Wall Street Journal Mentions Recent Lawsuit

Aug 31st

I am surprised the Wall Street Journal covered the suit, and am glad I was not misquoted, but am still somewhat in awe of what some think the case may mean:

Legal analysts said the suit could be a test case for determining what protections bloggers have or don't have for allegedly defamatory material posted by others. At issue would be the court's application of the federal Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that, broadly, protects providers of computer services from being held liable for content posted by others.

Had I ever thought they would have been so aggressive with this I may had been a bit more passive in the past (as there are other things far more deserving of time and effort than this case), but you can't really undo the past.

I still do not think I knowingly stated anything wrong or dishonest, and Traffic Power has yet to give me any specific advice of what I should be removing or fixing, other than "everything", which clearly makes it a free speech issue in my mind.

Danny Sullivan also recently weighed in on the case, citing the Cease & Desist letter:

the claim didn't list any specific infringing material that Wall was supposed to remove. Now things have progressed to an actual lawsuit over the matter, one that I can't help thinking will get dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

and my site:

In the post, he talks about being cold called by someone from Traffic-Power and coming away unimpressed. I didn't see anything proprietary when I looked at the post. Libelous? That wasn't an issue in the letter he was sent. Trade secrets? Again, nothing I see any the post anything remotely approaching what I'd view as trade secrets.

Danny Sullivan is probably considered the #1 voice on search (even the founders of Google cite his work in their research), and he said he saw nothing in my post "remotely approaching what [Danny would] view as trade secrets".

Danny also mentioned Google hosts a page answering questions related to Traffic Power's SEO techniques:

there's a Google Answers question that talks about Traffic-Power "doorway pages," describes hidden links as "cloaking" and has a conclusion that "questionable SEO tactics are being employed on your website." If anything, that response on a web site hosted by Google, from a freelance question answerer paid through Google, is far more damaging than what I've seen referenced on the SEO Book blog.

I can't imagine what sort of expert witness Traffic Power may be hoping to use, but I can't see them finding a more credible voice on search than Danny Sullivan, or information hosted on Google.com.

When you go from not doing so well (a couple years ago I was learning about the web while living on credit card debt) to doing really well in a short period of time (I now am out of debt, have got to go to many conferences around the world, saved a small amount of money, and also have been able to donate to a number of great charities) it is easy to think that your site has enough linkage data / authority to survive any algorithm shift, but that is not always true.

In February Google rolled in a filter that caused many sites to not rank for their official names. Most everyone who linked to this site used "SEO Book" as the link text. I also had a large number of blogroll links (which are seen by search engines as sitewide links) using that exact same "SEO Book" anchor text. Their filter and my somewhat abnormal linkage profile caused my site to temporarily not rank for that term until Google rolled back that filter and I mixed up my link profile a bit.

Occassionally some sites may come and go with where they rank for a particular query in various engines (my mentor frequently states that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint), but whenever your site does not rank for your official name for an extended period of time it digs into your credibility, especially if you are an SEO related company.

When my site stopped ranking due to too much similar link anchor text data I quickly changed it to satisfy the algorithm and get below that particular filter, and my site quickly started ranking again.

SEO is both about action and reaction.

Successful businesses and business models will evolve with the web and with the search algorithms.

Some other SEO related sites have not ranked for their own name for a long time.

This case is sorta sad in the regard that the SEO industry is frequently used as a scapegoat whenever many businesses fail to research or take a short sighted approach (selling questionable ads, site owners saying they didn't know when they load auto generated content on their sites, etc. etc.), and I can't see this case cleaning up the image any.

Many people have refered me to online resources for free speech online & small guy legal information:

Published: August 31, 2005

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Comments

George
August 31, 2005 - 8:50pm

Could this be a publicity stunt from Traffic Power?

Dave
August 31, 2005 - 9:10pm

This is my first time on your blog, as well as the first time I've heard of Traffic Power. I read a story on this issue on RawStory.com that had links to all the sites. Anyways, keep up the free speach, keep fighting the good fight, and I'll keep coming back to your site.

August 31, 2005 - 10:25pm

Article on WSJ Online - wow Aaron - now THATS serious link building!

Marcus
September 1, 2005 - 1:02am

Wow! Your lawyer expenses are probably being absorbed by the free advertising space.

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