link to your site in a way that hurts your ranking in Google? The latest research suggests YES. Can you protect yourself against that? The jury is still out on that question, but there are some very good ideas floating around.
While this may sound like “security”, it is really competitive webmastering. As a competitive webmaster, I have to know a great deal about security. But I also know to involve security experts when the time comes. Security is a process. Competitiveness is a process. SEO is a process. Public Relations is a process. Sound familiar? Everyone on the team must be aware and active in maintaining a secure and competitive web environment.
Don’t let the Dirty Bastards™ drive a truck through your profits. Take a fresh look at your web operations. Are you competitive? Do you even know how to tell? I wonder what questions come to mind when I say that… the comments link is right below. I love to hear your thoughts.
Seattle SEO guy Randfish has published a new tool that analyzes your web page and computes a score that may be more indicative of “strength” than Google’s infamous PageRank. I visited the site, and ran the tool.
This blog is brand new, and Google gves it a Page Rank (toolbar) of one big fat ZERO. On the SEOMoz site, not only did I see an outstanding score (Page Strength of 9 overall) but they have this cool chicklet badge-like thingy you can put onto your webpage to show the PageStrength Score you got. Here’s the one I got:
That’s a little small, but still good. See what it says? Page Strentgth 9! Hah! Go ahead, show me YOURS !
I studied engineering. I chose bioengineering, because it was the
hardest most interesting. I got a master’s degree and then went for the Ph.D. For that, I chose electrical & computer engineering because it was the hardest most challenging interesting. My dissertation topic was in brain imaging. I chose brain imaging because it was so interesting, and brain imaging of the motor impaired because, well, their brains didn’t work right. More fun than looking at regular brains, eh? Well, obviously since I completed all-but-dissertation and never finished that dissertation, I achieved my goal of finding something that was too hard for me. Eventually I found SEO. It’s harder more fun than that engineering stuff.
Over at DaveN’s blog today I see a response from a Google employee that is telling. I don’t really know DaveN. Having only met him once (briefly) and never having been drunk with him, I’m sure he’d say he doesn’t know me either. But despite his bull dog behavior on the SEO forums, he does have connections at Google and gets Google people to reply to his questions. He asked why his page would appear to rank for a phrase that does not exist on his site, and which seems completely unrelated. Those are the good questions. Here’s DaveN’s question:
also where the fuck did …christine dolce naked….that search term come from …???
and here is Vanessa’s response from Google’s Sitemaps team:
My early morning, under-caffeinated guess is that you linked to this threadwatch story (http://www.threadwatch.org/node/7076) in your “industry news” section and at some point, that may have been on the same page as links pointing to this post: http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/archives/2006/03/21/naked-truth-about-shoemony/ and possibly some anchor text pointing to your site includes the word “nude” (the cached page info seems to indicate so). And when searching for christine dolce naked became a popular thing to do, your site may have been an early one to have all the keywords.
Sure enough, Dave then discovered an instance of such a link to a story on ThreadWatch about Christine Dolce’s MySpace page, and can explain the nude thing as well:
Yep I agree.. yahoo shows the outbound link in the cache on one of the pages, nice spot vanessa … the nide link will have been when i did the Naked Bulling thing
Wow. Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water (queue the theme from Jaws). Google is saying that a link on his page to a page about Chrstine Dolce (even without the words Christine Dolce on his site at all), and a link on his same page to a page ON HIS SITE about Naked Bull Riding (perhaps influenced or at least re-inforced by the use of the word “nude” in the anchor text used by other’s linking to Dave as the Naked Bull Riding SEO), led Google to assign relevance to his site for the virtual semantic “Christine Dolce Nude”.
Since any celebrity+nude search is at least mildly competitive, it should take more than this to rank (Dave’s blog was reportedly #5 and #8 in the US for Christine Dolce naked and nude). Vanessa suggests that AGE of content and/or links played a role at a time when POPULARITY of the search “Christine Dolce Nude” was rising rapidly on Google. In her own words,
when searching for christine dolce naked became a popular thing to do, your site may have been an early one to have all the keywords.
Personally, I love it when Google insiders think out loud after just waking up, before coffee. Maybe it’s best not to compare this to pillow talk and competitive intelligence gathering – LOL, but nonetheless it does show Vanessa’s stream-of-consciousness thought line. Priceless.
