Are Meta Description Tags Important? Ask Werty...

Aug 31st

Most of my friends use a meta description tag on their home page.

Not Werty though... When you go to Amsterdam with a friend, and some have called you a garden variety fag, it doesn't help your case to have a snippet like this.

From Rock En Seine

Friends don't let friends do crazy things like go without using a meta description on their home page.

From Rock En Seine

Danny Sullivan Moving On?

Aug 30th

Quite shocking to read about Danny leaving SEW. Bad move Incisive Media.

Nobody in the search marketing field has the credibility or connections Danny does. And, if that were not a big enough loss, Danny works amazingly hard, has done so for over a decade, and is probably the kindest and most approachable guy in the industry. People are loyal to great friendships with him, and will go wherever he does. I can't even imagine the SES conference without Danny. Many others can't, either. Jakob Nielson recently published an article stating that using old words is key to SEO. A person like Danny not only can use old words, but has the authority to create new words, and to shape the framework upon which people discuss search. The real value with niche publishing is being able to own ideas. How much has Adaptive Path gained in mindshare and link equity for coining the term AJAX? How many ideas has Danny gave the market over the last decade? Danny can and will move the market without SEW. I don't think SEW will do that very long without Danny.

I wish you the best whatever you do Danny. Thanks for all the hard work you have done thusfar and all the help you have given me.

Amsterdam

Aug 22nd

So I am going to Europe for a couple weeks. Most of the time in Amsterdam. Which should be fun.

I am going to try to stay off the web for two weeks. Start your blog spam scripts. Or hopefully, please don't!

Determining Domain Link & Age Related Trust

Aug 22nd
posted in

SEO Question: What's the best way to determine whether Google has history of a domain - and considers it an old domain?

SEO Answer: Andy Hagans once posted that a site which is getting crawled fairly regularly has at least some trust greater than nothing. The Google Toolbar gives you and outdated exceptionally rough estimate of authority, but beyond just having many pages indexed and cralwed regularly it is a bit more abstract to determine how well a domain is trusted, especially if you do not yet own it and are not able to manipulate its contents to perform testing.

What you can do is back solve for some clues of trust. For example, a domain that does not rank #1 (or near the top of the search results) for the keywords "mydomain" is probably not as well trusted as one that does.

If a domain name ranks for its core unique string then you can see if it ranks well for the keyword phrase "my domain". If it does then you can assume that it would have more trust than one that does not.

Beyond that you can see how well the domain ranks for unique text phrases on its pages or more general keywords. Essentially as you modify your searches (testing shorter or longer word phrase sets and/or wrapping them in quotes or dropping the quotes) you are just testing what chance the domain may have of ranking for various different phrases (and thus its potential ability to rank for other phrases).

Another way to look at a domain is to see how old the domain is in Archive.org. Google crawls the web more efficiently (and likely more aggressively) than smaller search services that are not based on running / being supported by such a large ad network. Thus if a domain has been indexed for a while in Archive.org then it most likely has also been indexed in Google for a while.

Another thing you want to look at in Archive.org is to see if the domain has had a period of inactivity, or if porn webmaster or a pay per click domainer owned the domain for a while. If the domain was inactive for a while, or spent a period of time being abused then it may have had some of its authority stripped at some time.

You can also query Yahoo! for linkdomain: or link: to see what some of the most important backlinks are for a domain. See if those links point at documents that still exist. See if those links point at documents for the same purpose that they originally did. See if the site still serves the same purpose it originally did.

In one of his SEO videos Matt Cutts stated that it was legitimate to redirect a site to a new location so long as the purpose of the site is the same as the original site was. If redirecting a site's authority is legitimate then one could assume that buying or selling a site to use it for its same original purpose is also legitimate as well. If you are going to leverage a site for off topic purposes though you increase the risk that many of the people linking at the site may pull some of their links, and you also increase your risk profile such that a competitor may out you or a search editor may want to remove your site from the search results.

Back to the backlinks...

With the current Google anchor text no longer matters anywhere near as much as it once did, although variation is still a plus.

When looking at the backlinks of a site you can see how long some of those links have been in place by looking through the Archive.org history of the page linking into your site. Links that have developed naturally over time or that have been in place for a long time may carry greater weight than brand new links.

One of the nice features of SEO for Firefox is that it can give you a quick glimpse of the link profile of a page or domain. While some people discount extra weight being placed on .edu and .gov links than other links I would not be so quick to discount that theory. Generally links that are harder to influence are going to be sources that search engines would want to trust more. Either through directly trusting them more on a per link basis, or by creating a version of the web graph which starts near (and places more emphasis on) some of the core trusted authority sites. Since the web started largely in .edu and .gov type environments and those types of pages are often fairly pure in nature and easy to link at it makes sense that their link voting power would be highly represented in the search results.

When valuing a domain you have to look beyond just the link and age related equity it already has built up. How self reinforcing are its key attributes? Would it be easy for someone else to steamroll over your key widget by throwing a bit of ajax on a similar tool? Does a newer competitor have a richer community driven environment that is picking up steam? Are your links next to impossible for others to get? How official or legitimate does the name sound? Will you be able to build it into something that can continue to gain traction and authority? Or is it going to be a site surviving on past popularity until it withers away?

There are lots of things to consider when valuing a domain. Small changes in ad positioning or monetization method can lead to doubling or tripling earnings. And you can also drastically increase the earnings and traffic potential of any site owned by a person who is not savvy to marketing, SEO, or business. Earnings is one important factor, but do not forget to consider the value you can add to a site when trying to determine what you can afford to pay for it.

Another SEO for Firefox Update

Aug 22nd

My programmer recently updated SEO for Firefox again. It now uses the Yahoo! API, the MSN Search API, and the Technorati API for added reliability.

If you have any feedback or comments about the most recent version please leave them hear. While I will be traveling for a bit I will make sure my programmer checks out your feedback.

Traffic Power Sucks.com Lawsuit Over

Aug 22nd

I meant to update this a while ago, but I have been doing way too many things recently. My lawsuit ended a while ago, but about a month ago the TrafficPowerSucks.com
lawsuit was ended. Thanks to all the people who donated to help me out.

Hard Answers Are Easy Links

Aug 22nd

If it is hard to find the answer to a question then

  • it is probably easy to be one of the best answers

  • those who stumble across your answer will appreciate your effort, relevancy, and knowledge

Matt Cutts recently posted some SEO tips on his site revolving around the theory that

In general, any time you look for an answer or some information and can’t find it, that should strike you as an opportunity.

You hear people say examples different ways. Some people will say to start from market edges, while others will say try to get user generated media, etc...but generally the way to make something that is hopefully useful is to be passionate and knowledgeable about a topic and then try to create something that you would want to frequently use or reference.

And while it may seem like it sucks to have to put the extra effort in to find the correct answers to certain questions, that is the exact reason that it has so much value.

There are tons of offline opportunities that will migrate online. How high is the quality of the average book as compared to the average web page? And yet due to most publishers not marketing most books very hard most of them sell fewer than 1,000 copies. Much book content will eventually be found online, but for now many people make a great living by reading various print books, condensing them down into something more palatable and publishing it as an ebook.

The web is about making knowledge accessible and selling it as credible. The more accessible your information is the easier it is to be referenced and thus perceived as credible.

Experience presents great offline to online opportunity as well. When I went to Search Engine Strategies I got an extra bonus 8 hour layover each way. One of them was because in San Diego I was required to exit a terminal, find out what terminal I was supposed to go to, find out how to get to that terminal, wait on a terminal bus, wait while the terminal bus driver allowed people to overload the bus, reorganize everyone else's luggage to make it fit good enough for the bus driver to drive, ride the length of the airport, try to get tickets for the next flight from multiple people because the machine would not work and a couple of the workers did not feel like helping me, go through security, find my gate, and get on my plane in an hour.

Now that airport runaround probably sounds a bit absurd, but the people who sold me my ticket most likely KNEW that I was going to have to leave the airport and re-enter, with a high probability of missing my flight. And if they didn't know that, then the online airline booking company which decided to find ways to aggregate and make such information readily available would have a huge advantage over competitors who did not make that type of experience related aggregated information easily accessible.

Many markets are full of people chasing money, but if you can capture experiences or are willing to share what you learn you have a distinct business advantage over people who are looking at revenue ahead of quality.

Matt Cutts Talks German SEO Spam

Aug 21st

Not in German, but a bit of a focus on Germany in this 29 minute Matt Cutts podcast interview.

