Lots of Random Stuff...

Jan 31st

Searchtextual Ads:
AlmondNet launches an ad network based on search behavior, and apparently they have a patent for it too.

Future of writing:
Steven Berlin Johnson writes about how technology will forever change writing.

Branding:
Apple replaces Google as brand of the year.

ClickTracks Optimizer:
new mid level analytics software

Digital Identity:
MP3 streams from Future Salon on Digital Identity

Hyperlinkage:
new Bloglines competitor

VLIB Update:
A friend of mine is one of the maintainers of the VLIB. I just got off the phone with him and he stated that they are cleaning up the VLIB using technologies such as XML.

Survey Says:
take a Google Survey and read some survey results from another recent survey.

New Wiki Based Search Engine:
loots data from WhoIs database.

Iraq Election:
UN pays bloggers to shill

Merger:
SBC to buy AT&T.

Excrement:
Man peed way out of avalanche
2,000-ton pile of burning cow manure
hat tip to Frankie from TP on the excrement links.

Google AdWords API Beta

Google have launched their Google AdWords API. From their introduction page:

Google's free AdWords API service lets developers engineer computer programs that interact directly with the AdWords server. With the applications created, advertisers and third parties can more efficiently - and creatively - manage their large AdWords accounts and campaigns.

Flexible and Functional
What can you do with the AdWords API? This all depends on your programming genius and clients' advertising needs. Some possibilities might include:

  • Generating automatic keyword, ad text, URL, and custom reports

  • Integrating AdWords data with databases, such as inventory systems
  • Developing additional tools and applications to help you manage accounts

It works in many language and its quota limits will be based on the size and spend of your account. You need a My Client Center account to sign up. Here is some of their support questions.

coverage at

Automated SEO Tools

Jan 26th

I actually do not know tons about SEO automation stuff... have not really tried it. Here are some of the things I have read about

automated content generation:
ArticleBot
cloaking (such as the stuff from Fantomaster)
traffic equalizer
rss equalizer
mixes like affiliate merchant feed + rss content+ ppc backfeed

automated link generation:
guestbook bots
blog comment bots
wiki bots
distributed link networks (such as the coop ad network)
think there are lots of things you can do with rss

I am sure there will also be lots of automation talking at the ThreadWatch SEO meeting...

feel free to comment anonymously with a fake email or whatever, but what automated tools on the market do you use and find helpful?

The diminishing value of...

Jan 26th

the employee blog
Google says shh to this blogger

Philosophers
condensed and abbridged for your pleasure...

People
oh lothesome me

Bandwidth
bandwidth limit exceeded at the 2005 bloggies site. some host looking for a hosted by link might have just struck gold? you gotta think thats a fairly strong site.

Cnet
NickW rants

Affiliates
a heated thread at threadwatch

SEO Blogs
we all say the same stuff... ;) Peter D has the scoop

Directories

a dollar
actually a shocker, think its near its two month highs...goes off to quickly register many sites (using roboform) while the dollar has a better conversion rate

Review of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink

Jan 25th

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is a new book by Malcolm Gladwell which discusses and breaks down the concept of rapid cognition and why it is often better than years of scientific data.
He also reviews when rapid cognition breaks down and how it can be refined. Excitement can cause a temporary state of autism. A lack of time and / or exepreience can also cause us to make quick, irrational, and / or biased decisions. The hardest thing to guage is the intent of another person.

Typically under normal circumstances when given enough time or experience (so as to manage our stress reaction) our immediate gut feelings are often correct.

How this book relates to SEO...

  • Many SEOs analyze large sets of data and can quickly state what changes have occured and what they would expect next due to past experience.

  • Many others are quick to say "prove it to me" and do no testing of their own.
  • The web is a social network. You need to learn to judge the intent of others in your community (that includes the people running search engines for SEOs) - and often you do not get to see the telling signs of a face.
  • Its important for your longterm success for you to learn who you can trust and build social relationships with.
  • If you can afford them conferences are really worth going to. If you can not afford them sometimes you can get free passes from friends or by helping set them up (as a bag stuffer or chair setter or whatever).
  • If you are uncertain who is worth trusting then testing and small steps would likely be useful. If you do not test or test poorly and consistantly state "prove it to me" you are likely to be found repulsive by the people who would have likely been willing to help you most.
  • I think I am more interested in how minds work than how search algorithms work, though if you learn a bunch about one I am sure that can also help you relate better to the other.

Free book for you?
First person to

  • reply to this post -and-

  • send me an email with their address and Blink as the subject wins a free copy of Blink.

Please do not request the free copy of this book unless you are sure you will read it, especially if you live in a country where sending you this book would cost me $60 in postage.

This contest is void where prohibited :)

[update: NickW stated he does not want it...next person wins]

New AdSense Feature, Yahoo! Video Search, Peter Norvig Talks Semantics & Spam

Jan 25th

New AdSense Beta Feature:
change to ads about feature allows you to switch the ads to a different topic. example here: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/health/hearing/

Video Killed the Search Star:
in your mind and in your car. search for Yahoo! videos wherever you are...

wonder what effect that will have on the porn industry?

here is a cool video of Jobs introducing the Mac (looted from ThreadWatch)

Paid By Google:
Ben Goodger, Lead Engineer Mozilla Firefox

Spam: an Issue of Semantics:
Peter Norvig discusses semantic web ontologies

Why Many People Buy Shitty SEO Services

Jan 22nd

This is kinda like a rant article, but why not, right? ...

I got a call yesterday from a guy who was making good profit spending $10,000 per month on AdWords ads. In spite of seeing this value in search he could not fathom the concept of spending even a few thousand dollars on SEO.

Eventually he will probably buy some sleezy package deal that does nothing for him. Then he will complain about how all SEOs are scumbags because he did not get $100,000 worth of marketing for $200.

