On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound
Going to the desert for a couple days... should be back Tuesday :)
By targeting certain terms / phrases / concepts / ideas you can target overtly biased consumer feedback which appears to be unbiased information.
You can spend well under $100 creating a system which erodes brands of competing business models. Just use AdWords to market a blog requesting feedback about the company or its products. Generally people are going to be more inclined to research and speak their mind if they are not satisfied.
This may not work well against smaller companies since they are going to be more inclined to accept and look for feedback, but if large companies place themselves ahead of their customers it is exceptionally easy to make that known.
If the feedback site does a good enough job it can garner many free links from other people who may not like the service. Eventually you can use the site for cheap link popularity and to do comparitive advertising for a broad range of terms surrounding a competitors names and / or products.
For example, I could create a site about feedback on the services of various SEO companies. That site would garner both positive and negative feedback. Even though it would have both, it would cast a shadow of doubt over SEO services which might make my ebook look more appealing to a wider audience base.
With all of the people who market SEO services based on the ethics and best practices angles I am surprised nobody has cashed in by creating an SEO service feedback blog.
Sure some firms would shun it, but those would likely be some of the same firms who don't give a crap about their customers.
If I created that sort of site I would not market anything but the feedback off the start. Each page would link out to the reviewed firm for that page. Companies which had great reviews would likely link in. People who hated some of the firms would likely link in.
links links links... !!!!
Disclaimer: Of course you can go too far with this, and it can result in significant social or legal expenses.
WordTracker sells access to its keyword database based on the concept that meta search engines have data which is much cleaner than regular search results.
Regular search engines have screen scrapers, rank checkers, bid management tools, click bots, webmasters, and all sorts of interesting tools scouring through their networks.
WordTracker collects its data from Dogpile and MetaCrawler, a couple smaller meta search engines. The sales angle is that the keyword data is clean, but is it?
A couple problems with the WordTracker database:
As far as I know it does not store historical data (just the past two months search volume)
It has a small search database compared to the search volume seen on large engines. The small sample size means errors will be blown out of proportion.
Most people who know of and use the database are marketers, who surely could take advantage of the limited search volume by spamming it
Spamming for Profits:
A friend just recently searched and saw a particular SEO firm spamming a ton of fake search referals for their services. I guess that is fairly cheap marketing if you are looking for money from a bunch of naive webmasters.
Smokescreen Spam (Hiding Your Keywords):
Lets say you find out that the phrase gold nuggets is profitable. You run a search bot to search for golden nuggets. You do it over and over and suddenly golden nuggets looks like the money maker.
Your competition trips over each other trying to optimize for golden nuggets (where there may be little to no money), while you are headed to the bank to cash your check.
You cash your check and can afford to go buy more gold nuggets :)
Much like pay per click, some SEO markets are based on working the margins. If you can get your competitors to get in an SEO war in an area of lower profit then eventually they may get frustrated and quit or go after other markets.
Many people focus on improving their sites, but once you get near the top providing competing sites adequate amounts of disinformation may help keep you there. In SEO the only numbers you can trust are the dollars in the bank account at the end of the day (assuming they are not there from a fraudulent transaction).
Today LinkWorth is proud to launch its newest advertising product called, Billboard Link Ads. This new and exciting technology takes text link advertising to an entirely new level by allowing the advertiser to create a very effective write up about their product or service being promoted, embedding targeted linked keywords and/or phrases throughout the content and having the entire dedicated page hosted on one of our partner websites. So instead of buying a simple text link from someone, you are purchasing an entire page with up to 10 text links included throughout the content.
I am a bit surprised that nobody has tried to set up a marketplace for this until now.
As long as people have been buying and selling links for you would think that many more people would pick up on this idea. WeBuildPages has been marketing this concept, but the idea of being able to chose amongst an open marketplace makes the idea much more scalable.
I know search engines can probably pick up on more patterns than most webmasters realize, but many people selling links through LinkWorth link back to LinkWorth on their site using affiliate links, which likely makes it both easy and appealing for some search engines to give less weighting to links from those sites or decide to not want to count those ads.
LinkWorth should protect their inventory partners and advertisers better than that if they aim to create a longterm solution.
There are many affordable programmers and many marketers are sitting on stacks of cash. There should be more people pushing these types of solutions.
A Yahoo Inc. spokeswoman confirmed this week that the company's search-marketing division, formerly known as Overture Services, has started testing graphical banner ads displayed based on their relevancy to a Web page's content.
"We're always looking at ways of enhancing our services," Yahoo spokeswoman Gaude Paez said. "There are a number of things we're looking at doing [in search advertising], including tests we've begun for putting sponsored listings in a banner, graphical format."
The test is running on Yahoo's network of sites, rather than on partner sites, she said. The ads are dynamic, initially appearing as a banner ad and then transforming into a sponsored link.
She declined to provide further details about Yahoo's plans for the graphical, pay-per-click ads.
I want to pursue pure research regarding etymology, LSI/LSA, philology, etc. Parallels can surely be drawn with regard to search tech Iâ€™m sure, but I want to pursue words. So, Iâ€™m leaving the SEO/SEM game.
While I don't know enough about the stock market to compete in it on general stock buys, I am wondering if my tidbits of knowledge here and there can allow me to understand market forces within the SEO space better than the average investor?
insm.ob and thk are a couple SEO / SEM related stocks on the market. There are not many publicly traded SEO stocks, so it would not be that hard to keep up with them.
With the current market atmosphere of:
mergers and acquisitions
the falling dollar
the uneven trade balance and huge federal debt
the impending float of the Yuan
many ad agencies behind the ball on search
search engines crossing into traditional ad markets
the rapid growth of search
I am sure this will be an interesting space in the financial markets for the next couple years.
Like people, companies are born and die. SEO is just manipulating information systems. The stock market is just a large information system. Stocks, options, futures, and shorts are just a bet for or against what people think will happen.
Insiders have the house advantage, but can traditional individual investors compete with the market? I think if you know a market well enough and can emotionally separate yourself from it then you can, not sure if I would be any good at that though.
Not sure if I will participate much in the market, but I do find it interesting that ISHM.ob has been up or at even the whole day on a relatively flat day when they just lost one of their star employees.
My Web allows you to import your bookmarks, unless...
My Web currently does not support bookmark import from this browser.
We currently Support Internet Explorer Favorites and Yahoo! Bookmarks.
We are looking into extending support for additional browsers soon.
Some of the interesting things from this new offering:
Save an exact copy of any page you like - from Yahoo! Toolbar or directly from your search results
Searching across full-text and your notes enables instant retrieval
Create categories for your saved pages - travel, projects, events
Share your favorites with friends and colleagues - via email, IM, and RSS
Accessible anywhere, not just from your own computer
Save both an exact copy and a link - the content you save will always be there when you return
Not sure how appealing it is to webmasters for Yahoo! to be storing dated cached copies of web pages. What happens if your content was incorrect and you later change it? What happens if your advertisers change? Google autolink really shafted webmasters, and it appears other search engines will only follow suit.
It looks like they are also using this launch to promote their toolbar (which for some reason beyond me still lacks a connectivity measurement). The toolbar will make it quick and easy to save pages.
The social / sharing concept is rather interesting, and is an area where Yahoo! seems to be well ahead of Google. I also believe that Yahoo! only store things you request to be stored, while Google stores whatever you click on when logged in. Google later lets you remove things if you want to. Unlike Google, Yahoo! also stores a cached copy of each page that you chose to save.
I have not tested this out yet, but I will start playing here soon :)
I am fairly certain these bookmarking and sharing system are going to open up many new creative ways to spam.
AdWords Spying: GoogSpy looks scrapes hundreds of thousands of searches from Google to determine who is bidding on what terms. The idea is killer, but the implementation is a bit lacking. Link found from ThreadWatch.
URL Trends is a free tool from Joel Strellner which tracks how a domain does over time. Each month it tracks Alexa ranking, Yahoo! backlinks, MSN backlinks, & Google backlinks. The tool also compares the site to Google search results and keywords in the WordTracker database to determine if the site has top Google rankings for any common terms.
By default URL Trends looks as though it does not track a ton of sites, but when a user requests a site the tool starts tracking it.
URL Trends also lets you subscribe to free update to track various sites. That may be a useful feature for those who are not tracking any competing sites in house.
In competitive industries rankings generally tend to follow linkage data.
As time passes algorithms will get far past looking at just the number of links, but for now I believe that metric is exceptionally relevant in both Yahoo! Search and MSN's new offering.
I will likely be going to a concert next weekend, but when I get back hopefully I will be able to unveil another cool link tool that a friend has been whipping up.
I don't really sell SEO services because they are time consuming and I am bad at pricing them.
Today I chatted with one of my friends about marketing their SEO firm. Many SEO firms spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars renting links each month, but otherwise remain somewhat anonymous.
