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

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June 20th, 2007 by john andrews

Everything in the Known Universe about Technorati Spam

I saw some news headline that Technorati traffic had increased a good deal over last year. About a half year or so ago I saw some SEO discussions about Technorati as a dead, useless, uninteresting waste of bandwidth. “Couldn’t those guys do something more innovative“, was the gist of the commentary. Well, Technorati stepped up to the plate and is now a big fat search engine spammer, just like Wikipedia.

Search your favorite topic and in the top ten you find “Everything in the known universe about your favorite topic“. Click thru to a landing page on your favorite topic, with your favorite topic in the title tag and your favorite topic styled bold within an h1 tag. Look at the cross-linking on your favorite topic to youtube videos and blog posts, with YouTube captions and blog paragraphs scraped and republished under the Technorati brand. Unique, original content? Not. But slightly more spammy than Wikipedia, where unsanctioned “editors” disintermediate web publishers and aggregate their unique, original content on pages which Google ranks at the top of search results.

The only thing missing from Technorati’s spam pages is Google AdSense. Funny, the only thing missing from Wikipedia is Google AdSense. Then again, I don’t see Yahoo! or Microsoft ads, either. I do see Doublclick ads, though. Funny how that works. DoublClick: Google’s back door to anti-AdSense web properties?

As an complete Silicon Valley Outsider I imagine Technorati is looking to be acquired and wants to show BigTraffic. But hey, what do I know about these things…

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June 19th, 2007 by john andrews

Online Reputation Management VooDoo

In a discussion in a search marketing forum known for it’s hardball approach to online marketing, a Social Media expert today suggested that reputation management might be traded for links. On the surface, that might not seem odd. But looking more closely…. I think it’s very interesting.

As a search engine, Google values links, and rewards web pages receiving links by giving them a higher position in search results. As a commercial advertising business, Google makes a fortune selling links. So naturally linking on the web has become big business, with links created, bought, traded and obtained deliberately through influence. Responding to this threat, Google the search engine suggests that purchased links are bad. Google threatens to devalue links if it determines they are not “genuine”, and suggests that web publishers mark paid links using specialized technology (designed by Google for that purpose) so the links don’t get counted and don’t influence search rankings. Google has even penalized (banned?) link exchange networks in the past. Since Google is arguably the largest link seller out there (via AdSense and AdWords), this is a very controversial topic in the online business world. So how does linking relate to reputation management?

Online Reputation Management is an aspect of PR (public relations). When Google presents a particular web page at the top of a search result set, the majority of Google users click thru to that page. If the search was “your name” and the highest-ranking page was a page proclaiming you to be a “dastardly scoundrel”, you have an Online Reputation problem.

How do you solve such a problem? Forget about asking Google. Asking a PR professional might work, but only because that PR person will hire an SEO (search engine optimizer) to do the work on their behalf. We SEOs can influence the search engine results sets; it’s what we do. So if a PR person uses our services to “correct” a misleading perception, via the search results, that’s a form of online “reputation management”.

And now it gets interesting…. “will trade online reputation management for links”. Full circle, it seems. Links build reputations (good and bad), and people suffer the consequences, so they hire “managers” who hire SEOs to fix the problem. They can now “pay” for the services with “links”. And not just any links… the links asked for in this case were “.edu links” which means links from an educational institutions (because Google seems to value them more, probably because it trusts them to be less commercial). Of course most .edu links that are “traded” are the illicit kind…placed onto web pages at schools and Universities for commercial purposes. In this case, that is clearly the reason… place edu links in exchange for help managing a tarnished reputation.

Done something bad, and got a bad rep? Want to cover it up? Well, just violate a few more guidelines, violate a few University policies, exploit your .edu publishing privileges, and you too can have a clean reputation once again! Ain’t it beeee-you-tee-full!