Every SEO should now be tuning their thought process in accordance. Your page links outwards to other sites, thus voting for their relevance to your topic. They are popular/keyword rich, and carry a theme that is less site-specific than page-specific (ThreadWatch is not a celebrity blog, but an SEO and marketing blog). Your SITE contains pages that other’s link to from their own keyword-rich content, using anchor text. Google puts the words together and subsets them looking for overlaps. Absent any pre-determined ranking factors (in the case of a sudden rise in popularity of a search) the presence of subsets across that keyword conglomerate gives rank. We knew most of that.
but fine points separate the practical from the theoretical. Subsets matching and overlapping is something Google can do fast… some parts of LSI we know from linear algebra are able to be computed fast, and we see AdSense doing well with that all the time – it enables contextual advertising. Other parts are too difficult to do in real time, and sure enough Google falls back on links and anchor text, apparently with a heavy page emphasis. No time for imposing restrictions or a-priori knowledge about a site, so the traffic flows to DaveN and the Chrsting Dolce fans are disappointed until enough of them query Google the same way (and click through???).
I would have expected Google to already have a pretty good handle on Christine Dolce…. it’s not like she got her 1 million MySpace friends and a PlayBoy shoot by staying under the radar. But Google likes a query to be unique, and a website to be very, very specific. Christine Dolce Nude is aparently not as similar to Christine Dolce as many would have expected in SEO world. And I guess Christine Dolce naked and Christine Dolce Nude, once analyzed and stabilized by the G machine, don’t stay that way (stable) for long (?). Interesting.
So what triggers Google to re-visit the query and impose restrictions or weighting factors? That might lead to “when”, which reveals whether or not we can expect to practically turn this kind of opportunity traffic into a reliable stream (via redirects, links, etc). We all know how to get it. Shoemoney can tell you what a few days of #1 for “free (insert hot new cellphone model here) ringtones” is worth. Google could really use those analytics, eh?
I also think the day of a SEO cooperative is closer than ever.
Natasha over at ThreadWatch nailed it today with her commentary on corporations seeking SEOs as employees. In “Everyone and their momma wants to hire an SEO these days” she says:
As someone who recently went Corporate, I gotta say, it wasn’t difficult finding a job. The difficult part was finding a company that “got it”. Listings where they would want the SEO to do SEO, PPC, Metrics & Analytics and pay them under $100K a year got a “Are you out of your mind?” response from me. Because they obviously didn’t get the amount of work involved. And I thought, the person who takes that position must really be a masochist… or so new to SEO that they don’t “get it”.
That sounds right on, but not too different from most other jobs. Isn’t it typical that the employer doesn’t “get it”, asks for too much, sets unrealistic goals based on the wrong outcome metrics, etc? Isn’t it typical that a qualified candidate has to wade through the lesser-quality job offerings? Or is it different for SEOs because SEO is one of the few truly performance-based endeavors out there, and also one of the least understood? Employers “get” the sales department. They pay salepeople that produce, and churn the ones that don’t.
The difference for SEO is the technical nature of it. SEO rocks boats. It makes waves. And it backs up the “I’m telling you” with the boldest form of “I told you so” there is – measurable performance.
I know a few web people. I know designers, coders, and programmers (and yes, I know the difference). They all have their own special talents and areas of exceptional talent, knowledge and/or ability. But when they get together they don’t usually show each other up. A top designer isn’t usually going to be so highly skilled in coding to debate a coder about some scripting technique or Apache server issue. Even a great web developer doesn’t usually know enough about website accessibility or CSS validation to engage the CSS person in a high level “collegial” discussion. That’s what makes them so team-worthy. They have high levels of expertise that contribute to the success of the project, without threatening the other players on that higher plane of “personal worth”. Nobody could do it without everybody. They need each other, and benefit from each other’s abilities.
Enter the qualified SEO (let’s say, Natasha Robinson joins the “team”). Now I am sure Natasha has better people skills that I do but from the get-go Natasha, as SEO, is threatening to the rest of the players. The SEO knows a helluvalot about CSS as it relates to WHAT MATTERS. When the CSS designer wants to implement a new idea, the team used to defer to the CSS person for that “judgement”. But now the SEO has an opinion, and that opinon is either supported by observations or can be demonstrated (there is anecdotal or empirical evidence). It’s not just talk. The SEO can hold a candle to the CSS designer, on topics of CSS and web site performance.
Now when the Apache person makes some server configuration changes in order to streamline maintenance or harden the network, the only person who used to care was the CTO. Now, the SEO also has a professional stake in server configuration issues. As long as the web server appears to be working, the others are fine. So the SEO becomes a P.I.T.A. for the sysadmin. Since when did the all mighty sysadmin have to clear her server adjustments with anyone other than the CTO?