Health Publishers to Make Mad Bank

Aug 21st

AdAge recently posted about an eMarketer study stating that changing federal drug marketing laws and the targeting the web allows that pharmaceutical companies are ramping up online spending:

More than most industries, pharmaceutical companies have wised up to the web's ability to target unique audiences with specific needs. As a result, the industry will increase online spending by about 25% this year, to $780 million, according to an eMarketer report released this week.

What I find disturbing is not that they want to spend more on marketing, but that major publishers have already taken that message to heart and have went on record stating that they are growing out their sites based specifically on the revenue potential:

For Scott Meyer, CEO of About, the decision was simple. "There's a very fast-growing market on the advertising side," Mr. Meyer said. "Health is not the only vertical we want to build out, but it's the biggest opportunity for ad revenue."

Marjorie Martin, general manager for About Health, is leading the charge in custom-branded content with exclusive advertisers. "There's huge interest from advertisers to closely associate themselves with a particular issue."

Is there any chance of objectivity if the content is built around a pre requested issue, angle, and ad creative by an exclusive advertiser? Why would the NYT go on record with this as being their official position?

Being human means we all have some inherent flaws. Some drug companies will create drugs based around masking the fact that we are human (at least temporarily). Then those drug companies will pay respected wide reaching publishers to create custom content based on spreading a marketing message they want people to find when people are actively trying to solve the problem of being human.

How much money will emotions like depression be worth to publishers? Will people be able to find accurate information if traditionally well trusted publishers are leveraging their authority to create custom advertising opportunities for the people with the greatest profit potential in spreading misinformation or a biased view of the world to a desired audience one at a time?

Google Base Offers Free Copywriting Tests

Aug 21st

Google recently updated Google Base to display impressions, clicks, and CTR.

Each time an item is part of a Google Base or Froogle search, the item gets an impression. Each time someone clicks on an item on a search result page, the item gets a click. Each time someone clicks on the URL of an item hosted by Google Base, the item gets a page view. (This might be from a search results page, a URL in an email, or any of a number of other ways.)

...

And here's a tip: if your offer has many impressions, but few clicks, spruce up its title and add detailed attributes, images, etc. to make it more appealing and easily searchable by users.

That sure sounds a lot like a free copywriting environment, and I have seen a good number of affiliates in that market. Is it worth putting a bit of time into listing a few items? If they advise you to spruce it up where do you draw the line between sprucing and spamming?

Do AdSense Earnings Scale With Page Count?

WebmasterWorld has a thread about scaling AdSense earnings out with site size. The thesis being pushed is that site earnings is not a linear function tied to site size. For many sites that statement is true, but part of the reason it is true is that some webmasters do not leverage feedback their current site gives them. On small sites I look at ad clicks on a per page level to see what pages are bringing in real money. I like to start new sites with at least 3 (and sometimes up to 5 or 6) global navigation sections. Each global navigational section acts as a mini site which can be expandable based on market feedback. Wherever I start ranking AND getting clicks on decently priced ads gets more attention.

Given the amount of authority a site has (or will gain due to the amount of effort I am willing to put into a project) you can sorta estimate how deep you can go and how broad your initial site focus should be. The beauty of my partitioning idea is that I do everything with includes such that it takes under a minute to add another global navigational element and it is also easy to broaden the overall site focus if it is ranking well in all the verticals you targeted and there is not much left on the depth front in the verticals you are already targeting.

Also if your site is small enough and you set up page level clickthrough tracking and track the search queries sometimes early in the morning you can see what a page is earning or what some specific queries earn. Another big indication of page level earnings for some of the more important concepts is going to be a change in overall site earnings due to a page suddenly ranking well or a page that dropped out of good grace with one or more of the major search engines.

When you branch out with new sections it is also important to give yourself the opportunity to put a foot in the water before committing to a bunch of work. For example, a friend recently started creating pages about topic + all 50 states. I told him that I would have started off with the 3 to 5 states that best fit the purpose of the site and had the most demand. Now he is 30 states into the project and a bit bored with it, and as it turns out the ad targeting on those pages is not as great as the ad targeting on the other pages, and there isn't much search traffic.

A couple of the other pages on the site are making the bulk of his earnings due to being highly commercially oriented, heavily using semantically related words, and avoiding excessive duplication.

If a site is working on limited authority it might be worth spending extra time to create a bit of link bait to help ensure you have enough authority to keep getting new pages indexed and ranking. A while ago I also made a post titled Factors Affecting AdSense Ad Clickthrough Rate and Earnings Potential.

Duplication as a Form of Waste

Aug 19th

When you do a Threadwatch site search in Google most of the pages are filtered out due to having duplicate meta description tags.

If you have complete duplication of any element (page title, meta keywords, meta description) across your site then it is at best a wasted opportunity, but may also hurt your ability to get your site indexed or ranked well in some search engines. Also, if you have the exact same information in the page title, meta description, and meta keywords areas then that onpage duplication across elements through the "eyes" of a search engine at best makes you look like an ignorant webmaster, but might also be a sign of low information quality or spamming. If you have a huge dynamic site and are forced to chose between having duplication across major elements on a page or duplication from page to page or just yanking an element (like the meta description or meta keywords tag) then you are usually better off just yanking the element until you can find a formula that allows you to dynamically generate somewhat unique page level information.

I think sending duplicate information is in many ways far worse than showing nothing at all, and Matt Cutts recently stated similar in a TW comment. I will yank the meta descriptions from Threadwatch pretty soon.

Many content management systems (like MovableType - which this blog uses) make the onpage header and page title the exact same as one another. In an ideal world you could have the option to make them different to help mix up your on page optimization (by allowing you to focus the page on a broader set of keywords) and your anchor text (as people often link at things using the official name as the link).

If you have a small hand crafted website then it is probably worth taking the time to try to make your content as unique as possible from page to page and element to element within those pages. Any time you have the chance to show that your content is hand crafted and unique that is a valuable opportunity, especially as the volume of search spam increases and spamming techniques evolve.

Tracking Human Emotions

Aug 19th

My friend Joel recently mentioned a cool project called We Feel Fine, which tracks human emotions expressed in blog posts. After his most recent commercial shoot I think Joel feels sore (but his post is funny).

I am sure the methodology to We Feel Fine could be a bit more advanced, but what a cool idea, eh?

Market Depth & Profit Scalability

Aug 17th

Does how much money you make matter? Some people keep score of their success in terms of dollars, but I still prefer to measure how I am doing in links over money because I think that having a large reach and fast feedback loop will lead to more learning, opportunity, and economic stability than just having a chunk of cash in hand.

The amount of cash you can make from a market is largely dependant on the size of a market and how scalable your business model is. Search works with just about everything and is pretty damn automated. And thus Google is worth about as much as Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon.com, Ford, and GM combined. I have a site about academic stuff that is comfortably over $100 eCPM. I have another site in a different niche in that vertical and the site makes next to nothing for the traffic it has, sporting a completely worthless $15 eCPM. SEO Book does decently well on the financial front (especially because it leads to a ton of indirect revenue streams), but most people do not want to learn SEO. Beginners to the market prefer a tool that provides some alleged secret advantage and established people think they know everything already. For as aggressively as I market this site, how much time I spend on it, and its level of market saturation the site makes nowhere near as much as some of my other projects. I partner in other ideas that have far more potential because they are far easier to scale and/or are in markets that are much larger in nature.

Some people looked at the $132,000 AdSense check that Shoemoney posted a picture of and asked how is that even possible. The thing is, for as well as he is doing there are still others that are even doing way better. In a few years he will probably be making way more than he is today. After you get beyond self sustaining it is all just an issue of scalability, market value, and market depth. And testing and tracking of course, if you are seriously scaling things out.

When I saw Shoemoney post that check I believed it was true because I have seen pieces of so many markets and kinda understand the whole scalability concept. I also have made thousands of dollars by accidentally misspelling a casino name. Some markets just have a boatload of money in them.

I chat with Jeremy from time to time, and one day he decided to show me how easy it was to make money from ringtones. I gave him my AdCenter login and $5,000 to play with. He let me pick a domain name out of a small list. I thought KingOfRingtones.com sounded the spammiest, and thus chose it. :)

He guaranteed that I would make money and said he would reimburse click cost and split the profits in half. In the month the test was active the spend was $1,500 and at the end of the month I got a check for $4,721.60.

Of course the value was not in the cheesy landing page, but in the ~ 200K keywords he uploaded to the account. It takes some serious resources to gather that much market data, but if you can create a way to gather relevant search queries and bid on them before the competition saturates your market you can make great profits. Having unique data sources is like having great link authority. It provides you a business advantage that is hard to replicate and highly profitable in high value verticals.

