Legal Showdown in Search Fracas

Adam L. Penenberg wrote an article in Wired about recent issues with Traffic Power.

Greg Boser provides a couple interesting points:

"The fact that Traffic-Power is the same company that got banned from Google pretty much establishes the fact that they do not have a good reputation to protect," Boser said.


Greg Boser of WebGuerrilla, a search marketing consultancy, points out that it's impossible to protect a search engine optimization trade secret because "the secret is in the HTML code that gets published on a publicly accessible web server."

Dazzlindonna and Hurricane Katrina

Dazzlindonna tells her story about Hurricane Katrina.

Surely some others were hit harder than she was, but her post sounds like a whole lot of no-fun-at-all.

Many of the people who missed the worst part of the storm still had their lives flipped upside down:

I probably won't be able to work for quite some time, and I've had to spend nearly all my money to deal with this disaster. I have no idea how I will be able to provide for the family. It's not like I can just go out and get a job. The jobs disappeared with everything else.

Her site has a Paypal donations button for those who have learned from her tips or want to donate to help her out.

Hope it all works out ok Donna.

What to Name a Meta Search Engine...

So a friend of mine created an authority tool, which lets you cross reference the major search engines to find out what sites rank well in multiple agorithms. While he was making it I thought that it was not much extra effort to make it a meta search engine, so he did that.

It is not going to have any sort of paid ads or anything like that on it since it uses other engines APIs. There is no biz model behind it, I just wanted to make it because I thought it sounded like a cool idea.

I am trying to think of a name for it. Originally it was going to be called authority finder, but that doesn't sound like a linkable name. The best I thought of so far in the meta search way was metish, but then I think blah. Also I think I am trying to stay away from the word pile.

What would be a good name for a meta search engine?

Down With Software Patents...

The free software foundation said on Tuesday it would start adapting rules for development and use of free software by including penalties against those who patent software or use anti-piracy technology.

The idea is that if someone uses software patents against free software, that company or person loses the right to distribute that particular programme and use it in their product, he added.

Stallman will write a draft version of the new GPL by December, after which it will be evaluated and discussed by thousands of organisations, software developers and software users in 2006.

The draft version may contain a proposal to penalise those companies which use digital rights management (DRM) software which protects songs and films against piracy, and which is seen as an anomaly by the free software association. source

Instead of pushing DRM some artists / programmers / writers / information sellers realize that they can build a stronger bond with the consumers by adding value added products and services.

As individuals better understand the web & are more freely willing to express themselves the need for gate keepers diminishes.

Cory Doctorow gave a great speech on DRM June 2004.

Fake SEO Forums Erased?

It looks though the fake SEO forums launched last September that bashed me and promoted both Traffic Power and First Place are no longer are online:

  • is removed, although their stats were still available and unprotected, so I saved a copy of those for future reference (people really ought to protect their stats).

  • could not be found
  • is unavailable
  • gave a 404 error

I wonder if this coincides with other recent events? It sure looks like someone is trying to hide something?

Additional Lawsuit Coverage & Updates

Slashdot - wow...

and SEW forums.

I think some of the stuff posted in SEW forums tends to be a bit more detailed than many other sites. Of course I can not verify the authenticity of the comments there, but when you look at some of the other sites it seems a bit curious why my site was sued when most others were not.

Perhaps due to it's small size? In a comment on my last post a person going by the name of George asked "Could this be a publicity stunt from Traffic Power?"

Also one reporter has been asking me some leading questions which make it seem as though he might be writing something similar to a past article I read.

In other, potentially related, news a person by the name ironiridis just left a comment on my blog that " has been erased. Site's still up, and apache is still serving a 404..."

For those who have not read about the various fake SEO forums, a while ago I made a post about them here.

Wall Street Journal Mentions Recent Lawsuit

I am surprised the Wall Street Journal covered the suit, and am glad I was not misquoted, but am still somewhat in awe of what some think the case may mean:

Legal analysts said the suit could be a test case for determining what protections bloggers have or don't have for allegedly defamatory material posted by others. At issue would be the court's application of the federal Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that, broadly, protects providers of computer services from being held liable for content posted by others.

Had I ever thought they would have been so aggressive with this I may had been a bit more passive in the past (as there are other things far more deserving of time and effort than this case), but you can't really undo the past.

I still do not think I knowingly stated anything wrong or dishonest, and Traffic Power has yet to give me any specific advice of what I should be removing or fixing, other than "everything", which clearly makes it a free speech issue in my mind.