Many SEO customers have unreal expectations or try to rip off SEOs far more frequently than the other way around, and that is exactly Why Many People Buy Shitty SEO Services.

Google Offers Free Cross Platform Tracking System, Anil Dash Rants about SEOs

Jan 22nd

Google Tracking Cross Platforms:
Google offers up a free cross platform tracking system. You can track banner impressions, email campaigns, and other pay per click search accounts all from inside the Google AdWords system. Why do that?

  • by being first to market with a free tool they lock in mind share and build a user base

  • they get the valuable market data of knowing how their system competes with other ad systems...thus allowing them to further learn from other systems and make systems such as smart pricing as smart as they can be.
  • it further positions their product line as the default starting point for online marketing.
  • saves their advertisers money so they have more money to spend.
  • also build good karma points with many new marketers

Google understands that they more information they have the more they are worth, and that it does not hurt them to be branded as the one stop shop for targeted advertisements. You got to hand it to Google for making freely available something which others charge for. I have not yet tried it, but soon may :) link with more information requires login

Anil Dash: Voice of the Bloggers:
He rants about the Link Condom site going into the typical SEOs are scumbags speech, but Danny Sullivan drops in for a guest visit and sets him straight.

Go Danny!!!

AdSense Premium, Blog Spamming Your Own Blog

AdSense Premium Publishers:
can boost CTR by 500% when compared to regular AdSense publishers. Looks like I need to make about a million posts, get a few hundred thousand links, throw AdSense ads on my site, and then give it a try real quick...

Overture : Only for the Big Guys?
Not so. One of my friends told me that he was recently cold called by an Overture ad rep interested in placing ads on his somewhat new site.

Placing Porn in Your Own Comments:
Not that long ago I saw a blog rank for a rather gross porn related term (was trying to gross a friend out) and I got to thinking, now that there is the rel=nofollow you really could get away with just saying that you were too lazy to moderate your old comments and re engineer old pages to rank well for many many many many adult terms (I accidentally rank for some by accidentally using occasional foul language).

How could search engines know the difference between a blogger who is lazy with comment deletion and one who is intentionally marketing that way? When blogs naturally rank for random things it could be really easy to make good bank with a false blog set up cleanly using the NoFollow comment effect.

A Third of Shoppers:
often shop the web and buy at the store

Metcalfe’s Law:
eBay took a beating in the stock market recently due to slower growth. After a ton of brokerage firms downgraded eBay Legg Mason gave them an upgrade.

More Networking Questions:
FCC chairman Powell resigned...wonder who's next? and how that will effect the web? It is amazing how many people in the administration have resigned. Surely a sign that something isn't right.

Outing a Shady Site on My Blog... DMCA Copyright Infringement

Jan 21st

Generally not a cool thing to do, but this person deserves it.
http://www.openmerchantaccount.com/ has part of my ebook published on their site, obviously without permission.

I would have attempted to contact them, but the contact us link on his site was not readily available. They also used fake WhoIs data.

Now DMCA could be the right idea if it was US hosted but it is not. Since they are using fake WhoIs info and the like I think they would just move the content to another throw away domain on another server anyway. It is best to look at their source of income and link popularity and try to go that route first...that way it actually has a lasting and / or significantly costly effect.

They are running AdSense on the page which has a stolen copy of my ebook and their AdSense account # is
pub-6435000594396515
I already provided AdSense feedback to Google about the ads on their site.

The bulk of their link popularity comes from hidden footer links on
www.outsourcetranslation.com and
www.findpeoplefree.co.uk

which also have hidden footer links to
http://www.xaml.net/
http://www.webtropy.com/
http://network.programming-in.net/
http://www.ftpclient.co.uk/

Not sure if any people from the search engines will read this post, but I will be making one of the few spam reports I have ever made and then following up by contacting his registrar and host, and then giving the major search engines a DMCA report.

their site is hosted at
WebHost.ie
and the registrar is
http://www.stargateinc.com

more linkage data info:
www.openmerchantaccount.com/ has hidden text backlinks at
www.lssd.net
http://www.letterlogic.com
www.water-n-motion.com
and the other sites that were link farmed together via hidden links above.

[added: where to report DMCA copyright infringements:
Google
Yahoo! Search
MSN Search]

A Rant Post About Directories...

Jan 21st

So there have been an arse ton of new directories to hit the market.

I think listing sites in many of these will surely improve your Yahoo! and MSN search relevancy scores (or at least my own experiences have shown that), but I do not think many of them carry anywhere near as much weight with Google.

IMHO a disturbing pattern is emerging where the same directory owners own 2 or more directories which are easily identifiable as being related - especially since even many of the related directories have built significant portions of their link popularity from the same sources - and often even the same pages (while also registered under the same WhoIs information). Algorithms such as Hilltop mean the second "related" directory listing probobably counts for next to nothing in terms of its effects on Google's search relevancy.

The multi directory approach makes it far easier to make one of the directories a throw away...which makes the second similar directory do little to ensure added value over the first. If the registration data is the same for two directories and you do not expect them to drive much direct traffic then it might be worth just paying for listing in whichever one of the directories you think is going to be the main directory.

Lots of hate threads seem to be appearing about various directories (BlueFind, WebAtlas, and now RubberStamped)...often from other directory owners or close friends of other directory owners as well. Some people who run directories are also creating directory rating sites which are obviously going to be inherently biased.

When it comes down to it I do not think that search engines will need to do a ton of work to offset the effects various directories may have on search relevancy. The directory space is becoming hyper competitive (and thus likely providing diminishing returns for many directory owners) and many directories are making errors which will hurt themselves....sitewide payday loan links and top level penis pill listed sites do nothing to build brand or useful citation data.

If the search engines decide that data adds no value to their algorithm there is nothing that will force them to use it (as seen by what happened to SearchKing).

