More on the Rel=NoFollow Tag...

Earlier there was speculation Google was going to announce a link NoFollow tag, but as it turns out a whole ton of people got together and also backed the idea.
Players in the new NoFollow tag:

Ask Jeeves / Teoma was the only major global search engine which did not immediately endorse the tag. Since they look at link clusters blog spamming does not affect them the same way as it does most other search algorithms. bBlog was not on the list, but my friend Eaden said that he too will follow the tag.

Is the NoFollow tag just for blogs?
The change is not a blog only change, but is a change which can be used on any site. If someone else is placing a link to your site or if you are linking to something shifty as an example of something shifty then that would be a good time to use the NoFollow tag.

What the NoFollow tag looks like:
Instead of linking to a site with
<a href="http://www.site.com">Site</a>
the link would now look like
<a href="http://www.site.com" rel="nofollow" >Site</a>

More Info on the NoFollow Tag:
Danny Sullivan has a long post about the nofollow tag explaining lots of the logic behind the new tag and how it will effect webmasters.

How will the NoFollow Tag Effect the Web?

  • Many bloggers have amazing link popularity due in part to comments they left on other blogs. This will cause lots of blogs which were primarily connected by comments to lose a good bit of their link popularity.

  • Many automated blog spam scripts may work harder to find the blogs which are slow to change. While the number of spamable blogs will go down the value of effective blog spamming will go up.
  • Bloggers will have a big riot celebrating this move. After time passes they will still get spammed and realize that this will not immediately cure the problem.
  • More bloggers will get approached with a bit of $$$ for writing editorials. More bloggers will sell out.
  • NickW is posting everywhere about how he does not like the change, which should be a good way for him to build some link popularity, as bloggers near and dear to comment spam are already linking to him ;)
  • Some people who were posting useful and thoughtful comments in part to gain link popularity may post less often.
  • Some worry that people will abuse this tag for SEO purposes, but those who would do that could just as easily use other redirects, so I really do not see any change there.
  • This change does make the role of link popularity (and how to keep it) much more visible. The "keep your link popularity" line of thinking may kill off a ton of natural linking, which in the end really does not help anyone.

  • SEOs might rush off to make their own blogs. Certainly the editorial side can be handled on the cheap
  • When low hanging fruit is removed from competitive marketing environments other opportunities and techniques also arise. Some people from WMW believe content stealing will become far more common. WMW is the only forum I have seen with significant coverage of the new NoFollow tag with threads here and here

Blog comments sure did make it easy for Joe random schmuck (like me) to rank good about a year ago but the low hanging fruit does not last forever. About 10 - 12 months ago I had a personal blog up to a PR7 with no link buying or renting. Last super bowl Google was even ranking that site high for Janet Jackson... As time passes and the web develops more and more low hanging fruit disappears. As search engines make their moves some will be reactive and some will almost always be one step ahead.

Affiliate Links & SEO, Aggregators & Copyright Law

Affiliate Links & SEO:
my friend Tanya wrote an article about how affiliates can use their linking strategies to improve their SEO.

Aggregators & Copyright Law:
ThreadWatch covers a topic that has been floating around the blog world.

Databases & Scalable Social Networks:
Adam Bosworth conversation

The Missing "M" in SEM:
in a thread about questions to ask an SEM a ton of good questions are listed, but people do not speak much of the M (marketing)... Black Knight lists many of the questions an SEM should ask the prospective clients...including questions like:

My first question is always "What is your USP?" or "What does your company deserve to be ranked in the top ten available resources for?"

Stats:
Andy Beal has stats from a survey showing 74% of companies are not working with 3RD party SEM firms.

Deep Web Research:
While working on Rubber Stamped Peter D finds a new deep web resource. Its a shame that there are a limited # of hours in the day with all the cool search / information related white papers out there...

5 Free Goodies:
5 Free Windows Web Design Apps You Can't Live Without! (found on Jeremy's linkblog)

Economic Model of Personal Publishing:
some great stuff in the comments area of Dan Gillmore's What Smart Money Wonders, including:

though sometimes we forget the effect of echo chambers.

Funny Stuff:
She frickin' blocked me
Happy Tree Friends (kinda gross)
Darth Tater

Google Hilltop Algorithm

Why Page Theme is Usually More Important than PageRank:
In the Hilltop white paper they talk about how they can use expert documents to help compute relevancy. An expert document is a non affiliated page which links to many related resources. If page A is related to page B and page B is related to page C then a connection between A & C are assumed.

Additionally Hilltop states that it strongly considers page title and page headings in relevancy scores (in fact these elements can be considered more important than link text).