Small Sale Steps:
With advertising they may rank great and get in front of a target audience, but after the audience finds the site it might make sense if there is an added step between finding a site and buy services. If you sell quality services they are usually going to cost a good sum of money. It is a huge leap of faith for a person to sign on from finding you in the search results. Research Notorious Salesmen:
This added step could further sell the client on you and prequalify them to meet what you are looking for in a client. I pretended I was interested in signing up for Cory Rudl's mentorship program because I wanted to see how they sold it.
There are lots of issues that make the mentorship program not appealing to me, but do you know how they did the sales calls?
They were not sold to me as sales pitches. They were sold as interviews to see if I was qualified for the program.
The whole time they were reminding me that they only wanted success stories. They were not willing to take me on unless I was serious. My first interview was to prequalify me for a second interview. The second interviewer normally is not available for a week or two, but surprise surprise they just happened to be available 15 minutes after my first interview was over. Why? They wanted to convert what they thought was a hot lead.
They reminded me the for common things that held people back:
time - a reminder that it takes time to see results and people should not be willing to give up quickly. Also a reminder that I would need to invest many hours of time into the program to see successful results. I would need to have time set aside.
money - they reminded me that I could take out loans, but that usually credit cards made it easier to get started right away. As a new unproven business is easier to get credit from credit card company than to apply for a loan.
knowledge - That is what the mentorship was supposed to provide me.
fear - It is an uncertain world. Some people fear success. Some people fear failure. By making the mentorship program seem overtly logical by addressing the above concerns they wanted to reinforce that I was making a good choice and there was no reason for fear.
Of course when I backed off when it came time to enter my credit card details they became even more aggressive in the hard sales pitch techniques. I said I had to talk to a friend and they said that I should respect my own thoughts and opinions. They said that I should put my own future and my business in my own hands. I agreed with them and that is why I told them to let me think about it for a while.
People buying SEO services likely share some of the concerns as people buying a marketing mentorship program. There are also a few others, but some of the most common questions might be easily packagable as downloadable PDF. To prospects sometimes the format of information can matter as much or more than the actual contents of the container.
Things that are under $100 (and especially things that are under $50) can be an impulse buy. The right kind of SEO client is typically not the kind who is doing impulse buying.
Most internet marketing techniques are fairly transparent.
Look at competing sites. How do they market on their sites.
Look at competign backlinks. How do they market via links.
Use Alexa. If you can afford it collect more data via HitWise.
Create seed sites in various industries. Have an auto insurance site that you market on AdWords or Overture.
Ask questions to friendly competitors.
Call or have a friend call other competitors as a prospective lead.
Ask for proposal documents.
Doing some of those might help show you where others are doing well, and then again the might do well in spite of, not because some of the action. Then maybe there are additional things you could do that most firms are not.
Some things firms could do to bridge the credibility gap beyond what algorithms say:
Write a bunch of articles and publish them on various sites.
Get interviewed by others.
Give away something.
Act your size. A large corporate account might bring in a ton of money, but they may suck up most your resources and have a ton of red tape.
Do not be afraid to put a personality into what you do.
Look for clients with common interests. Maybe there is some pent up demand in the local area?
Lots of other ideas. My friend came up with a great one, but I don't want to share it because its his idea. Hopefully he gives it a shot. :)
[disclaimer: I might be out to lunch here, but the intent of the post is to help...]
Not sure if many host companies are advertising for common errors at other hosts which their hosting packages support, but I would be willing to bet DOMXML hosting and DOM XML hosting and other similar derivative keywords are cheap ads - at least they looked it a few minutes ago.
Probably not a ton of traffic, but well targeted leads.
Just an idea for those stuck in that hyper competitive market. Not saying that I think people should sell hosting on the cheap, just that there might be some unsold inventory.
BTW, I have not got much feedback about Hub Finder yet. Apparently the host where it was hosted stopped supporting it.
Fatal error: Call to undefined function: domxml_open_mem
There is another copy here and here, and you can place the source code on your site if you want (change index.txt to index.php). Do you like it, or think it sucks, or...?
So I have been getting some of the Gmail feeds and ads recently. Hopefully I answered this question correctly or you the reader will call me dumb...
Bad Call #1:
Here is an example thread
Question from Search Marketing Info
Which internet search engine was co-founded by a math major who chose the name to imply a vast reach ?
Thanks in advance,
Google was a mispelling for Googol, which means a 1 with a million
zeros behind it.
Larry Page founded it and Sergey Brin was his co founder.
and here was Google's contextually targeted Gmail ad:
Head Gasket Blown? - www.rxauto.com - Repair It Yourself Guaranteed ThermaGasket The Mechanics Choice
That is data stored on Google's servers and that is the best that they can target it? When you couple that in with all the AdSense spam sites and click fraud it really makes you wonder why Google assumes anybody would want that traffic.
Bad Call #2:
One of the default feeds was Engaget. Presumably because they run AdSense? Don't get me wrong here, its cool to help smaller publishers, but if you put Engaget in there you should put Gizmodo there also unless you want people to quetion you motives.
Placing random off target off topic crap I don't want in my email is being evil. At least the old Hotmail dating ads would occassionally show pictures of cute girls ;)
I know that I can unsubscribe from feeds, but I shouldn't have to opt out. Maybe off the start you could just promote Google News, Froogle, and your other portal pieces up there?
Bad Call #3:
Google actually places feeds in your spam folder. How stupid is it to place contextually relevant feeds near stuff that was deemed as being unwanted useless junk? What better way is there to turn users off?
Another thing that is really weird is most (maybe all) of the spam feeds were for spam recipies:
Spam Vegetable Strudel - Bake 20 minutes or until golden, serve with soy sauce
Savory Spam Crescents - Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown
French Fry Spam Casserole - Bake 30-40 minutes
They may place the spam ads in there to try to push the cute and innocent corporate culture, but I don't buy it.
After bogusly adding the Google Toolbar Autolink feature which directed B&N customers to Amazon many people started to become increasingly suspicious of potential hidden business partnerships. Is Google partnered with Hormel Foods now too?
I feared this post was reading as though I got it from Google's PR firm, so I felt I should include this... Google Blowout Quarter Update:
There's a blurb in the Wall Street Journal today that explains how Google's reported bottom line is being gamed by their own options program. It seems since they backloaded the options expense onto last year's earnings statement, this quarter's results will be ARTIFICIALLY BOOSTED almost 100%, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with their actual profitability as a business. Keep that in mind when they announce earnings tomorrow.
I have read Seth Godin's blog consistantly for the past year. I also believe I have read every book that he has wrote in the 5 years. I even went to his office one day to hang out. In the past he has made some comments about SEO which were a bit off mark, but in the end I agree that for most people SEO is not going to be a long term business model. If you really know your stuff well you might be able to get by just doing SEO, but for some people that will eventually get old. Technology will continue to advance. SEO can enhance distribution but if SEO and selling stuff cheap are your longterm brand strategy you could be making more money creating legitimate value for a growing social network which may eventually market your products for you.
I recently read a book which recommended a decent SEO tool and appoligized for mentioning it due to sleeze sales copy.
I recently tried another SEO tool, which has recurring monthly fees. The tips newsletter immediately offered me a special deal not promoted on the site - some Cory Rudl affiliate links. I even replied to the person to tell them that I thought it was sleeze.
If you are charging me a healthy recurring subscription on a low cost system do you need to sleeze upsell me? Is an extra $4 a month worth me not wanting to recommend your software? Worse yet, the how to manual for the SEO tool had three pages reminding readers how they can become rich reselling the software. Gross.
[disclaimer: within my sites I market my ebook heavily, but as time passes my sales letter will probably become more and more soft sell. My end goal is to be able to have no need to have a sales letter, but that might still be a bit down the road. ]
2.) Consulting & Services:
As a consultant or person working in a related field the best position to be in is to have more leads than you can possibly use. That way you get to chose what hours you work, set your prices, pick your clients, etc.
By not being a hard seller you miss out on some sales, but it also helps to build trust if you don't immediately go for a hard sell. Taking time to review things and build a relationship you are less likely to waste effort trying to sell to a person who is not interested in buying.
I think Jill Whalen has worked rather hard at developing a soft sell system which lets her pick and chose who she wants to work with.
3.) business meetings:
When I go to SES or related conferences many people are like "do you have a business card?", and I never do.
In that situation I look stupid, confident, or both. If you want to remember me that is great, if not I don't want to be another card in the stack.
Sure you want to build relationships over time, but if you give a few hundred people your card you might get a couple leads out of it. I have a huge stack of business cards and know few of the people.
As long as you appoligize for any mistakes you make or any inconvenience you cause someone they will probably think better of you than if everything just went smoothly off the start.
The added effort to get or give someones data without convenient little cards makes it more personal. If you want to remember me I probably do not need a card.
If you don't have cards and chose to meet a few people really well you might be better off as you will likely stick out a bit more than the average card in the stack.
