Weekend Links

Some weekend reading...

Business Strategy

Want a list of the 10,000 most popular subjects on the web? Here is Wikipedia's 10,000 most viewed pages. Courtesy Wiki stats, mentioned in this Search Engine Land article.

Hitwise shows plural keywords drive more traffic to shopping sites than singular terms. Perhaps singular versions tend to be more navigational and brand related, whereas plural terms are more informational and transactional in nature.

Fred Wilson on the self-destructive nature many driven people possess.

Mark Cuban offers a killer quote on the failed branding of newspaper blogs

Never, ever, ever consider something that any literate human being with Internet access can create in under 5 minutes to be a product or service that can in any way differentiate your business. ... If I worked for the NY Times, or any other media company with any level of brand equity, I would have done everything possible to define the section of our website that offers ongoing as anything other than a blog. I would make up a name. Call it say.....RealTime Reporting.

Indeed it is hard to demonize blogs as being inferior while integrating them into the company under the same name. :)

The Google

Eric Schmidt spoke on video about Google Health about 2 weeks ago. Interesting to think about how Google can provide cloud computing services to any complex or high value vertical (like employment, education, health, financial services) to gain major mindshare and a new revenue stream. And after getting all the publicity Google for some reason took their video down...hmm. Why did they do that?

2007 ad spend shift from old media to Google - hard to imagine this trend will continue at such a rapid clip, but hard to predict what will stop it

Shaking out the bad sites in Google - John Andrews on the delicate balance Google must strike between searcher, advertiser, and publisher:

When a former Google customer (someone who has quit AdWords out of disgust) asks an SEO to help “get free search traffic from Google” it represents a person who is no longer willing or able to play by the established rules. It’s not a sign of criminal intent, mind you, so don’t go hyperbolic on me with the BlackHat WhiteHat stuff. But from a demeanor perspective, that former customer is willing to try things outside of the “let’s do business together” avenue, without telling Google, and recognizing that he is now in competition with Google, his former business partner.

Firefox Extensions

Firefox Ultimate Optimizer - an extension to reduce Firefox memory usage.

Domain look-up extension for Firefox

(Non)Quality Publishing

Harper Collins’ working on coming up with an effective strategy to exploit your children.

Quality Corporate Linkbait

No More Abandoned Carts - even VeriSign is getting into creating quality linkbait. This is what corporate linkbait will look like in a year or two. And like it or not we are probably going to need to be at that level if we want to keep competing.

A year from now heavily advertised linkbait followed by a 301 redirect will be one of the most potent SEO weapons on the market.

Help Spread SEO Goodness Around the Globe

A couple days ago I posted asking readers to translate The Blogger's Guide to SEO.

So far we already have 5 translations done:
Bulgarian SEO Guide. Dutch SEO Guide. French SEO Guide. Italian SEO Guide. Slovakian SEO Guide.

In addition to Bulgarian, Dutch, French, Italian, and Slovakian, readers have already volunteered for these languages: Portuguese (Portugal and Brazilian), Spanish, Russian, Czech, Swedish, Tagalog, Croatian, Japanese, Romanian, Danish, German, simplified & tradisional Chinese, Croatian, Indonesian, Hungarian, and Polish. Are there any other languages where you can help translate it?

My goal is to make this the most widely available document on SEO across every language possible. For each language it gets translated into, I will donate $50 to Amnesty International. The first translation in each language will also be referenced from the original guide, which has a lot of traffic and link equity.

Looking For Translators for the Blogger's Guide to SEO

Some readers who came across The Blogger's Guide to SEO asked me if it was ok to translate it. It is Creative Commons licensed, so please feel free to. Please comment on this post referencing the language you are going to translate to. I will link to translations from the official guide, which has many thousands of inbound links and hundreds of daily pageviews, so it should send some traffic to your site.

Links of Interest

Quick, Cheap, & Easy Strategies to Dominate Google's Search Results

Following last year's pillage of general web directories, Google reset the PageRank on many article syndication directories to PR3 or PR0. EzineArticles did not get edited, perhaps because they have more stringent editorial guidelines, they were a known market leader, or they were a Google case study. Just about every other article syndication directory did.

