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.

Seth Godin on the Search Industry

Jan 14th

Seth Wakes Up to search?
A while ago Seth made a comment which basically said SEO is luck and that AdWords was the only way to do search. A while ago I posted an article about why Seth is wrong about search.

Recently he posted a post titled "Is there a Search Industry," which has been getting less than rave reviews through the SEO community.

Later Seth talks about mob justice activity within the blog community (which perhaps relates to this feedback he has been getting), but what would he say if the whole search industry said well packaged virally spreading marketing books are chuck full of bullshit?

How can such a progressive thinker be so behind the times on search? Seth is getting a bunch of links from these out-of-left-field posts about search, so maybe he is just looking for some link popularity?

How Not to Pick / Name a Site / Domain Name

Jan 13th

Not sure I any sort of worlds leading expert in this category, but I have seen some people name some domains that just did not make much sense to me. Link Proctor was great software...too bad I didn't know what the hell proctor meant when I first saw the name. I ranted to Brad Callen about that name and he changed the software name to SEO Elite...which is a better name IMHO...and pretty darn good software to boot.

A recent link network came out by the name of Link Smile. I looked at the design and the smiley guy on it and it made it hard for me to want to take it seriously...made it hard for me to want to spend money.

Today I just got a spam email message alerting me to a new link exchange network by the name of Link Fart...which I thought was such a bad name that it inspired this post.

Colors and words evoke emotions, and if the first subconcience response people have is one of alert, disgust, or confusion in most cased your name is probably not helping you sell more widgets.

Some tips on choosing a company or domain name:

As a disclaimer: I bought that Search-Marketing.info domain name when I had 0 knowledge about branding. It is a crappy domain name IMHO.

[update: a friend of mine also pointed me to Name Boy as a good domain name resource. Thanks Todd]

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.

SEMPO: Nails In the Coffin

Jan 9th

SEMPO founder Barbara Coll shows envy / lust / jelousy toward the newly formed search marketing association by the name of SMA-NA.

SEMPO sees SMA-NA as a direct competitor. SEMPO did not see other regional branches such as SMA-UK the same way. Wonder why?

If SEMPO is about promoting SEM services around the globe shouldn't they be interested in other regional organizations with generally the same goal?

If the goal of SEMPO is to actually bring the SEO community together, is another force which also tries to do that a bad thing? I think not. According to Ian McAnerin SEMPOs founder for some reason does.

SEMPOs founder thinks its one or the other. I think she is right. Unfortunately for her, her thought process likely indicate that SEMPO will be the organization to soon parish.

No doubt the post on Ian's blog is a striking blow to SEMPO's future.

ThreadWatch posts snippets from Ian's post.

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?

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.

Google Financial Stats, Mobile Search, RSS Advertising

Google Finance:
John Battelle has lots of yummy stats about Google's finances...

  • nearly 17% of visitors click on ads.

  • Google makes an average of 54 cents a click.
  • Google makes on average nearly a dime from the average US search

Though Danny Sullivan makes a guest appearance in the comments to say the figures may be off (if they did not take in account for contextual ads).

Rob Frankel:
My favorite branding guru has a great rant blog. His view of Paxil and Prozac for children...

Trellian Seasonal Keyword Research:
Out of touch with the season?

Malcolm Gladwell:
One of my favorite authors gives a speech (about a month old, but his stuff is always good)

Contextual Ads:
Chitika is a new contextual ad network (their parent company has also been powering eBay's keyword driven banners)...rumor has it they might be writing some quality PR stuff too.

Laptops & Porn:
always a bad idea...

Mobile Search:
How it will change everything...or will it? I think there is a ton more to the world than just registering a name. Sure people will easily be able to link up regular publications and products to web locations, but the reason Amazon is successful is not just its product offering or customer service, but the rich feedback past consumers have left in their system. I think our social interactions and the trails we leave on the web are worth a ton more than this article seems to believe.

Mobile People Search:
US to use electronic passports.

Eventual RSS Doom:
Will its popularity destroy it?
Should People Run RSS Ads?

I think the links and attention you get from RSS subscribers will have more longterm value than their cost. If hosting costs are killing you go with Blogger or find a host who wants some cheap marketing (a hosted by link on your site).

Its not uncommon for businesses to have loss liters. If many of your readers / RSS subscribers also provide you tons of links then maybe you should look at the bandwidth as an advertising expense.

Those Random Late Night Purchases:
Internet Accelerator may help you download pages rack up credit card bills quicker.

Moving Briskly Along...

Oct 25th

SMA-UK (launched just a few days ago) found so much demand in Europe that SMA-EU was created.

One wonders if and when SMA-US will be created. Perhaps then SEMPO will have officially died.

Price Points, Branding, & Comodification

Sep 11th

This does not have much to do with SEO, but has a ton to do with marketing any business.

All too often online businesses use the "cheap price" branding / sales angle. There will always be someone else who is cheaper. Cheap is not an effective longterm business strategy for most businesses... especially online.

I have been pricing my ebook at $40 because I wanted to make it cheap and affordable to a maximum number of people. While my sales have well exceeded my expectation many of my friends have been telling me that it is the wrong price point.

Example:
I could try to sell my ebook for $10, but likely most people would not buy it because at that price most people would think it is garbage.

I do understand the concept that it is better to push value than price... I am not really doing anyone a favor if a low price is turning people off. The price is arbitrary. It is the value that is important. A higher price may give a higher perceived value.

A couple other SEO ebooks are selling at higher price points ($67 or $97). A bunch of my friends stated that I should price my ebook at $67 and a few think I should charge $97 and an ongoing subscription fee.

I will likely raise the price of my ebook soon, but I am going to wait until after I talk to that cool cat NFFC from SEO Roadshow.

A couple good threads / articles / books on the concept of branding and / or price points:

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