[disclaimer 2: I might be full of crap, but these are my opinions, and I am sharing them. Please let me know what you think of them in the comments below]
In after hours Google shares are trading at over $220.
Google's first-quarter net income rose to $369.2 million, or $1.29 a share, from $64.0 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier. Profit from the most recent quarter included a $49 million charge for stock-based compensation.
Gross revenue nearly doubled to $1.26 billion from $651.6 million.
The results easily topped Wall Street's average net profit target of 78 cents a share. Analysts had seen profit excluding some items at 92 cents and revenue at $1.16 billion, according to Reuters Estimates. source
A while ago I bought Dan Thies's Search Engine Marketing Kit because I think Dan knows his stuff pretty well. Many people miss out on the fact that if you make your product just a little better by understanding what other related products are on the market and learning even just a few things from them you build significant longterm value.
There are some sectors of his kit and my ebook that overlap, but many sectors do not directly overlap.
things I liked about Dan's kit:
You can tell that he wants to help people do well. Self promotion is kept to a minimum. It is also obvious that the book is based on years experience.
Branded as the keyword expert it is no surprise that he covers keyword research in depth.
Throughout the book he reinforces how much the reader has learned. I think my ebook would be improved if I added a few more of the reinforcement statements like that.
He offers a good amount of tips on setting up and selling an SEO / SEM service. I think his goal when making the guide was to create something similar to the Web Design Business Kit for SEM.
He provides sample documents for prospective SEO businesses. Such as service agreements.
Most of his guide is wrote in a manner that it will not be outdated in a couple days, weeks, months, or years.
Talks a good amount about server, duplicate content, and technical issues. This is an area where I could improve my guide a good bit.
Has some useful interviews in it.
Focused on big picture concepts, not irrelevant and/or short term solutions.
I end my ebook stating that I think people should continue reading and learning about the web as there is no one source that is going to teach you everything to make you do well. He also did that and I think that is a necissary mark of a good book in this space.
things I think could be better:
The kit could focus a bit more on creativity, especially in the link building area.
Although we are both willing to mention them, he and I both do not usually use or recommend the most aggressive techniques. I think me being indepenant gives me a bit more leway though. For example, I can say I don't think most people need to cloak, but if you do chose to cloak go with the best, Fantomaster.
Dan could have done a bit more to talk about some of the social aspects of the web. Some of his examples and his interview of Scottie did help show some of these types of ideas in action though. I think did a fair job with it, but I think it is an issue that is sorely missed within the SEO community. It is impossible to stress the social aspects of the web too much.
The resources area at the end of the guide was a bit thin. I think this was a function of a few main factors:
My ebook links to a ton of sites and tools, so that may throw my baseline or expectation off.
What is a useful tool today may not be a useful tool tomorrow.
He did not intend to create a comprehensive tool list.
The resources he recommend are useful and best of breed ones though.
One of the weeknesses of my ebook was that I did not link to much search research because I did not want to make my book too technical. I later added some links on that front due to people asking more about some of the topics and current research. I think he references some, but it would be hard for him to reference the Google patent that came out less than a month ago.
Some of the nuances to link building were not well versed. Of course Google sometimes rolls in almost random penalties and lots of concepts that may change over time. It is hard to be exceptionally in depth on the latest techniques and go through the whole publishing process.
How else our guides differ:
Process: Dan covers the importance of process. I do not stress that in my ebook. My philosophy is that it is easy to get stuck in ruts and the things you do should be efficient and flexible. Proccess makes some things efficient, but you should also spend a good amount of time doing unique things. Creative or original ideas do well on the web. I also think it is important to learn markets and learn how to react quickly.
Freshness: His book was crafted in a manner to where it would not go out of date in a day. That also means that it is not going to be able to go as far in depth on some issues and cover some of the newest techniques.
His book seems to be more focused on those aiming to sell SEO services. My book seems more focused on those who are aiming to buy services. We both overlap in covering those who want to do services on their own sites.
Generally I do not like selling SEO services as a business model. SEO is a flooded marketplace with a ton of scams in it. Most of the prospective clients have other problems and some view SEO as free money. It may sound arrogent to say that over 90% of the prospective leads are no good, but client greed and the invisiblity of the job make it hard to land clients worth working for unless you are smooth at salesmenship. If you already know how to sell stuff why not create your own products and sites?
To me it usually makes sense to build your own stuff and work on your own sites if you can afford to. Sure you may have a few clients off the start, but the quicker you shed service based work the quicker you can look at creating your own products and websites that logarithmically increase in value as time passes.
In each niche market there are opportunities for a few people to dominate. Many markets related to basic functions related to life and humanity still have zero competition. SEO on the other hand is fierce. Everyone sees Google's stock price and wants to get in on making money cheap as possible.
Dan Thies is the keyword research expert. Patrick Gavin is the link broker. Eric Ward is a site announcement expert with tons of contacts. Jen Sleg is the contextual ads expert. Andrew Goodman is the AdWords expert. Jill Whalen is the content SEO. Kevin Lee is a PPC expert. SEO PR is the company that optimizes press releases. Even writing an SEO book by the name of SEO Book meant that I was joining a crowded marketplace. It took over a year to see significant profits. I am not the best at selling services, but if you do decide to sell SEO services then doing following should help:
build brand build brand build brand!!!
niche your services
try to create services where your pay is not reliant on rankings or other arbitrary figures. get paid for results that matter or get paid upfront and create results that matter.
do not be afraid to say no to leads
create other revenue streams to make up for the fluctuations in demand.
hehehe. Jeff Alderson with another equalizer program. Blogging Equalizer is software used for posting links to a blog to get pages on other site indexed.
The software spiders a domain you enter and then spams a blog post on one of your fake blogs to have Yahoo! quickly index all the pages on that site.
I started another blog a few days ago and subscribed to the feed via My Yahoo!, and quickly indexed it. Sure this loophole will be closed somewhat soon by Yahoo! though as marketers create products like this to exploit it.
From his sales copy
And, you should keep in mind, if you're doing the "Blog and Ping" technique manually or paying someone else thousands of dollars to do it for you, then it might take you months, or even years, to make back your investment in time and money...
As far as I can tell there is no reason or value add in buying the software.
Most blog software programs can be configured to ping automatically. I believe WordPress already is.
You can set up a blog free at numerous places.
You can subscribe to the feed quickly via My Yahoo! (which this software requires you to do anyway).
Jeff Alderson, where is the value add in your blog spam software? Surely the legit blog spam software annoys people and builds link popularity, but I can't see this software doing much to save most people time.
PageRank was broken from the start. The concept they were going after may still well exist though if they can get enough users of their search history tool. While other search engines still seem relatively easy to spam Google may be trying to measure web wide trust scores using much more than just raw linkage data.
Google need not stomp SEO techniques out, they only need to:
make the costs of SEO high enough that it is cheaper to build legitimate business models and brands than it is to build a business off of manipulating search results
Some people will be untouchable. They will know enough about social engineering and database programming to where they will still spam Google all day long. I am sure Google realizes that, but they want to continually increase costs to where that is an exceptionally small pool.
As SEO gets harder Google makes more money from ads. As they make more money from ads they can spend more into making SEO harder.
Now if only they could share more data with advertisers to help make click fraud easier to detect. Google bought Urchin. Why not buy, create, or offer something like Who's Clicking Who. Surely Google has the market data and it will not increase costs much to give advertisers more options and more data.
A search company which makes tons of profit organizing data should recognize that by making advertising transparent and making more ad information available they will create a more efficient market which creates more profits. The advertising community would likely police themselves if you gave them enough data and responded to feedback.
Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday debuted a test service called My Search History that analysts said is a move closer to personalized search, which is widely considered the Holy Grail for the Web search leader and its rivals. source
to use My Search History you must register at Google Accounts and maintain an active account. Ask Jeeves have had a search history tool for a while now and Yahoo! has My Yahoo! for various personalization effects, although Yahoo! seems more focused on providing news and blog feeds and the like. I think Yahoo! is betting on the abundance of information making subscribing to channels much more appealing than searching the web. I believe Yahoo! also allows you to subscribe to Yahoo! News feeds by keyword phrase.
Personalized search allows engines to better understand users to improve search quality and ad targeting. Whoever is branded as the best market solution on that front is going to make a bucket of cash, because keeping your search history and learning the user raises the barrier to switching search providers.
It makes it hard for another search service to be as relevant if you have tons of personal information already locked in a competing service. This data will be hard to export to other systems as well, as importing huge hunks of data will also allow marketers to import large volumes of spam.
I just briefly tested Google's service. It is fairly slick. You can quickly sign in or out and it adds minimal clutter to the Google home page.
From the link in the upper right corner you are brought to a new page. It shows a calender which color codes your search volume on the right side. The left side shows your searches for that day and the results you clicked on. The my history results that you click on also show up in the Google one box area when you search for similar terms using the regular search results.