And when the PHP coder wants to deploy a custom templating system and is able to do so in a way that is helpful to the designer and virtually transparent to the end user or browser, he already has the necessary buy-in from the team players. It is the SEO who still may have something to say about it. Not hostile, and delivered with excellent people skills, but based on outcome metrics and not professional development or intellectual curiosity. SEO certainly “gets in the way”.
It just got harder and less interesting to work at Company X, for all those who thoroughly enjoy their own niche areas and have become accustomed to certain freedoms in the workplace. Does anyone else recall the late 1990’s when “management” of dot coms was all about understanding and handling “primadonnas, know it alls, greasy pigs, and TheWickedWitchOfTheNorth”?
It’s no fun to be “the SEO” in a typical corporation. Nobody likes a know-it-all, or a Quality Assurance person looking over his shoulder and second-guessing his decisions. Unless it is a quality company that engages employees in success metrics and profit sharing. Unless it is a team that truly desires to achieve collectively defined goals that align with the goals of SEO. Unless the position has sponsorship from upper management. Unless there is a communications channel to the CTO *and* business unit managers. Unless it is a learning environment. Unless… yeah. What Natasha said.
The Business.com ad is here. Check out the list of duties and requirements. Geesh. The very fact that they posted this as a Monster ad suggests they don’t get it, regardless of their recent SEO history. These jobs should be recruited, and that SEO should have staff.
Adapted from “Lonely” sketch by Amir Khella
Blingo.com Search and win prizes! And clicking the sponsored links won’t increase your chances of winning! Really! It Won’t!
Tip #5: Clicking links doesn’t help. Clicking links, whether they’re sponsored links or search results, will not help you win. …We hope you’ll find them useful, but Blingo offers no incentives or rewards for clicking on them.
Just as buying magazines does not increase your chances of winning the PCH Sweepstakes. Really!
Now we all know that PCH was sued by many states for their allegedly predatory practice that allegedly mis-led consumers (many of them allegedly elderly) into spending thousdands of alleged dollars per year on magazines and allegedly useless junk. They allegedly thought it would increase their chances of winning. It didn’t. And PCH told them so, in the fine print. But they still bought tons of stuff, and PCH was in the money.
I remember the long, convoluted instructions they provided for finding and properly placing the coupons and stickers on the entry form. It had to be properly completed, or it would be invalid. People went to great lengths to read every line of the multi-page, small print instructions. Details! Details! Details will separate the losers from the winners.
This Blingo project is powered by Google. So no need to click the ads. Really. Clicking the ads won’t increase your odds of winning. Truly. There is no reason to click on the Sponsored Listings. None at all. If you click the ads or follow the sponsored listings, you will not increase your chances of winning. Thanks for playing!
I have little expectation of integrity from PCH, but Google…. Google you should be ashamed.
Found on John Battelle’s blog.
It can be very interesting (and entertaining) to watch experts at competitive intelligence at work. Especially when they are racing to compete with each other. Why, it practically makes CI a spectator sport!
Seriously, when the target is Google, any new info rapidly becomes the target of competitive intel research by some of the most skilled Internet technologists on the planet. Today it was GDrive and “Project Platypus”. It reads like a cse study in modern Competitive Intelligence. Watch how the geeks tear into it, open your mouth, and say “whaaaaaaaaawww”..
Corsin Camichel runs a small script against writely, an online editor that Google purchased, and which some believe is a cornerstone of a larger Google MSOffice-like program. The script simply hits the domain with different sorts of default pages, looking for responses. Such probing can reveal the technologies inuse behind the scenes, e.g. index.php reveals PHP. Assuming they are not obfuscating.
He gets a response that appears to be a start page for something called “Platypus“, an online storage system. We all know about Google’s plans for GDrive due to a “info leak” some months ago. Could Platypus be GDrive?
Within hours the geek community, via that thread and others, contributes research efforts into CI on this project. Platypus is the name of a solid state storage company in New Hampshire (makes perfect sense… Google would go for a space-tech soluton like that, due to the shear volume of data and need for speed). Hey, here’s a quote from Google’s CEO that
“it costs less money and it is more efficient to use DRAM as storage as opposed to hard disks.”
So did Google by Platypus? No, wikipedia shows it went under in 2002. Hmmm….