Danny Sullivan also recently weighed in on the case, citing the Cease & Desist letter:

the claim didn't list any specific infringing material that Wall was supposed to remove. Now things have progressed to an actual lawsuit over the matter, one that I can't help thinking will get dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

and my site:

In the post, he talks about being cold called by someone from Traffic-Power and coming away unimpressed. I didn't see anything proprietary when I looked at the post. Libelous? That wasn't an issue in the letter he was sent. Trade secrets? Again, nothing I see any the post anything remotely approaching what I'd view as trade secrets.

Danny Sullivan is probably considered the #1 voice on search (even the founders of Google cite his work in their research), and he said he saw nothing in my post "remotely approaching what [Danny would] view as trade secrets".

Danny also mentioned Google hosts a page answering questions related to Traffic Power's SEO techniques:

there's a Google Answers question that talks about Traffic-Power "doorway pages," describes hidden links as "cloaking" and has a conclusion that "questionable SEO tactics are being employed on your website." If anything, that response on a web site hosted by Google, from a freelance question answerer paid through Google, is far more damaging than what I've seen referenced on the SEO Book blog.

I can't imagine what sort of expert witness Traffic Power may be hoping to use, but I can't see them finding a more credible voice on search than Danny Sullivan, or information hosted on

When you go from not doing so well (a couple years ago I was learning about the web while living on credit card debt) to doing really well in a short period of time (I now am out of debt, have got to go to many conferences around the world, saved a small amount of money, and also have been able to donate to a number of great charities) it is easy to think that your site has enough linkage data / authority to survive any algorithm shift, but that is not always true.

In February Google rolled in a filter that caused many sites to not rank for their official names. Most everyone who linked to this site used "SEO Book" as the link text. I also had a large number of blogroll links (which are seen by search engines as sitewide links) using that exact same "SEO Book" anchor text. Their filter and my somewhat abnormal linkage profile caused my site to temporarily not rank for that term until Google rolled back that filter and I mixed up my link profile a bit.

Occassionally some sites may come and go with where they rank for a particular query in various engines (my mentor frequently states that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint), but whenever your site does not rank for your official name for an extended period of time it digs into your credibility, especially if you are an SEO related company.

When my site stopped ranking due to too much similar link anchor text data I quickly changed it to satisfy the algorithm and get below that particular filter, and my site quickly started ranking again.

SEO is both about action and reaction.

Successful businesses and business models will evolve with the web and with the search algorithms.

Some other SEO related sites have not ranked for their own name for a long time.

This case is sorta sad in the regard that the SEO industry is frequently used as a scapegoat whenever many businesses fail to research or take a short sighted approach (selling questionable ads, site owners saying they didn't know when they load auto generated content on their sites, etc. etc.), and I can't see this case cleaning up the image any.

Many people have refered me to online resources for free speech online & small guy legal information:

Fighting For Bloggers' Rights!

[Update: The judge killed the immoral 100% bogus lawsuit, and thus I am no longer accepting donations. Thanks to everyone who helped me. If you would like to support free speech online please donate to EFF or Public Citizen. Optionally you may also want to read the EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers, Chilling Effects or CyberSLAPP, all of which are great resources.]

Well Traffic Power just filed a civil lawsuit against me.

I looked at many of the sites that were referenced in my comments, and it looks as though many of them were forced to remove their comments / content by Traffic Power, or decided to remove it on their own. A couple examples are SEO Consultants Traffic Power section and & SE Roundtable's post located here

As far back as June 4th, 2004 I removed a comment that I thought was offensive, and I thought generally I was keeping the content in bounds of any sort of legal limit. It is ok to have an opinion. It is ok for others to post their opinions. Since the initial time someone cold called me stating they were from Traffic Power the content has aged over a year and never once has Traffic Power attempted to contact me outside of blog comments, a cease and desist, and a lawsuit.

Could you imagine being a client for a company that communicates like that?

Had at any point in time Traffic Power made ANY LEGITIMATE ATTEMPT to tell me what specifically I or my site did wrong, I probably would have promptly removed it.

Imagine if your company had trade secrets disclosed on a website that got around 100,000 pageviews a month. Would you wait a year to sue for trade secrets being disclosed? Would you fail to point them out specifically so that they may be quickly removed if they were legitimate trade secrets?