Some privacy advocates would likely go nuts with this offering. It is all opt in though. I encourage everyone to sign in, search for seo, scroll past the Japanese stuff, and click on my listing.
Presumably some searchers may be able to build up a search history.
As they build it up it could build Google's trust in that user, which in turn could potentially allow Google to use that user feedback to verify search result relevancy.
I would not doubt this to do a bit more of globalizing SEO. Paying people in third world countries to randomly click certain sites. I am already building a search history today as a prospective SEO tool.
A blog with the latest cutting edge search engine spam techniques. Of course you would probably make more money keeping all the techniques to yourself and applying them, but I bet it could be a paid membership idea where it costed hundreds of dollars a month and potential subscribers would be screened.
If you left some stuff openly avialable (maybe stuff that was on its way out / getting outdated) and then sold the best ideas via subscription it would probably gain lots of linkage data from bloggers and various ethics pundits out of pure hate. Plus just being controvercial makes it easy to get links.
As an upsell the site could also sell various high end sophisticated spamming software. To mitigate legal risks the software could be described as server load testing, ad network testing, etc.
There are probably over 1,000 SEO blogs on the market. I know DaveN knows his spam, but I wonder why nobody has created this idea yet. Or does it exist and I just have not found it, or I do not know the right people well enough?
(or how not to be an schmuck just because you are using flash)
Most sites have at least one goal in mind. It is nice if the phone number looks great, but far better if the merchant site ACTUALLY SELLS SOMETHING OR GETS PEOPLE TO CALL.
Placing all text in images generally is bad usability and SEO.
Just because a feature is available does not mean it needs to be used.
Don't disable the browser back button without contacting the merchant and marketer unless you want shot with a shotgun full of rock salt.
Have enough decency and self respect to create a descriptive page title for each page. Running all the words together is no good. If you a making a site for Bob Ross you may even be able to work Happy Little Trees into one of the page titles, but creating a title like BobRossFlash with all words ran together is just no good. In that case the trees are not happy.
If you test to see if a visitor has flash and they do not maybe, just maybe a one image error page with an image full of text telling them they are all screwed up is a bad call?
If your site design is good and the content is of merit some people may want to bookmark the site or pages from the site. Why not embed the flash into html so that the site has multiple pages with unique page titles and textual content?
MacroMedia has an SDK which makes flash easier for search engines to spider, but flash still lacks content. add some content in <NOEMBED> tags if you can't add text to the page
If by default you generally screw up all the above (and more) and then want to sell a client SEO services for many many thousands of additional dollars you are dishonest and a thief.
Surely there are more, but I just woke up...
What is your least favorite whamodyne flash design errors?
I just got an update email from Leslie Rhode of OptiLink...
A few days ago, Google began to employ a "spyware detector" that will in some cases block OptiLink through the use of a cookie and a human visible "ransom note".
The use of Google from "normal" browsers is not effected -- it is only specialized programs such as OptiLink that are targeted by Google's change with the result that OptiLink can be blocked
from Google for two or more hours.
While this is not a terrible problem as no lasting impact has been found, I am not comfortable with Google being able to discover the use of OptiLink no mattter how "gentle" the counter-measures
So, OptiLink's Goolge interface has been REMOVED pending a solution to this problem. This has been done for your safety, and for the safety of all other OptiLink users.
Rest assured that this problem will be solved and Google access restored as soon as possible, but in the meantime, you should use the Yahoo and MSN interfaces for your Google ranking analysis.
I am a bit curious if Google is going too far with all of their recent anti-SEO moves. I can't even count how many times I have read that search relevancy is similar at Yahoo! and Google. Webmasters have undoubtedly helped to build Google's brand.
With the extensive filtering that Google does on its linking information, the loss of the Google interface in many cases is not that important.
In general, you can do your linking analysis using the Yahoo or MSN link databases and safely assume that Google has these links as well, but are simply not showing them. The exception to this rule is of course the "banned domain" which appears to be a uniquely Google concept.
Google does provide useless linkage data. Some of the other engines, especially Yahoo!, provide useful linkage data.
The connectivity measurement (or PageRank) that Google shows in it's toolbar is outdated. July of last year I talked to a Yahoo! Search employee and asked why they were not making a reliable Yahoo! connectivty measurement available?
A large part of how Google gained their brand was by creating concepts that were somewhat easy to explain, like PageRank. Why not force them to keep that data updated or take that market position from them by providing across the board better tools that are easier to explain? This also could help Yahoo! gain a much larger installed toolbar base, which may allow them to
gain market share
collect more market data
improve relevancy algorithms
MSN has also been significantly more supportive of the SEO industry than Google, even allowing people to subscribe to search results via RSS.
I understand running automated systems add to system load time and has associated costs, but could that cost be a cheap form of marketing your high margin search service over competing services?
On many fronts I do like Google as a company, but I think their idealism is at least as much of a hindrance as it is a strength.
Leslie also had the following to say in his update:
My Thoughts on the Future
It is certainly well known that Google does not look with favor upon SEO tools in general, and most especially tools that make use of its interfaces, so some sort of reaction is not totally unexpected.
OptiLink has been in very active use and continuous development since May 22, 2002, and has been on Google's "short list" since the moment they called me (true story) just 10 days after it was announced.
When talking face to face motive is not always easy to judge, but it is usually a bit easier than it is over the web.
Hucksters & Spammers:
Golden rule #1 for me is if you are so good at what you do there is no reason for you to be wasting your time cold calling me.
If you waste my time in any way: bulk email, cold call, random pop up, etc there is no way in hell I want to do business with you. But beyond that it gets a bit harder:
Tons of affiliates openly endorse crap. They lie about how good something is to make a commission. From what I have seen the single hardest part of being an affiliate marketer is finding someone who wants to give honest advice.
Many testimonials are fake or favors for friends.
I could probably at least double my conversions by putting a bit more hype in the sales letter, but I feel guilty being promotional at all. Most of the parts of my sales letter which are hype sounding were wrote by someone else. Some sales letters are litterally 40 pages long.
I write a 5 start press release for customers, but usually write a 3 star one for myself.
Credit card fraud is huge. Sometimes not only is the price refunded, but your account can be subject to significant fees.
Many peoplesleezeballs buy products and then ask for a refund within the first minute.
One of the people who said my ebook was not a fit for them last June just asked me if they could join my affiliate program. Why would you want to sell something you do not like? Certainly there is at least a little bit of dishonesty hidden somewhere in there. But I suppose that is the standard on the web.
Others lie to your credit card processor, saying they never got a product and tried to contact you. Some of which even subscribe to your updates and ask why they are not getting updates after getting refunds.
Rarely do people who want a refund give a single reason they are displeased.
Multiple thoughtful people have copied my ebook and placed it on their site for free.
You can place electronic products or other things in formats to make it harder to steal, at the cost of inconveniencing your legitimate customers. I have not done that yet, but as I grow older and less idealistic it becomes easier to see why so many people do.
I have helped people promote products and ideas only to later find out that defending them was stupid because their actions were short sighted and driven by greed.
Even shittier of them, while I was actively trying to help them, they were planning on turning the project into crap and did not tell me.
Instead of creating a legitimate business model they now email spam for a living.
Other friends pitch a great idea. You help promote it as a partner and then they do stupid short sighted things to destroy the value.
Sometimes you can write a testimonial only to find out that other market forces or a lack of updating can make your testimonial quickly outdated.
I tried to lend a ton of help and credibility to a friend and now they make the bulk of their living off blog spam. One of my friends had workers manually comment spamming one of my blogs. Not that blog spamming is entirely wrong, but when it is easily traceable is it entirely stupid.
You can help others by creating add on promotional guides for your products only to find them write the same price on their site and write the verbiage in their sales copy as though that bonus is the same or better than your main product. Fairly short sighted IMHO.
Some friends later are the first to laugh if you or your site fails to meet their expectations in any way. I have not had this happen to me much, but have seen it over and over again. Not that I am generally friends there, but the IHY forums is usually cutting edge in this category.
If you help out charities you get many requests that start with something like "My cousin goes to church once every other week..." Can you give me your business model free?
There are a ton of systems set up to automatically spam social networks. The better the network the harder some of them will try to spam. Some are automated, some are manual.
Some of the people who work hard to help others build communities are later burned by the same machines they helped build.
It is hard to scale labors of love into profitable business models without offending people.
If you have a profitable business model and are opinionated some people like to judge you and use the forums or other community sites to market hate messages. It is far easier to make ludicrous statements over the web. Flame wars are a natural part of broken social software.
Various SEO / SEM Related Problems:
Link relationships are based on trust. Most link trade offers are bogus and / or automated.
Sometimes even paying for a link in a directory is an issue of trusting the owner not to sleeze out their directory, which is counter the the stream many current directories are swimming.