So the eager online blogger-geeks review source code and whois and track down an employee at Google, and a phone number. Someone calls, and there is a vacation message. Innocent enough, yet in that message, he suggests that callers interested in Topic A call person X, and for Platypus issues, call person Y. Wow. So person Y, (David Braginsky) has a blog. His blog from 2004 says he moved to Google to become product techlead on a project at Google. The same guy posts this bit about privacy:
Wondering why so many people are complaining about GMail. Big deal, a computer scans your message and offers you ads. Privacy for privacy’s sake just seems silly.
Wow. So if he’s working on GDrive, surely he’s been drinking the Kool aid. Anyway, the open source competitive intelligence work continues… they find a product manager at Google behind a related domain, some internal server names at google that hint at Platypus being in use internally for employees. There is also a blog reporting from Google Analysts day in March, describing the Google GDrive effort.
At this point (what, 8 hour sinto the day?) the publicity and credit issues surrounding this “find” have taken over. The geeks seem more interested in getting link love and noteriety than finding out any more about Gdrive, so I suppose this is where the CI pros kick into gear (if they’ve even heard of it yet). That looks to me like a nice jump start provided by the Open Source Competitive Inteligence community.
Funny how Google AdSense is primary behind their desire to learn this stuff…and Google search referrals.
For those who enjoy wathcing and learning from this stuff, checkout the anti-spam forums. Those guys are top-notch researchers, and they post every detail of thier investigations into spammers, tracking whois, breaking down email headers, etc. They are usually very happy to disclose every private detail they find about spammers. Very, very educational.
Jason Brown is an online marketing person and independent SEO consultant in Brandenburg, Kentucky. He has obviosuly spent some time dong SEO for clinets, because this rant is very, very true.
SEO is a process, and now Lee Odden highlights it for us again with a BusinessWeek reference. But really, SEO as a business is about managing customer expectations more than it is about ranking in the SERPs. And the more you talk about process (instead of rank) the more you are softening the demands on SEO consultants. The case study SEO managed the customer expectations well, and we will never know for sure about those SERPs. And guess what? It doesn’t matter.
The “new SEOs” are all about client expectations, while the “old SEOs” are all about performance. That’s also the root of the black hat/white hat debates, the tin foil hat wearing Google bashers, and the “ethical” whiners. It’s also why top SEOs will continue to work for themselves instead of clients.
Note: If you’re looking for the nastiest bloke in SEO, you’re in the wrong place.
Let’s say you learn of a Drupal security flaw. Let’s say it permits an unauthorized SQL injection. Let’s say you figure out how to insert a backlink into the Drupal link list using that exploit.
Drupal is a popular Open Source content management system, in use on hundreds of thousands of websites. Itis very good, and very flexible. It is free, but installation and configuration (customization) may cost a few thousdand dollars in consulting fees. Basically, it is free of licensing fees but a real, commercially used product.
So you go to Google, and search “password and instructions will be sent to this e-mail address, so make”, and you find a list of 167,000 URLs of Druapl sites. Then you hit each of the first 1000 of those with your exploit URL .. one at a time… from a free or cheap web hosting account. And then you hit a different Google datacenter for another 1,000 sites.
Or, you could have narrowed your search for on-theme websites (more valuable back links?) by adding a keyword to that Google search such as “seo”. That way you only get the best sites for your back link spam.
How long do you have to act on one of these newly-discovered security vulnerabilities? Many months, as many of the webmasters do not patch or update their Drupal installations once they are deployed. I can’t blame them too much, because once you have customized the installation there is often plenty of work required following any update process.
Often a patch can easily be applied directly to only that part of the Drupal system that was flawed. However, application developers who deploy Drupal for their clients don’t often see direct patching as economically beneficial to them, so they may try and bundle the patch in with some other unfinished (and billable) work for the client. No sale, no patch. In fact, many clients don’t even know they are running Drupal. They paid a consultant for a CMS, and got one that worked.
Spam is not rocket science. Consequently, spamming can be stopped by some simple (albeit tedious) attention to detail. Usually, we are too lazy. Do we therefore deserve to be spammed?
Update 7/21/2006: I am now recommending BlueHost for hosting. Check it out.
From the first read, I like Daw’s blog. I will go back and read more, especially as he writes more on public relations, from his perspective as an independent web host. I’m guessing he works for BlueHost:
To provide good service means to have a reliable network and to use expensive equipment. Most newcomers however can not afford to buy RAID 5 server from IBM, DELL, HP or any other popular producer. Powerful machine costs at least $2500. If someone invested in state-of-the-art data center and/or servers they will definitely not offer “web hosting for less than $5/month”.
