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August 28th, 2006 by john andrews

Google says you don’t need a web site any more

You don’t need a web site any more

These days, everybody needs SEO. Why? Because they need traffic, and the only traffic many business web sites get these days is the traffic that the search engines send to them. And of the search engines sending that traffic, Google sends the most by far. So the thinking is, if you want your web site to work for you, you need to get into Google and get those Google referrals. The businesses have tried that on their own and failed, so now they need a specialist. A “search engine optimizer” or SEO.

That is certainly one way to think. As a consultant providing SEO services to small businesses, I could whole heartedly agree. Hire me. It’ll solve your problems. In fact, everybody should hire me, and then everybody will have the #1 spot on Google, right?

Of course not.

But this sort of hyperbolic thinking can be enlightening. If everyone wants to appear first in Google for a search phrase that matches their target consumer audience (whatever it is, for-profit or not) then really all they seek is an *appearance* at the top of the Google search results (the SERP) for that search query. They don’t seek a web site, but an “ad” at the top of the Google results page. So why do they even have web sites? Conventional thinking is that the “ad” clicks through to a “page” that is on a web site. I honestly believe that the only reason the “sponsored listings” on Google look different from the indexed web pages is because it would be legally questionable for Google to do that right now. If Google could toss aside that constraint, the ads would look exactly like the rest of the web pages listed on the Google results page.
Exaggerating this line of thought further, *if* Google provided a big enough advertisement at the top of the search results, would that replace the need for a separate business web site? Hmm… some have suggested the web has evolved to the point where web pages are ads, and each page serves the business separate from the rest of a web site. Eventually some businesses would want to bring the traffic deep into their complex web sites, sure, but not all businesses. In fact, not *most* businesses. If you look at today’s web, the vast majority of business web sites are not the type that need deep user interaction. They need to extend an invitation to call, write, order, submit, sign up, comment, etc. Some singular action that is ‘the transaction”. And that might be provided by a large Google “ad” at the top of the SERP, if it was big enough and “HTML-y” enough.

Consider Pay Per Click contextual ads. They are placed at the top of the SERP, and induce a call to action. Limited in size to a few lines, they usually link to a web page somewhere because you can’t fit the whole sales pitch and order form into that little PPC ad. Due to the constraints of size, the call to action became “click thru to the rest of the story”. But how many of those businesses spending money every month on PPC ads would be fully served by a single web-page-sized interactive document behind the PPC ad? Hosted by Google? AJAX allows that to happen, doesn’t it? Urchin/Analytics? AdSense/AdWords tracking?

Today’s contextual advertising is expensive. Each click costs money, and there is a strong desire… NEED actually, for those referrals to “convert” to a sale or commerce activity. Some SEOs suggest that every “landing page” needs to be optimized for that singular “call to action” in order to increase “return on advertising spend” and “return on investment”. In other words, to make a profit after accounting for the costs of that web site and all those web pages. So if that is true, and those optimized landing pages result in sales, who needed a whole web site? They needed (and got) a single landing page that closed the deal. Hosted by Google.

BUT, those PPC fees (costs) were supposedly bid up on a market basis. So the costs should be tracking the…. costs, right? I mean, if the plan is to maximize ROI or ROAS, and a significant portion of the costs to be recovered came from producing the web sites and PPC campaigns (including handling the orders etc.) then the market should suggest that PPC bid prices level out right around where the costs are… minus the Google share. And if that were to happen, we competitive webmasters would need to reduce those costs in order to increase our profits (noting we can’t put any pressure on Google to reduce it’s share because, well, Google has a monopoly there). And Google, to increase it’s profits, needs to GROW outwards and consume more of the profits, by adding value… which is the same as reducing expenses on the client side. Are you with me?

So Google should host your landing page, and you may not need a web site at all.

Google has just announced (tomorrow morning, actually) they will provide web site building tools/services for small businesses. I have no further information yet, but the above scenario is interesting to me. What if Google extends the contextual ad business to handle the whole process, from ad serving in-context through conversion on a Google-hosted landing page? Those of you “in the biz” know what I’m talking about…the follow up on Writely, urchin, WHOIS, Toolbar, etc. The Grand Finale. Cyberdyne. Self awareness. Well, maybe not self awareness (yet).