Their lawyer has sorta gave me an ultimatum. Verbally he stated that if I removed ALL content related to Traffic Power from SEO that they would drop the suit. Currently I am drafting a request for a written statement, since verbal agreements do not override papers, and they already filed papers on me.

I have not decided whether or not it was in by best interests to fight this yet. I have a bit of money, but not tons. I have a bit of time, but not tons.

As far as potential upsides to proceeding with the legal ordeals:

  • It would preserve the content others have wrote on my site. I would not go mangling the content of those who aided in making this site more complete and / or more useful.

  • It would teach me a good amount about the legal system at a fairly young age.
  • Few people heavily rely upon me and I have minimal living costs, so I have little to lose on that front. Especially since I am young enough and quick learning enough to where even if I had nothing I could still do well in a year anyhow.
  • I hate to admit it, but I have for some odd reason always been more motivated to take action by negative influences such as incidents like this.
  • It would be an ego stroke to win, although I am not sure what legitimate value that has, and there are much better and cheaper ways to get a good ego stroke.
  • My posts rank well in search results, and it probably drives significant traffic to my website. That, in turn, may save a good number of businesses a significant amount of money.
  • I already rank second for their lawyer's name, and if I beat them I am certain I could easily boost that ranking to #1.
  • Others who were sued (it looks as though 5 people and 5 companies - although many of them might be people who commented on my site) would not need to go it alone.
  • Traffic Power would probably realize that bullying and intimidation are not the solution to bad PR. The real solution is fixing the problems that cause the bad PR. Even if my site has it's information taken down there are plenty of other sites that have similar information posted to them. Unless their business model or client communications strategy change I can only guess that other sites will continue to post bad stuff.
  • Since there is no specific information in the lawsuit it would probably get thrown out of court the first day.
  • There are still blatently defamatory forums created about me. It seems a bit stupid for me to give in because they hired a lawyer when it is obvious that someone out there is doing far worse to me, and that anonymous third party promotes Traffic Power and lies blatently about me.
  • I may be able to countersue, but I hear it is hard to sue companies working out of Las Vegas. That is the reason many telemarketing type companies are located in Nevada.
  • I have some friends who are far richer than I who stated they may be willing to help cover associated legal costs.

As far as potential downsides to proceeding with the legal ordeals:

  • It would eat time that I could use to focus on productive and useful ideas, tools, marketing methods, and learning.

  • There may be something worth suing for in the posts or comments. I am rather naive to the laws that govern such behavior. I do know that by me deleting and annotating the deletion of that one offensive post it shows that my intent was not purely evil or negative. It also helps show that if Traffic Power made any legitimate attempt to tell me specifically what was wrong they may have got a solution prior to them needlessly spending money talking to a lawyer.
  • The lawsuit would eat money that I could invest, give to charity, or spend on better things.
  • The Traffic Power story has died down, and it may make me look like a lamer to keep being involved in that story.

When I asked for more information or specifics Max D. Spilka told me it was too volumous to state. Some of my legal friends have stated that too volumous usually means there is nothing there.

Some of the opinions are fairly harsh, with some people stating things like:

  • In my opinion, all is is just a bunch of cheep everyday crooks. They should all be in jail.

  • called me today at 4:34am in the morning!!! What the F*@k ! They do not even check the time zones of who they are calling? I line in Hawaii .. Can anything be done to stop these people?!?!

I also left the posts that were pro / for Traffic Power as well, while also noting that none of them ever listed a specific URL.

For those who want to dig through the archives:

  • here is the initial post I made about the time I was cold called by a person who stated they were representing Traffic Power.

  • that post may have led to me being included in the bogus defamatory hate forums I noted here
  • on this page, someone asked me why I am not suing them over the content which is on the fake forums
  • this post notes that they may have changed names, as originally referenced by an SEO Consultants page that was later taken down.
  • here I cover what I thought was a fake press reference to the situation
  • recently they sent me a cease and desist order
  • they also recently sued Traffic Power Sucks

I am fairly certain I am probably just going to pull the content. Not so much for the legal reasons, but more for karma related ones, sorta like Nick's reasonings here.

If you bring enough negative crap into your life then eventually you can't help but become it.

Also, if Traffic Power did not exist, some other company would take that market position. This blog can not really help those people because I can't keep giving extended coverage to everything I do not think is good or my blog will just become a rant blog or whinge blog.

I tried creating something that was free and more of a bottoms up thing for SEO when I was a bit more naive than I am today, but if fell flat on it's face because some people claimed it was a self promo maneuver, even though I registered it by proxy and tried to remove much of my personal bias from my writing.