For one reason or another I think many sites and many people are afraid to give people something they can trust. Something they can believe in. From what I have seen Danny Sullivan seems to be one of few unifying forces / people in this industry.
How do you breed trust? How do you know who you can trust? Are there some books I should read? Am I screwing up by reading books and so many web pages? etc etc etc?
On a related note my favorite T shirt designer just put his limited edition shirts online. YIPPIE! Please look through his collection and the first person who comments below that they want one gets one. Comment below and send me an email with your sizing and shipping details.
For its first quarter ended last month, the Sunnyvale, Calif., Internet giant posted earnings of $205 million, or 14 cents a share, up from the year-ago $101 million, or 7 cents a diluted share a year earlier. Excluding a penny-a-share gain on the sale of investments, latest-quarter earnings were 13 cents a share.
Revenue rose 49% from a year ago to $821 million on a so-called net basis, excluding the money Yahoo! shares with its paid search partners.
Wall Street analysts had forecast earnings of 11 cents a share on revenue of $797 million. : source
The stock market took a rather deep dive over the last week. Yahoo!'s stock is up 7% on the day. Google is trading in tandem, also up about 7% today.
Including traffic acquisition costs (money paid to traffic partners) Yahoo!'s quarterly quarterly revenue was $1.17 billion. If Yahoo! had to pay it's partners $350 million for traffic you can likely imagine that Yahoo! is also probably making a couple hundred million dollars from that traffic.
Their biggest traffic partner is MSN, who will likely be dropping Yahoo!'s services near the end of the year. The next couple days might be a good time to take some profits as Yahoo! will likely fall when MSN officially dumps their partnership. There is likely only one or two more quarterly reports before MSN makes the switch.
Yahoo! has a variety of revenue streams and is much less of a pure search play than Google, but paid search is their cash cow.
Of course I would not recommend taking stock advice from me ;)
A friend of mine does a good amount of link building and runs a few topical blogs.
One of his recent blogs was featured in AOL, BBC, Yahoo!, CNN, MSNBC, Salon, Guardian Unlimited, etc etc etc
He created a blog about the Pope, which was a unique idea when he did it. Many people could do well to write about their interests even if they do not have a business model in mind. Odds are if you enjoy the topic it will show in your writing and it will not seem like work.
Not every site has to make money. Some provide valuable services or build social currency. From that sometimes you can make profits in other ways, or maybe only profit from a spiritual front.
Pope Benedict XVI was just elected, and no doubt if Andy keeps enjoying and working as hard as he has been he will continue to have a voice in that space.
Tivo: TiVo is in talks with Google and Yahoo over a possible deal aimed at bridging television and the web. The deal would likely be exclusive, which means whoever partners with Tivo may get stuck overpaying if a bidding war ensues.
Interview: Of me. I could have answered a couple questions better. Interviewing people is an exceptionally easy way to build links.
It is fairly rare that marketers turn down an interview opportunity if you approach them nicely.
I think when people talk about ethics in business they are concerned about someone cutting into their profits or threatening their profits. It has nothing to do with human rights or suffering (which is wrong). Either way, business people will continue to talk about ethics all day - even while they own sweat shops - because sweat shops have very little to do with ethics.
That comment was the foundation for a quick article I just jotted down. Please leave comments and hate mail below. :)
The Spamford Daily:
I realize that many sites sell links to help pay for their costs, but you would think the college that owns the PageRank patent would be a bit courteous of their search buddies. You would be wrong!
I think a friend said they sell the links directly, charging like $300 per link per month selling to ANYone. Currently I believe the site has about 80 links on it. This T shirt shows it :)
In my opinion the entire Stanford online news is a bunch of SE spammers. I have even mentioned this before here in another thread, where the Stanford news was promoting viagra, debt consolidation, payday loans, credit cards and online casinos.
I even wrote the Dean's Office at Stanford to ask them if they were aware of the activities of their online news, I never got a response. Odd way for the holder of the google patents to behave in my opinion.
It really makes you appreciate some of the things search engines have to balance / deal with when those who own some of their patents will sell a link to anyone with $300.
Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Macromedia (Nasdaq:MACR) in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $3.4 billion.full release
Not entirely search related, but MacroMedia DreamWeaver & Adobe GoLive are two of the more popular web design software programs on the market. Additionally Adobe created PDF, PhotoShop, and Illustrator. MacroMedia has Flash and ColdFusion.
MacroMedia was also one of the first large software companies to have many employees blog about their work and products.
random tidbit: My old roommate's girlfriend used to work as the secretary for Allaire before MacroMedia bought them out.
Currently Adobe PDF is in a partnership to have their PDF search done with Yahoo! Search. According to the Wall Street Journal the combined Adobe / MacroMedia company looks to be taking on MicroSoft on many fronts.
Mr. Chizen, who took over as chief executive in 2000, has his sights on a larger business-software market, built around Adobe's document-management capabilities. Adobe's sales of such document-management servers were only about $100 million last year, but the company has revamped its salesforce and marketing efforts to push those products, which carry price tags of $50,000 and more.
Documents are the lifeblood of business and governments, and the ability to secure them, sign them and let everybody view them with the free Reader gives Adobe a major head start, he says. "The only other vendor that has that kind of penetration is Microsoft," Mr. Warzecha said.
Macromedia has been working to build its business selling multimedia tools to corporations and media companies. It wants to make Flash the underlying technology to enable users to work with a broad range of applications and devices, such as cellphones, in which small screens and the lack of a full keyboard present special challenges.
In Japan, for example, Macromedia says Flash is used by 60% of the more than 4,000 content suppliers for NTT DoCoMo, Japan's top mobile carrier. Macromedia predicts that in five years, 75% of mobile phones sold will have multimedia capabilities.
As a person who gets many inqueries I see many many many prospective clients want $100,000 of results on a $300 spend. If that opportunity was worth doing it would be just as easy to become an affiliate of a competing site, spend $1,000 to throw up your own site, and make $5,000 a month on the same work without needing to deal with clients.
Marketing SEO Services:
Many SEOs who sell SEO services remain somewhat faceless on the web, which is a huge mistake IMHO. I have yet to find a single type of marketing which worked as fast at driving SEO sales as writing and syndicating an article can.
The main portion of my current business model banks on the fact that the misleading confusion of various outdated or incorrect articles, blog post, and / or forum posts will lead some people to want to buy an up to date linear guide about SEO and related topics.
If you do sell SEO services I can't stress enough how well writing articles works. The more you learn about SEO the more you see that many of the branded experts are only experts because they have a strong brand. Articles are a cheap way to building brand. Many businesses outside of SEO could use this technique far more often as well.
When you first launched you had AdSense ads on UTN. Later you switched to Overture feeds. What do you like and dislike about each program?
Overall, I would have to say I like Overture more, if nothing else simply because of the ability to integrate the ads into the directory in a seamless fashion.
With Overture, I have my own rep that helps me with reports, integration and is a real person who treats me like a person not client # 1234567879.
Wal Mart has no brand strategy. Instead of coming up with one they do small random acts of good and then spend 10 times as much to market how wonderful they are.
They then further their lack of brand by creating http://www.walmartfacts.com/ as a site people can visit to learn the truth about Wal Mart. The problems with that are:
it does not give Wal Mart any legitimate brand strategy
Wal Mart is still hated by many people
the web is a bad place to try to spread pro mega corp propaganda, as...
Wal-Mart-Facts.com is still avialable if anyone wants to register it. Surely it could be a fun project that would garner a number of links. You probably could even make a one page list of anti Wal Mart sites, contact them, and ask them to link to you and quickly outrank the official site.
We are tentatively planning a French edition of SES for Paris this fall. We already run SES in Sweden (October), England (June) and Germany (April). Plans are also afoot to run a one-day mini-SES in Milan in the fall.
We had tentatively announced a Beijing, China show in June, but we could not line up all the pieces to run the event this year. However, we have a plan for a new effort for May 2006.
I just returned from 9 days in Europe and leave on Monday for Tokyo, Japan and Sydney, Australia. I will be working on JupiterImage projects in both countries, but will take in the SES Japan show on April 20th.
If you are worried about people giving you "crap" for your recent posts, you might want to "stiffen" your back a bit and write what EVER you feel is RIGHT.
Else, you're just a non-payed Google employee.
That is part of a recent email feedback I got from a person after I told them I was going to lay low on mentioning aggressive SEO software for a bit.
Mentioning that blogspam script a while ago got me a few hate comments, but I knew that was expected (although I think some of the haters may have been a bit hypocritical, but that is for another day).
It seems as though the script is no longer offered for sale. Most likely some bloggers saw it and complained to 2Checkout or his host. I can't fault them and I was fairly certain that would be an eventaul side effect of me mentioning it. But he probably sold a few more when I did mention it.
