Sempo State of Search Marketing 2004

May 25th

Report:
State of Search Marketing 2004 - not sure if I linked to that yet. Thanks to AussieWebmaster for reminding me about it.

Cash Keywords:
has a blog. Fantomaster has hundreds on his list now.

Keyword Ranking Performance:
new free tool from St0ney which weights your percent distribution from your rankings on the top search engines. Would also be cool to link off to pages which showed:

  • keywords vs the buying cycle

  • how longer queries typically convert better
  • reference that many searches are unique

Rumours Confirmed:
there are Borgs at Google.

More on TrustRank

May 23rd

A while ago I wrote a bit about TrustRank after reading the PDF about it.

It is fairly easy to understand many of the concepts of it (like attenuating a possitive trust score or offsetting the effects of link spam with a negative trust score), but it is even easier to understand them if you visualize the concept of trust attenuation.

Most sites are not exceptionally compelling, so there are usually not many legitimate hubs in any industry, but many sites are glorified link farms which will not pass any positive trust value.

For a while I helped promote many directories, but many of the new ones on the market have little to no legitimate value, and some of the links from them may even have negative value.

I just wrote an article called TrustRank & the Company You Keep, in which I made this graphic explaining the concept of AntiTrust (yet another SEO phrase I made up hehehe).

The red X's represent things that should be, but are not there.
Bad directory image, showing inbound & outbound link profile.

Yes, I know, the drop shadow is too dark, my web designer friend already yelled at me for that. Other than that, I hope the image clearly demonstrates the concept I was trying to get across.

Other than drop shadow remarks, please leave comments on the article and image below.

MSN Toolbar with Desktop Search, Boston Globe Selling Offline Ads Online

May 16th

MSN Toolbar Suite:
With desktop search
SEW has more information about the release

WWW2005:
presentations

LookSmart:
somehow still alive, offers up a rebrandable version of Furl?

LookSmart is taking the bold step of private-labeling Furl.net for publishers within its strategy of licensing tools, content and technology so they can own search advertiser relationships, develop a larger search audience and retain their audience more effectively with sticky tools like Furl.

I think LookSmart needs to get in check with reality a bit. I mean, why should I trust their network when they use AdSense instead of LookSmart on some of their own sites. To me that just goes to show that the value of their ad network has eroded to next to nothing.

UseIt:
Mental Models For Search Are Getting Firmer

Print Ads Sold Online:
The Boston Globe is going to be selling an offline ad through an online auction process.

SEO Bestiary:
funny

How to Spend More on PPC Marketing

May 14th

Not how to get more out of your ad spend, but how to spend more money on your PPC ads. Never did I think I would read an article about how to spend more. Why not though, eh?

The 1st major question they listed in evaluating your spend:
Any Search Engines Missing?
Kinda funny that the article was sponsored by FindWhat and there is a huge FindWhat ad next to it ;)

From the few chats I have had with him Kevin is a super bright guy, and probably one of the top half dozen PPC experts in the world, but do you think ClickZ is being a bit transparent with the advertising business model there?

Google Fixes 302 Error?, Tivo Chatting w Yahoo! & Google

302 Redirects:
Claus over at ThreadWatch is reporting Google may have solved their problem.

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.

SEO Friendly Affiliate Programs:
May not be so friendly if you grow your link popularity too quickly.

Ethical SEO:
I got this great comment via email:

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. :)

Self Publishing, Writing Articles, When is it worth Optimizing?

Transparent Business Model:
About.com overlapping ads. Ads actually cover the words in the articles. How annoying. And worthless.

The average surfer is not going to be able to read that article. The average webmaster is not going to link to that content. Who the hell is that article for?

Self Publishing:

Gmail Feeds?
Evehead noticed a feed in his Gmail.

Google Hype:
Google founders only take $1 in pay this year.

No Mamma NO!!!
Copernick says no to being purchased by Mamma.com due to government probes. Mamma.com has become a day trading favorite and is currently out of season on prettymuch all ends.

Ranking a New Site in Google?
can suck.