Ultimately though I am just an exceptionally small voice in an exceptionally crowded field. Recently O'Reilly even mentioned that one of my affiliates was a deceptive advertiser because they bought a link next to his cuban cigar link and had a footer affiliate link on their site.

Danny Sullivan is one of the few people in this industry that has a credible voice outside of this industry. He is probably one of the few people who can set initiatives, bring things together, and change things. I am still a bit too young, naive, and not-so-business-savvy to pretend that what I do can in any way fill that sort of a role. I really don't think me actively highlighting one or a few specific companies really makes anything better in the grand scheme of things.

If you posted comments to any of the prior posts please make sure you keep a copy for yourself if you want it, as the posts may be taken down soon.

If you post comments to this page make sure you also post them on your own blog or website, as this post may be taken down soon.

In the extended portion of the post is a rough copy of the "NOTICE! YOU HAVE BEEN SUED" notification. I am interested in your thoughts and comments. -------------------------------------------------------

Software Development and Investment of Nevada d/b/a Traffic, a Nevada corporation,
Aaron Wall, an individual, d/b/a SEO, and DOES I through X; and ROE CORPORATIONS I through X, inclusive,

CASE NO.: A508400



TO THE DEFENDANT(S): A civil Complaint has been filed by the Plaintiff(s) against you for the relief set forth in the Complaint.

Aaron Wall
144 Dahlia Drive
State College, PA 16803

1. If you intend to defend this lawsuit, within 20 days after this Summons is served on you, exclusive of the date of service, you must do the following:

a. File with the Clerk of this Court, whose address is shown below, a formal written response to the Complaint in acordance with the rules of the Court, with appropriate filing fee.

b. Serve a copy of your response upon the attorney whose name and address is shown below.

2. Unless you respond, your default will be entered upon application of the Plainiff(s) and this Court may enter a judgement against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint, which could result in the taking of money or property or other relief requested in the Complaint.

3. If you intend to seek advice of an attorney in this manner, you should do so promptly so that your response may be filed on time.

4. The State of Nevada, its political subdivisions, agencies, officers, employees, board members, commission members and legislators, each have 45 days after service of the Summons within which to file an Answer or other responsive pleading to the Complaint.

Submitted by
Max D. Spilka, Esq.
Neveda Bar No.: 4388
8330 W. Sahara Ave, Ste. 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
(702) 933-5400
Attorney for Plaintiff

Deputy Clerk Date

Clark County Courthouse
200 South Third Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89155

Nevada Bar No. 4388
8330 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
Attorney for Plaintiff,
Software Development and Investment of Nevada
dba, a Nevada Corporation,


Software Development and Investment of Nevada d/b/a Traffic, a Nevada corporation,
Aaron Wall, an individual, d/b/a SEO, and DOES I through X; and ROE CORPORATIONS I through X, inclusive,

CASE NO.: A508400

Arbitration Exemption Claimed: Injunctive Relief (exraordinary relief)

Plaintiff, SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT OF NEVADA dba TRAFFIC-POWER.COM., a Nevada corporation, ("Plaintiff"), by and through its attorney MAX D. SPILKA, ESQ., for its causes of action against the Defendant, AARON WALL, an individual d/b/a SEO BOOK.COM ("Defendants"), and each of them, complaints and allegations as follows:


1. Plaintiff is a corporation duly organized and validly existing in the State of Nevada doing business as Traffic Power and is in the buisiness of internet advertising and internet placement optimization..

2. Upon information and belief, Defendant AARON WALL is an individual residing in Centre County, State of Pennyslvania, and doing buisiness as SEO BOOK.COM.

3. Defendants DOES I through X, and ROES Corporations I through X, are individuals and entities of unknown form whose names and capacities are unknown to the Plaintiff who, therefore sues said Defendants by the ficticious names. The Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon allege, that each of the Defendants designated as DOE or ROE, is in some manner responsible in whole or in part for the transaction and occurences alleged herein and through their negligent, intentional or reckless conduct caused damages to the Plaintiff as set forth more fully below. The Plaintiff will seek leave to amend this Complaint to intert true names and capacities of DOES I through X and ROE Corporations I through X when Plaintiff ascertains them.

4. Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon alleges that at all times relevant, that Defendants, and each of them, including the ficticiously named DOE or ROE, were the agents of the other and in doing the things alleged herein, were acting within the course and scope of such agency and with the consent and permission of the co-defendants. For ease of reference, the named Defendants may be referred to collectively in the singular as "Defendant", and reference to one shall constitute reference to the others as well.