Self Reinforcing Market Positions

Aug 16th

"I am the Center of the Universe" - random A list blogger.

An innocent fraud is a lie, but it's a lie that's more white than black. It's a lie that makes most everyone happy. It suits the purposes of the powerful because it masks the full extent of their power, and it suits the purposes of the powerless because it masks the full extent of their powerlessness.

Most of the people blogging about making money probably do not make that much money. Most people selling how to (insert your topic here) advice also fall in the same category. And they do it off the backs of people who link at them hoping to one day do the same. But in reality most people fail because it usually takes quite a bit of innovation, time, effort, risk, personality, or passion to break out of the mold, and many self-reinforcing institutions and social norms make it hard to succeed.

I think I have been learning enough about social networks, sociology, psychology, marketing, business models, authority structures, etc. that if SEO ever somehow lost its direct value that I would still be able to do well, but imagine the day that a field you studied for years was rendered useless. Would you instantly be able to change your model or pick another field? Would you keep pushing your ideas even after you knew they hurt more people than they helped (like the old LinksToYou link farm did)? Where do you draw the line? Or imagine that if many people you wanted to help never gained anything out of it other than the ability to help you grow more authoritative while they paid you with their time, attention, trust, link equity, and perhaps cash too.

Of course there is the hope that those things are not true, but the value and quality of advice you get from people (as well as how accessible their ideas are) is not just a function of what they know, but also market timing. Anyone who is doing well on the web right now was born it to some amazingly lucky timing to have found the web while it is still so nascent. Most people and/or business models that get to the top of a social structure have some idea how it works, and would never want to admit that their structure is overrated or their field has died. All that comfort, all that self reinforcing market position would be erased.

Why does Matt Cutts warn people about certain types of links? Google's authority is based on links representing relevancy. Without relevant links search has no ad based business model.

As the blogophere has become more rigidly hierarchical, not by design but as a natural consequence of hyperlinking patterns, filtering algorithms, aggregation engines, and subscription and syndication technologies, not to mention human nature, it has turned into a grand system of patronage operated - with the best of intentions, mind you - by a tiny, self-perpetuating elite.

Much like traditional media there are certain biases to blogging and web publishing.

  • Old sites get more exposure than new ones.

  • Controversy spreads fast.
  • Lists and types of bite sized content that offer immediate reward to an attention and time scare audience typically spread further than content which requires more attention. The attention deficit most of us live with is going to constrain the types of ideas that are profitable.
  • Better tracking and targeting, more social networks and meme trackers, cheaper and more efficient distribution, more feedback loops, and ad targeting engines that block certain words or categories are making it easier for the average publisher to know how profitable writing about an idea is before they even type the first key.
  • If my SEO for Firefox extension was SEO for IE7 it would have got about 12 links instead of a couple thousand. Is that group think linking legitimate?

It feels weird sometimes when you come across some of the self reinforcing patterns in action...like when you predict an idea will spread for a specific reason then see it happen, or see a high ranked article from someone talking about a topic they clearly demonstrate they know nothing about, or something spreading quick as correct when it was factually incorrect garbage the day it was published.

And that is another part of the reason it is so easy to rely on your established authority. The fear of being called out (some economics students hated my post on central banks) when trying to learn something new. And thinking of all the time and effort required to get back into another self reinforcing market position.

But relevancy is a personal thing. The market for something to believe in is infinite. Those who can get in early and evangelize their field will likely profit from it long after their techniques are rendered useless or their field has died. And if you are associated with an important market then your distribution and the self reinforcing nature of search will allow you to heard in other markets as well.

101 Ways to Build Link Popularity

Aug 16th

By Aaron Wall and Andy Hagans.

Link Building... Time-intensive. Frustrating. Sometimes confusing. Yet Unavoidable. Because ultimately, it's still the trump card for higher rankings.

Many of us have been hoping that it would go away. In Brett Tabke's 5/18 Robots.txt entry, he echoed a sentiment that many, many webmasters hold on to as a hope:

What happens to all those Wavers that think [i]Getting Links = SEO[/i] when that majority of the Google algo is devalued in various ways? Wavers built their fortunes on "links=seo". When that goes away, the Wavers have zero to hold on to.

The pertinent questions:

  1. Will link building still be very important for rankings in the medium term?
  2. When will link popularity be devalued in favor of other algo elements (that are less tedious, from a webmaster's point of view)?

The answers:

  1. Sorry, but link building is still going to be the SEO trump card for the foreseeable future.
  2. I wouldn't hold your breath for search engine algorithms to place less importance on link popularity until the Semantic Web arrives, or maybe when HTTP gets replaced by a new protocol. Because links are still the basic connector, the basic relationship, on the Web. And for the forseeable future they're going to be the easiest way for a computer program to judge the importance and trustworthiness of a Web page.

What will happen to the way search algorithms score links is already happening. The Google algo has become much more elegant and advanced, devaluing staggering amount of links that shouldn't count, and placing more emphasis on trusted links. And the trust and juice given by those links is then verified by elements like user data, domain age, and other relatively hard-to-spoof factors.

But please, don't fool yourself. Links that should count are still the key to rankings (in Google, at least — and MSN and Yahoo! are only a few short years behind). In that spirit, Aaron and I have created our 101 Ways to Build (and Not Build) Links. (Yeah, it just so happened that there were exactly 101!)

Oh, and mad props to our inspiration, 131 Legitimate Link Building Strategies, one of the original authority documents on link building. It was just getting a bit rusty, that's all ("Host your own Web Ring"?). Anyway, enjoy the update.

71 Good Ways to Build Links

Love for Lists

1. Build a "101 list". These get Dugg all the time, and often become "authority documents". People can't resist linking to these (hint, hint).

2. Create 10 easy tips to help you [insert topic here] articles. Again, these are exceptionally easy to link to.

3. Create extensive resource lists for a specific topic (see Mr Ploppy for inspiration).

4. Create a list of the top 10 myths for a specific category.

5. Create a list of gurus/experts. If you impress the people listed well enough, or find a way to make your project look somewhat official, the gurus may end up linking to your site or saying thanks. (Sometimes flattery is the easiest way to strike up a good relationship with an "authority".)

Hire Help

This list is of course quite long, because there are many ways to build links & link building can be a tiresome, expensive & arduous task. If you have plenty of cash but are scarce on time outsourcing all or part of your link building campaigns can prove to be a quite profitable business strategy.

6. Hire a publicist. Good old fashioned 'PR' (not PageRank) can still work wonders. Paul Graham wrote a great article titled The Submarine which highlights how PR firms get media exposure. Be warned that many PR firms can be quite hit or miss with their promotions & even some of the "successes" may not stick around long. If permanent links are your main goal, make sure that is clearly articulated to the PR firm in advance, as some PR firms sponsor temporary payola content that disappears about a month after your check clears. ;)

7. Hire a consultant. Yes, you can outsource link building. Just make sure to go with someone good. If you want low-risk high-quality links Jim Boykin's Internet Marketing Ninjas is probably the only good SEO firm doing it at scale. Their link building packages start as low as $5,000 a month. If you can't afford to fully outsource your link building, you may want to hire Debra Mastler to train your in house staff.

Developing Authority & Being Easy to Link At

8. Make your content easy to understand so many people can understand and spread your message. (It's an accessibility thing.)

9. Put some effort in to minimize grammatical or spelling errors, especially if you need authoritative people like librarians to link to your site.

10. Have an easily accessible privacy policy and about section so your site seems more trustworthy. Including a picture of yourself may also help build your authority.

PPC as a Link Building Tool

11. Buy relevant traffic with a pay per click campaign. Relevant traffic will get your site more visitors and brand exposure. When people come to your site, regardless of the channel in which they found it, there is a possibility that they will link to you.

News & Syndication

12. Syndicate an article at EzineArticles, GoArticles, iSnare, etc. The great thing about good article sites is that their article pages actually rank highly and send highly qualified traffic.

13. Submit an article to industry news site. Have an SEO site? Write an article and submit to WebProNews. Have a site about BLANK? Submit to BLANKinformationalsite.com.

14. Syndicate a press release. Take the time to make it GOOD (compelling, newsworthy). Email it to some handpicked journalists and bloggers. Personalize the email message. For good measure, submit it to PRWeb, PRLeap, etc.