A refreshing reminder of what kind of Internet world we are living in right now. I also am watching Mark Heaton, on BlueHost’s blog. He’s an entrepreneur in hosting, spends $70,000 per month with GoDaddy, is is moving 125,000 domains off of GoDaddy right now because of their failure to provide good customer service. That’s the spirit.
This week Coke and Pepsi cooperated in an investigation that led to the FBI arresting 3 alleged conspirators. They allegedly conspired to sell secret Coke information to Pepsi. One of them worked for Coca-Cola in an administrative role. The news is big, because the payout was in the millions. The finer print reveals that the conspirators actually only sought $10,000. It was the FBI that handed over $30k in cash and then offered to pay out millions for more, in order to string them along and catch them. It worked.
So aside from the reports of scammers seeking millions for Coca-Cola secrets, the truth is it was scammers seeking $10k (and willing to accept $5,000, according to the Times report) for high-level Coca-Cola secrets. That’s $5,000 cash for risking felony prison time. For three people.
A sober reminder of the value of information, and the value of cash. That information may have been worth millions; we will never know. It certainly has a very high perceived value, or the FBI scam and news reports would not be so effective. Was a felony prison risk worth one-third of a $5,000 payout? That’s $1666.67
Would your secretary walk off the job and take trade secrets with her for a $1700 cash “incentive”? What about your freelance programmer?
I have personally witnessed freelance programmers offer to re-use code developed for prior clients, with complete disregard for confidentiality/non-disclosure agreements. Based on my experience, I understand it to be part of the economics of freelance work.
One of the reasons freelancers can afford to accept work at competitive rates (especially those competing against offshore coders) is the latent value of the developed code. Latent for them, that is. The clients may very well appreciate the value of the proprietary information (just as Coke and Pepsi did in this espionage case), but does the hired consultant? Not unless there is an avenue to monetize that latent value. Your code, resting on their hard drives and archive CDs long after you have terminated your engagement, is of potential value to them. And the channel for monetizing it is the sales pitch – telling a prospective client about their prior experience developing for others.
So let’s say I approach the freelance coder that you just used for an assignment, and I offer.. oh, say $1700, for them to build me the same thing they built you. Would they take it? Would you ever know? What if all I wanted was the information? They wouldn’t even have to build me anything.
So how would I know what freelancer you hired? Exactly. And how would I know about your project? Exactly. It really is that easy.
Everybody and his cousin is an SEO…
It’s an old conversation in search marketing. Today, everybody is an SEO. Everywhere you look someone is promoting themselves as a search engine optimizer, or an seo consultant, or an seo expert. Today I found a small series of articles by a new upcoming SEO that really intrigued me.
Because I have some odd fondness for this guy, I’m going to call him “My Buddy Steve, the SEO”. I have never met Steve, but I am quite sure I would like him. I am not 100% sure he will appreciate my highlighting him here, but I am confident that, given time, he will recognize my odd sense of humor and my honest respect for his initiative (as well as my sincere curiosity about his endeavors). Hell, I bet it would be more fun to know Steve than half the established SEOs out there. My buddy Steve has success written all over him.
Steve doesn’t directly claim SEO expertise for himself, nor does he call himself an seo. He does use the term, and he has a category on his blog labeled “seo”. He talks about keywords, the importance of links, and monitors his rankings. Heck he even ranked #8 on Google for a 3 word phrase after only 4 days! He does acknowledge that his early success did not last long, though, while still seeing the positive side:
Well, it only lasted one day. In my previous post you read how that I had achieved a good ranking position in Google in only a few days for a particular keyword. Today, one day later, that position is no where to be found. However, the good news is that the article I wrote about this subject was also published in Ezinearticles. and I now have a number seven position for that search term…I’ll gladly take a #7 rank for one of my articles any day of the week.
Writing for EZines. Damn, Steve, you are kickin now. Steve has written an article on doing free keyword research, and how to set up a “blog farm” in order to give yourself back links. With his go-getter attitude, Steve, is well on his way to top ranks.
Now to be fair, Steve’s writings are clearly aimed at the newbie. His tagline reads “The Simple Way To Start An Internet Business… If You Don’t Have A Clue” so he is genuinely aiming to help those with less knowledge than himself. And isn’t that what SEOs do? God knows there are
plentyoffish plenty of clients out there in need of help.
According to My Buddy Steve the SEO:
traffic is a part of the formula that is necessary for the success of your Internet business. Without traffic you will have no sales. Without sales, you have no Internet business.
You got that right, Steve.
Remember, “no links equals no traffic”. Let me say it another way, you have got to get links pointing to your site or you will not succeed!
Right again. Damn. Two for two.