I have not much used any software that:
blog spams -or-
creates automated content -or-
I don't necissarily think that one needs to use many automated tools to do well. I do well enough with this site without using any of those tools, but it does not mean someone is a bad person if they use a tool which may not comply with the search engine's TOS. Search engines do not always comply with publisher's TOS, either.
With all that being said, I do realize that if search engines no longer appreciated my site, if they chose to remove it from their index, that could likely eventually have a long lasting effect on my livelihood, or at least until I created other revenue streams.
There are large groups of people who move from business to business and person to person claiming how unethical they are and how right they are when a site eventually get penalized by Google. Now sometimes these people are right, and other times they rely on Google to tell them what is good and bad, right and wrong.
There is a ton of fraud on the web. It is a rather tiring experience trying to create a helful business model that is both honest and profitable while not spreading yourself too thin. I probably could have took on a half dozen clients today, but that would have made little sense. And my blog software was down a large part of the day :(
I think the web as a whole would do far better if on average we each looked for ways to do better ourselves than to point at the flaws with others. It is human nature to say that others are cheating if they are doing better than you or I. Controvercy also builds linkage data and attention, which is a must for blogs.
Now granted the fact that I have this blog makes me a bit of a pundit of sorts, but the point of this post is that generally the biggest gains are in improving our own sites, offerings, and marketing methods rather than wasting efforts on thinking about how unfair or unethical some idea may be.
When you were doing exceptionally bad and go to doing rather well in a short period of time it is easy to take it for granted. I do realize that some people expect certain things from me and from time to time my ideas or links or words will disappoint a few people.
My buddy Jason Duke recently created Widget Baiting, which is a free tool that can be used to mix content.
The tool can generate near matches of a seed article, allowing you to:
set article length
recreate at random or using Markov chains
set the change percentage
quickly change various words
quickly regenerate up to 100 mutations of any article
regenerate future generations from those articles
Two things that would really improve this tool would be to let people change conceptual word groups and to allow people to move the location of a word or wordset within a sentence.
This tool is most likely used for spamming purposes and could probably do well when combined with things like Yahoo!'s autolinker, but is not something I would recommend using on sites that you had long term goals with.
Having said that, this tool can also be used by professional SEOs to create similar mutations of pages to understand how conceptually related pages can be before they are hit by duplicate content filters and how some various search technologies may work.
For some reason one of my hosts hides .htaccess files from FTP view. So when you go to add an .htaccess file you overwrite the hidden .htaccess file, and all is not well with MovableType. :(
MovableType tells you that you need to contact your host, since .htaccess is a host issue. Your host tells you that you should see the backup .htaccess file in your domain. Which is not true since they hide the .blah files.
Today has been lost in translation. But I do now know that
AddHandler cgi-script .cgi .pl
is an important piece of Movable Type .htaccess code. So should customer support at Movable Type? And DreamHost should really tell you that the .blah files are hidden! Surprised I did not notice that until now.
Bonus audio: I chatted with John Jantsch (long download time!!!) for about an hour a week or two ago. I usually get bored listening to anything that is over 3 minutes long, though I did find it interesting to hear how my voice changes over time (I have never done much public speaking and I think there were over 100 people listening - eek).
When I was 16 I remember someone told me I had a great radio voice, though listening now I am not hearing it. John however does, and was a great host. Thank for having me on John.
I think having regular channels for communication and building brand are important, but providing honest scalable SEO services is not an easy task.
Below are some of the issues which have recently occured in the SEO field. I don't offer any solutions because I do not know that I know how to answer the problems. BadRank: RustyBrick posts about BadRank, which is a concept discussed in some search spam fighting research papers.
Many of the papers discussed methods of automatically finding and then penalizing the 3rd generation spam technique. Some went as far as discussing "BadRank". Where they downgrade pages that are found within a linking network that fits the spam discussed above.
Most of the papers discuss a certain threshold (i.e. the page needs to be associated with X or more "bad" sites) to be downgraded and marked as a bad site.
Many, in the forums, feel that search engines would rarely penalize for being linked to by "bad" sites. But these papers clearly discuss how a page that is being linked to by "bad" sites but NOT linking back to any "bad" sites will be penalized.
If a site has too many similar links it can get filtered out of the search results. I have been told that some people have paid to point links at competitors sites and knocked their sites out of the search results.
Since the business model and work is not visible until results are achieved many customers pay for crap services from hucksters hungry for a buck. At one point in time I bought bogus SEO services.
Now there are even SEO Verification websites that sell search engine submission services. WTF is that? I bet the verification logo also links back to their site. hehehe
Some search engines still rank SEO sites highly based on offering things like free search engine submission, which has no value in today's market. Forums, articles, blogs and just about any form of SEO information suffer from being outdated.
Hate Threads: Really there are a ton of them out there. I think the most SEO hate threads usually revolve around the White Hat / Black Hat SEO theme. Those threads generally are a complete waste of time and hurt the industry as a whole. The only people who win are those who are branded as the white or black hat expert.
Some people knowingly put out false information.
Some people refuse to accept honest information.
Most threads only scratch the surface of what is going on. As one reads each thread they may think that each issue is more important than it actually is, and may miss the whole picture.
People are more inclined to participate in forums when they are new, and thus likely do not know much what they are talking about. This combined with noise and how quickly some information ages makes it hard to know which threads are worthwhile and which ones are not.
Many of us weblogs tend to share many of the same problems as the forums.
I have seen multiple SEO firms place SEO forums on their sites. Some of these forums lack personality and have a sales pitch in nearly every post, and in doing that the forums may actually:
make customer service worse
make it easy for people to complain about your services
wear your resources thin
make it easy for your competitors to poach your clients
PPC Click Fraud:
Competitors clicking your ads to increase your cost.
People can run many searches to change your effective clickthrough rate, which could slow your ads and increase your ad management time.
Contextual Partner Fraud:
A friend of mine told me about a guy he knew who made $75,000 on click fraud but never cashed the check. As seen by the recent WordPress fiasco the AdSense QA program leaves something to be desired.
Low Entry Cost:
Both a blessing and a curse. It is a large part of the reason I was able to do well, but at the same time it is part of what makes it hard to charge your full market value for your services.
It seems to me there is lots of ugliness inside the SEO market. Lots of independant forces which aim to constrict / chew up the market. It makes sense that for the most part Google generally does not want to recognize SEOs. They are probably hoping that eventually we will just canibalize ourselves. So what is the solution?
His newest tool is a search combination tool. Essentially it allows you to get the search results for various keyword combination searches.
For example, I could look for:
seo, search engine optimization, etc.
directory, submit your site, etc.
and the output page will link me to Google, Yahoo!, and MSN search queries for all the variations.
This could be useful in looking for places to buy, rent, or trade links or maybe for even tracking search results and the like. I am sure there are lots of good uses for this tool. Each result is a clickable link to search results, which means the tool does not send automated queries at the search engines.
You also can save the source code of the output page and so you can work in chunks and its easy to remember which links you have already looked through.
Not sure if that was part of the problem for them, or if they were behind it, but if they were they really need to get a grip on the whole risk vs reward concept.
SEO Inc also rented a ton of links and may have hit a filter there. I think they were probably more aggressive at link renting than any other SEO site, and if you are risky with that eventually it eventually catches up with you.
Surely a bad deal for SEO Inc as they likely will now get to pay $15 a click for search engine optimization, a term which Google itself is also advertising on.
[update: NickW noticed that SEO Inc has a new forum and the CEO said they were not behind (and know nothing about) the link spam emails.]
Why do Sites Rank for "Search Engine Optimization?"
I look at the search results in this space a good bit, as a hobby and to see how creative others are as much as anything else, but these are some of the reason I think the top ranking sites are ranking where they are:
by just being old. Some still see significant benefit from ranking there a long time ago (that whole filthy linking rich thing).
some of them provide bonus link to me stuff that some .edu sites love to point links at. like "submit your site to 1,000,000 engines for free". There generally is no value to it, but it is an effective link building technique.
some of them created link to me type stuff that other consultants or SEO nubs might link to. like the Bruce Clay code of ethics. For a while when I was all new I linked into that.
SEO Chat rents links from some sites but they also get a ton of support by having a good number of seo tools and a community that also links back at their site.
Jill Whalen's High Rankings has one of the stronger brands in SEO and lots of friends who link at her. Writes articles for other sites and has a large number of subscribers to her newseltter. She also is known as "the content seo" or "the seo content writer" which of course helps her get a bunch of links from people who agree or disagree with that position.
A few sites on the first page, and more as you get down into the second and third pages you see a few more sites that really ring the bell for things like:
Wired is an amazingly respected authoritative site.
There is an SEO organization site. Bound to get many links from it's supporters.
Google's official SEO guidance.
Lots of reciprocal link trading.
Renting a ton of links.
Placing links to the SEO firm on clients sites.
Is there Value in Ranking for Search Engine Optimization?