About 3 years ago I create a directory of directories so I could keep track of new directories. But very few of the directory owners considered editorial quality. Eventually they started polluting their directories with site-wide links to payday loan websites.

On the paid side some people who had success creating one low quality directory decided to create a dozen more pay for inclusion websites, often cross promoting them with discounts...after you buy one they thank you and offer you the ability to buy inclusion in the other dozen at half price.

And on the cheap end, it got to the point where lots of companies like Directory Maximizer do directory submissions for a dime to a quarter each, allowing you to space out the submissions, mix anchor text, and mix listing descriptions. And while many of these services claim to be "SEO friendly" and offer services in bulk, you can see that a search engineer might not hold the same opinion. :)

By the time a technique is cheaply and reliably outsourced the value has already been diminished or will soon become worthless.

  • lower cost and automation means more people will use the technique
  • the lower cost often appeals to those making lower quality websites
  • the more people who use a technique the more likely it is for search engineers to kill it

Andy Hagans used to charge $900 for doing a couple dozen article submissions, and back when he did it, it was probably worth it. He marketed it to highbrow clients who used it to promote quality website. Lower end webmasters probably could not justify paying $900 for that service.

And you could get a hand rolled product of similar quality to what Andy charged $900 for, but at a price $870 cheaper from We Submit Articles. About a month after I showed Andy that We Submit Articles website, where someone was selling services similar to his for $30, he changed his model to promote linkbait stuff, moving himself up the value chain, creating something that is much harder and more expensive to replicate.

Article submission software and article remixing software came out, only making the issue worse. Andy probably could have continued his old model for another year and been fine, but he knew that Google would eventually pull the rug out from under it. It took a while, but the article directories had their PageRank edited.

Search engineers can't stop everything, but by the time a technique is cheaply and reliably outsourced the value has already been diminished or will soon become worthless.

  • lower cost and automation means more people will use the technique
  • the lower cost often appeals to those making lower quality websites
  • the more people who use a technique the more likely it is for search engineers to kill it

When you think of the web from that perspective it is easy to see why my current business model is so much better than the old model. The community interaction allows for deeper understanding, and helps people move past using just the techniques that are quick, cheap, and easy.

Parasitic hosts and upload sites, social media sites full of spam, endless cross-referencing internal tagging, blog carnivals...all are quick, cheap, and easy. What do you think is the next quick, cheap, and easy marketing technique that Google will kill?

Mom and Pop Websites? Is Your Brand Big Enough?

When I was on my multi-month critical review of Google a few months back, I frequently highlighted how the perception of spam or quality was often associated with the brand (or lack of brand) behind the content. Stuntdubl wrote a post about brand size reviewing engineer double talk and how brand perception may control the sustainability of your site.

Many people and many sites disappear. For how long just depends on who was behind the infraction and how real their site looks and feels.

About a month ago I asked a friend of mine if he knew that one of his sites got banned from Google. He said no. Then he went and looked at it and asked "why the f*ck did they do that?" His site that was penalized was exceptionally similar to his sites that still rank, with one big exception. It used a default Wordpress theme. Thus it looked like it was probably spam to a search engineer or under-waged remote worker judging a bunch of sites in a rush.

As soon as human editing becomes a big piece of search, humans start thin slicing and start making errors. Once you are gone will anyone notice? Can you escalate the issue to a high enough priority to get your "glitch" fixed?

If you have any top ranking income earning site that exhibits the following traits, look for your income to drop sharply sometime in 2008.

  • has a default Wordpress design
  • has multiple hyphens in the domain name
  • exclusively monetizes via Google AdSense, placed top and to the left in the content area of the page
  • does not have a clear way to contact you
  • lacks an about us section
  • is registered with fake whois

Some cops enjoy handing out speeding tickets. Thin slice your site as though you are a search engineer who enjoys killing spam, but has a quota to kill 1,000 sites a day. Does your site pass the sniff test? Are there areas that could use some improvement?