5. The actions complained of herein arose out of the conduct of the Defendants, and each of them, regarding Defendants' misappropriation of Plaintiffs trade secrets and Defendants' defamation of Plaintiff.

6. Plaintiff undertakes rigorous and extensive measures to safeguard information about its business. Internet placement optimization is a highly competitive business, and if Plaintiff's trade secrets are revealed competitors can gain a prejudicially unfair advantage over Plaintiff. Accordingly, Plaintiff's trade secrets are provided to a limited number of people, only on a need-to-know basis and subject to strict confidentiality agreements.

7. An unidentified individual, acting alone or in concert with others, has recently misappropriated and disseminated through web sites Plaintiff's confidential information. This information could have been obtained only through a breach of Plaintiff's confidentiality agreement. The unauthorized use and distribution of this information violates Nevada's trade secrets statue and has caused irreparable harm to Plaintiff.

8. Information concerning Plaintiff's trade secrets is not commonly known to the public or to others who can obtain economic value from their disclosure or use. The secrecy of this information provides Plaintiff a substantial business advantage.

9. Plaintiff competes in the highly competitive markets for internet advertisers and internet placement optimization. To succeed, Plaintiff must develop innovative market strategy and bring that strategy to the market before its competitors.

10. If Plaintiff's competitors became aware of Plaintiff's trade secrets, those competitors could benefit economically from that knowledge by directing their own market development and strategy to frustrate Plaintiff's plans. This strategic advantage to Plaintiff's competitors could, in turn, irreparably harm Plaintiff. Consequently, Plaintiff maintains such market strategy and development as trade secrets.

11. Plaintiff invests significantly in advertising and promotional activities surrounding its market strategy and development. The unautorized disclosure of Plaintiff's trade secrets causes Plaintiff to lose control over such information. Accordingly, Plaintiff protects such information as a trade secret.

12. Plaintiff takes reasonable steps under the circumstances to maintain confidentiality of its trade secrets. Plaintiff has established trade secret policies for its employees and requires all employees to execute strict confidentiality agreements.

13. Further, during their employment, Plaintiff's employees are reminded repeatedly that information learned durring the course of their employment is confidential. Moreover, when employees leave Plaintiff's employment, those employees are required to return all property belonging to Plaintiff. Plaintiff's information subject to its confidentiality agreement constitutes "trade secrets" under NRS 600 A. 030.

14. At unknown date or dates, Doe I, alone or in concert with Does I through X, began disseminating Plaintiff's trade secrets to the public, with such information now available on various web sites. Among other things, Defendant or Defendants posted proprietary relating to Plaintiff's solicitation, procedures on publicly accessible areas of the internet.

15. Also at unknown date or dates, Defendants maliciously published or caused to be published false and defamatory information over the internet concerning Plaintiff and Plaintiff's business.

16. Pursuant to Defendant's malicious intent, the publication has been read by the public.

17. The false and defamatory matter is calculated to damage Plaintiff's reputation, and at the time Defendants published or caused to be published such false and defamatory information about the Plaintiff over the internet, Defendants knew that the information published was false and defamatory and making such defamatory publication, Defendants acted with malice toward the Plaintiff.

18. Plaintiff has always enjoyed a reputation for honesty and truthfulness.

19. As a direct and proximate result of the breaches set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in a current amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined.

20. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

(Misappropriation of Trade Secrets)

21. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 20, as though fully set forth herein.

22. Defendant Doe I, alone or in concert with Defendants Does I through X, misappropriated Plaintiff's trade secrets by:

a. Acquiring those trade secrets by improper means such as theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy, and/or espionage (hereinafter, "Improper Means");

b. Acquiring those trade secrets by Improper Means and disclosing them to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent;

c. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were derived from or through a person who had acquired them by Improper Means;

d. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain the secrecy or limit the use of those trade secrets;

e. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were derived from or through a person who had a duty to Plaintiff to maintain the secrecy or limit the use of the trade secrets; and/or

f. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent, without a material change in Doe I's position, and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were in fact trade secrets and that knowledge of those trade secrets had been acquired by mistake or accident.

23. As a direct and proximate result of the breaches set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

24. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

(Defamation / Liable Per Se)

25. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 24 as though fully set forth herein.