15. Track who picks up your articles or press releases. Offer them exclusive news or content.

16. Trade articles with other webmasters.

17. Email a few friends when you have important relevant news asking them for their feedback and/or if they would mind referencing it if they find your information useful.

18. Write about, and link to, companies with "in the news" pages. They link back to stories and blog posts which cover their developments. This is obviously easiest if you have a news section or blog. Do a Google search for [your industry + "in the news"].

19. Perform surveys and studies that make people feel important. If you can make other people feel important they will help do your marketing for you for free. Salary.com did a study on how underpaid mothers were, and they got many high quality links.

Directories, Meme Trackers & Social Bookmarking

20. This tip is an oldie but goodie: submit your site to DMOZ and other directories that allow free submissions.

21. Submit your site to paid directories. Another oldie. Just remember that quality matters.

22. Create your own topical directory about your field of interest. Obviously link to your own site, deeplinking to important content where possible. Of course, if you make it into a truly useful resource, it will attract links on its own.

23. Tag related sites on sites like Del.icio.us. If people find the sites you tag to be interesting, emotionally engaging, or timely they may follow the trail back to your site.

24. If you create something that is of great quality make sure you ask a few friends to tag it for you. If your site gets on the front page of Digg or on the Del.icio.us popular list, hundreds more bloggers will see your site, and potentially link to it.

25. Look at meme trackers to see what ideas are spreading. If you write about popular spreading ideas with plenty of original content (and link to some of the original resources), your site may get listed as a source on the meme tracker site.

Local & Business Links

26. Join the Better Business Bureau.

27. Get a link from your local chamber of commerce.

28. Submit your link to relevant city and state governmental resources. (Easier in some countries than in others.)

29. List your site at the local library's Web site.

30. See if your manufacturers or retailers or other business partners might be willing to link to your site.

31. Develop business relationships with non-competing businesses in the same field. Leverage these relationships online and off, by recommending each other via links and distributing each other's business cards.

32. Launch an affiliate program. Most of the links you pick up will not have SEO value, but the added exposure will almost always lead to additional "normal" links.

Easy Free Links

33. Depending on your category and offer, you will find Craigslist to be a cheap or free classified service.

34. It is pretty easy to ask or answer questions on Yahoo! Answers and provide links to relevant resources.

35. It is pretty easy to ask or answer questions on Google Groups and provide links to relevant resources.

36. If you run a fairly reputable company, create a page about it in the Wikipedia or in topic specific wikis. If it is hard to list your site directly, try to add links to other pages that link to your site.

37. It takes about 15 minutes to set up a topical Squidoo page, which you can use to look like an industry expert. Link to expert documents and popular useful tools in your fields, and also create a link back to your site.

38. Submit a story to Digg that links to an article on your site. You can also submit other content and have some of its link authority flow back to your profile page.

39. If you publish an RSS feed and your content is useful and regularly updated, some people will syndicate your RSS content (and some of those will provide links; unfortunately, some will not).

40. Most forums allow members to leave signature links or personal profile links. If you make quality contributions some people will follow these links and potentially read your site, link at your site, and/or buy your products.

Have a Big Heart for Reviews

41. Most brands are not well established online, so if your site has much authority, your review related content often ranks well.

42. Review relevant products on Amazon.com. We have seen this draw in direct customer enquiries and secondary links.

43. Create product lists on Amazon.com that review top products and also mention your background (LINK!).

44. Review related sites on Alexa to draw in related traffic streams.

45. Review products and services on shopping search engines like ePinions to help build your authority.

46. If you buy a product or service you really like and are good at leaving testimonials, many of those turn into links. Two testimonial writing tips — make them believable, and be specific where possible.

Blogs & the Blogosphere

47. Start a blog. Not just for the sake of having one. Post regularly and post great content. Good execution is what gets the links.

48. Link to other blogs from your blog. Outbound links are one of the cheapest forms of marketing available. Many bloggers also track who is linking to them or where their traffic comes from, so linking to them is an easy way to get noticed by some of them.

49. Comment on other blogs. Most of these comments will not provide much direct search engine value, but if your comments are useful, insightful, and relevant they can drive direct traffic. They also help make the other bloggers become aware of you, and they may start reading your blog and/or linking to it.

50. Technorati tag pages rank well in Yahoo! and MSN, and to a lesser extent in Google. Even if your blog is fairly new you can have your posts featured on the Technorati tag pages by tagging your posts with relevant tags.

51. If you create a blog make sure you list it in a few of the best blog directories.

Design as a Linking Element

52. Web 2.0-ify your site. People love to link to anything with AJAX. Even in the narrowest of niches, there is some kind of useful functionality you can build with AJAX.

53. Validate and 508 your site. This (indirect) method makes your site more trustworthy and linkable, especially from governmental sites or design-oriented communities. There are even a few authoritative directories of standards-compliant sites.

54. Order a beautiful CSS redesign. A nice design can get links from sites like CSS Vault.

Link Trading

55. Swap some links. What?! Did we really just recommend reciprocal link building? Yes, on a small scale, and with relevant partners that will send you traffic. Stay away from the link trading hubs and networks.

56. In case you didn't get the memo — when swapping links, try to get links from within the content of relevant content pages. Do not try to get links from pages that list hundreds of off topic link partners. Only seek link exchanges that you would consider pursuing even if search engines did not exist. Instead of thinking just about your topic when exchanging links, think about demographic audience sets.

Buying Sites, Renting Links & Advertisements

57. Rent some high quality links from a broker. Text Link Ads is the most reputable firm in this niche.

58. Rent some high quality links directly from Web sites. Sometimes the most powerful rented links come direct from sites not actively renting links.

59. Become a sponsor. All sorts of charities, contests, and conferences link to their sponsors. This can be a great way to gain visibility, links, and a warm feeling in your heart.

60. Sell items on eBay and offer to donate the profits to a charity. Many charities will link both to the eBay auction and to your site.

61. Many search algorithms seem biased toward older established sites. It may be faster to buy an old site with a strong link profile, and link it to your own site, than to try to start building authority links from scratch.

Use the Courts (Proceed with Caution)

62. Sue Google.

63. Get sued by a company people hate. When Aaron was sued by Traffic Power, he got hundreds or thousands of links, including links from sites like Wired and The Wall Street Journal.

Freebies & Giveaways

64. Hold a contest. Contests make great link bait. A few-hundred-dollar prize can result in thousands of dollars worth of editorial quality links. Enough said.

65. Build a tool collection. Original and useful tools (and collections of tools) get a lot of link love. What do you think ranking for mortgage calculator is worth?

66. Create and release open source site design templates for content management systems like Wordpress. Don't forget the "Designed by example.com" bit in the footer!

67. Offer free samples in exchange for feedback.

68. Release a Firefox extension. Make sure you have a download and/or support page on your site which people can link to.

Conferences & Social Interaction

69. It is easy to take pictures of important events and tell narratives about why they are important. Pictures of (drunk?) "celebrities" in your industry make great link bait.

70. Leverage new real world relationships into linking relationships. If you go to SEO related conferences, people like Tim Mayer, Matt Cutts, and Danny Sullivan are readily accessible. Similarly, in other industries, people who would normally seem inaccessible are exceptionally accessible at trade conferences. It is much easier to seem "real" in person. Once you create social relationships in person, it is easy to extend that onto the web.

71. Engaging, useful, and interesting interviews are an easy way to create original content. And they spread like wildfire.

30 Bad Ways to Build Links

Here are a few link buiding methods that may destroy your brand or get your site banned/penalized/filtered from major search engines, or both.

Directories

72. Submit your site to 200 cheesy paid directories (averaging $15 a pop) that send zero traffic and sell offtopic run-of-site links.

Forum Spam

73. List 100 Web sites in your signature file.

74. Exclusively post only when you can add links to your sites in the post area.

75. Post nothing but "me too" posts to build your post count. Use in combination with a link-rich signature file.

76. Ask questions about who provides the best [WIDGET], where [WIDGET] is an item that you sell. From the same IP address create another forum account and answer your own question raving about how great your own site is.

77. As a new member to various forums, ask the same question at 20 different forums on the same day.

78. Post on forum threads that are years outdated exclusively to link to your semi-related website.

79. Sign up for profiles on forums you never intend on commenting on.

Blog Spam

80. Instead of signing blog comments with your real name, sign them with spammy keywords.

81. Start marketing your own site hard on your first blog comment. Add no value to the comment section. Mention nothing other than you recently posted on the same subject at _____ and everyone should read it. Carpet bomb dozens of blogs with this message.

