Defense of SEO, Ask Jeeves Profits Increase, Yahoo! Think Big Contest

Needed:
Danny Sullivan writes Worthless Shady Criminals: A Defense Of SEO

Decry a particular SEO tactic, if you want -- but don't decry the entire SEM industry as being rotten. If you want to do that, then here are some other stereotypes you'd also better buy into:

  • All car salesmen are crooks

  • All lawyers are crooks
  • Teachers teach because they can't do
  • Bloggers don't check facts

  • [Insert Race/Culture/Nationality Here] is [Insert Derogatory Comment/Stereotype Here]

Ask Jeeves:
Profits increase 35%

Yahoo!:
Think Big contest gives away 10,000,000 Yahoo! ad impressions. I think Jeremy Z should win with the Viagra Rolex Watches.

Yahoo! also thinks small. Cutting up ads on stored My Yahoo! web pages. Webmasters are already complaining about how My Yahoo! stores web pages.

Charity:
Google foundation may invest in for-profit firms. Am going to apply for a grant soon. Will let you know how it goes :)

AdWords in RSS, Various other Links...

Easy to Compare:
Wal Mart & Google, except that Google has a strong brand.

Blogs:
more than a spit fight

Death of Newspapers:
The future of journalism

AdWords Spying:
GoogSpy looks scrapes hundreds of thousands of searches from Google to determine who is bidding on what terms. The idea is killer, but the implementation is a bit lacking. Link found from ThreadWatch.

Google AdSense in RSS:
alpha testing

RSS Spamming:
RSS Injector

Niche Tips:
an old WMW thread

Book:
Steven Berlin Johnson, one of my favorite authors, announced the release of Everything Bad Is Good for You

Boston:
Search Engine Meeting, reviewed

Gmail Contextual Ads...Need a Bit of Work?

So I have been getting some of the Gmail feeds and ads recently. Hopefully I answered this question correctly or you the reader will call me dumb...

Bad Call #1:

Here is an example thread
title:

Question from Search Marketing Info

question:

Which internet search engine was co-founded by a math major who chose the name to imply a vast reach ?

Thanks in advance,
Chryss

answer:

Google was a mispelling for Googol, which means a 1 with a million
zeros behind it.

Larry Page founded it and Sergey Brin was his co founder.

and here was Google's contextually targeted Gmail ad:

Head Gasket Blown? - www.rxauto.com - Repair It Yourself Guaranteed ThermaGasket The Mechanics Choice

That is data stored on Google's servers and that is the best that they can target it? When you couple that in with all the AdSense spam sites and click fraud it really makes you wonder why Google assumes anybody would want that traffic.

Bad Call #2:

One of the default feeds was Engaget. Presumably because they run AdSense? Don't get me wrong here, its cool to help smaller publishers, but if you put Engaget in there you should put Gizmodo there also unless you want people to quetion you motives.

Placing random off target off topic crap I don't want in my email is being evil. At least the old Hotmail dating ads would occassionally show pictures of cute girls ;)

I know that I can unsubscribe from feeds, but I shouldn't have to opt out. Maybe off the start you could just promote Google News, Froogle, and your other portal pieces up there?

Bad Call #3:

Google actually places feeds in your spam folder. How stupid is it to place contextually relevant feeds near stuff that was deemed as being unwanted useless junk? What better way is there to turn users off?

Another thing that is really weird is most (maybe all) of the spam feeds were for spam recipies:

  • Spam Vegetable Strudel - Bake 20 minutes or until golden, serve with soy sauce

  • Savory Spam Crescents - Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown
  • French Fry Spam Casserole - Bake 30-40 minutes

They may place the spam ads in there to try to push the cute and innocent corporate culture, but I don't buy it.

After bogusly adding the Google Toolbar Autolink feature which directed B&N customers to Amazon many people started to become increasingly suspicious of potential hidden business partnerships. Is Google partnered with Hormel Foods now too?

Various Google Links

Apr 22nd

Toolbar PageRank Update:
occuring now.

Google UK:
maps local (partnered with Yell for local)

Charity:
Google.org

Googleness of Being:
further qualified - SEO tips. Generally I don't agree with much of the stuff Michael Martinez says, but apparently his article was allegedly decent. ;)

Google Distributes Local Search, Ads:
Google has inked AccuWeather as the first beta distribution partner for local search results combined with locally targeted AdWords search ads.

