John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?  Competitive Web & SEO
March 29th, 2007 by john andrews

Google Finds Unregistered Whois Data

A few weeks back I was Matt Cutts Watching when I noticed he was participating in a Law Bloggers meeting. Mental note made; move on. Now I see Matt report from his blog about the Bay Area Blawgers meeting. Best bit: Matt notes how the US Copyright Office houses a database of domain names associated with registrations for Online Service provider status. In order to technically qualify for the Safe Harbor provisions of the DMCA, a company or web site must register with the copyright office. That registration costs $80, and includes a place to name the business and list alternative names for the business. In other words, it’s a self-registered list of domain names owned/operated by a legal entity, identified in the public records.

Now Matt didn’t identify it as such… that’s what you need me for :-) Matt simply commented on how Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation polled the table about DMCA takedown notices, and pointed out how easy it was to register as an Online Service Provider. But if I were Matt, and that was news to me, I would take a look at that US Copyright web site and when I saw page after page of webmasters listing all of their “other domains” I would say aaaahhhhh…. and fire off an email to a junior Googler to “organize this information”.

If you look around the US Copyright filings for Online Service Provider you will see many, many webmasters listing dozens or more domains under one registration. Some of the big boys also list domains together, while others seem to register single domains. Warner Bros Entertainment for example listed and, which have WHois records assigned to Warner Entertainment, but they also included on the same registration form, which has a Whois registrant of Astro America, LLC in San Francisco. Nice find for Google, as this allows Google to associate with Warner Brothers when, based on Whois alone, that was not obvious public knowledge. That’s just one example for you.

I am sure it would be fun to dig around the site further, but I don’t have time. Besides, Google can make it searchable and cross-reference-able, which would be MUCH easier the scanned PDFs. I am sure Google could ask for this information direct from the copyright office in electronic form,or perhaps make a trade of indexing for access. In many cases this makes a nice addendum to Google’s efforts to associate web sites to each other and webmasters to web sites (via email address at the very least, names and legal representatives, etc). Right now it looks like mostly big corps and adult web sites, but it seems clear that this is a likely addition to the legal requirements for web publishers and so … another tool for Matt’s Top Secret Spam Fighting VPN-connected laptop computer!

I just hope that when Google organizes this part of the world’s information, it makes it accessible to all of us and not just the competitive teams inside Google. Maybe that’s a good idea for the Copyright office… if you give away our data, require that the indexed form also be freely available to the public? Maybe a Taxpayers Content License or something?

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March 29th, 2007 by john andrews

SMX Advanced Seattle Search Marketing Expo

Updated: See Seattle SMX post

Updated: The SMX Advanced Seattle 2007 Agenda has been updated. One interesting thing I did not see before: Matt Cutts and Michael Gray on the same panel, discussing Google’s use of personalization, considering whether or not it is a threat to webmasters….. Hmm…. that could get colorful. I suppose it’s up to Michael just how colorful it gets?

I also see Greg Bozer and his brother Todd are running a session together (again). They’re presenting two sides of an issue “Is SEO Bull?”, but I only see Greg and Todd. Who’s presenting the other side? Maybe it’s a mystery guest?

Anyway I see that I am ranking highly with this post for “SMX Seattle” and “SMX Advanced” and that doesn’t seem like the best thing for Google users since I didn’t even link out to the conference website initially. So in the interest of helping Matt Cutts and the Spam Quality Team at Google deliver comprehensively helpful SERPs, here are the updated links for the SMX Advanced Seattle 2007 Agenda:

(nofollows in place since I have never met this Danny Sullivan guy… and after last week’s disclosures, best not cause Google to think these are paid links, eh?).


I have been considering attending Search Marketing Expo (SMX), mostly because it’s here in Seattle. For some reason I thought differently of it than SES, but now that I see the agenda I’m getting deja vu. I feel very much the same way I felt all those times I considered attending SES (and chose not to). I’m thinking it’s pretty expensive at $1200+ for shy of 12 hours of content (over $100 per hour). It also doesn’t seem to really be for SEOs?I see the conference is billed as for “advanced” search marketers:

SMX Advanced is for the experienced search marketer who wants to enjoy sessions conducted at a high-level and continue to stay ahead in the fast changing world of search. If you’re fluent in search marketing, SMX Advanced is where you can converse with others who speak your native language.

I’m not a cheapskate but I am very particular about where I drop $1200 just for registration for a 2 day industry event that schedules concurrent sessions. I initially thought I would like to participate, but the open topics don’t really fit my core interests so that’s out. Am I alone in this view that SMX is not for experienced SEOs?

Looking at the agenda, and describing my thoughts:

Organic Track: Duplicate Content Summit
More and more, SEOs are growing concerned about duplicate content issues. Does syndicating your content in feeds mean you give up being seen as the original source? Is content scraping that’s out of your control going to knock you down in the rankings? In this session, search engines outline how they currently handle duplicate content detection, followed by lots of time for the audience to suggest and explore future directions.