82. Say nothing unique or relevant to the post at hand. Make them assume an automated bot hit their comments.

83. Better yet, use automated bots to hit their comments. List at least 30 links in each post. Try to see if you can hit any servers hard enough to make them crash.

84. Send pings to everyone talking about a subject. In your aggregation post, state nothing of interest. Only state that other people are talking about the topic.

85. Don't even link to any of the sites you are pinging. Send them pings from posts that do not even reference them.

Garbage Link Exchanges

86. Send out link exchange requests mentioning PageRank.

87. Send link exchange emails which look like an automated bot sent them (little or no customization, no personal names, etc.).

88. Send link exchange requests to Matt Cutts, Tim Mayer, Tim Converse, Google, and Yahoo!.

89. Get links from nearly-hidden sections of websites listing hundreds or thousands of off topic sites.

Spam People in Person

90. Go to webmaster conferences and rave about how rich you are, and how your affiliates make millions doing nothing.

91. Instead of asking people what their name is, ask what their URL is. As soon as you get their URL ask if they have linked to your site yet and if not, why not.

Be Persistant

92. Send a webmaster an alert to every post you make on your website.

93. Send a webmaster an email every single day asking for them to link to your website.

94. Send references to your site to the same webmaster from dozens of different email accounts (you sly dog).

95. If the above do not work to get you a free link, offer them $1 for their time. Increase your offer by a dollar each day until they give in.

Getting Links by Being a Jerk

96. Emulate the RIAA. When in doubt, file a lawsuit against a 12-year-old girl. (Failing that, obtain bad press by any means necessary.)

97. Steal content published by well known names. Strip out any attribution. Aggregate many popular channels and just wait for them to start talking about you.

98. Send thousands of fake referrals at every top ranking Web site, guaranteeing larger boobs, a 14-inch penis (is that length or girth?), or millions of dollars in free, unclaimed money.

99. Wear your URL on your t-shirt. Walk or drive your car while talking on a cell phone or reading a book. When you run into other people say "excuse you, jerk".

100. Spill coffee on people or find creative ways to insult people to coax them into linking at your site.

101. Sue other webmasters for deep linking to your site. Well, this is more "hilariously dumb" than it is a "bad linking practice".

Calls to Action

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Everything is Broken

Aug 15th

Seth Godin has a great post about how people are willing to pay more for convenience or to solve symptoms rather than to fix their problems. He also spoke at the 2006 GEL Conference about This Is Broken.com.
One of my favorite Radiohead songs, Planet Telex, goes "Everything is broken. Everyone is broken." Indeed people still have the same problems today that Carl Sandburg read from his The People, Yes.

Many businesses are messed up because they try to make the customers pay more to get less or focus on things that are arbitrary self focused and do not get people excited or talking about them. And most businesses are probably not set up to be well aligned with allowing workers to profit from their passion.

At the San Jose airport Microsoft had a tag line Your Potential. Our Passion. and to me that seems backwards. I think potential comes out of passion. You can look at how many people are fleeing Microsoft to start their own company or to work at companies like Google and how much Microsoft has spent on R&D to see how the proxy for passion would be better than the generic concept of potential.

It is not just Microsoft that has to work on streamlining their business process. AOL is laying off about 25% of their workforce. In spite of the publicity surrounding an offer to pay taggers Netscape is still quite small compared to competing tag sites sites. Yahoo! has many overlapping brands and half complete projects (including their ad platform).

When Google launched they were worth less than Yahoo! and are now worth 3 times as much (and people are writing articles calling Google cheap).

Amazon.com recently had an analyst give them a below average rating for 'doing nothing unique' while at the same time getting pinged for wanting to collect data to improve their customer experience. The kicker is that most of the best ideas that add the most value to a platform are quite boring in nature. How do you tie in online marketing with offline purchases? Coupons. Boring idea, but it is worth a ton of money to a large distributed ad network owner.

The ideas that create the most value are not necessarily exciting or overtly technical in nature. PageRank takes citations as a proxy for authority. Pretty simple concept.

I think a few big things that are allowing Google to grow while others are complaining about things being broken are

  1. They want to do things based on Eric Schmidt's idea of "Does it fundamentally effect people's internet experience in a positive sense."

  2. Even if they do not believe in #1, they are good enough at selling it that
    • the media is buying it

    • top talent is attracted to their company
    • consumers are evangelical about their brand
    • many unpaid customers willingly provide them free work and feedback needed to increase the value of their business.

Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent

Aug 15th

Some people call Noam a conspiracy theorist, but I tend to think that just a label used to discourage institutional analysis, which is exactly something Noam states in Manufacturing Consent, an institutional analysis film about mainstream media bias. He also wrote a book by the same name that I still need to read.
Some of the underlying ideas that Noam frequently conveys in many of his interviews are:

  • Creativity is a fundamental need for humans.

  • The military (among other purposes) is in many ways an extension of technological institutions.
  • Authority should be challenged as to its necessity. If it does not prove useful it should be discarded as a source of power. Self regulating positive and negative market forces will keep most market aspects range bound and organized. This line of thinking is mentioned many times in A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History.
  • Power sources which are largely funded by a small group of people will be biased toward promoting the interests of that small group of people. Self preservation is a key goal of any institution.

He then goes into a bit of information about thought control

  • In a totalitarian government you do not need much public support to do whatever you want. In societies with more freedom you must set up a framework for controlling thought which makes it easier to control the people.

  • "Democracy requires free access to ideas, information, and opinion." When you hear politicians pushing laws to regulate the web to save the children make no mistake that first and foremost they are pushing to create a fragmented, filtered, and imperfect information source and network which keeps power in the hands of those who are already powerful.
  • Controlling people requires "necessary illusions and emotionally potent oversimplifications." This is part of the reason there is a left and right side to a story. Create these arbitrary pigeonholes for ways people should think and attach their identities to and hopefully they will not think beyond the categorization that already speaks and thinks for them.

Media shapes public opinion via

  • selection of topics

  • distribution of concerns
  • emphasis
  • framing of issues
  • filtering of information
  • bounding of debate within certain limits

He then talks about the concentration of power and bias of interest toward businesses associated with some publishing formats:

  • Most large distribution news publishing formats are owned by a small group of elites who are tied to other large business interests.

  • The AP and a couple other traditional news sources have an oligopoly over the mainstream news market. Some newspapers, like the New York Times, distribute a brief of the contents of their next day's paper to other newspapers to help set the daily agenda.
  • Many (perhaps most) newspapers consist more of ad space than news (and thus in many ways the advertiser is more of a customer than the reader). While the web and search allow individuals more opportunity (you would never be reading anything I write without them), search engines struggle with balancing this same issue, and are favoring old media by doing things like trusting certain sources to seed vertical search and overemphasize core domain authority in their algorithms. Google has also recently started paying large traditional content providers, including News Corp., MTV, and the Associated Press. They also purchased a portion of Time Warner's AOL. The WSJ recently published an article highlighting that Google believes content partnerships are a key to longterm growth.

Some types of information are created or promoted because they teach people not to think or to not question authority, or to rally behind a common pointless cause.

  • Sports and many other forms of news and entertainment are useful to help drive the masses away from
    issues of importance to their life and help build "irrational attitudes of submission to authority."

Some publishing formats (like 30 minute television shows) work great because they segment audiences and require answers to fit in a 20 second window.

  • Distribution via channels segmented via concision require you to convey thoughts quickly.

  • In limited time slots, it is hard to break new ground or get beyond conventional thought patterns previously formed by others. If you say things outside of the normal realm of thought you do not have enough time to state your reasoning behind your words, and thus can be misquoted or taken out of context and made to look like an idiot.
  • If you say something outside of the norm, like "education is a system of imposed ignorance" then you have no time to explain what that means, and end up sounding like you heavily bought into education. ;)

Noam Chomsky then went through a startling example of clear and overwhelming media bias.

In 1975 Indonesia invaded East Timor. The story of East Timor got a bit of press because the business community was interested what it meant for the Portuguese empire. As the killing reached genocide level in 1978 the US mainstream media coverage of the story dropped to zero. The US provided Indonesia most of their arms for the mass human rights violations and mass murders.

A declassified memorandum of a July 1975 conversation between President Gerald Ford and then-Indonesian President Suharto demonstrates clearly the extent of US support: Ford asks Suharto bluntly, "How big a Navy do you have and how big a Navy do you need?"

Around the same time the US heavily bombed Cambodia. The civilian deaths were not given strict numbers in the media until the Khmer Rouge gained power, at which point the US mainstream media started throwing out words like genocide and numbers like 2 million dead within a couple weeks.