I tend to think that there is too much competition to justify the opportunity cost of actively trying to rank for that term in Google. You need to get a good amount of linkage data and build up over an extended period of time. Significant investment both in time and money.
If you are close to ranking for it then it might be worth trying to capture it if it has little additional cost, but many sites that optimize for highly competitive generic terms end up getting filtered out of the search results in the process.
The whole concept of optimization is to get the most bang for your buck and if your site gets filtered out from ranking for the more targeted terms because you were trying to rank for such a generic term then that cuts deep into the return on investment numbers.
Additionally many people are inclined to want to beat down an SEO firm when they are down. I saw a decent number of hate threads about SEO Guy and my site when our sites were filtered most likely based on link text and run of site links. Of course now that my site quickly ranks again those people are silent waiting for their next turn to attack.
In any case I hope SEO Inc comes back soon. If an SEO site does not rank for an extended period of time eventually that can start cutting into brand value.
Affiliate marketing, profit share partnerships, selling services on a per click basis, and personal branding seem to be the best ways to build profitable SEO service business models.
When most of the market is hype and hucksters its hard to be properly compensated without a strong brand. Since the services are invisible until the results show and most clients do not undersand the process brand in SEO is HUGE! Brand is probably the top reason I have done well so far.
On a related note:
I like the Google search results for SEO. 20 of the top 30 ranking sites are not in English. < goes off to learn Japanese to rank better :) >
I just got done reading Bruce Sterling's Tomorrow Now, which is a cool book. It looks at how Bruce thinks humanity and the human condition will change in the next 50 years, including the effects of the infusion of technology and biotechnology.
While I occasionally read some Wired articles I did not know who Bruce was until I heard him at a keynote speech at SXSW.
A part of the book spoke about how unstable deprived corners of the world exist due to the desires and faults of many people in developed nations. If we do not tolerate crime we push it off to countries with less stable governments. Keeping drugs illegal provides the profit margins to protect and empower warlords. A failure to provide alternative energy solutions is also a source of crisis which warlords breed on.
Tomorrow Now also spoke about how fascist leaders can attach to religious ideas to push their agendas and how generally as communication becomes cheaper, quicker, and more available government will lose more and more of their power. People will eventually get their desires in spite of overt manipulation attempts.
The book told such vivid stories about war torn countries that last night I had a bizarre dream where I was shot six times because my friend invited me along to a gunfight that I did not know was a gun fight. After I got shot once my friend ran and I was shot an additional 5 times. Even more bizarre was that I was drinking a sip of orange juice at 5am the next morning chatting about how I was all shot up the night before. Perhaps I was also thinking about the advances in biotechnology to come.
Though the words I am typing likely seem like they have little to do with the world of SEO that is entirely untrue. The web is just a social network. Everything that exists off the web will find its way onto the web. Sure you can deny it and push things off into corners, but that is where corruption generally exists. Why not discuss the issues you feel are important?
Some blogging "gurus" will tell you how comment spam is associated with organized crime. And people were shorting airline stocks as they flew planes into buildings. Yet the stock market is still easily manipulated by some figures and blog software vendors created software that was not forward looking.
Tools are just tools. Isn't it what you do with the profits that is important? I distinctly remember some people blogging about WordPress spam being fine because they went to help out a good cause. Well aren't we being a bit hypocritical here?
Not too long ago I posted about some blog spamming software that was for sale. I said that I did not use comment spamming software based upon the social implications and karma values. I also wrote the post in a rather positive light for a few main reasons:
I was amazed at the price / value of the software.
I had never seen it publicly available before.
I wanted to see how people would react to it.
Just the act of mentioning it was sure to draw criticism. But how do you fix problems that you can't even mention?
It would have been just as easy for me to post about "I can't believe how this scumbag is selling this software...". It would have likely garnered many more links and more feedback. The conversation would not have been that rich though. Just a bunch of ditto heads echoing each other. My goal was to be honest about it.
I wrote a post title on that post to make people think that I WANTED to rank for the term. The whole goal was to remove the social stigma. It's out there. You know it exists. Why make a big deal out of mentioning it?
I find it interesting about how so many people take personally the idea that they need to (and actually help) control the business model and search result quality of another business.
Here is a perfect example of the typically arrogant & short sighted thought process, as described by a person who hunts down spammers:
If the goal is to get me blacklisted in Google, you can forget it. Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s a whitelist as well as a blacklist. If anyoneâ€™s on that whitelist, itâ€™s me.
And yet the search engines do not agree with certain aspects of business, like marketing, so they try to push link buying and marketing off into a corner somewhere. Google's lack of accepting the world for what it is perhaps is their biggest strength and their biggest weakness at the same time.
By pushing it into a corner they create more markets and build business models.
Most of us make enough profits to pay our bills, pay for our vices, pay for our families, pay to grow, and then support things we believe in.
Some people look at the addictions of others as profit streams. And rarely are their easier profits. I had a page mentioning casinos on a completely crap online mall affiliate site. Really a low quality site, but when I created it I was new to the web and did not know any better. It still didn't stop that page from generating thousands of dollars of income on $0 of ad spend.
Another thing I find fascinating is how selfish many of the purported experts are. Eventually you trade on your reputation and it becomes all you know...unless you force yourself to keep taking risks and keep learning.
With AdSense they can also track the referrals which gives them another way to understand percent of market share and who your leading referals are if you display AdSense ads on your site.
their ad code shows:
google_referrer_url = document.referrer;
Google could likely use this data for their AdSense SmartPricing, fraud detection, and might even use it as an additional quality check on linkage data and sites.
If you link to a site participating in AdSense and nobody ever follows the link does that mean the link, page, or site could potentially have little to no value to humans?
If you have links from a ton of sites all using the same AdSense account could that be suspicious? If thousands of sites link to you and none of them dispay AdSense could that be suspicious?
It seems as though Google is trying to financially incentivize various webmasters in the concept of building its web of trust. Maybe it is part of the reason they don't mind having shoddy sites in AdSense, as it helps them track relationships?
I have not tried out this network, but Webby has officially launched Link Vault, a new cooperative link network which uses static links.
What makes Link Vault unique is that although the links are dynamically generated, they are static and once we have allocated your links we keep these links permanent. The only time we might need to change a link (apart from if you remove it) is if the site your link is on gets removed from the network, or they reduce the number of links they want to display. In this case your link would then be placed on a similar website. New members are asked if they are unsure how many links to display they should opt for the lower number to start with.
links, links, links, links, links, links, links, links, links.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be in time
All you need is links, all you need is links,
All you need is links, links, links are all you need.
links, links, links, links, links, links, links, links, links.
All you need is links, all you need is links,
All you need is links, links, links are all you need.
There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
All you need is links, all you need is links,
All you need is links, links, links are all you need.
All you need is links (all together now)
All you need is links (everybody)
All you need is links, links, links are all you need.
This site has one for $300, which is the same price as a paid submission to the Yahoo! Directory, but it can probably help you get many many many more links. ;)
Lots of quality features, including:
Autosubmit to unlimited sites
Use browser simulate system for anonymous Your requests
Use random proxies
Use random User agents
Use random Referer sites
Log file for requests
Save bad urls
Save successful submited urls
Check the proxies
Save bad proxies
URL extractor extracts URLs for specific terms with most popular search engines using fast technology - the 1000 URLs You can extract up to 20 seconds.
They also sell 3 lists of 10,000 blogs each at $100 a pop. A friend of mine who is a big time blog spammer stated that the crawl was the hardest part of blog spamming.
Now I do not know a lot about blog spam other than I delete lots of the shit. I have not tried out the blogspam tool as using it is negative 1000 karma points, but if you give it a try please let me know what you think of it.
I also think there are many valuable techniques to the art of effective blog spam. Some people probably are better at getting their spam to stick than others are. Its all about relevancy and providing useful content. hehehe :)
[update: A mate of mine has slightly better in house software but said that this second piece of software is solid spam framework. Again, I have not tried it though.]
Danny Sullivan also wrote an article (sub req) about how some large advertisers get additional SEO support from search engines.
Google is known to tell some large advertisers that it is OK to do things that are against their official webmaster guidelines.
If you selectively boost some sites it has the same net effect of manually penalizing or filtering others, which goes counter to that "democratic nature of the web" "we don't manually..." "don't be evil b/s."
The Google Budget Optimizerâ„¢ campaign management tool automatically adjusts your keyword Max CPCs on your behalf. All you need to do is set a target budget, and the Budget Optimizer will actively seek out the most clicks possible within that budget.
The Budget Optimizer helps you reach your target spend every month without requiring a lot of work on your part. You can save time, eliminate the guesswork related to setting your CPCs, and enhance your return on investment.
(Please note that the goal of the Budget Optimizer is simply to help you receive the highest number of clicks possible within your budget. The Budget Optimizer will not help you achieve a specific ad position.)