Not Worth Optimizing:
another article talking about why it is not worth performing SEO services for many people.
also covered here here and here

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 trick to doing well is to simply be a good salesmen on the phone and ensure your audience is more ignorant than you are. While Stuntdubl thinks it is a solid article, he also points out that DG shows the other side of the coin.

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.

Automated Content:
becomes academic. hehehe

Audio:
The Architecture of Participation

BadRank & the Ugly Side of SEO

Apr 11th

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.

Link Filtering:
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.

$49 Fraud:
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

Outdated Material:
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.

Redirects:
Google has long had a problem with 302 redirects where some webmasters can remove competing URLs from the Google search results.

Spam Email:
Recently someone was sending spam email link exchange messages trying to destroy the brand of a well known SEO company.

Blog Comment Spam:
People complain about others blog spamming active blogs for them.

Fake Forums:
A while ago many dubious SEO forums sprung up.

General Forum Faults:

  • 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.

Client 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.

I think something has to be done about this really, really quickly, because I think, potentially, it threatens our business model - Google Chief Financial Officer George Reyes

Impression Fraud:
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.

Google Stealing Large AdWords Clients:
As recently mentioned by Danny Sullivan.

Dumping Sites:
Not too long ago Google dumped over a million sites to stop a few search spammers. Later they accidentally dumped Australia too.

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.

SEMPO:
An organization that was formed to represent SEOs never was interested in participating with the community or accepting any feedback it had to offer.

I am sure I missed a bunch of things too.

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?

Why Isn't My Site Ranking In Google?

Feb 25th

A question many people are asking themselves this month.

I tried to write an article explaining why many sites, including this one, no longer rank for their official site name.

Generally recurring themes which have been seen are a combination of the following:

  • Many sitewide inbound links.

  • Lack of anchor text variation.
  • Low deep link ratio.

Some of the sites that were hit may have deserved to be filtered out, but some of them that were hit just don't make sense.

Should a site be penalized because most people link to it using it's official site name? The current algorithm says yes.

Some people are wondering whether Google has lost its focus.

Writing Tips, How to be a Consultant, IR Books, Ask Buys Bloglines

Writing:
Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: in Ten Minutes

How to Be a Consultant:
Create The Warm Fuzzy Feelingâ„¢. Reading it certainly takes much longer than 10 minutes, but it is well worth it if you are considering becoming a consultant.

The list is great, but on the web / marketing front I would also add create affiliate and content sites to help build a stable income stream when down periods occur.

Even when you have few clients you help shore up your technical understand by creating things. If you create great sites then they will make money and you will be able to better filter what work you are willing to take on. If you create lousy sites then they will make for great research and will help you identify symptoms of a lousy site when prospective customers contact you.

As stated in that article, it can't be overly stressed

  • how important it is to be easily available; &

  • how amazingly well syndicated articles act as sophisticated salesmen

found on SearchEngineBlog

Information Retrieval Books:
A while ago I read A Theory of Indexing
by Gerard Salton. I also have heard good things about Information Retreival by C. J. "Keith" van Rijsbergen, and Modern Information Retrieval by Ricardo Baeza-Yates & Berthier Ribeiro-Neto. What information retrieval technology books have you read and liked? Wonder if guys like GoogleGuy have a favorite IR book :)

Ask Jeeves Buys Bloglines?
it is what people are saying...

Trademark Laws:
Deregulating Relevancy in Internet Trademark Law

Would You Name Your PPC?
RipUsOff.com...just randomly came across it and after seeing so many articles about click fraud it would appear as though that name could be took the wrong way.

My Favorite Muppet:
Flying Gonzo, though the Cookie Monster is also cool.

Google AdWords / AdSense Shakeup, Free Link Renting Guide, Ask Jeeves Blog

AdSense and AdWords shakeup:

found on ThreadWatch

SearchGuild birthday awards:
fun stuff

I was nominated but was beat out by Orion. a real shame that I do not know more about fractal spam and semantic co-occurance...

Free Link Renting Guide:
Patrick Gavin offers free link renting tips (PDF link)

Complacency:
Tim Converse (from Yahoo!) calls out Marissa Mayer (from Google). I am sure there are lots of fun dialogs between the various engines employees.

Ask Jeeves:
creates their obligitory blog.

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