Dan Thies New SEO Fast Start 2007 Out

Dan Thies recently launched his new SEO Fast Start book. You can download the PDF here, or sign up for his updates and join his community here. His guide is 100 pages long and aimed mostly at beginners, but it also covers a bit more, and as his community develops he will continue to give away more content in more formats. His book is generally quite straightforward and easy to understand. He wrote it in a way that is big picture oriented such that it won't need to be updated too frequently. His section on dynamic linking is worth a read. It mentions that by creating an internal navigational structure that places more PageRank deeper into a site, typically most sites will get more traffic than a site with a link navigation scheme that is top heavy (I have been reviewing a number of sites recently and this is a large recurring issue). He recommended using GSiteCrawler to generate sitemaps, and OptiSpider to view the internal link structure of larger sites.

You can see how OptiSpider compares a page's topic to what the internal links say the page is about by looking at the below picture.

Probably the only part of Dan's book that I don't agree with is on is his advice on how to use nofollow. Some of the advice, like add nofollow on all of the links that point to other sites, unless you have agreed to a direct link for some reason seems a bit aggressive to me. A web that consisted only of paid or nepotistic links would not be a web worth being on.

I don't like using nofollow on most (or all) outbound links for three major reasons

  • If something is worth mentioning then I think it is worth mentioning to both people and search bots.

  • I think excessive use of nofollow carves up the web, leaving scars in it and making it more wounded for those who use it.
  • What was once white hat became gray then black. There is nothing saying that search engines won't eventually penalize sites for excessive or manipulative use of no follow. Just how nofollow magically made paid links evil one day, so might excessive use of nofollow the day Google realizes how damaging it is to the web.

Update: Dan describes what he meant about the use of Nofollow in a comment below, and further clarified his take on nofollow here.

Published: May 31, 2007 by Aaron Wall in book reviews


June 23, 2007 - 10:42pm

I don't know why some people talk about the purity of the web and being good stewards of the web when this topic comes up. Like all the sudden all these spammers become mother theresa overnight.

It is more about creating a web that is useful...not a web where the only way you find information is if it is from some mega-corporation.

I think as more people buy into hoarding link popularity it hurts smaller players chances to grow, and consolidates the web into something dull - like the mainstream media.

The diversity of the web is one of its strongest points. That should be common sense to any market who has been working on the web for over a week.

June 5, 2007 - 10:56am

Hey Aaron,

I disagree with all of these guys. The more (quality) outbound links on a site the better. It shows the site is serious, is participating in the web and that it knows what sites are worth linking to. In short, a hub.

PR hoarding is a very short sighted strategy. Leslie Rohde is a twerp to still be pumping these five year old ideas. Both of these guys (Dan Thies) joined StomperNet faculty so their disinterested credibility has gone way down with me. This kind of occultish trick is so WMW doorway page 2001

OTOH, not linking internally to one's privay policy, TOS makes a certain amount of sense. Principally as - unless you are running a weblog about privacy issues - they are off-topic links.

Cheers, Alec

June 5, 2007 - 12:30pm

BTW, Aaron turning off URLs in comments is almost as obnoxious as Dan Thies and Leslie Rohde's dynamic linking - no-follow mania. I'd call it Linkocrisy.

Get some decent anti-spam software (SpamKarma2) into your WordPress install and/or have someone trash the junk comments. I actually liked being able to visit the other commenters websites.

Otherwise, you've been on a demon pace of writing great content again. Thanks.

Heather Paquinas
July 19, 2007 - 7:22pm

It's interesting, but not meaningful, that seofaststart.com ranks like twelfth for 'dan thies'

June 18, 2007 - 11:53pm

I commend you for not reacting and exposing the other reason you explained/instructed just a few no follow links, in that open forum.
Tough crowd, so I won't say more here.

are you saying you'd like to check out other commenters' site's, but not enough to type a dozen characters and click go??
Or did you get more hits when the url's in all your posts are linkified?

I don't know Dan Thies or Leslie Rhode yet,
really. But in the short time I've read them,
I've seen them gladly GIVE AWAY more useful, valuable information than most guys have in their recent PAID reports!
Helping a family start-up get on it's feet without having unethical pros snipe thier few existing gems, is sharing, not hoarding.
It is opening up the net, not hiding it.

Ashish Roy
May 31, 2007 - 8:22am

Nofollow is like confessions in the G Church infront of Father Googlebot. A confession: that I tried to make money and live a better life.