The benefit of Hilltop over raw PageRank (Google) is that it is topic sensitive - and is thus generally harder to manipulate than buying some random high power off topic link would be. The benefits of Hilltop over topic distillation (Teoma) are that Hilltop is quicker & cheaper to calculate, and that it tends to have more broad coverage.

When Hilltop does not have enough expert sites the feature can be turned off. It is believed that Google is using Hilltop to help sort the relevancy for some of their search results today.

On the Search Financial Front...

Ask Jeeves:
Piper upgrades Ask Jeeves stating "Ask Jeeves is not only remaining a meaningful search alternative, but is gaining faster than most other players." He estimates the company's usage rates rose 18 percent from the third quarter, the highest increase for the sector.

LookSmart:
Had a bad quarter. Tough news for them. It is a real shame since they sold me twice as much traffic as Overture with a greater than 90% bounce rate. In no way to I recommend using LookSmart...at least not on any large scale.

Cheaper cost per click does not translate into savings when you are buying automated or useless traffic.

Online Ad Spending:

Google:
should buy Technorati? (found on SEL)

New Big SEM Firm:
WPP to enter search marketing fray...my general take is that good SEO generally does not scale that well, but they are opening 47 search offices. Best of luck to them...they will need it.

Personally:
I think I have been offered at least 5 jobs in the last 6 months...with some people wanting me to form brand new companies with them. There certainly must be a bunch of opportunity in this space!

Fractal Spam, Overture Direct Traffic Center Rant, SEM Cares (or do they?), Google Subdomain Chatter

Eating Your Own Crap:
Fractal Spam - search engines may be known to like their own search results...at least for a while.

Overture Direct Traffic Center:
Some big advertisers are not too impressed with the reporting delays and clunky interface.

SEM Cares? SEMPO Cares? or is it Nobody Cares?
SEM Cares perhaps too little, too late for Barbara and others to put out the good word? The domain name sounds a bit Orewellian, which almost makse it sound like maybe nobody cares.

Free Culture Stuff:
A few good links from ThreadWatch's thread about big blue Open Sourcing 500 patents.

Patented European webshop
Software patents – Obstacles to software development by Richard Stallman

Chatter:
There is also chatter that Google may be dropping some spammed out subdomains from some competitive keywords in some of their data centers.

Yahoo! Desktop Search, Free Blogging Guide, MSN Search RSS & Clustering, Marketing to Children, UseNet Archives, MicroSoft IE Se

Yahoo! Desktop Search:
beta release

Beginner's Guide to Business Blogging:
Recently some people have been emailing me asking "how do I blog?"

Not sure that I know the answer other than maybe saying be yourself and use a human voice (or be a really cool alter ego). Debbie Weil is giving away her business blogging guide through the next two weeks.

MSN Search Results in RSS:
hot on the heals of GigaBlast...MSN also has search clustering tools and research

The Good PR Site:
I Know is a newly launched site aimed at opening childrens' eyes to marketing myths.

UseNet Archives:
20 year history...cool

Most offensive use of a frog in Marketing:
Did-It... I just randomly crossed their site again and thought WTF

Wall Street Rumors:
From SEM 2.0 Andrew Goodman stated that Bill Martin at
FindProfit.com thinks AOL may be pondering an acquisition of FindWhat.

I can't see them making more profit selling their own ads than they get by sharing profit with Google. As AdWords is a larger and more sophisticated ad distribution network, but who knows what they are thinking...

GOOG Price Target:
RBC analyst Jordan Rohan issues price target of $235.

MSFT may help fix those high price targets with a recent IE security exploit fix that blocks Google AdSense ads.

Google really needs to start working harder to promote the better browsers. I would love to see on the Google home page: Sick of Internet Explorer? So are we. Try FireFox!

Google Scrapper:
Daniel Brandt helps out the dark arts by releasing his Google Scraper code free of charge. (found on ThreadWatch)

An Interesting way to sell MicroContent?:
TKPal - hides a portion of a page's contents until people sign in via TypeKey and pay you via PayPal.

More Economics Papers:
Economics of Open Source... eventually I may want to read these. (found on Ross Mayfield's blog)

Mike Grehan on SEMPO:
always fun, always worth a read :)

Streaming Audio of:
Steve Jobs MacWorld Keynote. KeyNote looked cool enough to make Apple look really appealing to my soon to upgrade eyes.

ThreadWatch has lots of great MacWorld coverage today.

More Audio:
Free guide to ripping and encoding music

Jon Kleinberg, Title Attribute Test, Making Friends

Home Page of the Day:
Jon Kleinberg - he worked on lots of the underlying theory that created the hubs and authority ranking system which eventually led to Teoma.

