SEMPO: Nails In the Coffin

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...

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

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:

Danny Sullivan Resigns from SEMPO Advisory Board

SEMPO is Driven
If people had to say one positive thing about SEMPO it would be that they are driven toward a goal...they will not let petty feedback get in the way of that goal.

The problem is: nobody knows what that particular goal is?

The New SEMPO Weblog Press Release Collection
SEMPO recently created a press release weblog.

After thinking "what the hell is this?" I tried to post a comment into their blog. Unfortunately their comments are pre moderated. You will likely never read the comment I left. My comment did have a link to http://www.cluetrain.com/ though.

So much for that open feedback loop that makes the web great.

Danny Sullivan on SEMPO
Danny Sullivan just released a lengthy article titled Reflections on SEMPO, where he reviews many of the problems SEMPO has faced and announced he and Chris Sherman are resigning from the SEMPO advisory board.

Support for SEMPO seems to dwindle a bit more with each passing day.

SEMPO-Tahoe Press Release
Organizational leadership through press releases...oh how the web connects us.
Compare: SEMPO Press Release vs SEMPO-Tahoe Press Release

Similar, yet different. SEMPO-Tahoe is already up to #3 in Google when you search for SEMPO (only one more site to pass).

ThreadWatch
NickW recently created a new blog to track SEO forums. ThreadWatch posts about many of the often higher level & more interesting or elequent threads...including topics such as Guerilla Marketing, Kung Fu, and Vintage Mike Grehan QuotesTM.

Triangular Linking Info
At Cre8aSite Black Knight talks about the future of linking and triangular linking schemes.

Yahoo! Link Renting: a Critical Look at Yahoo!

Yahoo! Renting Links
Yahoo! was recently renting / leasing / buying / otherwise acquiring some high PageRank keyword rich links from gasbuddy.com. Normally when large companies buy these types of ads they use tracking codes, but these ads were straight links which are analyzed by search engines. Was Yahoo! Buying PageRank? Was Yahoo! Trying to Manipulate Search Results
Only Yahoo! knows what their true intentions were with the links, but within 4 days of people mentioning the links in the SEW forums the links were dropped. If they were not buying the links to manipulate the search results then one would wonder why they were not using a tracking code.

The Yahoo! ad unit used keyword rich links. They pointed links at
http://autos.yahoo.com/ with "cars" as the anchor text
http://used-cars.autos.yahoo.com/used_cars.html with "used cars" as the anchor text
http://autos.yahoo.com/new_cars.html with "new cars" as the anchor text &
http://used-cars.autos.yahoo.com/kbb/ with "Kelley Blue Book" as the anchor text

What Did Yahoo!'s Ad Look Like
Their Gas Buddy ad unit looked like this:

Yahoo!'s Other Ads
Yahoo! Shopping is still renting other high PageRank links through the Internet.com network to boost their rankings for high margin consumer electronic items.


anchor text "cameras" pointing at
http://shopping.yahoo.com/b:Digital%20Cameras:20148412


anchor text "laptops" pointing at
http://shopping.yahoo.com/b:Laptops:20148417


anchor text "PDAs" pointing at
http://shopping.yahoo.com/b:PDAs:20148420

Yahoo!'s Problem with Link Renting
Yahoo! runs their own search engine which powers a ton of search worldwide. Not only are they renting links that manipulate Google's search results, but the links also manipulate the Yahoo! Search search results.

These links are essentially used to build keyword rich link popularity from powerful websites, which may fall under the following unacceptible practices:

  • Pages using methods to artificially inflate search engine ranking

  • Excessively cross-linking sites to inflate a site's apparent popularity

as set by the Yahoo! Search quality guidelines.

Recently someone at the SEW forums stated that Yahoo! told them the problem with their site is that they have too many links pointing at their site.

The Problem with Yahoo! Renting Links

Yahoo! manually edits their search results. If other people have too many links pointing at their sites it is a problem, but if Yahoo! does it then it is ok? why?

Yahoo! owns a valuable network. What they do with that network is up to them. When people search for information Yahoo! can throw whatever ads they want around the results, but the results themselves should not be internally tainted.

As an oracle of information an ethical question is raised when Yahoo! is paying people to edit their results and paying other people to manipulate those same results.

What Next?