I have been trying my best to keep up with many of the directories, but eventually its going to be pretty darn hard to do. As the search algorithms continue to advance and new directories appear at an advancing rate I will probably have to look at other ways to keep up with new directories or abandondon the idea...at least in its current format.

I am starting to get the feeling that much of my time would be better spent learning and creating better ideas which effectively sell themselves, but for now I am still doing lots of submissions...

I am currently reading Blink and find it to be an interesting book thusfar. :)

ThreadWatch SEO Conference, Google Trademark Case in France, RubberStamped Listed in DMOZ, WikiPedia adopts NoFollow Tags, AdWor

Another SEO Conference:
Lots of good stuff at Threadwatch, including the announcement that ThreadWatch to have a free SEO conference end of May.

Google Loses Trademark Case in France:
A French court has ruled that Google must refrain from using the trademarks of European resort chain Le Meridian Hotels and Resorts to trigger keyword ads.

DMOZ Lists Directories: Rubber Stamped & WebAtlas...
Were both recently listed in DMOZ.

Peter D gets help from "the man" himself, and quickly finds that you can't be a successful person in the SEO space without having at least 1 hate thread from the fine folks at IHU.

In spite of Doug's whining to DMOZ Rubberstamped is still listed.

Stop the Spread of Viral Linkage Data:
Link Condom...the WikiPedia is one of the first sites to adopt the new policy :(

AdWords Changes to Come:
Google to Give AdWords API to Advertisers
Google is about to unveil a completely revamped Adwords/Adsense program to counter inroads from competitors such as Kanoodle

MSN Search out of Beta?, AOL Search Revival, SEO Automation

Jan 20th

MSN Search Out of Beta:
Some people are seeing it flip back and forth, but I have been seeing the Beta results at the main site.

AOL to Join the Fray:
John Battelle writes about how AOL is building bolt on search products. Were the walls up too long? Is it too little to late?

How Much Can You Automate:
Jason Duke starts off what will probably amount to a fairly interesting automation thread at ThreadWatch.

Daniel Brandt's Google Scrapper Errors, Cooperative Ad Network & NoFollow Tag

Jan 20th

Google Scrapper:
Chris Ridings on Daniel Brandt's scrapper...
Daniel Brandt states:

If the scraping is done properly, it is not worth Google's trouble to find you. Our source code separates the "fetch" portion of program, which is done by curl or wget, from the searcher interface and parsing of the fetched results. If the fetching is done by a server on a different Class C address from the website that shows the scraped results, there is little that Google can do to find the IP address that is responsible for the actual fetch.

and Chris states:

Conveniently forgetting that his hack of an application forgets to change the useragent of the request from the curl/wget defaults. Thereby leaving the fetch machines' ip addresses sitting ducks in those query logs that Brandt believes last an eternity.

Cooperative Ad Network to Adopt NoFollow Tag?
members at the Digital Point forums think not...two quotes sum it up:
"would that not defeat the object of having the links if the search engines ignored them?"
and
"Exactly, who'd actually use the Co-Op for anything other than IBLs?"

Testing out the NoFollow Tag:
White Hat Techniques are ethical whereas Black Hat Techniques are not <-- Alan Perkins talks rubbish.

While Reading Comics:
I read these comics so you don't have to

Anti-Corporate Search Engine Optimization Tips

Jan 20th

Protecting Your Listings:
Many companies and people make a name for themselves but do not adequately protect their own name or site name in the search results.

No matter how powerful your name is if you do not create multiple sites with good inbound linkage data you will likely end up with sites or pages that help destroy your brand listing near the top of search results.

Apparently Search Engine Roundtable has a client experiencing these problems.
Anyone Can Cause Major Effects:
The beauty of the guerilla warfare in-the-search-results marketing ideas are:

  • if you can get your dissent seen others will likely have the same experiences.

  • You can easily encourage others to make similar sites (or create content on your site) and target other similar words.
  • Using a couple days and a couple hundred dollars you can create a site which ends up costing some company hundreds of thousands of dollars to dislodge.

Make Your Corporate Dissent Stick Out:

  • build a viral linking campaign into your site

  • search for other dissenters and contact them. encourage linkage.
  • place BlogAds and other similar advertisements on sites which are owned by vocal people who you know will be outraged by and spread the topic of your site.
  • leave comments and trackbacks on blogs which heavily support the company you dislike. if they care enough they may rant about you and give you additional linkage data.
  • publish using a blogging system and integrate your site into the blog community by making lots of comments on related blog posts and registering your site at many of the blog directories.
  • publishing your content as a blog also can allow others to quickly create you content for you while they are thinking about that topic.
  • always remind people to "link to us"
  • make sure that even if their name is not in your domain name (which you may not want it to be for legal reasons - check the laws where you live!!!) that it looks as though part of your official name contains the name of the company you do not like. this helps to encourage linkage data which overlaps with their name.
  • use fact and research on your site...if it is just a rant site it will not be as effective. people are more moved by emotion than by just numbers though. combine those facts with displaying raw human emotional pain and suffering for maximum effect. (get pictures and stories on your site. Pretend that you are Michael Moore and you are in Flint Michigan).
  • get listed at many directories under categories such as Allegedly Unethical Firms. if it is a single complaint then list in the single complaint category.
  • if you can convince enough other people to also make sites on the same topic then that company can get their own DMOZ category which may rank well based upon the power of the DMOZ directory.
  • make your site as SEO friendly as possible. If you have a site which is taking a major corporation to task feel free to email me and I will see if I can give you a free copy of my ebook.