Google execs:
a few Q&A's from their webcast.

I feared this post was reading as though I got it from Google's PR firm, so I felt I should include this...
Google Blowout Quarter Update:

There's a blurb in the Wall Street Journal today that explains how Google's reported bottom line is being gamed by their own options program. It seems since they backloaded the options expense onto last year's earnings statement, this quarter's results will be ARTIFICIALLY BOOSTED almost 100%, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with their actual profitability as a business. Keep that in mind when they announce earnings tomorrow.

Google a Bully?
Google sues Froogles

Google: Blow Out Q1 2005 Results

Apr 22nd

In after hours Google shares are trading at over $220.

Google's first-quarter net income rose to $369.2 million, or $1.29 a share, from $64.0 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier. Profit from the most recent quarter included a $49 million charge for stock-based compensation.

Gross revenue nearly doubled to $1.26 billion from $651.6 million.

The results easily topped Wall Street's average net profit target of 78 cents a share. Analysts had seen profit excluding some items at 92 cents and revenue at $1.16 billion, according to Reuters Estimates. source

Google Advertising Professional Update

Google offers free link AdWords coupons:

  • Qualified Google Advertising Professionals receive sets of five credits worth $100 each.

  • Non-Qualified Google Advertising Professionals receive sets of three credits worth $50 each.

It also looks like there is a yearly quota of 60 credits. As you sign up more accounts I believe you earn more credits.

You also can link to your qualified profile page, although many SEOs do not see the program as being worthwhile with Google poaching clients from some qualified professionals.

I also find it amusing that the links on the profile page asking these questions

  • How can I tell if a professional is really Qualified?

  • Who has access to AdWords and client manager account information?

are broken links. hehehe. Shows they must have threw this idea together in a hurry or they must not think much of the program.

Google sure is trying to create a lot of buzz before reporting their quarterly results.

Google, Search, & the Web of Trust

Apr 20th

This post is a few bulleted points which point at the web of trust Google is trying to build.

  • Google has expressed intent in using user feedback to help define relevancy.

  • They may follow click streams to understand who your sponsors are. (also mentioned in the above patent)
  • Google may be doing a decent amount of temporal link analysis, especially for sites below a certain authority level. (also mentioned in the above patent)
  • Google created a system which stores search history over time. Google may shift how much they trust these profiles based on
    • search volume

    • how well a profile related to other search profiles
    • location based on IP addresses (they could discount the effect of profiles which were primarily created through open proxies or in poor areas).
  • Installing their toolbar means they probably know what sites you own (since site owners tend to visit their sites more often than anyone else).
  • Google has access to registrar data. This can likely be used to help determine if and how sites are related.
  • Google runs the world's single largest distributed ad network. If you use that network they know what sites you are marketing. They know what markets you are in.
  • Google has been filtering or banning sites which have unnatural linkage profiles.

PageRank was broken from the start. The concept they were going after may still well exist though if they can get enough users of their search history tool. While other search engines still seem relatively easy to spam Google may be trying to measure web wide trust scores using much more than just raw linkage data.

Google need not stomp SEO techniques out, they only need to:

Some people will be untouchable. They will know enough about social engineering and database programming to where they will still spam Google all day long. I am sure Google realizes that, but they want to continually increase costs to where that is an exceptionally small pool.

As SEO gets harder Google makes more money from ads. As they make more money from ads they can spend more into making SEO harder.

Now if only they could share more data with advertisers to help make click fraud easier to detect. Google bought Urchin. Why not buy, create, or offer something like Who's Clicking Who. Surely Google has the market data and it will not increase costs much to give advertisers more options and more data.

A search company which makes tons of profit organizing data should recognize that by making advertising transparent and making more ad information available they will create a more efficient market which creates more profits. The advertising community would likely police themselves if you gave them enough data and responded to feedback.

Google Personalized (Gamma)

Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday debuted a test service called My Search History that analysts said is a move closer to personalized search, which is widely considered the Holy Grail for the Web search leader and its rivals. source

to use My Search History you must register at Google Accounts and maintain an active account. Ask Jeeves have had a search history tool for a while now and Yahoo! has My Yahoo! for various personalization effects, although Yahoo! seems more focused on providing news and blog feeds and the like. I think Yahoo! is betting on the abundance of information making subscribing to channels much more appealing than searching the web. I believe Yahoo! also allows you to subscribe to Yahoo! News feeds by keyword phrase.