People manipulate systems (as an SEO that is sorta what I do). In much the same way that most people are kept in the dark about SEO or public relations the same is true for just about any type of publishing or marketing business model. But, as Upton Sinclair would say:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

I like learning about power, authority, and publishing business models because

  • if you know flaws in other business models it is easy to build business models that eat at their flaws or revolve around markets they would never want to be in

  • on the web everything is so scalable that if you have a really great idea it can go far, especially as people learn to trust software programs and other consumers to help them make decisions which once relied on friends or traditional intermediaries.

The Need for a Credible Guide

Aug 15th

A friend of mine is creating a how to website. I recently wanted to purchase an item related to his field, so the first thing I did was go off to his site to look for information about the product I wanted to buy. His article about the topic was quite thin in nature and perhaps even looked like I might have wrote it, which is bad since I know nothing about the topic.

If someone is buying a cheap accessory then you might not have to sell much or sell hard or go in much depth to convert them. If someone is buying something

  • that they know little about

  • is expensive (in terms of opportunity cost - time, money, other factors, etc.)
  • is hard to return

then you might have to provide more information to be able to build up enough trust to sell to them.

When creating an affiliate database driven site it is easy to give 1,000's of items the exact same weight, but if you can instead answer one or a few questions far better than anyone else does it is much easier to create a longterm stable income stream. Plus if most competing sites consist primarily of thin compacted data and your sales information and product guides are link worthy that provides a huge marketing benefit.

Also consider that as search engines dip further into vertical search and more thin compacted data sites are created one needs to provide better or more unique and compelling information to be citation worthy.

How Many Link Opportunities Come From 1 Story?

Aug 15th

The AOL data release story has been circulating for a while now, and in spite of tech bloggers being quick with stories people are still getting a bunch of links for it. Here are some of the link opportunities around the idea

  • data was released

  • privacy concerns
  • data was removed, here is a mirror
  • free online keyword tools
  • creepy searchers and creepy searches
  • the searcher covered in the NYT
  • CTR by position
  • most likely? other statistical analysis

If you see an idea that is quickly spreading on the meme trackers there may be many additional link opportunities if you can give the story a unique spin or see other related ideas that people may think are important.

Clickthrough Rate by Search Result Ranking Position

Aug 15th

AOL has a bias toward consumer (ie: non b2b) type queries, and they may have a higher % of brand related searches that both act to place a bit more emphasis on the top search result than general searchers from other search engines, but some people have dug through the 20 million search queries AOL gave away and come up some stats.

SEO Blackhat dug through the numbers and has a free tool for estimating clicks based on search volume estimates and rank position.

Updated Firefox SEO Extension

Aug 14th

Yahoo! recently announced they are moving some of their link queries over to Site Explorer. The problem with that is that now there is no way to get .edu and .gov backlink data from Yahoo!

I had my programmer update SEO for Firefox to pull linkage data from MSN Search. In addition, he added some of the features that are in SEOpen and SearchStatus, such that you can highlight nofollows on a page and right click on a page and pull in some of the relevant link and other SEO related information.

After Yahoo! (hopefully) restores the ability to sort linkage data by TLD we will re-enable Yahoo! as a data source. There might be a few bugs in the newest version of SEO for Firefox as well...like if you query MSN Search automatically too quickly they may end up blocking your IP address.

Google's Depreciation of Anchor Text

Aug 14th

I only attended a couple panels at SES, but Greg Boser was on one of them, and he always has a way of saying things in a clear way. He mentioned in the past that a divide and conquer technique was a great way for small sites to compete with larger rivals. He then went on to say that with Google's current reliance on site age and link related authority that it may no longer make sense to use a divide and conquer method to rank well in Google. If you look through Google's search results for competitive insurance related phrases typically they are dominated by old sites, government and education sites, news sites, and/or sites which are focused on all 50 states. In the past it might have made sense to make sites for each of the most important states, but with the current Google one site with an authority rank of 8 is probably going to be worth far more than a half dozen sites in the same vertical that only have an authority rank of 6 (there is no AuthorityRank meter...just assume it is some arbitrary value based on age and link equity).

Another thing which Greg mentioned in his speech was that it seems Google is really moving away from trusting anchor text as much as they used to. I recently bought an old domain from a friend that was just wasting away. It was old and had a few average type links from related websites, but had no relevant anchor text for the terms I wanted to rank.

I changed the internal link structure to focus the home page on a moderately competitive term. Just doing that ranked it in the top 20 for that term. I then got it a couple low-to-average-quality links with the plural version of that anchor text and got it ranked in the top 10 for both versions. In the past that site might have required either higher quality links or many more descriptive link anchors to rank.

In the past (say a year or two ago) I was way more focused on getting specific anchor text from external sources and probably went a bit far with it. Now it seems all you need are a few relevant decent quality descriptive links and your site will rank so long as your site has a bit of age and a few legitimate links.

Google Vertical Search Canibalizing Google's Organic SERPs

Aug 14th

I searched to see if the movie An Inconvenient Truth was playing in a local theater. Google not only showed the Movie OneBox result, and offer a movie search feature, but they also rank the Google Video trailer in their search results and are caching the movies result page. Loren recently posted an in depth article showing how much Google is doing to add interactivity to and exposure for Google Video.

As Google adds features and consumer generated media to Google hosted vertical content pages many review sites and thin sites in high margin verticals will lose a good portion of their value, link equity, and traffic. A big thing that places Google ahead of most review sites is that they will not only collect and structure their own feedback, but their knowledge of language and the web graph makes it easy to access some of the best review information on other sites.

In a couple clicks I can go from reading feedback on Google to reading aggregated feedback snippets from other sites to reading some of the other best reviews on the web. For example, it takes little effort to see the official site, the contempt some sectors show the film, a more objective review, and a speech which inspired the creation of the film.

Indexed Page Quality Ratio

Aug 11th
posted in

Large websites tend to have many useless pages associated with them. They may be caused by any of the following

  • poorly structured or poorly formatted user generated content

  • content duplication due to content management issues
  • canonical related issues
  • dangling nodes which act as PageRank sinks
  • navigational pages which are heavily duplicated and soak up link authority and do not provide a clean site structure

I recently have had a couple SEOs show me various navigational techniques which made thousands of thousands of somewhat similar mid level navigational pages.

Some pages make sense to be indexed and provide a great user experience if searchers land on them. Others provide a poor user experience.

Search engines do not like indexing search results from other engines, so if your navigational scheme has an element which acts similar to an internal search engine you probably do not want all those search pages getting indexed if they are heavily duplicates of one another.

I was talking to Stuntdubl the other day, and he stated one of the main things he likes to look at to get a general indication of the health of a site is to look at the ratio of quality pages indexed to total pages indexed from your site.

If lots of your indexed pages are heavily duplicated and/or of low value that may cause search engines to crawl or index your site less deeply and not index all your individual product level pages.

Bite ¿Byte? Sized Content

Aug 11th

Recently Google allowed you to link to an exact minute and second of video. They also give each page of a book its own URL.

More Fun With AOL Keywords

Aug 9th

A few people have created free cool web based tools which allow you to search through the 20 million keywords AOL recently shared with the marketing community. http://www.aolsearchdatabase.com/ - allows you to sort data by:

  • User ID
  • Keywords
  • Date of search
  • URL

http://www.askthebrain.com/aol/

  • allows you to sort data by TLD
  • allows you to sort data by keywords leading to a specific domain
  • by default the tool also displays the top few thousand URLs, the number of referrals to a URL, shows the top keywords leading to a URL, shows the keyword diversity ratio

http://www.dontdelete.com/ - search by keyword, keyword stem, or part of a keyword to find related keywords. For example, if you searched for dati it would return all keywords that had dating in them.

Anyone think I should add a link to any of these tools on my keyword research tool?

Growing Up

Aug 8th

The traits which caused you to be teased as a kid may be the same traits that cause you to be successful as an adult, if you let them.

Good theory, or bollocks?

F*ck, I am Not on the List

Aug 8th

So I went to a party last night, and a friend of mine was not on the list, but got there before me and said he was my guest. Fair enough, and good for him. Usually being on the list is a good deal, but with internet marketing using the default list is a bad deal. Let's say there is a place that does cheap article submissions that has 50 places they submit articles to. Even if they did a kick ass job of it, no way would I want to submit my site to all 50 places if that list of submission places was the default one used by the industry.