Effective Anti-Corporate Marketing:
If it is readily apparent that you are biased or if you insult the intelligence of the readers odds are that the site will not have a ton of effect on consumers. If you are just trying to annoy the corporation then it may worth it to make the copy extra spicey, of course check your local laws and whatnot :)

Corporate Responses:
Companies may want to sue you, but then again they will probably not want to throw media weight / plublicity toward your site. Odds are that they will need to invest money into making many unique corporate sites and building the link popularity for them.

As they build sites they have to build up all of them or leverage their link popularity well to avoid your site from showing up.

Free PPC Stats, SEO Friendly Affiliate Systems, Search Referral Tracking, Content Ideas

Jan 20th

Free PPC Stats:
ThreadWatch offers up a free list of PPC terms and their prices.

What Does Bill Gates think of Free Market Data?
He loves it!!! He was found hanging out over at SearchEngineBlog.

SEO Friendly Affiliate Systems:
Another article (with pictures) similar to the one I linked to before which explains the problems with SEO friendly affiliate programs.

Name that Referrer:
Black Knight posts about the lowering quality of referral data.

Creating Content?
ways to come up with content creation ideas.

More on the Rel=NoFollow Tag...

Jan 19th

Earlier there was speculation Google was going to announce a link NoFollow tag, but as it turns out a whole ton of people got together and also backed the idea.
Players in the new NoFollow tag:

Ask Jeeves / Teoma was the only major global search engine which did not immediately endorse the tag. Since they look at link clusters blog spamming does not affect them the same way as it does most other search algorithms. bBlog was not on the list, but my friend Eaden said that he too will follow the tag.

Is the NoFollow tag just for blogs?
The change is not a blog only change, but is a change which can be used on any site. If someone else is placing a link to your site or if you are linking to something shifty as an example of something shifty then that would be a good time to use the NoFollow tag.

What the NoFollow tag looks like:
Instead of linking to a site with
<a href="http://www.site.com">Site</a>
the link would now look like
<a href="http://www.site.com" rel="nofollow" >Site</a>

More Info on the NoFollow Tag:
Danny Sullivan has a long post about the nofollow tag explaining lots of the logic behind the new tag and how it will effect webmasters.

How will the NoFollow Tag Effect the Web?

  • Many bloggers have amazing link popularity due in part to comments they left on other blogs. This will cause lots of blogs which were primarily connected by comments to lose a good bit of their link popularity.

  • Many automated blog spam scripts may work harder to find the blogs which are slow to change. While the number of spamable blogs will go down the value of effective blog spamming will go up.
  • Bloggers will have a big riot celebrating this move. After time passes they will still get spammed and realize that this will not immediately cure the problem.
  • More bloggers will get approached with a bit of $$$ for writing editorials. More bloggers will sell out.
  • NickW is posting everywhere about how he does not like the change, which should be a good way for him to build some link popularity, as bloggers near and dear to comment spam are already linking to him ;)
  • Some people who were posting useful and thoughtful comments in part to gain link popularity may post less often.
  • Some worry that people will abuse this tag for SEO purposes, but those who would do that could just as easily use other redirects, so I really do not see any change there.
  • This change does make the role of link popularity (and how to keep it) much more visible. The "keep your link popularity" line of thinking may kill off a ton of natural linking, which in the end really does not help anyone.

  • SEOs might rush off to make their own blogs. Certainly the editorial side can be handled on the cheap
  • When low hanging fruit is removed from competitive marketing environments other opportunities and techniques also arise. Some people from WMW believe content stealing will become far more common. WMW is the only forum I have seen with significant coverage of the new NoFollow tag with threads here and here

Blog comments sure did make it easy for Joe random schmuck (like me) to rank good about a year ago but the low hanging fruit does not last forever. About 10 - 12 months ago I had a personal blog up to a PR7 with no link buying or renting. Last super bowl Google was even ranking that site high for Janet Jackson... As time passes and the web develops more and more low hanging fruit disappears. As search engines make their moves some will be reactive and some will almost always be one step ahead.

MSN Search to Launch, Picasa Upgrade, Google Nofollow Tag

Jan 18th
posted in
msn

MSN Search Chatter:
Andrew Goodman notes that the bulk of the MSN Search switch is to occur tomorrow. W00T for SEO's arount the globe!!!

Google Launched Picasa 2.0
John Battelle posts about their build it and charge later marketing strategy.

Google Nofollow Tag:
Wow, I guess they are going to create one, but I doubt it will stop blog spamming anytime soon.

Adding Worthless Services for Free Marketing...

Jan 17th

I have been getting links for a few friends recently and have noticed some pretty solid links pointing at some pretty shoddy / worthless SEO services (such as free automated Search Engine Submission services).

Many of these links are from well themed .edu pages that have not been updated for years. Some of these less than stellar services are being clustered with the like of authoritative search sites such as SearchEngineWatch and major search engines.

A few options:

  1. Write more compelling posts which hopefully naturally gain more links.

  2. Edit my content a bit better and stop using words like "fuck" so that more links come naturally.
  3. Make more friends. Friends don't let friends go unlinked.
  4. Contact some of the .edu sites and remind them that submission services are past their time and remind them that they can get current info for free by reading my ebook if they would like a copy.
  5. Sponsor or donate to other sites.
  6. Test a blog spamming script <-- joking as that would suck when people tested them back and that would be like 1,000,000 negative karma points ;)
  7. Create some free cool tools to help build natural linkage data...of course many of these tools would likely need to infringe on various search engines TOS, and thus could get my site banned from search results.
  8. Write lots of press releases until one sticks. :)
  9. Make a rant post on my blog about these links. This would be a complete waste unless it also brought on other ideas of value.
  10. Create and market my own useless white label meta search service or start a directory. Require linkage for inclusion.
  11. Ask other bloggers (where is NickW) to link to this post using "free search engine submission" as the link text. Google Bombs rock!!!
  12. Create a white label anonymously registered automated free search engine submission service which requires and checks for a link back to that site before "submitting" the other sites. Advertise that site on AdWords heavily until it picks up linkage data and then advertise this site on that one.