If Yahoo! decided what they want to place in their search results how can I trust them? What happens when they personalize my search? Will that mean that I get biased crap promoting more Yahoo! stuff? Will I not be able to find the information I need?

There is a level of trust associated with search. If Yahoo! wants to manipulate Google search results that is fine. If they are going to do that then they should prevent those same pages from being indexed in their own search results.

Yahoo!'s pages rank in the top 5 of Yahoo! Search for "cars," "new cars," & "used cars." Interesting how those search terms match up with the links they were renting.

Yahoo! just shot themselves in the foot if they were hoping to catch Google in search anytime soon.

Another Link Renting Problem
If you look at the Internet.com commerce partner network
http://www.jupitermedia.com/partners/
you will notice that it is a random collection of websites. The only thing preventing these links from being considered a "link farm" is that:

  • they are expensive

  • they are attached to a huge powerful network
  • and Jupiter Media is making a ton of money from them.

    Also, how can a company claim it

    provides unbiased research, analysis and advice, backed by proprietary data, to help companies profit from the impact of the Internet and emerging technologies on their business. source

    and yet sell keyword rich ad space:

    • to random sites

    • throughout its own parent company network
    • which manipulates search results?

The Secret to Effective SEO

Recently (maybe about three weeks ago) I began working on a brand new site idea for a client. Within two days his site was built (my designer is really fast and awesome). Within a week it was ranking well in Google for a fairly competitive commercial phrase with a respectible search volume (thousands of searches per day).

What did I do?

I picked a keyword rich site name and registered the site with a ton of directories.

There were some other forces at hand that I am not at liberty to discuss, but the primary driving force behind his rankings is about a few dozen directory links.

John Scott and I have been talking a bunch recently about the power of LINKS FROM UNIQUE IP ADDRESSES and he posted a good example recently in the V7N forums.

Obviously I have a ton more tips inside my SEO Book, but the condensed version is:

  • buy a keyword rich domain name
  • list it in a ton of directories using those keywords
  • write articles and figure out other ways to get links into your site

There are a ton of other things to consider, but for most industries the web is so non competitive that just the above few steps can go a long way.

Are External Links More Important than Internal Links (for SEO)?

I know most people reading this already know the answer, but I just came across a quick example, so hopefully some people asking this question at a search engine will find this.

Recently I posted a post called "The Daniel Brandt Toolbar" and around a half dozen or so sites linked to me.

Almost every page in this site links to the "Buy Now" page so that when people search for SEO Book they see the home page first and then the "Buy Now" page listed second.

(As of writing this) when you search Google for "SEO Book" you now see my home page first and the "Daniel Brandt Toolbar" page second. It will change in a few days, but this does a good job to show how external links are often more powerful SEO tool than internal links are.

Give it about a few more days for the posts linking into the Daniel Brandt Toolbar to fall into the archives of other blogs and my "Buy Now" page will list again at #2.

Text Link Advertising on Blog Websites

I have noticed that there is some really really cheap traffic and link popularity to be purchased on blog websites.

Some sites get tons of pageviews, and some have tons of link popularity. Some blogs have both and prices that do not cost the farm.

If you look through an article about the most famous blogs in the world you can see just how cheap this ad space is selling.

The first blog is a lawyer blog and the second site listed is the New York Times, but if you scroll past them you can see some pretty cheap ads.

Gawker is one of the most famous blogs on the web (and it costs $400 / month or $150 / week). I am probably not going to be advertising on the Gawker website today, but currently someone is with a Texas Holdem website.

I am sure that link is probably cheap for someone in the gaming industry. Those affiliate checks online casinos send you can get fat. I had one page from when I first started learning about the web that got me a few grand without me actively promoting it...

If you used the right political message or were marketing an amazing idea the cheap entry price of advertising on Gawker could easily pay for itself tenfold.

Once you look at some of the slightly less popular blogs the price drops sharply. Advertising on one of the top NanoBot site is $60 / month.

Some second and third tier blogs are priced dirt cheap. I think the two biggest players in the blog ad arena are:
http://www.marketbanker.com/mb/
http://www.blogads.com/
There are also some smaller players too, such as
http://www.textads.biz/

I may soon promote a stupid idea I just came up with :) More on that later...I thinking...

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