I might consider submitting to the top 10 or 20 article sites, but the deeper you go the more abstract and lower quality of a link you are getting, and the more likelihood there is that those sites would probably be in a bad web neighborhood (ie: have low quality inbound AND low quality outbound links). In most fields only the top few sites are typically going to have many high quality links.

Also, if there is a potential gem that is not on the list (just for a rough example, say Buzzle.com as a decent article submission site) then maybe getting a few links from those types of sites that are not on default lists are worth more than just pushing to do what is easy to replicate and widely done by those using a default list.

That is part of the reason I do not keep my directory list up to date so much anymore. IMHO, many of the search engines have evolved far beyond that. Sure a Yahoo! Directory link is great, a Business.com listing could be money well spent, and maybe there are a half dozen or so other general directories that are going to be longterm useful and valuable to be listed in. But if you submit to 400 directories from a commonly used (and abused) industry list do not be surprised if your site does not rank as well as you would like.

As long as your mindset is stuck on a list, if you keep going deeper you may be digging a deeper hole. The more your marketing strategies, data sources, link sources, niche market selection ideas, keyword ideas, and content creation ideas are hidden from the common lists that everyone use the easier it will be to quickly create value and extract profit from your work.

If you go to an affiliate convention and see a merchant advertising all their offers to top affiliates that is a sign that their market already is or may soon be saturated beyond profitability.

I have even heard some people who sell AdSense keywords lists scrub the words with the highest easily accessible profit potential from their keyword lists.

And, this really is what makes writing a book about SEO and trying to keep it up to date somewhat hard. People want easy, simple, and straightforward lists that guide them toward success, but the more your marketing strategies, data sources, link sources, niche market selection ideas, keyword ideas, and content creation ideas are hidden from the common lists that everyone use the easier it will be to quickly create value and extract profit from your work.

The easiest way to get quality citations is through social relationships and unique original marketing ideas, but you really can't put those on a list unless people can infer how to extrapolate how an idea relates to their core strengths, potential customers, and/or marketplace.

Shmooozing

Aug 8th

Not really directly SEO related, but I have been going to lots of conference parties of late, and it is quite interesting to view the social interactions that occur. Some people are really good at schmoozing, while others are average, and some linger in a corner hoping nobody will talk to them. Friends = recommendations = links. I still wouldn't describe myself as being a great schmoozer, but I know lots of people who are, and I think the most common traits of people who are successful at talking to and meeting new people are:

  • they are confident and comfortable with their identity and state of being

  • they are not afraid of being rejected or trying new things
  • they make it easy for others to laugh, and also laugh at themselves
  • they make eye contact and mirror body language
  • they tend to largely focus conversations on the interests of the people they are talking to
  • they can anticipate conversations, but do not skip ahead of those they are around
  • they tend to make the people they are talking to feel comfortable with their identity, and important for being a great person or doing a great job at what they do

The more you know about a person than what an average person off the street would know about them the more likely they are to find you interesting.

I think the feeling of love is when other people feel more complete, happy, or as a better person when they are around you. If you can do things which create those sorts of feelings in other people then they will reciprocate, and (link) love is all you need. :)

For consultants SEO is probably more about sociology, psychology, and healthy social relationships than algorithms.

What good schmoozer traits did I miss?

Inside the Mind of a Searcher: Free Keyword Research Search Data

Aug 8th

AOL proved stupid by potentially violating the privacy of 650,000 searchers and the 20 million searches they did over a 3 month period earlier this year. While seasonal and limited to AOL data, this ties data together between searcher and search patterns as well as searches and relevant sites.

Imagine combining Alexa, Hitwise, and Wordtracker, and making it all free :)

The original data source has been pulled, but mirrors are up.

Awesome Company Blogs

Aug 5th
posted in

SEOMoz ... obviously most everyone here probably already reads that, but I like the mixed personalities of the various authors of their blog (other than MM), and it was fun hanging out with everyone from there tonight :)

Dreamhost...what other company of that scale (other than Victoria's Secret, Hanes, or Fruit of the Loom) can get away with showing underwear on their site, or attack a perceived weakness and describe it in a way that makes you want to trust them and buy more? And how quality are the pics in this post?

Silent Bob Speaks...a bit crass for some no doubt, but that is clearly part of the appeal.

I recently have been given about 1/2 dozen books on blogging. I hope and mean to read some of them soon.

The Myth of a Perfectly Optimized Page

Aug 3rd

I frequently get asked to look at a page to see if I think it is perfectly optimized. But I rarely think you can tell if a page is perfectly optimized just by looking at one page. Most of the optimized pages I am asked to look at have no clear goal at hand. Is the page meant to be link bait? Am I supposed to buy from the page? How is the page integrated into your site? How do people find this page? What sort of brand equity have you built up?

No matter what you are doing you are always Electioneering. Does your site sell ad space? Are you trying to manipulate public opinion? In many ways just having open access to people who are willing to answer your questions is highly valuable even if that is the only aim of a page.

The key to doing well is to gain enough authority and mindshare to be in a self reinforcing market position or to have enough momentum to be able to jump from field to field. Examples:

  • What is Home Depot? A retailer? Or a large home improvement ad network? They are willing to test adding ads to their site, which may allow them to leverage their brand for high margin revenue streams and discover new products and new markets while competing retail only stores are forced to close due to shrinking margins (I just tried shopping at the local Lowes but they closed down).

  • The Wall Street Journal is going to sell front page ads.
  • Some newspaper websites include syndicated links from blogs. Recently some newspaper publishers have even decided to add links to competing content near their stories.
  • Ken McCarthy has been an internet marketer longer than I have known what the internet is about. He recently asked on his blog what Google did with their recent AdWords update. He must have got fifty to a hundred responses.

The issue with just looking at "is this page optimized" is that all markets are heavily manipulated and search frequently changes. If you just maximize one portion of your optimization process without considering the social aspects of the web, short and long term goals, or how your site fits into the web as a whole then when one of the market makers changes the rules you are relegated to leaving whiny comments about how that market maker is evil.

One of the reasons I never published SEO Book in print format is that my self image is quite low, and I never think what I do is good enough (I realize I should not have wrote that). But as time has passed I came to appreciate that the whole concept of optimization really is about predicting market changes and getting the most of the current market as you can. Any sort of optimization has associated opportunity costs and is only effective for a certain window of time. What was perfect optimization a year or two ago is now largely inefficient and ineffective as some of the market makers have closed some of their algorithmic holes.

Long term optimization would be "create high quality content that users like that would make a search engine inadequate if it was not ranked." But when you are starting from nothing, sometimes it helps to take advantage of a few market inefficiencies to help build the exposure necessary to build a self reinforcing position which may allow you to jump from field to field.

And the web is such a social medium that it requires understanding people far more than algorithms. At least for most businesses. And human nature changes much slower than the web and search algorithms do. But you can't understand how well a person speaks to / with their audience just by looking at one web page.

I might have a kick ass copywriter edit my sales letter to improve its conversion rate. I am not afraid of paying him to write it, but my biggest fear with optimizing it is that if I push conversion too much, then what will that do to the consistency of my voice across my site?

Central Banks & Money Market Manipulation

Aug 3rd

Update: After reading Alan Greenspan's book I realize that not all central bankers are bad, but I still believe there are a lot of dirty people in international banking.

Even markets that seem like they should be somewhat honest and forthright are not. Consider the Federal Reserve - a deceptively named private bank which holds a monopoly over currency supplies in spite of likely having no actual reserves. All the evils of a corporation heavily exist in a privatized for profit central bank. Some of the past US central bankers, seeking to keep their power, have stated things like:

Nothing but widespread suffering will produce any effect on the congress...Our only safety is pursuing a course of steady restriction - and I have no doubt that such a course will ultimately lead to restoration of the currency and a recharter of the bank. - Nicholas Biddle.

Shortly after Nicholas plunged the US economy into a deep depression he was caught making comments like the above in public. Back then the media was far more honest (ie: less sold out and owned by bankers) than the current media, and Andrew Jackson won enough support to pay off the bank and prevent it from being rechartered. Shortly afterward there was an assassination attempt on Jackson's life. The assassin bragged that rich bankers from Europe put him up to the test and promised to protect him if he were caught.

After President Garfield spoke out against private bankers he was assassinated.

The civil war may have also been largely caused by powerful bankers from Europe. Slavery was not a major issue prior to the war according to Lincoln. Lincoln, who opposed a privately owned central bank, was assassinated only 5 days after Lee surrendered to Grant.