Ya gotta love this industry. The Devil went down to Georgia; he was looking for a soul to steal…

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June 13th, 2007 by john andrews

Buying Links from Anonymous Publishers : Poyfickly Leegull

This is the story of A Quandary. And it’s all Google’s fault.

You need links. You already buy as many links as you can from Google, but you are tired of paying that middleman so you look out onto the web to buy direct from web publishers. An attempt to disintermediate Google, if you will. Of course, since Google is THE search engine and the defacto source of referral traffic these days, it isn’t easy to eliminate the Google middleman. It can be dangerous. Piss off Google and, well, the links might not matter any more no matter what price you paid.

So you proxy your link buying, just as you proxy your domain registration. It’s nothing unusual. Lawyers (registered agents) and corporations (legal entities) have been serving as proxies for business people for as along as we have had business people. “Poyfickly leegull“, as my distant Uncle Vinnie used to say.

So now your proxied link buyer discovers a perfect place for a back link, and notices the web publisher is also behind a proxy. What to do?

Well, you could have your agent contact their agent, and negotiate a deal, whereby the destination website is revealed to the linking web site’s publisher. Eventually link seller knows only that someone has commissioned a link buy to a web property. It could have been the web publisher, but it could have really been anybody (even a competitor might want to encourage certain linking to take place). As for the link seller, all we really know is somehow someone somewhere encouraged the publisher to place a link to a site. It could have been outright payment for linking, or there could have been some lobbying behind the scenes. No one really knows unless they follow the money. And, of course, proxies make it difficult (expensive) to follow that money. I don’t know who Google’s premium partners are, because Google won’t tell me. It would be silly for them to share that info.

This link buying all works swimmingly except when the anonymous web publisher doesn’t answer the emails sent to the proxied whois address, and doesn’t provide a “contact us” form. It seems silly to me that a publisher would settle for $4/day in AdSense earnings for a ranking web page, when she could earn far more with a few back links. It also seems wrong that a web publisher would have incentives to “hide” behind unresponsive anonymous proxies, but clearly it is necessary given the unilateral, economically all-mighty power held by Google. But what about that follow the money aspect?

What if the money you pay to anonymous publishers for links is actually supporting child pornographers or terrorists or, perhaps even worse, liberals!? Come to think of it, how much Google AdSense revenue is flowing to child pornographers and terrorists and (gasp!) liberals?

Seriously. This is all so silly, and it is all a consequence of the largest and most successful web company in the world refusing to yield to innovation and the emerging competitive marketplace we call the Internet. Come on Google, you’ve made a fortune selling links and controlling referral traffic on the web. Web publishers have had enough. We need to move forward. If you say we need links, we have to be able to use our currency to get them. Markets set the relative values of the various currencies, not Google. The days when Google could claim “good will” as the Internet currency are long past. They were flooded out by all those millions in stock option redemptions. You took the cash — why can’t anyone else?

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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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Recent Posts: ★ SEO Industry Growth, Widespread Failure, and SEO Industry Challenge ★ Do you want to WIN, or just “Be the Winner”? ★ 503: GONE ★ Cloud Storage ★ Identity Poetry for Marketers ★ PR is where the Money Is ★ Google is an Addict ★ When there are no Jobs ★ Google Stifles Innovation, starts Strangling Itself ★ Flying the SEO Helicopter ★ Penguin 2.0 Forewarning Propaganda? ★ Dedicated Class “C” IP addresses for SEO ★ New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) Could Change Everything ★ Kapost Review ★ Aaron Von Frankenstein ★ 2013 is The Year of the Proxy ★ Preparing for the Google Apocalypse ★ Rank #1 in Google for Your Name (for a fee) ★ Pseudo-Random Thoughts on Search ★ Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or a Blog ★ The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity ★ Google Execs Take a Break from Marissa Mayer, Lend Her to Yahoo! ★ Google SEO Guidelines ★ Reasons your Post-Penguin Link Building Sucks ★ Painful Example of Google’s Capricious Do Not Care Attitude 

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