26. As provided earlier, Defendants published over the internet false and defamatory information regarding the Plaintiff and the Plaintiff's business with the intent of causing substantial injury to Plaintiff's reputation.

27. At the time Defendants published or caused to be published the false and defamatory information about the Plaintiff and the Plaintiff's business, Defendants knew that the published information was untrue.

28. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' actions set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursement, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

29. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

(Injunctive Relief)

30. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 29 as though fully set forth herein.

31. Plaintiff is informed and believes that Defendats are continuing and will continue to misappropriate Plaintiff's trade secrets. By reason of that ongoing misappropriation, Plaintiff will suffer severe and irreparable harm and damage, which damage will be difficult to ascertain, and Plaintiff will be without an adequate remedy at law.

32. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' actions set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

33. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

(Punitive Damages)

34. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 33 as though fully set forth herein.

35. Defendants' conduct described herein was done with a conscious disregard for Plaintiff's rights, and with intent to vex, injure, or annoy Plaintiff, so as to constitute oppression, fraud and malice under Nevada law, entitling Plaintiffs to punitive damages in an amount appropriate to set an example of or punish Defendants.

36. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' wrongful conduct, Plaintiff is entitled to punitive or exemplary damages in an amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

37. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

WHEREFORE, for all claims and causes of action as alleged herein, Plaintiff demands judgement against the Defendants, and each of them, as follows:

1. For an amount exceeding $10,000, plus interest and costs, in an amount to be determined at trial;

2. For a Preliminary Injunction restraining the misappropriation of Plaintiff's trade secrets;

3. For an Injunction permanently restraining the misappropriation of Plaintiff's trade secrets;

4. For a judgement awarding punitive damages;

5. For interest on all claims from the date of damage;

6. For attorney's fees and cost; and

7. For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper in the premises.

Dated this 11 day of August, 2005.

Nevada Bar No. 4388
8330 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
Software Development and Investment of Nevada
dba, a Nevada Corporation,

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Marlon\Traffic Power - Wall\Complaint.wpd

Page 7 of 7

Oh My GAWD is O'Reilly a Huge Search Spammer? ...

Late to the Party:
I thought about posting on this earlier, but I like Nick so much that I decided not to really voice my opinion until now.

Well Known Tech Sites Get Noticed:
I sorta agree with Phil's take, that the cuban cigar ads are a bit spammy for high PageRank tech heavy sites.

Not that my opinion of search spam in any way matters, but when you think of the web on the whole, how often do you see link popularity naturally flow like this:

huge open source projects -> sitewide links to open source directory -> sitewide links to Cuban Cigars

Generally it doesn't.

I am not saying that I am morally opposed to manipulating search results (as that would make me a twit), but the cuban cigars ads are high risk.

It's Search Spam, Only Because the Engineers Discounted it:
O'Reilly is WELL KNOWN and odds are search engineers surf their sites often, and aim to de weight those off topic links, as noted by Google engineer Matt Cutts on the thread:

Tim points out that these these links have been sold for over two years. That's true. I've known about these O'Reilly links since at least 9/3/2003, and parts of,, etc. have not been trusted in terms of linkage for months and months. Remember that just because a site shows up for a "link:" command on Google does not mean that it passes PageRank, reputation, or anchortext.

While In the Neighborhood:
After the search engineers de weight those links they may be interested in taking a closer look to WHAT ELSE those advertised sites are doing. For that reason those types of ads add risk to both the cigar sites and the other sites advertising there.

In the past I have got a number of links that later turned out into pages which got a bit spammed out. Inevitably if they price of advertising is below value the market will usually find it's way to the page, especially if you have a high ranking site. If the page has limited or non existent editorial policies you can bet that your investment, at least as far as SEO goes, will eventually lose it's value.

Risk vs Reward:
Hence it is an issue of risk vs reward.

If you are that far off topic (open source to cuban cigars), the direct traffic is probably not going to pay for the ad. If search engines are going to de weight the activity for off topic ads then buying the ad adds more risk than reward.

The SPAM is Elsewhere I Say:
I also find it humorous that Tim O'Reilly, perhaps the single most respected technology publisher calls one of the directories that he sold ads to spam because one of my affiliates had a link to my site on it:

The ads do in fact point to sites that provide the advertised service. (The one exception that I found in clicking through on the links was one to a site that was labeled Web Directory, and on first click appeared to be a directory, but on second click down into any category, simply contained ads for a book on search engine optimization. That one I'm clear about: it's a deceptive ad, and needs to come off the site right away. Another so-called Web Directory is indeed a directory, but the only content when you get to the bottom of each category is a set of Google Adsense advertisements for the category.