While this post will probably not be enlightening for most people reading this blog it is a reminder to those new to SEO that there are many many ways to skin a cat, or a dog, or a fish, etc.

Google AdSense Problems, Making Cheap Sites, Killing Comment Spam, Google Fiber Optics

Jan 17th

Google AdSense:
Some are questioning if & for how long it will make sense. Others are noticing some problems too.

For those Making MANY Sites:
Designing a Low Maintenance Website

Comment Spam:
Google to try to kill comment spam? ... of course even if they do people will still comment spam on the off chance that people do not impliment this.

Google Fiber Optic Network?
Google wants 'dark fiber'

Yahoo! Partners up with Verizon:
Yahoo, Verizon ink Web tie-in

Name a Book:
John Battelle is looking for a subtitle for his book.

Affiliate Links & SEO, Aggregators & Copyright Law

Jan 15th

Affiliate Links & SEO:
my friend Tanya wrote an article about how affiliates can use their linking strategies to improve their SEO.

Aggregators & Copyright Law:
ThreadWatch covers a topic that has been floating around the blog world.

Databases & Scalable Social Networks:
Adam Bosworth conversation

The Missing "M" in SEM:
in a thread about questions to ask an SEM a ton of good questions are listed, but people do not speak much of the M (marketing)... Black Knight lists many of the questions an SEM should ask the prospective clients...including questions like:

My first question is always "What is your USP?" or "What does your company deserve to be ranked in the top ten available resources for?"

Stats:
Andy Beal has stats from a survey showing 74% of companies are not working with 3RD party SEM firms.

Deep Web Research:
While working on Rubber Stamped Peter D finds a new deep web resource. Its a shame that there are a limited # of hours in the day with all the cool search / information related white papers out there...

5 Free Goodies:
5 Free Windows Web Design Apps You Can't Live Without! (found on Jeremy's linkblog)

Economic Model of Personal Publishing:
some great stuff in the comments area of Dan Gillmore's What Smart Money Wonders, including:

though sometimes we forget the effect of echo chambers.

Funny Stuff:
She frickin' blocked me
Happy Tree Friends (kinda gross)
Darth Tater

Google Hilltop Algorithm

Why Page Theme is Usually More Important than PageRank:
In the Hilltop white paper they talk about how they can use expert documents to help compute relevancy. An expert document is a non affiliated page which links to many related resources. If page A is related to page B and page B is related to page C then a connection between A & C are assumed.

Additionally Hilltop states that it strongly considers page title and page headings in relevancy scores (in fact these elements can be considered more important than link text).

The benefit of Hilltop over raw PageRank (Google) is that it is topic sensitive - and is thus generally harder to manipulate than buying some random high power off topic link would be. The benefits of Hilltop over topic distillation (Teoma) are that Hilltop is quicker & cheaper to calculate, and that it tends to have more broad coverage.

When Hilltop does not have enough expert sites the feature can be turned off. It is believed that Google is using Hilltop to help sort the relevancy for some of their search results today.

On the Search Financial Front...

Jan 14th

Ask Jeeves:
Piper upgrades Ask Jeeves stating "Ask Jeeves is not only remaining a meaningful search alternative, but is gaining faster than most other players." He estimates the company's usage rates rose 18 percent from the third quarter, the highest increase for the sector.

LookSmart:
Had a bad quarter. Tough news for them. It is a real shame since they sold me twice as much traffic as Overture with a greater than 90% bounce rate. In no way to I recommend using LookSmart...at least not on any large scale.

Cheaper cost per click does not translate into savings when you are buying automated or useless traffic.

Online Ad Spending:

Google:
should buy Technorati? (found on SEL)

New Big SEM Firm:
WPP to enter search marketing fray...my general take is that good SEO generally does not scale that well, but they are opening 47 search offices. Best of luck to them...they will need it.

Personally:
I think I have been offered at least 5 jobs in the last 6 months...with some people wanting me to form brand new companies with them. There certainly must be a bunch of opportunity in this space!

Seth Godin on the Search Industry

Jan 14th

Seth Wakes Up to search?
A while ago Seth made a comment which basically said SEO is luck and that AdWords was the only way to do search. A while ago I posted an article about why Seth is wrong about search.

Recently he posted a post titled "Is there a Search Industry," which has been getting less than rave reviews through the SEO community.

Later Seth talks about mob justice activity within the blog community (which perhaps relates to this feedback he has been getting), but what would he say if the whole search industry said well packaged virally spreading marketing books are chuck full of bullshit?

How can such a progressive thinker be so behind the times on search? Seth is getting a bunch of links from these out-of-left-field posts about search, so maybe he is just looking for some link popularity?

MSN Search Launch Rumors, Blog Comment Spam, Google Duplicate Content Penalties, Random Google News

Jan 13th

MSN Search to Launch:
Feb 1 according to rumors AusieWebmaster. He has been right on with some of his past rumors.

Blog Comment Spam:
It's a mean & nasty world out there!

I swapped over to the newer version of MovableType and had no MT Blacklist for about a day...and really it only took 1 day for me to get pissed enough to install it.

For the record, Soma Online is a complete POS. So is pacific poker.

I wonder if anyone ever uses these bots for socially constructive ideas.

Google Duplicate Content Penalty:
A dup penalty timespan is based on your offense.
1st Offense: 30 days
2nd Offense: 60 days
3rd Offense: 90 days
found on SEW Forums

update: Danny Sullivan asked Matt Cutts and he stated that those times were given as "for example" time periods.