Of course I don’t believe the above scenario, and I hope you don’t. but is should SCARE YOU. In the end, following this sort of “optimization” process, Google would simply assume *all* costs and become Amazon.com…. and you all would be “out of business” as they say. Of course my hyperbolic scenario completely ignores disruptive innovation that even I would be pursuing left and right if the scenario did try and play out. And we all know that Amazon has been around for years, and successful by almost all counts, and yet we still don’t buy everything from Amazon (yet). Why is that? is it possible that we might someday buy everything from Amazoogle? Think seriously about the theoretical consequences of this scenario, and you may realize why many SEOs (myself included) warn web masters very seriously about telling TheGoogle about your web sites and businesses (your stats, your secondary supporting domains, your conversion rates). Why do you share competitive data with a competitor?

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August 27th, 2006 by john andrews

Google-proof Javascript Redirect

I think I have discovered the Holy Grail of SEO this time. A javascript redirect that Google can’t detect. Do you know what that means? It means you can put up almost 10,000 pages of keyword spam nonsense, interlink it on keyword anchor tags, and add this javascript redirect on every one of those pages back to your favorite landing page. Viola! 10,000 pages indexed in Google on your spam words, all sending visitors to your single optimized, money-making landing page! If you blanketed your niche market with pages covering every possible spamword, and each of those pages gets a mere 2 referrals from Google each day, that’s 20,000 visitors PER DAY to your sales page! If your page is anything like this one (and if not, you can copy it!) you can expect something like 30 or 40% of .1 per-cent conversions! At pennies profit per sale as an Amazon affiliate, that’s more than a few bucks per day profits, you see what I’m sayin’?!

If you act now, I’ll sell you this little gem for $47 but first let me tell you a long and drawn out story, show you many examples of people who say that it has worked for them (or will work really well if they buy it and use it!). And if you act TODAY, I’ll even send you last years MMF eBook FREE OF CHARGE!

Now if you don’t recognize the parody yet I can’t help you, but if you don’t believe this is based in TRUTH, the Google-proof javascript redirect is REAL. It’s a bit complicated for the newbie, but I guess it would have to be complicated if it to outsmarts the Ph.D.’s at Google. Anyway, it looks something exactly like this:

SCRIPT
redirTime = “100”;
redirURL = “http://www.homepage.tld/”;
function redirTimer() {
self.setTimeout(“self.location.href = redirURL;”,redirTime);
}
END SCRIPT

If you don’t understand that code, don’t worry. Even *I* didn’t understand it until I actually read it. And then I sat back in awe…javascript so elegant, so refined, even TheGoogle can’t detect it. Simple, efficient, no-server-technology-required cloaking. The SEO Holy Grail.

I’m off to see the Wizard. Ten thousand ten schmousand, I’m gonna put this baby to work!

Editor’s Addendum: Please don’t try this at home. This and most posts on this blog are not for newbies. In this case, for example, the javascript is a basic redirect – nothing fancy, not hidden at all. The only remarkable fact is that Google *doesn’t* detect it. Surely if you put tens of thousands of spam pages on your website, you will eventually suffer a penalty at best, and possibly a complete ban. Don’t do that, ok? The post is sarcastic, although admittedly recognizing the sarcasm may require more than a basic level of Internet savvy. That’s part of my point – on the Internet, be careful. Don’t believe everything you think.

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August 26th, 2006 by john andrews

Telegraph steals blogger content?

Copyblogger is reporting that a Telegraph post attributed to telegraph writer Melissa Whitworth was actually copied exactly from the mediabistro blog, where it was published days ago. That’s wholesale copy of the entire first-person blogging, with no attribution, and beneath the byline of a telegraph reporter.

Why was it discovered so fast? She must have used one of those browser extentions that cut and paste full html, because the copied content included a live back link to copyblogger (!)

What might be the plausible denial? A hacked blog post? A policy of highlighting popular blog posts, and an error in attribution? Writer on vacation, and temp staff uploads wrong copy to under byline?

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