Most General Directories Are Garbage:
O'Reilly doesn't probably realize it, but he really nails the issue with most directories, most of them are devoid of legitimate useful content. However for him to call something deceptive because it has a footer link to a somewhat related site is naive for a person in his position.

What does that make an open source site linking through to cuban cigars? MUCH MORE DECEPTIVE. But that is just my opinion, which counts for little or nothing.

Whiter than White...or Maybe Not?
Then you got Matt Mickiewicz over at Sitepoint stating the following on the Sitepoint site:

At SitePoint, we’ve made the concicious decision to reject all PageRank based advertising, because it looks tacky, unprofessional and adds no value to our Website.

while offering Sitepoint text ads to things like Cheap Domain Registrations in the page footer. For some reason Matt missed the memo about the nofollow attribute, because he isn't using it when he sells / trades PageRank amongst various sites.

Deflection of Problems & Competitive Business Models:
Everyone likes to deflect the issue, not taking care of their own gardens first. It is not really the publishers fault though, they need to stay competitive, and it is an economy that Google created.

Most Content IS Garbage:
Tim stated that they need that text link ad revenue to fund the free content they create and that Google AdSense and other contextual programs were not paying enough. To me that seems to be the inherent problem with Google's current business model:

  • most content is not of amazing quality
  • only about 15% of search clicks are on the paid ads, and that means there is a market 5 times that size available for those who naturally deserve it or manipulate their way to the top of the regular listings
  • the programs Google created to encourage producing great content (like Google AdSense) usually are more effectively integrated into mass automated content production than in quality original content, further marginalizing the original content creators

The Semantics of Relevancy: All Links are Paid:
Some companies will pay $28,000 for a grill cheese Sandwich to get press coverage, some will have world class content that merits links, some will have strong business partnerships with large companies, some will leverage the power of their network of sites (as SourceForge recently was doing), some will list their sites in a million directories, some will write 1,000's of press releases or articles, some will buy expensive off topic links, others will buy links from within their community.

And then you have the occasional blogger who outs someone like O'Reilly for something they have BEEN DOING FOR YEARS and gets coverage on ThreadWatch, SearchBlog, SEW, BoingBoing, O'Reilly Radar, Sitepoint, etc etc etc.

Some bloggers play both sides of the fence, both whining about search engines talking to spammers, and then whining about people outing potential spam, playing both sides of the fence just so they can have something to talk about and have an excuse for other naive new blogpuppies (stole Nick's word there) to LINK TO THEIR SITE.

When you play both sides of the fence intent is obvious.

What makes one method of promotion legitimate and another illegitimate? Above I mentioned that I thought the cuban cigar ad was spam, and the reason I stated that was it was obvious that search engines would want to de weight it and there was a good chance they would find it. Surely I have some search spam out there which has been de weighted as well, as most any good site does.

Look at SlashDot, they have a supporters page that will link to poker sites. I link to off topic sites that mirror some of the tools I have made. Off topic links are common, especially when relevancy is the eye of the beholder.

They Make Money off Your Content, Why Shouldn't You?
Is it wrong to work your way to the top of the search results? Probably not if it is ok for Google to make billions of dollars a year serving ads next to CONTENT LIKE YOURSTM without giving you a cent.

Until Google gives premium publishers some payment for their content or Google AdSense is competitive enough to pay more than direct ad sales people will cut Google out of the loop. As they should.

Tim's post continues, asking the boundaries of SEO:

Where are the boundaries between legitimate "search engine optimization" to help people find stuff that they will appreciate, and "search engine gaming", to inflate the rank of sites that are less useful? Whose responsibility is it to solve this problem? Should web sites turn away advertisers just because they are performing arbitrage on Google and other search engines? Or is it the search engine's responsibility to adjust their heuristics to counteract any attempts to game the system? Or both?

Links Hold the Web Together:
Surely search engines do work to de weight some portions of link buying, but they probably can't and do not want to de weight all of it. Human review and links are what help give relevance to their vast bodies of unstructured data stuck in Google's data centers.