After the civil war the US was quite prosperous, but powerful bankers pushed congress to contract the money supply
1866 - 1.8 billion in circulation - $50.46 per capita
1867 - 1.3 - $44
1876 - 0.6 - $14.6
1886 - 0.4 - $6.67

The tightening of the money supply caused deep depression.

Through cycling interest rates and money supplies central banks can create false markets then extract the profit from the work of others when they re-tighten the monetary supply. The boom bust business cycle is used for central banks to exploit profits from citizens and companies alike. The bankers in the Federal Reserve more-less have insider info on how to bet for or against sectors of the economy (on top of having a 100% profit margin plus interest on the central bank credits to the government).

The Federal Reserve pays for government bonds by the issuance of electronic credits based literally on nothing. How pathetically inept is the US government to allow an arbitrary 3rd party to have 100% + profit margins on creating the currency needed to run that government?

England was at war for 56 of the first 119 years after the bank of England was created. Many banks finance both sides of a war. Many times the loans are placed with the guarantee that the winner will pay the debts of the loser.

Nathan Rothschild had started selling English stocks and bonds after the defeat of Napoleon to misdirect the market while he secretly started buying assets at a fraction of the price. As Napoleon Bonaparte stated:

The hand that gives is above the hand that takes. money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency: their sole object is gain.

Ernest Seyd admitted that in 1872 he was set to bribe US congressmen to demonetize silver. By 1873 gold was the only accepted form of coin money in the US. Since gold was quite scarce and monopolized, putting America on the gold standard allowed the owners of gold to manipulate the markets.

In 1933 private ownership of gold in the US was confiscated by the government (for the price of $20.66 an ounce). After most gold was turned in the price per ounce was raised to $35, but only foreigners could sell gold at the new higher price. Then over the years gold was likely smuggled out of Fort Knox to wealthy foreigners associated with international bankers at cheap prices. In 1982 Regan commissioned a group to study the feasibility of going back to a gold standard. They reported that the US treasury had no gold at the time. This is a perfect example of why true patriots chose to fight or ignore bad laws.

In 1891 the American Bankers Associate sent out a memo stating that on September 1st 1894 they would cause a deep depression to seize assets at pennies on the dollars. And it happened.

There has been a nongovernment ran US central bank at least 4 times. In 1913 the current one was put in place. WWI occurred a year after the federal reserve was created. Within the first 25 years of its existence the Federal Reserve caused 3 major economic downturns, including the great depression.

In April of 1929, Paul Warburg, the father of the Federal Reserve, sent out a secret memo to friends stating that "a collapse and nationwide depression was certain." In August of 29 the fed began to tighten money. Rockefeller, JP Morgan, and others just happened to be lucky in getting out of the stock market in 1929. On October 24th, 1929 big New York bankers called in their 24 hour broker call loans. That day was known as black Thursday.

After the crash, instead of lowering interest rates the fed continued to contract the money supply by 1/3 from 1929 to 1933. While America was suffering in depression 10s of billions of US dollars were sucked out of the US economy to prop up Germany (which had assets largely owned by international bankers that bought them for next to nothing after WWI).

All the above obvious market manipulation shows that privately owned central banks do not breed any sort of stability (and in fact just the opposite), which shows just how useless they are.

Money is not a finite commodity but a means to barter. Since I was a little kid I went back to the town that I grew up in and noticed so many payday loan stores that never existed when I was a kid. Why are all of these scammy loan businesses popping up?

If you want to learn more about the economic fraud that is the Federal Reserve (and if the 16th amendment may even be illegal) check out The Money Masters - where many of the above points came from - (also on Google Video here and here).

The US is now in a persistent war that will most likely only end when economic incentive for it goes away or the public cares enough to force the powers that be to end it.

How pathetically inept is the US government to allow an arbitrary 3rd party to have 100% + profit margins on creating the currency needed to run that government? Why are so many countries and individuals living in a state of persistent debt to arbitrary sources when money is not a finite commodity but just a means for barter? Money is usually created from nothing and based on nothing by arbitrary for profit companies.

Shouldn't the debt of most men be to their children more than to a few opulent sleazeballs who arbitrarily inherited a large portion of the world's wealth based on voodoo economics?

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

This is probably quite an absurd post for an SEO blog, but it is just a reminder that markets can sway at any given time, and even allegedly valuable and trustworthy standards of value are heavily manipulated and can erode quickly. Smart business owners make their businesses fluid enough to be able to ebb and flow with large powerful market forces.

Solutions Looking for a Problem...

Aug 3rd

Introducing SEM Financing.com.

Google AdWords doesn't even charge you until after people click your ads. Payday loans are for people who can't manage their finances. Why would a company that was successful at direct marketing need such a month to month loan service? Who would use that?

Spare Parts Save Lives (and Businesses)

Aug 3rd

I used to work on a submarine, and one of the biggest design criteria for the sub was redundancy. Many businesses fail because they bank on one channel working forever. That is rarely the case.

Patrick Gavin recently offered an insightful post about keeping a spare website or two just in case an algorithm update whacks your site.

Mo Money Keyword Brands

Aug 3rd

Branded traffic is worth big bank.

If you rank for a business name in a good niche ~ it can pay dividends, especially as the business markets its brand, I am not talking large corps here but I have maybe 5 websites that I tested that rank either 1 or generally 2 for the business names and they pay large, when these businesses advertise and push their brand ~ kerching!

Exact match keyword domains work well in Google when combined with a few high quality links, and most branded keywords actually are not that hard to rank for.

All Packaged Information is Garbage

Aug 3rd

or at least most people in this thread think so. But then in other forum threads I have been referred to as a genius. I am glad someone believes in me more than I do ;)

If you find a good book (like A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History) sometimes you are not paying for what is in the book, but also what biases or other information are not included in the book (as any author, business model, or information format carries biases).

I think one of the biggest reasons many people fail is they try to satisfy everyone. Average people suck. Experience is the best trainer, but people discounting the value of other things typically tend to start from the framework of thinking their time is worthless. And so it is. Everything is overpriced. Until you die.

Matt Cutts SEO FAQ Videos

Aug 3rd

Most readers of this site probably read MattCutts.com, but if you do not, he recently created 8 videos answering common SEO questions. I added links to them on my SEO video page. Rebecca wrote textual reviews of them here, here, and here.

New Sites Indexed & Ranking Quickly in Google

Aug 3rd

Andy Hagans has a great post about getting a new domain indexed and ranked.

Now a new domain probably isn't any better than the other one we had, and I wanted the launch to go right, dang it. So I grabbed it every trusted link that I could (quickly) -- Dir.yahoo.com, Sbd.bcentral.com, Business.com, a hosted adverpage on an older domain, and an in-content link from an old, ranking (trusted) related site that a friend owns (Thanks mate!)... Two days later, bam! 28 pages in, four days later, 160 pages in.

I wonder which friend gave him that trusted link ;)

The trend to ranking in Google is moving away from just get more more more more more more to getting less but higher quality links. After you get enough trusted links you will probably automatically pick up a few spammy links, but the value of actively building low quality links is diminishing daily (at least, if you care to rank well in Google).

Occasionally you will see people say that paying $300 for a link in the Yahoo! Directory is a rip off, and a couple years ago the economics leaned more toward getting many low trust links. But over the last few years there have been tons of bottom feeding business models which have sprung out of a link = a vote line of thinking to where Google needed to obfuscate the market and increase the cost of low cost links.

Indeed the concept of link = vote will still be sold for a great deal of time (similarly to how people still sell search engine submission software and services). Most of it is not honestly valuable, but if it is profitable and scalable and there is a market people will keep selling it.

Keep in mind that if many search spammers follow the same recipe then the relevancy algorithms might get rebaked, but for now

  • for Google, with links less is more
  • the cost of some trusted links (in terms of time, money, and/or editorial review processes) makes many of them prohibitively expensive for certain spam content models

In one of Matt's recent SEO videos he also mentioned the value of soft launching.

A Foot In Each Pond

Aug 1st

Many sites are highly authoritative but make no money. Many sites are optimized for revenue generation, but have little authority. If you can find a way to get a foot in each pond you will make far more that most people who have both types of sites but do not combine them.

The easiest way to build authority is to either buy a site from someone who is not leveraging it, or to think about that angle before you get to big into the commercial realm (ie: build socially important issues into your marketing message or a portion of your target audience). Almost any authoritative site has related highly commercial topics which can be added to the site without risking lowering the site quality much. For example, you can rarely go wrong with topic + education.






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