He has all kinds of cool PDFs on his site such as Maximizing the Spread of Influence through a Social Network - cool stuff. If I were better at math and network theory stuff his home page would be a virtual candy store.

Interesting & Awaiting Results:
fathom is conducting a link title attribute test

Undersold ad space
Anna Kournikova on advertising...er, advertising on Anna Kournikova

Illigitimate ad space:
Bush Administration Invents 'News' and Pays Journalist

Hosed Ad Space:
Kraft WHITE American Cheese - AdWords ad targeting problems :(

Really, I am not a Slimeball Ads:
Ken Lay starts advertising on AdWords. Interesting what the other AdWords ads say about him too.

Meta "ingnore this part of the page" tag:
I can't really see it coming anytime soon, but some want to push the idea.

MSN Beta to ramp up testing:
MSN Beta to ramp up testing

Developing a Directory?
The Don'ts of Directory Development offers tips to help you get your directory off the ground.

ESearch Online E Search Online ApexSearch Apex Search (look out):
another SEO firm out of Vegas that is allegedly cold calling people.

I did not find any legitimate backlinks into the apexesearch site. The only one I found in Google was from a forum solicitation by a guy by the name of Sincity

Sincity would like to offer you...

In that forum post it states:

real results refferences provided in business since 1996 no cusomer complaints EVER!!!!

and yet its registration details state

Registered through: GoDaddy.com (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: APEXESEARCH.COM
Created on: 20-Apr-04

Domain Name: E-SEARCHONLINE.COM
Created on: 22-Dec-04

I did not see any meaningful company information on their company information page either http://www.apexesearch.com/info.htm. Some people are wondering if this firm has anything to do with Traffic Power. If any SEO calls you up out of the blue trying to tell you that you MUST buy something TODAY then odds are they are NOT worth buying from. Cold calls = crap. Traffic

How Not to Make Friends:
Promote your services in others forums while trashing their business model in your own forum.

How can a person wanting to set up an automated link network say that people should not be able to buy links by PageRank?

How Not to Make Friends...Part 2:
For a while the name of the SEO firm that wanted RustyBrick to link to them was posted in this rant thread.

One time some guy with a big mouth emailed me about how great his firm was and felt that for that reason he felt he deserved a link from my site. I also had a hunch that when another well known firm told me to add them to my SEO forums page that they were spamming me. Not too long ago I got an email from an express link building firm which used "stuff" as the the email title. I wonder how many people use these same shoddy techniques to "promote" (or otherwise destroy the brand of) their clients sites?

Dan Thies Offers SEO Coaching Program, MicroSoft Anti-Spyware & Anti Free Culture

SEO Coaching:
Dan Thies offers up a coaching course for SEOs and designers. Dan has one of the sharpest minds in the SEO field. If I were not so busy I would want to sign up. His stuff is probably one of the few mentoring type programs that is worth more than it costs.

Trailing Slashes:
Don't forget the trailing slashes...
site/blah and site/blah/ are not always the same.

While Looting...
From Search Engine Roundtable (the above two items were posted on his blog)... I also saw that they had found a cool free conversion tips ebook from Conversion Chronicals.

MicroSoft Anti-Spyware:
beta release (found from ThreadWatch, where Jason Duke says it appears to be good stuff.)

MSN Search Launching its own Paid Search Arm:
apparently they are hiring

Andy Beal:
Writer of Search Engine Lowdown launches the blog formerly known as Andy Beal uncut.

Keyword Prices:
Jumped 24% in the 4TH quarter, according to Fathom Online.

Bill Gates on PR:
Free Culture advocates = Communists. You don't get called the evil empire for no reason at all.

Interesting view point with MicroSoft's recent complaints about Google's lack of support for the open software community. More of the "Big Bill" interview here.

Digital Home Strategy:
Yahoo! partners with MicroSoft

The Cookie Monster:
Revived Spyware Bill Could Crunch Cookies (and make marketing a wee bit harder)

Want a Job?
unemployment numbers jumped sharply, luckily Google is hiring.

Google on 60 Minutes, Patrick Gavin Interview, & Interesting Links

60 Minutes:
Google on 60 Minutes

Search Google Ads:
Widget Ads - you can search Google for ads only.

What is Google Smoking?
Bongs in the search results - I randomly searched for Chong at Google. On my good old handy dandy FireFox some Google searches are showing images.

Why would a company so textually driven want to place those images prominently above search results? They are probably going to be easy to spam, increase page load time, and IMHO detract from Google a huge amount. I suppose they know a bit more than me about that sort of stuff, but so far I do not like it.