June 19, 2007 - 4:59am

Cutting off worthless links on your site and funneling PR makes sense now and it did when Rohde first introduced the concept.

I don't know why some people talk about the purity of the web and being good stewards of the web when this topic comes up. Like all the sudden all these spammers become mother theresa overnight.

May 31, 2007 - 11:44am

I disagree as well.

I will avoid linking to any site that uses no-follow in the manner Dan describes.

They'll get what they give - nothing.

May 31, 2007 - 3:04pm

I just downloaded. Lets see if we can find something interested.....

Yes I do share your opinion on NoFollow. One should leave some quality content links the way they are. Also note that if you put nofollow on all outgoing links, then you website won't be understood properly from which niche-category it is, and won't benefit if you link to Authority sites in your area. If you want to rank well, place a link to authority site, forget about the nofollow BS! Nofollow is good for pages that are paid, pages that "suck" even from your own, and pages that are with no worth to be listed on the SERPS.



May 31, 2007 - 5:21pm

Well, the fact is that there are other ways around using a no follow. Many sites use a redirect script instead of the no follow tag.
If search engines are going to start penalising for using the no follow tage then using a redirect script for linking to outside sites will still be a good alternative.

Dan Thies
May 31, 2007 - 7:31pm

Hey Aaron, I think I need to clarify the idea on nofollow, so I appreciate the feedback.

For most commercial sites I don't like linking out from the home page, period... but there are certain types of link (BBB, Hackersafe) that we compromise on because it increases user trust and helps conversion.
That's the type of outlink that I would expect a business to have on their home page, and I would recommend nofollow on those links.

I'm not in favor of using nofollow on links you trust and recommend and love and all that. I also need to write in a clear "blog exemption" or something but outside of blogs (And I realize you live in the blogosphere) what kind of site links out from their home page anyway?

I don't recommend nofollow on every outgoing link. But some of them should have it.

As far as being penalized for using nofollow on internal structure, that ain't gonna happen.

Aoleon The Mart...
May 31, 2007 - 9:05pm

I totally agree aaron! Thanks for standing up for good values as well as technique. You set an excellent example for others to follow.

Kimber Cook
June 1, 2007 - 12:14am

i'm interested in checking out the OptiSpider, but must echo your and everyone elses response to adding nofollow to all outgoing links - and "follow" your lead instead.

David Kubicka
June 1, 2007 - 2:31am

Hey Aaron,

I've always had the reverse attitude about putting outbound links. I feel that the MORE outbound links you have that are relevant to your topic, the more likely you are to be seen as a resource for information. Forget PageRank altogether, I think these days that PR is more of an internal flow determinant that helps rate the importance of your sites pages.

How many times have you seen a directory-like site pull top ratings? If they were using nofollow they would have no reason to be a resource/hub. It goes along with presenting different information to search engines than to your regular visitors, so I treat it as one of those thing to use sparingly, only in instances where you want ot reduce the impact of linking to unrelated or negative content.

And look at your site, you link out in practically every post, if not multiple times. You are a RESOURCE for seo information because of that.

Another interesting to note is that Wikipedia introduced nofollow a while ago to reduce spam, but did their ratings drop appreciably? Not really, they still dominate results for a lot of queries. I don't think it improved their ratings much either. I just don't think that nofollow has the impact that people think it does unless you are linking out to some seriously spammy stuff.

What you think?


David Kubicka
June 1, 2007 - 2:36am

Huh, I just contradicted myslef didn't I?

"they were using nofollow they would have no reason to be a resource/hub."

I guess that's not true either, I'll stick with it having little impact unless you are linking to crap.

July 2, 2007 - 1:49am

That's not the point though. It's not about NOT sending an honest to gosh link to somebody when they have a useful link or a good post. It's about funnelling PR within your site by nofollowing links that you don't want to rank for. If you have 10 links off your homepage, 9 for commercial phrases and 1 for a privacy policy, why would you not want to throw a nofollow on that link?

June 1, 2007 - 8:48pm

I use nofollow to funnel spiders and like mentioned above to keep no quality links from being indexed. On my site registered users can submit articles. I can't control the quality of their links. So I use this method unless I deem otherwise. As far as funneling the spiders. I don't want them indexing pages or crawling them twice. When I know they will find this link on another page.

Its simply a theory I have been testing for about 3 weeks now.

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