They certainly are going out of their way to make the ads as "self serve" as they possibly can. I do not manage many AdWords campaigns so I probably am not the best person to test this out, but it would be interesting to hear what effect this tool actually has on ROI.
With how far off Google is with day to day search volume / ad clickthrough suggestions it is interesting that they think people will trust a system which automatically adjusts bids for them based on a metric other than ROI. Of course some marketers do not want to share ROI data with Google.
I also believe that if a campaign is self funding there is no reason to put an arbitrary budget cap on it. Buy as many ads as you profitably can.
I am guessing that if you enable this feature you will want to enable it in ad groups where the keyword max CPCs and lead values are similar.
From the communications I have seen, the advice offered to site owners is pretty consistent with what is posted on the search site in helping site owners avoid terrible mistakes and helping them structure content better. Rumors abound relating to search sites deliberately trying to remove agencies from the picture with search advice.
They probably don't typically want to remove agencies to offer quality in depth advice in house. They simply want people to realize that PPC ads are better than SEO, which of course is not universally true.
Also, if they can get enough people to think that structuring their site is all they need to do then it becomes much easier to create relevancy algorithms and mitigate index manipulation.
With search sites offering counsel to webmasters on how to properly structure sites, why should a site owner pay anyone when they can simply check in with Google for a search solution?
Because Google will not say "this is the most effective way to undermine our current relevancy algorithms." Most of the people who are making a living from manipulating regular search results may not have enough money to reach those direct search engine channels.
Pay per click will get easier and easier to sell and manage, but that market will also get increasingly competitive.
As long as there are social networks and machines that interpret them there will be SEOs. Surely as time passes it will get harder, but that means more profits for those who do it well.
A group of advertisers quietly filed a lawsuit in February against Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and other Internet companies in a potentially important legal test of those companies' liability for a form of online-advertising fraud.
The plaintiffs, led by Lane's Gifts & Collectibles LLC, a Texarkana, Ark., retailer, allege that the Internet companies knowingly overcharged for advertisements they sold and conspired with each other to continue doing so. The plaintiffs are seeking to have their suit, which hasn't received widespread attention, certified as a class action.
The also named AOL, Ask, Disney, Lycos, LookSmart, and FindWhat in the suit.
The search engines have antifraud systems and sometimes issue refunds for bogus clicks. But they decline to comment in detail on the scope of the problem, exactly how they are fighting it, and any specific instances of click fraud, in part because they don't want to tip off fraudsters. That has fed some advertisers' fears that the problem is bigger than the search companies acknowledge. Estimates of click fraud run as high as 20% of all clicks on search ads.
Yahoo! has been making a strong run in the stock market for the last week, and Google is valued at 49 billion. Nobody has really challenged this issue yet. If this gets pushed it could get rather ugly quick for search stocks. Google makes 99% of their income from ads.
The launch of the campaign was timed to coincide with the beginning of the Japanese financial year, said Saito. April 1 is typically the day that large Japanese companies take in new employees. It is also close to the beginning of the school and university year, so many people are starting "new lives" at around this time of year. With the campaign, Google wants to promote itself as a way for people to get information relevant to their new lives, said Saito.
One of the biggest benefits of search engine marketing and creating your own content is that you can create products, content, and ads based on when you expect people to be at inflection points in their lives. (link found from SearchViews)
The Term Extraction service provides a list of significant words or phrases extracted from a larger content. It is one of the technologies used in Y!Q.
Google Blogoscoped created a free auto linker tool, which makes adding on topic outbound links exceptionally easy. Am betting some people creating fake blogs probably enjoy the offering.
Part of Google's strong brand is PageRank, which now is of little use AND rarely updated. With all of these other good ideas Yahoo! Search is coming out with I am a bit surprised they are not providing and heavily promoting a regularly updated connectivity measurement service. Whatever happened to WebRank?
None of the things posted in this post are news really, just all of them made me laugh or say WTF. From the Forums: the ethical poor lifestyle
In 1998 we first went online after starting a brand new industry in the health field. We immediately became overrun by unethical people with savvy SEO skills. And here I am 7 years later burping and chirping on the curb, barely making payroll. With a Google page rank o 4. I want to get it to 7-8. We are determined to remain ethical (to the grave?).
If after 7 years SEO has not got them where they needed to be (and they even blame being poor on SEOs) you would think they would learn to look elsewhere?
From the Inbox (#1):
Apparently one of the more well known link brokers is sending out automated spam email. I am not going to mention their name, but if I were them I would stop that shit in a hurry before they destroy their brand.
I noticed that you have a really high quality site, [really bad site. domain edited to protect the guilty], and that you are actively looking for link exchange partners.
If you are interested, we would like to pay you $100-$200 to link to a few of our client's quality, relevant sites.
Or, if you just want to simply exchange links, we have links on many
sites that we would be willing to trade.
Thank you for your time,
[large link broker]
From the Inbox (#2):
someone wants to list in Black Hat SEO.com. I thought this email was rather funny.
Hello I am a Bot, Please Link to Me:
So I just got spam email offering a trinagular link relationship. They didn't mention my name. They do not know who I am. Hell, they might even be a script. Not a big deal really.
An Even Trade?
Unlike most reciprocal link spam requests I get, this wanted me to link to a site which regularly lists on the first page of Google for terms such as "SEO."
In exchange they wanted to give me a link on this crap site: www.hannahdesign.net
doesn't this directory look appealing? www.hannahdesign.net/business-directory/linkspage.htmYou are only as good as Your Partners:
Some firms like to play stupid when they outsource things. They like to say "we didn't realize what they were doing" but after you have been providing SEO services for many years you should have your shit in one sock.
If you can't promote your own SEO site without sending spam email then what does that say about the quality of service you provide to your clients?
Even if it is a lack of research that caused the problem it is still your fault for partnering up with people who provide shoddy services.
A friend of mine wrote popular software. A person who he hired to do link building spammed people. I being a friend of this person told him about the spam I got and he fired them. Weeks later they were still sending spam at least a few times each week. Firing a shoddy partner does not necissarily mean they will stop!
Email Spam Builds Brand, or Maybe Not!
In a service based industry such as SEO why would any well established company use automated scripts or outsourced email spam to promote their main site? In a social network that is a rather stupid way to build relationships.
If an SEO firm is that successful at ranking and is that sloppy promoting their own site imagine how they must destroy their customers brands.
At least 3-5 times a week I get asked who I would recommend for SEO services. I certainly will not be recommending these people anytime soon.
Building Social Value:
I do not think link exchanges or triangular linking schemes are bad, but I think that they are not usually cost effect on a unit time basis. Most link trade offers are a waste of time.
Emails like this one are the exact reason I emphasize that most people new to SEO should look at some of the community aspects of their topic and try to build social relationships to augment their SEO efforts.
I still like the idea of picking at the edges and am a big fan of manipulating the machines sense of authority, but if you are trying to build a business and a strong brand why not try to build it authentically at the same time too?
At some point after you have built enough brand value it probably makes a bit of sense to be a bit more conservative with the promotional techniques as well. Using that measure, the email I just got sucked.
I realize that the web is somewhat anonymous and competitors could try to destroy each others brands. Hence I did not list the main website in this post.
[update: I emailed the person / bot who sent me the link request pointing them to this page and got the following reply:
I m not able to find my link .
Plz tell me where my link is placed .
Sorry for this.
Anywho, here is the image from my first SEO related T Shirt, which you can buy from SEO Shop (with what the price is set at I do not think that I profit from sales, but if I do that would go to charity.)
I have done more stupid things than most people who are still alive, so I am not going to pretend that I am better than anyone. Admitidly this whole incident is a bad deal for WordPress, but I am amazed - and perhaps even perplexed - at the lengths some people will go to in order to describe their actions or the actions of their friends as legitimate.
Spam involves other, involuntary, carriers. No comment boxes were contaminated, no mailboxes, no Usenet forums, and certainly no one spent a single byte of extra bandwidth (with the exception of the links from Wordpress.Org) on it. It's not spam.
The interesting thing there is he is trying to describe spam as it relates to email or social software. WHICH IS THE SAME MARKETING SPIN SEARCH ENGINES USE TO DESCRIBE THEIR FAULTS WITH THEIR ALGORITHMS.
It is fine to say there is no such thing as search engine spam. The truth is search algorithms are not - and will never be - perfect.
Many a webmaster has been told that he is a hunk of crap for doing far less than what WordPress did. If what they did was not search engine spam then perhaps WordPress does not believe in search engine spam. If that were the case, then why did they sign up / support NoFollow?
Again the hidden story that nobody is giving any coverage to is that up until yesterday Google was the company who was funding that lousy content, and it is their own business model and complete lack of quality control that caused that search engine spam.
To say AdSense was on the whole funding quality content would be Orwellian.
Why isn't anyone giving Google crap about this? What we saw with WordPress was just the tip of the iceberg.