Search Marketing Association:
North American brother of the EU and UK to launch

Renting Links:
I met Patrick Gavin of Text Link Ads in Las Vegas and have been working a bit with him. I recently interviewed Patrick about link buying, how he got into the web, and where he would start if he started on the web today.

Blog Happenings:
Six Apart is the company that created the blogging software that runs this site. They are going to purchase LiveJournal, which will drastically expand their userbase, though most LiveJournal customers are not paying customers. A ton of consolidation in this space will likely occur throughout the year between some of the platforms, tracking, and search sites. (found on ThreadWatch)

The Future of Journalism:
Dan Gillmore starts his blog.

Free Answer Engine:
GuruNet becomes Answers.com and drops subscription fee.

PPC Keyword Research Software:
TheDowser is a new (to me at least) keyword research tool which combines some of the features from the Overture search term suggestion tool and the Google Keyword Sandbox tool (as well as having some other features). I did not use it a ton, but downloaded the trial and played with it a bit. If you run a bunch of PPC campaigns it only needs to help you save a little time or find a few new keywords to pay for itself.

Interesting:

Looking Forward

Bummer Deal for WebAtlas:
I have been visiting friends (in fact I am at a friends house typing this right now), but I have checked my email and recently my friend Nandini's directory was not listed in Google. I believe it had a 302 redirect error (pointing the root URL at the www. version) which was fixed, but it may take a while for the site to be reindexed. Business.com had a similar issue not too long ago if memory serves. The SEO Fundamentalists Speak Out:
The fact that Nandini's about 2 month old SEO forums just showed me over 10,000 pages listed in Google and get most of its inbound link popularity from WebAtlas (while linking back to WebAtlas from most of its pages) would indicate to me that this issue is probably a technical glitch, but some SEOs use these sorts of situations as marketing goldmines to promote their own holier than thouTM SEO beliefs.

Ihelpyou forums moderators showed their truely nasty selves when they wrote digraceful threads on multiple SEO forums.

I've read that IHU thread. It's nothing short of a vicious, malicious, personal attack by a bunch of low life cowards who delight in other peoples misfortune.

With one or two notable exceptions, the thread is populated by the scum of the web community - a poor bunch of outcasts that can find no better place for their whining self justification for poor skillsets than the deranged chuch of heil. Nick W

Lets not forget that this is the same IHY group that was falling all over themselves stating that Nandini and WebAtlas were great just two months ago. Doug even requested a link to his forums.

Of course Doug would not like to be reminded of these types of things, and some of his moderators such as Srikanth state:

none of the members at ihelpyouforums are trying to abuse her. Or, are not against her. We wish her success only.

You do not support a persons work by throwing arbitrary tags on it.

Legitimate Directories:
Doug Heil posted a short list of legitimate directories apparently based upon who frequently posts at his forums. The now good directories include WowDirectory, which Doug Heil also accused of being a spammer in the past.

The Changing Face of Marketing:
Peter D from SearchEngineBlog recently released a directory too. Some of the Ihelpyou moderators (such as Quadrille) state that they do not know of Peter or his reputation. Essentially what it comes down to is that they believe anything that is new is assumed bad until proven otherwise.

Ihelpyou even states that DMOZ and Yahoo! fill the directory role and that new directories do not matter.

What will be great is when Google decides to finally value directory links at "zero', while keeping the well-established directories the way they are.

In this line of thinking he forgets the concepts of innovation and change. Peter D states

But doesn't that stifle new approaches?

You could say the same for all sites - keep the new sites in a box, but allow old sites to stay where they are. The downside is the index looks stale.

Useful Feedback:
Compare the absolute nastiness of Ihelpyou to the useful information found in this thread on Threadwatch.

There are those who think everything that is new is bad. Some people are entirely controlled by fear. On the other side of the coin there are also innovators who have the ability to look forward and see value without needing the likes of Google to tell them specificially what is good and what is bad. If your marketing and your business are 100% reactionary then you are selling yourself short.

Don't forget that Google recommends submitting to relevant directories in their webmaster guidelines and fails to mention Doug Heil anywhere. The truth is that Doug is great marketing for Google because his existance makes all SEOs seem a little less mentally stable.

When people are in doubt or controlled by fear less people are likely to use risky or manipulative promotion techniques. IMHO directory registration is perhaps about as non risky as SEO can be, but so long as people like Doug blur the line and make all SEO services look like a bad investment AdWords becomes more appealing and more profitable.

Happy New Years to everyone, and I wish all of those at Ihelpyou Doug Heil's success.

Pages