Duplicate Content is a very logical issue, but very well covered over the past few years in SEO world. I don’t agree that “more and more” SEOs are concerned these days, although I will agree that “more and more” SEO web sites write about it these days. SEO web sites write about what gets traffic, and not what’s important (this is billed as an “advanced” conference, remember?). People want to know how to avoid dup content because they have heard it mentioned so much over the years. In my circles, duplicate content is less and less an issue these days (partly because it’s so easy to understand the core issues, and easy to avoid the big problems). I also find duplication less of a problem these days when it comes to impact on rankings (fewer 302 problems, for one thing).

I do agree that the search engine companies could present interesting material regarding how they handle duplicate content, if they are willing to disclose more than what Google already discloses. But in the SMX blurb, they don’t say much about which or how many search engine companies will participate. Plus, they emphasize “followed by lots of time for the audience to suggest and explore future directions.” I really don’t want to hear or Microsoft to tell me how they handle duplicate content. I’m also not keen on paying over $100 per hour in registration fees to listen to the audience ponder the unpredictable future that exists at the whim of the search engines.

Organic Track: SEO, Meet SMM
SEO has a lot to gain from SMM, social media marketing. Getting your content into the major social media sites does more than provide an initial traffic jump. It can generate links or provide rankings you might not be able to tap into with your own site. In this session, SMM essentials that SEOs need to know.

Now I know social media had to be in there to satisfy the SocialMediaOptimization people (and their prospective customers), but is social media marketing really SEO? It’s search marketing, yes. But search optimization? I think not. It’s a traffic source, and data on the value of that traffic (perhaps relative to organic SEO traffic) could be interesting. Will such data be exposed? Generate links… yes, just like with any web site, getting coverage on a social web site can generate links. But “provide rankings you might not be able to tap into with your own site“? Really? Separate from the impact of those links? Hmm. the SEO in me is thinking “cool… someone’s going to actual discuss the impact of user tracking on SERPs” and then I check myself. Not in an hour, and not in a session entitled “SEO meet SMM”.

Organic Track: Personalized Search: Fear Or Not?
Google’s change earlier this year to make personalized search results more prevalent has many SEOs wondering — is it game over when everyone has their own unique search results? This session looks at the shift, tips on staying high even with personalization and what might come in the future.

Reading this one my gut feelings are reinforced. It sounds like overview coverage of the potential impact of the concept of personalization. Again, the language of the snippet suggests it’s newbie coverage, not advanced search marketer stuff. Of course I could be wrong… that’s why I am writing this on my blog! But if I were organizing a session that was truly advanced coverage, I’d mention the topics so people would know .. like stats on penetration, utilization, effectiveness. But then this is included in the “organic” track (?). If the conclusions suggest that social marketing, encouraging bookmarking, feed listing, etc is a way to maintain rank in the face of personalization (such as might be suggested) then I will be disappointed because I believe social marketing is marketing and not SEO. The “fear or not” part of the session title doesn’t help me either. That’s a title aimed at clients and newcomers, if you ask me.

Organic Track: Penalty Box Summit Had a site hit the search engine penalty box? In this session, search engines share the latest on how they give you official signs of this, along with re inclusion procedures. The session includes lots of time for audience-driven discussion on penalties and how procedures might be improved.

Now here’s another example were my SEO alarms go off. In SEO, penalty recognition is either very easy or very hard. Those who can definitively identify a not-easy-to-identify penalty situation are very much in demand these days, and they are not likely to give away their secrets at a public session like SMX Seattle. The rest of the penalty situations are fairly easy to see (and correct). “Re inclusion procedures” is clearly newbie territory. And, once again, that mention of “lots of time for audience-driven discussion on penalties” makes me cringe… $100 per hour to listen to do-it-yourself search marketers explain their seemingly unfair penalizations. Nope.

Organic Track: Better Ways To Do The Boring Stuff
Keyword research. Link building. Page titles. Yawn. You know the fundamentals of SEO cold, and c’mon — they aren’t always that exciting. This session gets creative, opens your eyes to new ways to make the drudge work less drudgery.

Okay I see some value in that one, as long as it’s not just a pitch session for commercial SEO products or tools.

Organic Track: Give It Up!
No more secrets time. In this session, our panel of noted SEOs all share some of their favorite and largely overlooked SEO tips. Then we turn to the audience for more sharing. Attendees vow not to blog what’s discussed (on your honor now!). Matt Cutts and his mighty notebook might be barred from the room. Alternatively, any search reps found lurking have to give up a secret of their own or head for the hallway.