I suggest that you build a “Blog Farm”. Your own blog farm has one distinct advantage of being under your complete control. Instead of having to go begging for links, you will have the ability to add a link from your blog farm to your new WordPress blog yourself. As a matter of fact, you will have the power to add a link to “any” new blog that you create in the future.
Wow. That’s getting a little dark, no Steve? I can’t wait to hear the rest when it gets posted:
I will go over the specifics of exactly “how” to construct a blog farm in my next article.
So Steve is on his way to being an SEO. He’s building a blog. He’s writing articles for EZines, and he’s blogging about SEO. He’s monitoring his traffic logs. Go Steve.
And then there’s the rest of the story. And again, remember that I have never met Steve, and I only just today found his new blog (started in June, with 6 posts). Steve is more interesting than you might think, and more tyical of today’s SEO that may be obvious.
From Steve’s “about page”:
The purpose of this site was originally to provide a way for my wife to be able to step in and continue managing our Internet business should anything happen to me.
Smart man. Um, what “Internet Business” was that, Steve?
I’m no Internet Guru, but I’ve been making a living from the Internet since about 1998. Look around, maybe you’ll find some information here that will help you on your journey to freedom.
Making a living on the web since 1998. Hmmm. I am intrigued. From A Little About Steve :
For the past 13 years I’ve been involved in the vacuum cleaner business. At first I had a problem with telling people I was in this business because of the stigma of door to door vacuum cleaner salesmen. However, I have since found out that the “best” salespeople in the world are “in-home” salespeople…
A quick look shows My Buddy Steve has got multiple domains on a HostGator reseller account, a Yahoo! store selling vaccum cleaner parts :-), 26 articles in Ezines, many on-theme blogs, and cooperative linking with a number of like-minded Internet professionals. He uses strategically crafted anchor text, technorati tags, and is an affiliate marketer. Like most of us geeks, he into digital photography (and has a gallery blog), travel, and earns from AdSense. Steve is by every measure, a competitive webmaster.
Now Steve, you do need to learn a bit about redirects, and I would be a bit careful about some of those off-topic cross links in your blog farm. I suggest you implement a cloaking script for your affiliate links, and perhaps it would be worthwhile to eliminate some of the unnecessary site wide baggage that comes with those free tools you’re using. In fact, you would probably be well advised to hire an SEO for some tuning and training. Your sites are currently under performing for you.
Oh, and if you have any interest, I’ve got some link trade ideas for you. I see you’re overlapping into one of my niche markets. Maybe we can do something together. Let’s talk. Oh, and give my regards to the Mrs!
As I waited the two or three minutes WordPress2 needs to post a small edit to this blog, I wondered why I was so casual about ripping backlinks out of the WordPress templates I downloaded yesterday. That issue is blog-worthy, I think. So this time, I smartly opened a second tab before hitting “save”. So while WordPress takes another 2-3 minutes to update the post slug, I can blog about stealth links in open source software.
I’ll go back and flesh out the issue later, but let’s just say there are plenty of direct backlinks hidden inside these “free” downloads. Some time ago I helped expose a case of user agent cloaking hidden within a front end re-write ruleset for the Invision Power Board forum. In that case, the author had inserted a cloaking script into the front end of a mod designed to make Invision’s forum “search engine friendly”. It quietly inserted 5 or 6 backlinks to his own pop culture websites, so only the search engines would see them. Nasty. We got him to fix it, though.
Now WordPress2 comes with a ton of themes. Each one is a set of code files, and each enjoys ample opportunity to insert backlinks. I always go and remove sitewide footer links because they are clearly not justified (except perhaps with a nofollow…haha) but this time I found myself stripping out several aditional links buried in the code. Some were in sections marked “do not edit anything here”. Some threatened “if you touch anything here, don’t even think of asking for support”. That’s fair enough, but disclosure would be much more…. ethical?
Yawn. Maybe I will start digging and see just how many free hidden backlinks are working for these people. And how many disclose, how many seem to hide the links, or gasp… maybe some or encoded? A task for a rainy day?
Alex King has promoted WordPress themes on his site for years, and gets many submissions. From this post I see some have computer virus/worms embedded, and others have hidden links. I’m not sure what the review process is today.
Lane Soelberg, the Vice President of Marketing for Business.com, has responded and clarified the use of nofollow on Business.com. Lane posted to Threadwatch that:
- Featured Listings are operating under a pay-per-click model on Business.com, and have been tagged with the nofollow attribute.
