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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August 26th, 2009 by john andrews

SEO goes back Underground in 2009

I think 2009 is the year SEO went back underground.

I come to this realization through the back door. While trying to understand how so many “SEO websites” seem to succeed with their audiences, while publishing poor quality or low value content, it dawned on me that the continuing growth of the bottom of the SEO industry in 2009 (the new people) has overshadowed the transition away from public disclosure of real SEO knowledge. That, combined with the aging of the original SEO practitioners (the ones in those ancient closed-door communities, who rarely show up any more, and always via a name drop by their friends) has left us with junk.

Search any current SEO topic and review the results. Nice designs, lots of supporting testimonials, plenty of “awesome article” and “thanks for this essential reference for our industry” type comments. But look closely at the “information” published and you might find (as I have), very little. Not much fact. Lots of fluff and conjecture. Lots of soft statements that really don’t say anything concrete, and often say things which are incorrect, if taken as written. And I have considerable knowledge and experience with the material, so I assume I am qualified to conduct such a review.

Over the past few years many of my friends have left the public SEO world and gone back to their own communities and work. But I have continued to try and make new friends. Now I am noticing that most of those new friends, who clearly have extensive knowledge and experience, do not publish anything. I see them in social media, keeping in touch, and I see them in person at conferences. But they don’t write about SEO. SEO has gone back underground.

Which leaves me wondering what will happen when the still public SEO websites are completely free to say whatever they want, to accolades from their adoring (and non-critical) fans. I think I know what will happen. They will become authorities. They will become standards bodies, free to say how it is, unchallenged. And if any of them are any good at this communications game, they will band together and brand anyone who criticizes them as, well, pick a label: crazy, stubborn, a h8tr, grumpy, deceptive, unbalanced, or any of a number of adjectives intended to discredit. That’s how propaganda works.

Worse still, if the consumer marketplace buys the junk info, which they may simply because a Google search turns up little more than that junk info, then the providers of said junk become more powerful. Authority gets granted.

The smarter/slimier of them will spread the wealth around their fan bases (typically in the form of kickbacks and referrals), to cement their support. In the short term, they win “power” and their followers earn profitable gigs. In the long run, the marketplace will suffer as customers experience low quality product and discover how inaccurate/misleading the published information really was.

This is all good for those who went underground. Less real competition, and less distractions. Google also wins.

There are many ways for an SEO to “go underground” in this context:

  • stop working on others’ projects and focus on wholly-owned projects
  • collaborate with associates to build out specific projects (partially owned)
  • focus on a narrow vertical marketplace where demand for state of the art SEO is lower
  • build a search marketing community and sell into it, instead of actually doing search marketing
  • publish software tools for sale to the seo marketplace or direct to consumers
  • partner with industry leaders to make over affiliate programs and search marketing strategies, profit sharing
  • start one or more small “firms” as partnerships, staffed by young ‘uns willing to work hard in “startup mode” for equity

That’s just a sampling… and the next step for me is to wonder, what happens when all of these endeavors stop performing, based on established SEO tactics? Will these players continue to conduct their own SEO research along the way, or keep coming back (and kicking back into) the community hoping to buy knowledge? Lots to think about…

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August 13th, 2009 by john andrews

David Rosenfeld, Lawyer

I think it’s important that we know the actual people involved in the current massive scams in the US. One identified in a Truthdig.com article is David Rosenfeld, a lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC).

In a nutshell, Bank of America used $45 billion in taxpayer funds to take over the failed brokerage house Merrill Lynch. As part of that deal, six hundred ninety-six executives (696) “who helped run Merrill into the ground were granted more than a million bucks each” as bonuses. That’s a lot more than $696 million of your tax dollars. IN ADDITION TO THAT, another 39,000 Merrill employees were given an average bonus of $91,000 (just in case you were thinking it was a small number of elite bankers getting big bonuses). And this was apparently not disclosed to shareholders nor the public, which was apparently illegal.

The SEC lawyer David Rosenfeld appeared before a judge asking to fine Bank of America for misleading its shareholders, but that fine was less than  the bonus received by just ONE Merrill Lynch executive. On your behalf, funded by your government, this lawyer cut a deal to allow them your tax money, in exchange for a small fine.

I think we should fire David Rosenfeld and his boss for incompetence.

I think it is increasingly important for everyone to identify and recognize the individuals behind all of the confusion obfuscating the raiding of the US tax dollars. I agree with many of the capitalists amongst us that the rich aren’t defacto responsible for funding the poor. However, I also recognize how easy it is to slip theft, corruption, and abuse of the public trust past us while we are distracted by propaganda along those lines. Maybe we should hold the people responsible, accountable.

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August 13th, 2009 by john andrews

Google Caffeine SEO Notes

Since the SEO News industry has become so noisy (with lots of well-titled posts hyping mostly empty articles), and the major news sites are apparently jumping to publish first with such headlines, using similarly low-value content, it’s not easy to find real content about Google’s new “caffeine” indexing system. Google says it’s a big deal:

“For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search. It’s the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions. The new infrastructure sits ‘under the hood’ of Google’s search engine, which means that most users won’t notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we’re opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback.”

Matt Cutts says this is a complete rewrite of many parts of the Google indexing system, and that it’s fundamentally a big change.  He suggests caution and asks for feedback via an alpha review, and says Google plans to deploy it on one data center first for evaluations, before depoying it completely. According to Matt,  “whenever you change SO MUCH stuff under the hood…” you need to move forward carefully.

There is some speculation that this will form a basis for the Google’s annual “screw the affiliates right around Thanksgiving, to have maximum impact on the holiday sales season” effort this year. If that’s true, I suppose it’s a good sign that Google finally recognizes the importance of such huge changes, and the need for more than a week or two of lead time.  It also makes sense that Matt’s out front handling PR on this, since he has to face the webmasters at Pubcon in November.

I have yet to see any meaningful discussion of this new Google on the web, beyond basic observations on a few specific searches. But I’ll keep watching.

In the mean time I’m aggregating references on Google’s “Caffeine” update and what it might mean for search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. If you know of a meaningful article about Google’s Caffeine update, that would be interesting to SEOs, please note it in a comment.

For starters:

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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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