What panel? Who are the “noted SEOs”? Really… that is *everything* for an “advanced” session like this, because not many of the talking heads of SEO these days actually reveal meaningful “secrets”. I would expect an inaugural meeting to proudly proclaim the headliners for such an “expert” driven session, but I don’t see it here. Zero-day secrets are a lot of fun and don’t last long, so they tend to be more entertainment than anything else. I guess when it comes to “advanced search marketer” stuff, I’m simply not sold.

Advertising Track: Paid Search Roundtable
Get updated on the latest from the major paid search providers, then fire off questions on paid search topics to the panel of representatives during the ample discussion period.

Not for me. Paid search management is a trade, not a profession. It’s owned by the search engines, and infinitely dynamic because the networks can update their behavior at any increment. This one’s for PPC practitioners.

Advertising Track: Paid Search & Tricky Issues
Trademarks, duplicate listings, quality scores, match types, getting fast support — these are just a few of the tricky issues with paid search. This session covers such topics and solutions to make your life with paid search easier.

Again, a session for those in the PPC trade who don’t already have contacts to answer the questions. Not for me.

Advertising Track: Getting Vertical With Paid Search
As search goes vertical, so too have the ad opportunities. Local search ads and mobile search ads are just two vertical search marketplaces now out there. This session looks at some key verticals with tips and opportunities. Don’t miss out on these new frontiers of paid listings!

For the same reasons that PPC is not interesting to me, this is not interesting to me.

Advertising Track: Pump Up Your Paid Search!
In this session, tips and techniques designed to help pros get even more out of their paid search campaigns.

Again, more for the PPC practitioner. It’s not SEO, and PPC is a profit-managed enterprise, so anything spoken aloud to an audience of hundreds at an industry event like this is not of value to me. If you’re managing your own PPC or learning to be a manager of PPC, or perhaps are already a small PPC manager, fine, but then why is this for the “advanced” search marketer?

Advertising Track: Paid Search: The Giant Focus Group “I wish….” or “If only they would….” If you’ve thought it, now’s your chance to say it to representatives from the major search ad providers. What should they fix? What new features should they provide? Come lobby for the changes you want, with others to take up your cause, if you’ve got that great idea.

The day I willingly pay over $100 per hour to be in someone else’s focus group, please shoot me in the head.

Advertising Track: Beyond The Majors
Still seeking paid search traffic? Then you might want to look beyond the major players and toward some of the smaller networks out there. This session provides an update on options beyond the majors, as well as tips and strategies.

Of minor importance in my book.

Debate: Is SEO Bull?
Want success in SEO? You don’t need no stinkin’ SEO! Just read the search engine help files, have good content, and the traffic will flow. That’s the bull argument. The no bull side says SEO is indeed a skill set that not everyone has time or aptitude to learn, one that can deliver those targeted visitors. We let the sides go at it through a traditional debate, followed by audience discussion.

I can see this as a great opportunity for the people on the panel, provided the audience is full of potential clients on the fence about SEO (but not for “advanced search marketers” attending in the audience). It also might be very entertaining.. but I can’t tell because I don’t know who is on the panel. I’ll have to pass.

Debate: Is Bid Management Dead?
With it harder to know what the competition is paying plus quality scores that make it difficult to know where you’ll rank, are things shifting away from automated bid management and more toward the human touch? Both sides square off in a traditional debate, followed by audience discussion.

Again, PPC is a managed profit game, so the answer to this is “duh!”. ANY technological approach to optimization will be neutralized eventually if it removes profits from the networks or presents a recognized challenge to the other market players. If you are serious about PPC you pay the best to deploy the best tools today for your cause, and thus manage your risk. If you’re not serious, PPC is a very wasteful spend IMHO, so just manage the budget/risk as you see fit. I can see learning just how bad it is right this moment, or hearing what others are doing, but that is not for me.

To be fair there are two 45 minute sessions still listed as “TBA” which I assume means “to be annouced” but also, to be fair, the price increases to the full $1200 on April 2nd which is not far off. I can’t assume those two will be killer sessions that make it all worthwhile, with no such promotion, can I?

So SMX Seattle looks to me like it’s more for clients of SEOs than experienced SEOs, and more for inexperienced search marketers than experienced search marketers, except as an opportunity to present or otherwise impress and recruit clients. Since I am not presenting (and this post is not likely to get me any invitations!), it’s not for me.

Of course I recognize I have not at all considered this for it’s social networking value (which might be where all of the value is). That said, what does SMX Seattle add that PubCon and SES don’t already provide?

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March 28th, 2007 by john andrews

Matt Cutts MFA Splog

I’m not sure why someone thinks that Matt Cutts’ blog content is good splog fodder. SEO and webmastering don’t generally monetize at the top of the earnings charts for PPC, and without attribution to Matt, you don’t get the Matt Cutts name on there for poularity either. Maybe this full-text reproduction of Matt Cutts blog , plastered with AdSense ads, is intended to be ironic?



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John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John




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