Google:

How Not to Pick / Name a Site / Domain Name

Jan 13th

Not sure I any sort of worlds leading expert in this category, but I have seen some people name some domains that just did not make much sense to me. Link Proctor was great software...too bad I didn't know what the hell proctor meant when I first saw the name. I ranted to Brad Callen about that name and he changed the software name to SEO Elite...which is a better name IMHO...and pretty darn good software to boot.

A recent link network came out by the name of Link Smile. I looked at the design and the smiley guy on it and it made it hard for me to want to take it seriously...made it hard for me to want to spend money.

Today I just got a spam email message alerting me to a new link exchange network by the name of Link Fart...which I thought was such a bad name that it inspired this post.

Colors and words evoke emotions, and if the first subconcience response people have is one of alert, disgust, or confusion in most cased your name is probably not helping you sell more widgets.

Some tips on choosing a company or domain name:

As a disclaimer: I bought that Search-Marketing.info domain name when I had 0 knowledge about branding. It is a crappy domain name IMHO.

[update: a friend of mine also pointed me to Name Boy as a good domain name resource. Thanks Todd]

Fractal Spam, Overture Direct Traffic Center Rant, SEM Cares (or do they?), Google Subdomain Chatter

Eating Your Own Crap:
Fractal Spam - search engines may be known to like their own search results...at least for a while.

Overture Direct Traffic Center:
Some big advertisers are not too impressed with the reporting delays and clunky interface.

SEM Cares? SEMPO Cares? or is it Nobody Cares?
SEM Cares perhaps too little, too late for Barbara and others to put out the good word? The domain name sounds a bit Orewellian, which almost makse it sound like maybe nobody cares.

Free Culture Stuff:
A few good links from ThreadWatch's thread about big blue Open Sourcing 500 patents.

Patented European webshop
Software patents – Obstacles to software development by Richard Stallman

Chatter:
There is also chatter that Google may be dropping some spammed out subdomains from some competitive keywords in some of their data centers.

Yahoo! Desktop Search, Free Blogging Guide, MSN Search RSS & Clustering, Marketing to Children, UseNet Archives, MicroSoft IE Se

Jan 12th

Yahoo! Desktop Search:
beta release

Beginner's Guide to Business Blogging:
Recently some people have been emailing me asking "how do I blog?"

Not sure that I know the answer other than maybe saying be yourself and use a human voice (or be a really cool alter ego). Debbie Weil is giving away her business blogging guide through the next two weeks.

MSN Search Results in RSS:
hot on the heals of GigaBlast...MSN also has search clustering tools and research

The Good PR Site:
I Know is a newly launched site aimed at opening childrens' eyes to marketing myths.

UseNet Archives:
20 year history...cool

Most offensive use of a frog in Marketing:
Did-It... I just randomly crossed their site again and thought WTF

Wall Street Rumors:
From SEM 2.0 Andrew Goodman stated that Bill Martin at
FindProfit.com thinks AOL may be pondering an acquisition of FindWhat.

I can't see them making more profit selling their own ads than they get by sharing profit with Google. As AdWords is a larger and more sophisticated ad distribution network, but who knows what they are thinking...

GOOG Price Target:
RBC analyst Jordan Rohan issues price target of $235.

MSFT may help fix those high price targets with a recent IE security exploit fix that blocks Google AdSense ads.

Google really needs to start working harder to promote the better browsers. I would love to see on the Google home page: Sick of Internet Explorer? So are we. Try FireFox!

Google Scrapper:
Daniel Brandt helps out the dark arts by releasing his Google Scraper code free of charge. (found on ThreadWatch)

An Interesting way to sell MicroContent?:
TKPal - hides a portion of a page's contents until people sign in via TypeKey and pay you via PayPal.

More Economics Papers:
Economics of Open Source... eventually I may want to read these. (found on Ross Mayfield's blog)

Mike Grehan on SEMPO:
always fun, always worth a read :)

Streaming Audio of:
Steve Jobs MacWorld Keynote. KeyNote looked cool enough to make Apple look really appealing to my soon to upgrade eyes.

ThreadWatch has lots of great MacWorld coverage today.

More Audio:
Free guide to ripping and encoding music

Google Site Flavored Search

Jan 10th

ChrisG mentions that Google's site flavored search automatically suggests categories for websites, and that generally it has spot on results.

I am sure it is only a small sample of what Google's technologies do, but it is interesting nonetheless, and it may tell you what Google thinks of your site as well as help you think of related categorical sites to get links from. Maybe it would also be a good way for a small new directory owner to grab a unique category structure for their site?

On a side note, apparently Google has no idea what Black Hat SEO is...

SEMPO: Nails In the Coffin

Jan 9th

SEMPO founder Barbara Coll shows envy / lust / jelousy toward the newly formed search marketing association by the name of SMA-NA.

SEMPO sees SMA-NA as a direct competitor. SEMPO did not see other regional branches such as SMA-UK the same way. Wonder why?

If SEMPO is about promoting SEM services around the globe shouldn't they be interested in other regional organizations with generally the same goal?

If the goal of SEMPO is to actually bring the SEO community together, is another force which also tries to do that a bad thing? I think not. According to Ian McAnerin SEMPOs founder for some reason does.

SEMPOs founder thinks its one or the other. I think she is right. Unfortunately for her, her thought process likely indicate that SEMPO will be the organization to soon parish.

No doubt the post on Ian's blog is a striking blow to SEMPO's future.

ThreadWatch posts snippets from Ian's post.

Jon Kleinberg, Title Attribute Test, Making Friends

Home Page of the Day:
Jon Kleinberg - he worked on lots of the underlying theory that created the hubs and authority ranking system which eventually led to Teoma.

He has all kinds of cool PDFs on his site such as Maximizing the Spread of Influence through a Social Network - cool stuff. If I were better at math and network theory stuff his home page would be a virtual candy store.