In some industries the known link sellers are considered the useful sites. Look at the legal field. You have the established sites like FindLaw (which rank for everything under the sun) and then you have a bunch of smaller individual sites that try to claw their way to the top using every kind of search spam imaginable (I just did some research on legal sites, so that's why the field is so fresh in my head - after looking at about a dozen sites I saw bad cloaking, bogus cross linking, invisible miniature text, etc etc etc). Real estate is also similar to legal. Most sites are unoriginal garbage offering the same stuff offered on other sites, with limited creativity or thought put into designing the site or improving the user experience.

Why Should I Defend Google's Business Model?
I find it fascinating how many webmasters, bloggers, etc believe it is their job to police search spam activities though. The blame does not always make sense either. Heck, Tim O'Reilly's network was selling Cuban cigar links and now my site gets tarnished as being part of a deceptive advertising scheme because one of my affiliates bought a link off his network? How bogus is that, Tim.

Why is a sitewide ad on someone else's site wrong if you can advertise Cuban cigars sitewide?

Haves vs Have Nots: Blame Pushing 101:
The web is a huge social medium, and it is an easy story to spread about how pure you are, how great your content is, and how impure some other group is. Almost every time someone with good social connectivity (PageRank) gets caught leveraging that they push it off on the evil people who bought the ads, or the evil firm that contacted them. Of course the search business model created the problem.

Is it wrong to work your way to the top of the search results? Probably not if it is ok for Google to make billions of dollars a year serving ads next to CONTENT LIKE YOURSTM without giving you a cent.

Good SEO Companies Stay Relevant:
The main reason many bloggers and web developers LOVE to talk down to SEOs is because they think that no matter what the SEOs are doing they want to annoy people with Cuban cigars. That is not how many of the smart ones work though. Some of the better link brokers, such as Text Link Ads, have long ago stopped selling ads based on PageRank metrics, and now focus their ads on relevancy. Sure occasionally some ads might not have a 100% relevancy match, but AdSense is the same way. You try to get as close as you can.

Sucessful Businesses do Not Let Other Businesses Arbitrarily Control Them:
Publishers looking to increase the quality and profitability of their content will continue to push the boundaries of profiting from their content. When legitimate publishers get caught doing things they would call blatantly disgusting if someone else was doing it they state how what they are doing is pure, and that SEOs will stop at nothing to be shown as relevant even where they do not belong.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you don't like the idea of people manipulating the search results then don't sell your votes. Don't link to advertisers.

In life & in business some people will be exceptionally successful while others fail. Search services would like to make it to where the only legitimate ad is one bought or sold through their network, and will base their policies around things that drive toward that goal. If you close mindedly stick to that philosophy you may find yourself as one of the pure content providers who can no longer afford to create content. In that scenario nobody wins.

Even Search Companies Buy Links:
If buying and selling text links is so bad, then why have some companies which own search engines (like Yahoo!) been buying links which manipulate their own results? Why do the sell links as well? What makes them an approved ad buyer or ad seller?

Staying Below Radar:
Successful sites need visitors and links, and those links have to come from somewhere. The more time we spend analyzing stuff like this the less time we have to go out and get links. Even though he was absolutely out to lunch with his timing the story was great for Phil Ringnalda, as it got him a bunch of link popularity. Also in an ironic twist, all the examples that Tim referenced got free links, but I would say those sites, like Tim's ad space, are on Radar, and may be worth less than some would have hoped. You want to be aggressive, but you do not want to be seen as being far more aggressive than your competitors. That is how you get above radar & penalized.

Long Time No Post...Various Links & Entrails

Scraped Content?
Not sure what this is, but it may eventually be interesting to some. Odds are most of those really into scraping have their own setups already though?

Google Sandbox:
Confirmed, ish.

Although a bit technical or transluscent, some think a good tip may be hidden in this post.

Google Print:
Now says they will respect copyright. Perhaps the only reason they were so aggressive off the start was so that they could make it look like they were complying more by changing to somewhere in the middle ground?

Google named 3 authorized AdWords resellers in the ad market
Yahoo! invested $1 billion into China ecommerce play Alibaba, although they may have got more than they bargained for:

Lawyers and officials monitoring China's counterfeiting industry say the alliance with Alibaba may even make Yahoo! effectively a partner in what several advocacy groups and analysts say is a burgeoning marketplace for counterfeit American merchandise

Interesting that few have brought up Google's investment in Baidu in similar terms (as one of Baidu's main search drivers is music piracy).

Yahoo! Site Explorer:
Yahoo! to launch a service offering listings of indexed page and linkage data called Yahoo! Site Explorer (although the site is not up yet)

potential exploit problems

I still might have a few notes from SES worth peaking at and posting in the near future.