- Paid Inclusion listings are reviewed by editors, and so deemed “trusted”, and not tagged with nofollow.
- Free listings are gathered by editors, but reviewed over time. They are tagged nofollow until approved
From this, an SEO might assume that:
- You can get into Business.com for free but you will always get a nofollow unless you pass an editorial review. No telling if that involves sales calls, but it could certainly be leveraged by Business.com to motivate hesitant buyers.
- This establishes that (according to Business.com) paid inclusion directories are not purchased links.
Does Google have to state clearly whether or not this is true? No. It is true, until we learn otherwise. A web page that proclaims itself to be a paid-inclusion web page can sell links without putting a nofollow attribute. Woohoo. I would guess that Google put some pressure on them to use the nofollow. Otherwise, they were a blatant case of selling links that distribute page rank and therefore manipulate the search engines. Of course such pressure would carry a scent of impropriety given the status of Business.com as a Premium AdSense publisher, but I have to leave those issues to the lawyers.
Google reserves the right to devalue links as it pleases. All of this is meaningless unless we can determine that Google devalues paid inclusion links, or does not. Until we see some data from the SEO community on this, the whole business.com nofollow issue is of little competitive value.
Today the SEO world noticed that Business.com has added “no follow” attributes to many of their listings. Since Business.com is a major player in the “important back links” game, this is significant. A nofollow attribute is read by Google as a signal that the link is not to be trusted as a recommendation for the site. Practically, it means that hyperlinks with a nofollow attribute are worthless as back links if you need back links to improve your Google relevance.
While today’s discussions are certainly colorful, they demonstrate a bigger issue in the web marketing world than Business.com adding nofollow attributes to hyperlinks in its directory. The discussions demonstrate how little webmasters seem to understand about competitive webmastering, and how little effort many of those so-called webmasters/bloggers actually put into their writing. Many of them got it wrong, and many completely missed the significance. If you are a business owner of a webmaster trying to understand today’s competitive web environment, you will likely be misled by the discussions. While I won’t go into great detail here about nofollow and it’s use, I will try and explain what is important and why it is important. I’ll stick to the places where I felt the discussion was accurate or meaningful: highrankings and threadwatch.
Business.com is a business directory and has been recommended for years as a good place to buy a listing, because it has such high PageRank (PR). Google distributes that PR outward to the destination pages of any outbound hyperlinks on the Business.com page. So if you are the only outbound link from a high PR page on Business.com you will get a nice boost of PR from Google, and that will help you outrank other web pages in the Google SERPs. Multiple outbound links share that PR distribution by some algorithm. Page Rank is not the only benefit of a link on Business.com, however. Because it is a natural type-in domain name, and because it is an active business which itself has high PR pages and many incoming links, it directs a good deal of traffic around the Internet. Even if you don’t benefit from a PR distribution, you may get quite a bit of value out of a back link from Business.com.
And that is why a back link costs $199 per year. To put it into perspective, that’s about $17 per month for the back link. From the Business.com sales page:
Our users work for small, medium and large companies from a wide range of industries. Many are senior-level executives who hold the decision making power to make business-related purchases on behalf of their organization. Almost 70% of Business.com’s users are full-time workers, 60% are college graduates and approximately 70% earn over $100,000 a year. Business.com reaches more than 38 million business users through the Business.com Network.
Of course like most directories, Business.com includes many non-paid listings. They need to do that in order to present a useful product to viewers. If they limited the directory to paid listings, it might not be comprehensive enough in every category to be useful. Before the nofollow attribute was introduced by Google in 2005, there was no way to know for sure which entries were paid and which were free. An optional “extra four mini-links” was available to paid subscribers, and many made use of it, but otherwise there was no way to tell a paid listing from a free listing. There was also no way to selectively share the benefits of the listings (such as page rank distribution). That was all part of the game.
Today’s discussion started with Jill over at the High Rankings Forum. As usual, there is a quality discussion over there with some detailed observations, but the level of discussion on High Rankings is fairly centered around search marketing and “textbook SEO”, and at a level not always easily understood by novices. Jill notes that adding the nofollow attribute to paid links would be in line with Google’s stated purpose for the nofollow attribute. Yet it seems that Business.com has only added the nofollow attribute to the free listings. This appears to be directly contrary to Google’s intent. It rewards paying customers with Page Rank distribution, and limits the benefits of a free inclusion. Interesting observations.
