Google: Blow Out Q1 2005 Results

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

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

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 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.

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. :)

Stanford Daily Sells Links to ANYONE

The Spamford Daily:
I realize that many sites sell links to help pay for their costs, but you would think the college that owns the PageRank patent would be a bit courteous of their search buddies. You would be wrong!

I think a friend said they sell the links directly, charging like $300 per link per month selling to ANYone. Currently I believe the site has about 80 links on it. This T shirt shows it :)

Lots0 recently posted on them at the SEW forums.

In my opinion the entire Stanford online news is a bunch of SE spammers. I have even mentioned this before here in another thread, where the Stanford news was promoting viagra, debt consolidation, payday loans, credit cards and online casinos.

I even wrote the Dean's Office at Stanford to ask them if they were aware of the activities of their online news, I never got a response. Odd way for the holder of the google patents to behave in my opinion.

It really makes you appreciate some of the things search engines have to balance / deal with when those who own some of their patents will sell a link to anyone with $300.

SEO Inc Removed from Google?
In other Google & SEO news, Google stars seems not to be shining on SEO Inc. Recently Gary Grant, the SEO Inc CEO, posted they have 65 employees, and that has to hurt.

It really makes you appreciate some of the things that SEO firms have to balance / deal with when Google can randomly remove your site from the index.

Click Fraud Click Fraud Click Fraud

Clickity click click click...

In the past few days there have been a great number of articles, posts, and threads about click fraud. Today I woke up with an inbox that had a few emails about click fraud.

[update: Fantomaster found a blog about ClickFraud]

eMarketer says Click Fraud Is Starting to Scare Marketers

Advertisers should be able to opt in or out of advertising on specific sites.

Joe Holcomb, SVP at BlowSearch, recently wrote these articles:

Scott Blum, of also has some type of click fraud patent.

News Losing Ad Revenue:
Despite the claims of PPC fraud Wall Street Journal was hit by lower ad spend, and yet financial ads account for 20% of online ads.

[update 2: Gary Stein found this 15 minute real audio file about the death of mass media advertising.]

This Wall Street Journal article (sub req) talks about Yahoo's small and nimble new search service which is outpacing most of the giants. Even Rupert Murdock knows he is behind the curve.

Other PPC News:
Yahoo! Buys Brazilian PPC Search Network

Google is testing placing a third ad in the premium position. BAD CALL. Andrew Goodman also feels their bid optimizer is a bad call.

ThreadWatch finds sites about cheap clicks and expensive clicks.

The Dow Jones Industrial average is down 4% in the last 3 days. Yahoo! will be announcing quarterly results Tuesday & Google will be announcing their Q1 2005 results Thursday.

.JOBS & .TRAVEL Domain Names, Spam Research Papers

to come late 2005

Cheap Promotional Technique:
throw some political ad on Google. after you get a ton of press coverage say it was an accident.

Direct Answers:
Google adds direct answers to SERPs.

Keyword Research:
Statistically Improbible Phrases (found by Ploppy)

Words which rarely occur in a search index likely are more likely to be more descriminant than common words and thus likely have greater term weight.

Search Research & Spam Papers for AIRweb:
Intallment #1
Gary Price also stated that A Taxonomy of Web Spam (PDF) was recently updated, and they covered that in the forums here. Here is a list of some of the newer Stanford research papers.

Tailoring Technology:
Jeff Weiner, VP of Yahoo! Search, chats about search and customizing software.

Webmaster Radio:
Audio archives now online. thanks to StuntDubl

Good Forum Thread:
about Google's new patent.

accepts user feedback and editing, although I can't imagine it is as appealing to add content next to their ads.

Oil & You:
The Long Emergency

Stor Troopers are back :)

Google Screwing with SEO Search Results?

Recently SEO Inc stopped showing in Google for the term search engine optimization.
As stated on the Stepforth blog, allegedly several SEO firms received spam emails trying to get people to three way link exchange with SEO Inc.

Not sure if that was part of the problem for them, or if they were behind it, but if they were they really need to get a grip on the whole risk vs reward concept.

SEO Inc also rented a ton of links and may have hit a filter there. I think they were probably more aggressive at link renting than any other SEO site, and if you are risky with that eventually it eventually catches up with you.

Surely a bad deal for SEO Inc as they likely will now get to pay $15 a click for search engine optimization, a term which Google itself is also advertising on.

[update: NickW noticed that SEO Inc has a new forum and the CEO said they were not behind (and know nothing about) the link spam emails.]

Why do Sites Rank for "Search Engine Optimization?"
I look at the search results in this space a good bit, as a hobby and to see how creative others are as much as anything else, but these are some of the reason I think the top ranking sites are ranking where they are:

  • by just being old. Some still see significant benefit from ranking there a long time ago (that whole filthy linking rich thing).
  • some of them provide bonus link to me stuff that some .edu sites love to point links at. like "submit your site to 1,000,000 engines for free". There generally is no value to it, but it is an effective link building technique.

  • some of them created link to me type stuff that other consultants or SEO nubs might link to. like the Bruce Clay code of ethics. For a while when I was all new I linked into that.
  • SEO Chat rents links from some sites but they also get a ton of support by having a good number of seo tools and a community that also links back at their site.
  • Jill Whalen's High Rankings has one of the stronger brands in SEO and lots of friends who link at her. Writes articles for other sites and has a large number of subscribers to her newseltter. She also is known as "the content seo" or "the seo content writer" which of course helps her get a bunch of links from people who agree or disagree with that position.

A few sites on the first page, and more as you get down into the second and third pages you see a few more sites that really ring the bell for things like:

  • Wired is an amazingly respected authoritative site.

  • There is an SEO organization site. Bound to get many links from it's supporters.
  • Google's official SEO guidance.
  • Lots of reciprocal link trading.

  • Renting a ton of links.
  • Placing links to the SEO firm on clients sites.

Is there Value in Ranking for Search Engine Optimization?
I tend to think that there is too much competition to justify the opportunity cost of actively trying to rank for that term in Google. You need to get a good amount of linkage data and build up over an extended period of time. Significant investment both in time and money.

If you are close to ranking for it then it might be worth trying to capture it if it has little additional cost, but many sites that optimize for highly competitive generic terms end up getting filtered out of the search results in the process.

The whole concept of optimization is to get the most bang for your buck and if your site gets filtered out from ranking for the more targeted terms because you were trying to rank for such a generic term then that cuts deep into the return on investment numbers.

Additionally many people are inclined to want to beat down an SEO firm when they are down. I saw a decent number of hate threads about SEO Guy and my site when our sites were filtered most likely based on link text and run of site links. Of course now that my site quickly ranks again those people are silent waiting for their next turn to attack.

In any case I hope SEO Inc comes back soon. If an SEO site does not rank for an extended period of time eventually that can start cutting into brand value.

Affiliate marketing, profit share partnerships, selling services on a per click basis, and personal branding seem to be the best ways to build profitable SEO service business models.

When most of the market is hype and hucksters its hard to be properly compensated without a strong brand. Since the services are invisible until the results show and most clients do not undersand the process brand in SEO is HUGE! Brand is probably the top reason I have done well so far.

On a related note:
I like the Google search results for SEO. 20 of the top 30 ranking sites are not in English. < goes off to learn Japanese to rank better :) >