Interesting & Awaiting Results:
fathom is conducting a link title attribute test

Undersold ad space
Anna Kournikova on advertising...er, advertising on Anna Kournikova

Illigitimate ad space:
Bush Administration Invents 'News' and Pays Journalist

Hosed Ad Space:
Kraft WHITE American Cheese - AdWords ad targeting problems :(

Really, I am not a Slimeball Ads:
Ken Lay starts advertising on AdWords. Interesting what the other AdWords ads say about him too.

Meta "ingnore this part of the page" tag:
I can't really see it coming anytime soon, but some want to push the idea.

MSN Beta to ramp up testing:
MSN Beta to ramp up testing

Developing a Directory?
The Don'ts of Directory Development offers tips to help you get your directory off the ground.

ESearch Online E Search Online ApexSearch Apex Search (look out):
another SEO firm out of Vegas that is allegedly cold calling people.

I did not find any legitimate backlinks into the apexesearch site. The only one I found in Google was from a forum solicitation by a guy by the name of Sincity

Sincity would like to offer you...

In that forum post it states:

real results refferences provided in business since 1996 no cusomer complaints EVER!!!!

and yet its registration details state

Registered through: GoDaddy.com (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: APEXESEARCH.COM
Created on: 20-Apr-04

Domain Name: E-SEARCHONLINE.COM
Created on: 22-Dec-04

I did not see any meaningful company information on their company information page either http://www.apexesearch.com/info.htm. Some people are wondering if this firm has anything to do with Traffic Power. If any SEO calls you up out of the blue trying to tell you that you MUST buy something TODAY then odds are they are NOT worth buying from. Cold calls = crap. Traffic

How Not to Make Friends:
Promote your services in others forums while trashing their business model in your own forum.

How can a person wanting to set up an automated link network say that people should not be able to buy links by PageRank?

How Not to Make Friends...Part 2:
For a while the name of the SEO firm that wanted RustyBrick to link to them was posted in this rant thread.

One time some guy with a big mouth emailed me about how great his firm was and felt that for that reason he felt he deserved a link from my site. I also had a hunch that when another well known firm told me to add them to my SEO forums page that they were spamming me. Not too long ago I got an email from an express link building firm which used "stuff" as the the email title. I wonder how many people use these same shoddy techniques to "promote" (or otherwise destroy the brand of) their clients sites?

It's Brutal to be...

Dan Thies Offers SEO Coaching Program, MicroSoft Anti-Spyware & Anti Free Culture

Jan 7th

SEO Coaching:
Dan Thies offers up a coaching course for SEOs and designers. Dan has one of the sharpest minds in the SEO field. If I were not so busy I would want to sign up. His stuff is probably one of the few mentoring type programs that is worth more than it costs.

Trailing Slashes:
Don't forget the trailing slashes...
site/blah and site/blah/ are not always the same.

While Looting...
From Search Engine Roundtable (the above two items were posted on his blog)... I also saw that they had found a cool free conversion tips ebook from Conversion Chronicals.

MicroSoft Anti-Spyware:
beta release (found from ThreadWatch, where Jason Duke says it appears to be good stuff.)

MSN Search Launching its own Paid Search Arm:
apparently they are hiring

Andy Beal:
Writer of Search Engine Lowdown launches the blog formerly known as Andy Beal uncut.

Keyword Prices:
Jumped 24% in the 4TH quarter, according to Fathom Online.

Bill Gates on PR:
Free Culture advocates = Communists. You don't get called the evil empire for no reason at all.

Interesting view point with MicroSoft's recent complaints about Google's lack of support for the open software community. More of the "Big Bill" interview here.

Digital Home Strategy:
Yahoo! partners with MicroSoft

The Cookie Monster:
Revived Spyware Bill Could Crunch Cookies (and make marketing a wee bit harder)

Want a Job?
unemployment numbers jumped sharply, luckily Google is hiring.

Google AdWords Affiliate Ad Policy Change

Google sent out an email stating that they will now only display 1 advertisement per URL per keyword. Additionally people no longer need to signify their ads are affiliate ads since there is only one ad per URL.

They multiply CTR * max bid to determine the effective ad rank, and the top ad rank for any URL will be the ad that is displayed.

Lots of dynamic keyword insertion noise (such as eBay affiliates) have been ruining the relevancy of their ads so this one step they are taking to try to keep them relevant.

This change will have no effect of white label affiliate sites since they are on their own separate URLs. Some people will probably also find ways to bounce their affiliate ads to get around this change.

The email they sent out is in the extended entry. Google AdWords™ Announcement:
Affiliate Policy Change Google

Hello from the Google AdWords Team:

In January 2005, Google will incorporate a new affiliate advertising policy that is designed to provide a better user and advertiser experience.

What is changing:

With this new affiliate policy, we'll only display one ad per search query for affiliates and parent companies sharing the same URL. This way, users will have a more diverse sampling of advertisements to choose from. As always, your ad will be displayed based on its Ad Rank for given searches, which is determined by a combination of your ad's maximum cost-per-click (price) and clickthrough rate (performance).

For instance, if a user searches for books on Google.com or anywhere on the Google search and content networks, Google will take an inventory of ads running for the keyword books. If we find that two or more ads compete under the same URL, we'll display the ad with the highest Ad Rank.

How this will affect you:

If you're an affiliate, this means that you no longer need to identify yourself as an affiliate in your ad text. However, your current ad text will continue to display your affiliate status until you change it.

Affiliates or advertisers using unique URLs in their ads will not be affected by this change. Please note that your Display URL must match the URL of your landing page, and you may not simply frame another site.

What you should do:

We recommend that you continue to monitor your ads' performance and optimize your ads as needed to ensure they're bringing you the best results. Please visit our Optimization Tips page for more information.

By improving our ad relevancy, we believe that users will have a better search experience, which will help you reach more potential clients in the future. We'll continue to make improvements to AdWords over time to further improve the user experience and help increase the performance of your ads.