The democratic nature of the web is a unique concept, but Google no longer uses that line in their marketing brochures. Sometimes the web needs defused.

If you have something that makes money, you need to make it look like it is worthy of its position and earnings. Or else Google will exert as much editorial influence and quality scores as they can to take $$$$$ from you, all in the name of what's good for the customer and helping out "mom and pop webmaster".

After all, when Google Local, YouTube, Google Knol, Google Shopping, and Google Checkout are fully integrated next to AdWords, mom and pop webmaster won't even need to own a website. They can do everything they need on Google.com. How benevolent.

Google to Give Away MP3 in China

The semi-legal and illegal spread of copyright information keeps driving value toward the aggregators. Google, which already has a music search service and owns YouTube, is looking to give away licensend music to win marketshare in China.

From the WSJ

Vivendi SA's Universal Music and about 100 other foreign and domestic record labels have been working with Top100.cn, a Beijing-based Web site that currently sells licensed music downloads for 1 yuan (about 14 cents) each, and Google. Together, Top100.cn and Google would provide free MP3 downloads with value added services, people familiar with the plans say. The new search options, for example, promise to give users free access to a database of information about their favorite artists -- from concert listings to links to special ring tones.

If Google licenses lyrics and allows user feedback on songs, they prettymuch aggregated the entire value stream in that marketplace, at least outside of experiencing live music. Fierce competition for attention will drive virtually all publishing models in that direction. What do you offer that is live or that aggregators can't take from you?

Do You Care About Google Glitches?

Some people are saying that Google #6 issue was just a glitch and not a penalty or a filter. And sure, according to Google's current classification, that change was a glitch.

But lots of glitches have commonalities amongst the sites that were hit. Like many of the sites that got hit by that #6 profile were in some ways stale. And perhaps stale was just a symptom of dated SEO strategy.

You can learn from glitches, because many times glitches show you where and how Google is trying to shape the web. Glitches are side effects of algorithms with a targeted intent, but with too many unintended consequences and/or casualties.

Look back a couple years, and at one point in time SEO Book was not ranking for SEO Book while Paypal was not ranking for Paypal. Add on a bit more market feedback from other sites that were hit and it seemed sites were getting filtered out for having their anchor text too well aligned. That glitch was fixed in a few days to a month (depending on how far over the line your site was and how important your brand was) but the underlying idea of whacking sites for having anchor text that was too focused was indeed a direction the algorithms moved.

Look back a few years more to the Florida update. Some people called pieces of it a glitch or thought that the whole thing needed to be undone. Sometimes lowering the keyword proximity of a page title that was not in the search results brought it back to ranking. And yes the update was too aggressive and they had to back off of it. But filtering out unnatural copy was indeed a direction the algorithm moved.

Glitches reveal engineer intent. And they do it early enough that you have time to change your strategy before your site is permanently filtered or banned. When you get to Google's size, market share, and have that much data, glitches usually mean something.

The SEMMYS - Good Blog Posts You May Have Missed

I was just voting on the PPC section of the SEMMYS and I saw some new posts I liked a lot.

It is not the comprehensive list of all the best posts of the year, but most of them are of great quality and well worth a read. It is nice to read the best stuff someone else spent a whole year digging up. Great job Matt.

Tamar also recently referenced many great posts in her 2007 year end post.

Why SEMPO is Worse than the Defunct Search Marketing Associations

Search Engine Watch lost its magic glow the day it got scummed by SEMPO. A friend pointed me to a 3 part series on Search Engine Watch about how you can't learn SEO from a book. The author of these articles used the same articles to recommend you get certified from the SEMPO Institute. Coincidentally, the author's profile mentions that he is an author for the SEMPO Institute.

But, to be honest, SEMPO saved my life. If they hadn't sent my wife an SEO who got her site penalized she probably never would have found me, bought my book, started chatting with me, and saved my life.