Let’s consider the Business.com business model. They sell placement in a directory, and they present an information resource to the public via the Business.com web site. To achieve a quality (competitive) directory, they have to offer a quality listings at a value price. In order to present a meaningful product to the web visitor, they have to present a comprehensive and easy to use resource. Telephone directories have juggled those two competing priorities for a hundred years. The winning solution is to create an arena where “you have to be in it” in order to compete in your business market. Can the local accountant afford to NOT appear in the local Yellow Page directory?
When there was but one Yellow Pages, with every accountant in town listed, he simply had to pay to play. Of course the cost of a display ad in that case can be very high. The directory enjoyed a virtual monopoly, and could price the ad just shy of the value it brought to the local business. I have worked with small businesses that paid $6k per year for a single display ad in a city telephone directory, and they considered it a good value. Did telephone directories keep an edge by including free listings? Sure they did. They knew every phone number assigned by the (monopoly) telephone company. In fact, that is how the directory business started. BECAUSE the phone company knew in advance every new business opening up in a town (since those businesses ordered phone service prior to opening), the telephone company had a competitive advantage over any else looking to produce a local business directory.
Now back to Business.com, the standard for business to business online directories. What happens when the directory becomes adequately populatd, so it is really comprehensive? Just about every meaningful business entity has a listing, either free or paid, or at least enough to make the directory comprehensive. In order to grow the market, Business.com has to either expand it’s service offerings or convert free listings to paid listings. Let’s consider each of those options.
In order to expand service offerings, Business.com will have to innovate. Maybe contextual ads within the directory, with premium placements? Well, Google already does a great job of that via the Google AdSense program. Is Business.com in the program? Sure. They would certainly qualify for the Premium program at Google, which provides contextual ads without an obvious Google branding. A look at a Business.com page shows “sponsored links” that could be Google AdSense. An examination of the http headers when one of those ads is clicked reveals the Google servers are behind the scenes, serving up the ads. Of course that makes sense. A premium business choosing a platinum partner for contextual ads. It also means Business.com has already exhausted that extra service offering model. The market opportunity is already being exploited.
Are there other avenues? Sure, but they may take some work and some research. For example, how about charging more for more competitive ads in certain competitive markets? It worked for the Yellow Pages, but on the Internet there is a good chance it would create opportunity for niche directories to steal customers away from Business.com. So then how about converting the free listings to paid listings?
Bingo. Business.com has access to those potential customers, and can now incentivize them to pay to play. The typical online directory model suggests dropping those who don’t play, because quite frankly how else can you motivate them? Well, Google has provided the tool – the nofollow attribute. A directory can now incentivize the free listing to convert, without bluffing about dropping them (and potentially hurting the directory’s comprehensiveness). Is this a smart play? Sure it is. And it will only get better over time.
First, Business.com is a premium AdSense partner. Google is getting paid big bucks to send traffic to Business.com, where Google ads get clicked and Google publishers pay Google for those clicks. Will Google penalize Business.com for using the nofollow attribute in a way that clearly supports the Business.com competitive directory business model, which ensures their continued success, while at the same time providing Google with a revenue stream from contextual advertising? I doubt it. It would be silly to do things any other way.
Does the business owner see the value in the Business.com paid listing? Maybe not today, but I think we can rest assured that down the road Business.com will be increasingly showing businesses how well the paid listings are doing. Web site owners will learn more and more about the value of direct links, not less. Maybe Business.com will have to tread carefully when suggesting that paid listings pass page rank, or add value for search ranking, but I suspect that would not be much of a challenge for the marketing department. And as long as business keeps growing, and Google keeps getting paid, and there is no other reasonable option, Business.com has found a clever use of the nofollow attribute. Yesterday the price of a direct link from Business.com that boosts your page rank was $199 or free if you were already in it. Today, the price of a direct link from Business.com that boosts your page rank is $199, no matter how you get in. Sounds like a smart move to me.
The remaining question is how Google will handle the publicity this brings to the use of the nofollow attribute. I think the folks at Threadwatch.org concluded correctly on this one. Aaron (seobook) looks at from a Google search engineer perspective, and sees that the only live links in Business.com now are paid links, and so Google can can safely devalue those en-masse with respect to passing page rank. Todd (Stuntdbl) notes that this is another case of one business’ decision causing potentially disruptive changes across the whole Internet marketplace (and I infer that to suggest Google has too much market influence). If I infer corectly, I agree.
Update 7/7/2006 – Lane Soelberg, the Vice President of Marketing for Business.com, has responded and clarified the use of nofollow.
And so I conclude it is more important than ever, competitively speaking, to stay close to seo events if you expect to remain competitive on the Internet.
Images:(click on an image to see a larger version)