We look forward to continue providing you with the most effective advertising available.

Sincerely,
The Google AdWords Team

Disclaimer: As a business Google must make decisions regarding the advertising we accept. As stated in our Terms and Conditions, we reserve the right to exercise editorial discretion when reviewing AdWords ads created within the program. This only concerns our advertising and in no way affects the search results we deliver. Google offers broad access to content across the web without censoring results.

Contact us: If you have any questions, please contact your Google representative or email us at https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/request.py.

Email preferences: You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important new AdWords features.

-------------

>Google offers broad access to content across the web without censoring results.

Does anyone buy that Google is not forced to censor some stuff? I don't...

Why Make a Person Wait?

Jan 7th

Sometimes when people apply to DMOZ they spend a half hour filling out the application and then hit submit. In return they get stuff like:

There has been a failure in processing your form. We will work on it, we hope to have it up soon.
We are sorry for the inconvenience.

Why make a person wait until AFTER they filled out all their info to tell them they are SOL?

You probably know when it is broken, why not just state that up front?

Leaving a broken form up which wastes time does not make the directory any more open...it actually probably closes off a bunch of potential editors. Wasting people's time only builds negative sentiment.

Acquiring a Voice...

This is a bit of an off topic / personal type post. I guess many of them are that way now, but you have been warned ;)

My Brother...
was recently conned (by me) into creating a blog. I think everyone should have one. If for nothing else then at least for tracking your own thought process over time.

Creating Another Unoriginal Crap Site:
He originally wanted to create a site selling random junk he sold a bit of out of a catalog when he was a teenager.

Do What You are Interested In:
I wanted him to create a blog about something he knew about or was interested in to help introduce him to the web. My brother has HIV and since that is a somewhat important topic I figured that maybe he could do a blog about HIV.

I bought him a domain name and spent about $20 submitting his site to a few directories and off he went.

Being Personal:
I have actually been rather impressed with how frequently he has posted. Usually he just posts news as he finds it (which seems a bit dull to me), but occassionally he also posts exceptionally personal stuff - which is what makes a site real.

I do not think he has done much to promote his site, but randomly it ranks #3 on MSN Canada for HIV.

MSN Search Memory Lane:
It always feels good to see someone ranking well in MSN...it is a megacorp that is helping to spread your site and / or message. It reminds me of creating content by the keyword to submit to Zeal back when LookSmart was a primary feed to MSN. Back then it took less than a week to register a domain, host it, create, submit, and approve the content necissary to rank on the first page of MSN for almost any single word search query.

As an SEO Blogger You KNOW there are too many SEO Blogs When...
Your brother recently created a blog about search engines (as my brother did).

I could look at it and say "well he needs to do a bunch of learning" as many may look at this blog and say to me. I remember when I first made my other site about search engines and people emailed me nasty hate mail (I still get some, but for other reasons).

Who knows, he may be at the same spot I was a year and a half ago and may be far better off than I am in a year or two. I am interested to see what his level of commitment will be and what else he wants to learn and what other projects he will jump into.

The Secret Sauce:
The hidden secret of SEO for people new to the craft is that keyword density only really matters up until people are actually interested in reading your site.

You only need to figure out how to reach a few people in any industry. If Danny Sullivan likes your site then many in the search industry will too, by default.

It doesn't take much for a person to do well if they are honest, willing to work hard, interested in what they are doing, and learn quickly.

I look at my brother's posts and see that they are perhaps a bit rough (as are many of mine), but I also look and see that it looks like he is trying to find his voice and is trying to figure out how to sound like a person, which is something most sites do not do. Best of luck bro...

Google on 60 Minutes, Patrick Gavin Interview, & Interesting Links

60 Minutes:
Google on 60 Minutes

Search Google Ads:
Widget Ads - you can search Google for ads only.

What is Google Smoking?
Bongs in the search results - I randomly searched for Chong at Google. On my good old handy dandy FireFox some Google searches are showing images.

Why would a company so textually driven want to place those images prominently above search results? They are probably going to be easy to spam, increase page load time, and IMHO detract from Google a huge amount. I suppose they know a bit more than me about that sort of stuff, but so far I do not like it.

Search Marketing Association:
North American brother of the EU and UK to launch

Renting Links:
I met Patrick Gavin of Text Link Ads in Las Vegas and have been working a bit with him. I recently interviewed Patrick about link buying, how he got into the web, and where he would start if he started on the web today.

Blog Happenings:
Six Apart is the company that created the blogging software that runs this site. They are going to purchase LiveJournal, which will drastically expand their userbase, though most LiveJournal customers are not paying customers. A ton of consolidation in this space will likely occur throughout the year between some of the platforms, tracking, and search sites. (found on ThreadWatch)

The Future of Journalism:
Dan Gillmore starts his blog.

Free Answer Engine:
GuruNet becomes Answers.com and drops subscription fee.

PPC Keyword Research Software:
TheDowser is a new (to me at least) keyword research tool which combines some of the features from the Overture search term suggestion tool and the Google Keyword Sandbox tool (as well as having some other features). I did not use it a ton, but downloaded the trial and played with it a bit. If you run a bunch of PPC campaigns it only needs to help you save a little time or find a few new keywords to pay for itself.

Interesting:

Google PageRank Update, Please Help...

I was in and out around the end of the year and just finally got back home in a somewhat stable state today. It looks as though Google has finally updated toolbar PageRank again, and I have been reading bits about the horrible tsunami.

To try my best to help out, for the month of January I am going to send all my SEO Book sales income to help out with relief from the storm. I think Paypal eats about $2 out of each order, but other than that the remainder will go to help out Sarvodaya.

If you want to help out you can donate directly to any of the tsunami relief funds.






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