Personalized search allows engines to better understand users to improve search quality and ad targeting. Whoever is branded as the best market solution on that front is going to make a bucket of cash, because keeping your search history and learning the user raises the barrier to switching search providers.

It makes it hard for another search service to be as relevant if you have tons of personal information already locked in a competing service. This data will be hard to export to other systems as well, as importing huge hunks of data will also allow marketers to import large volumes of spam.

I just briefly tested Google's service. It is fairly slick. You can quickly sign in or out and it adds minimal clutter to the Google home page.

From the link in the upper right corner you are brought to a new page. It shows a calender which color codes your search volume on the right side. The left side shows your searches for that day and the results you clicked on. The my history results that you click on also show up in the Google one box area when you search for similar terms using the regular search results.

Some privacy advocates would likely go nuts with this offering. It is all opt in though. I encourage everyone to sign in, search for seo, scroll past the Japanese stuff, and click on my listing.

Presumably some searchers may be able to build up a search history.
As they build it up it could build Google's trust in that user, which in turn could potentially allow Google to use that user feedback to verify search result relevancy.

If Google decides to use this data - which I think they may - the cost of spamming might increase significantly with how they have been going after automated search tools.

I would not doubt this to do a bit more of globalizing SEO. Paying people in third world countries to randomly click certain sites. I am already building a search history today as a prospective SEO tool.

Google Taking Action Against Automated SEO Software

Apr 20th

I just got an update email from Leslie Rhode of OptiLink...

A few days ago, Google began to employ a "spyware detector" that will in some cases block OptiLink through the use of a cookie and a human visible "ransom note".

The use of Google from "normal" browsers is not effected -- it is only specialized programs such as OptiLink that are targeted by Google's change with the result that OptiLink can be blocked
from Google for two or more hours.

While this is not a terrible problem as no lasting impact has been found, I am not comfortable with Google being able to discover the use of OptiLink no mattter how "gentle" the counter-measures
might be.

So, OptiLink's Goolge interface has been REMOVED pending a solution to this problem. This has been done for your safety, and for the safety of all other OptiLink users.

Rest assured that this problem will be solved and Google access restored as soon as possible, but in the meantime, you should use the Yahoo and MSN interfaces for your Google ranking analysis.

I am a bit curious if Google is going too far with all of their recent anti-SEO moves. I can't even count how many times I have read that search relevancy is similar at Yahoo! and Google. Webmasters have undoubtedly helped to build Google's brand.

With the extensive filtering that Google does on its linking information, the loss of the Google interface in many cases is not that important.

In general, you can do your linking analysis using the Yahoo or MSN link databases and safely assume that Google has these links as well, but are simply not showing them. The exception to this rule is of course the "banned domain" which appears to be a uniquely Google concept.

Google does provide useless linkage data. Some of the other engines, especially Yahoo!, provide useful linkage data.

The connectivity measurement (or PageRank) that Google shows in it's toolbar is outdated. July of last year I talked to a Yahoo! Search employee and asked why they were not making a reliable Yahoo! connectivty measurement available?

A large part of how Google gained their brand was by creating concepts that were somewhat easy to explain, like PageRank. Why not force them to keep that data updated or take that market position from them by providing across the board better tools that are easier to explain? This also could help Yahoo! gain a much larger installed toolbar base, which may allow them to

  • gain market share

  • collect more market data
  • improve relevancy algorithms

MSN has also been significantly more supportive of the SEO industry than Google, even allowing people to subscribe to search results via RSS.

I understand running automated systems add to system load time and has associated costs, but could that cost be a cheap form of marketing your high margin search service over competing services?

On many fronts I do like Google as a company, but I think their idealism is at least as much of a hindrance as it is a strength.

Leslie also had the following to say in his update:

My Thoughts on the Future

It is certainly well known that Google does not look with favor upon SEO tools in general, and most especially tools that make use of its interfaces, so some sort of reaction is not totally unexpected.

OptiLink has been in very active use and continuous development since May 22, 2002, and has been on Google's "short list" since the moment they called me (true story) just 10 days after it was announced.

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. :)

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