Automation & the Effectiveness Timeline of a Search Spam Technique

By the time people are looking to automate a no cost SEO technique, as a competitive strategy it is already dead. Blog spamming was once highly effective, but when commercial blog comment spam software was available the practice already stopped working in Google.

Automated Article Submission Software

At SMX advanced a Yahoo! engineer noted that if they detect content as duplicate they are less likely to trust it to seed crawling other documents. People are pushing article submission software to submit articles to article directories, but if most of the content on an article directory site is duplicate, marketers are pushing spamming them via an automated system, and the content networks accept automated submissions, obviously this is not going to be a clean and trusted part of the web that you can go back to again and again. Maybe it is good to try here or there for a bit of anchor text or other market testing, but it is probably not worth automating and doing on a mass scale, especially if the site lacks important signs of quality.

Hundreds of Engineers Work to Kill Spamming Techniques

The spam detection and anti-spam algorithms are driven by people. If something is commonplace in a market then the search engines try their best to stop it. If they can automate it they will. If they have to demote it manually they will.

In the second video here Matt Cutts talked about how spam prevention methods may be different based on language, country, or even market...noting that many real estate sites rely too much on reciprocal link spam.

The less your site's marketing methods look like spam and the harder it is to duplicate what you have done the less likely you are to get hurt by the next update. By the time there is a mass market automated spamming solution the technique is already dead.

The Faults of Human Review

Danny Sullivan's recently made a post highlighting the downside of human review for search engines:

[Tim] Mayer reminded that what's relevant for a query can often change over time. Google's Udi Manber, vice president of engineering, made similar remarks when I spoke with him about human-crafted results when I was visiting at Google yesterday.

One example he pointed out was how Google's human quality reviewers -- people that Google pays to provide a human double-check on the quality of its results, so they can then better tune the search algorithm -- started to downgrade results for [cars] when information about the movie Cars started turning up. The algorithm had picked up that the movie was important to that term before some of the human reviewers were aware of it.

Obviously human review is used at all major search engines, but even when outsourcing reviews humans have limits just like with producing content. Even if Google has 10,000 quality raters those people can only be trained to find and rate certain things.

Get Paid in .edu Links to Post Help Wanted Ads

Joe Whyte offers tips on how to get free .edu links - just ask students to work for you on campus websites in the help wanted section.

Students = under-priced workers.
Free or cheap .edu links = under-priced links.

Starting From Scratch, on Under $100

SEOish offers 7 different views on how to become successful in the search game starting with next to nothing.

Information Architecture is the Most Underrated Component of Effective Search Marketing

Information architecture is probably the single most important and most under-rated aspect of the search marketing strategy for large websites.

A Recurring Error

I have been reviewing some client sites that could use work on the information architecture front. Some of them want to rank for keywords that they do not actively target. The key to ranking is to create meaningful navigation schemes that reinforce the goals of your site and your target keyword phrases. In addition, a site which is improperly categorized due to poor internal navigation does not flow PageRank properly through the site, which means your ranking data and market feedback will be irrelevant / broken and not show your true potential.

Conversion oriented structure is a type of content. It is one of the biggest advantages smaller players have over large players that operate in many fields, and adds to the bottom line of any site that takes it seriously.

Compare the following...

What Happenst to a Site With Bad Internal Navigation?

A piece meal site with hacked up internal navigation exhibits the following characteristics

  • navigation is inconsistent and confusing, thus it is hard for spiders to know what pages are important and it is hard for humans to work their way through the conversion process

  • if the spiders do not rank the correct pages odds are pretty good that the visitors will come into the site on the wrong page (and have a hard time working their way through the conversion process if they start out at the wrong spot)
  • hard to buy broad keywords using PPC because competing sites are better at funneling visitors through the conversion process
  • hard to buy category level keywords using PPC because it is hard to place people on meaningful content if it does not exist. category pages should be more than a link list or groups of irrelevant chunks of content
  • what should be category pages do not add context, build trust, and build credibility - they are essentially placeholders gluing together various unrelated content
  • if you do not have well defined and reinforced category pages the site is not structured to rank for the mid level category related keywords
  • much of the site's PageRank is wasted on unimportant pages such as photo galleries or other low content pages
  • since PageRank is distributed improperly, the market feedback is largely irrelevant
  • has many similar pages that duplicate each other, cleaning up the errors leads to broken links and other problems
  • the site is hard to grow or market because as your category gets more competitive and efficient you first have to restructure the site and undue the errors before you can compete

What Are the Benefits of Good Navigation?

A site with strong internal navigation exhibits the following characteristics

  • properly flows PageRank throughout the site

  • search engines are likely to rank the most relevant page
  • easier to convert
  • is easy for users to move around
  • builds user trust
  • more likely to be referenced in a positive light than a site with broken navigation (gets free editorial links)
  • converts better, so it can afford to pay a higher lead price for traffic (and thus maintain market leadership even as the market gets more competitive)
  • category pages add context and target different relevant word sets than lower level pages
  • folder and filenames are logical so they aid relevancy and clickthrough rate and the site is easy to build out / extend
  • if you ever make errors they are typically far easier to correct
  • easy to promote seasonal specials or currently hot items

Many website owners with unorganized websites think that they just need more of the same, but in a game of market efficiency sometimes less is more, especially if it is better organized.

Google Trends Adds Hot Keywords

Google Trends now shows the top 100 fastest growing keywords by date. Each keyword shows peak search time, search profile by hour, related keywords, top web results, news results, and blog results.

Loooooooooooooooooong Tail Keywords

Eric Enge noted that at the Searchology event that Google's Udi Manber stated that 20 to 25% of the queries that Google sees in any given day are queries that they have never seen before.

Helpful Robots Txt Tip

When creating a robots.txt file, if you specify something for all bots (using a *) and then later specify something for a specific bot (like Googlebot) then search engines tend to ignore the broad rules and follow the ones you defined specifically for them. From Matt Cutts:

If there's a weak specification and a specific specification for Googlebot, we'll go with the one for Googlebot. If you include specific directions for Googlebot and also want Googlebot to obey the "generic" directives, you'd need to include allows/disallows from the generic section in the Googlebot section.

I believe most/all search engines interpret robots.txt this way--a more specific directive takes precedence over a weaker one.

Market Timing and Search Results

You can learn a lot about how the search results will change based on recent changes that have been made and by seeing what tests the engines are running. As SEOs we track the algorithms quite intensively, but the search result display is just as important. Google allows webmasters to see what search tests they are currently performing via Google Experimental Search.

Publishing Video Content is Easy Money

Google bought YouTube, but is struggling with ironing out ad revenue shares and advertising. What is the easiest way for Google to fix these issues? Integrate YouTube and Google Video directly into Google's search results.

Using what legal loopholes they may and something they call universal search, you can now listen to music videos directly from search results. This creates a marketplace that many businesses will need to be in to stay relevant, destroys a whole vertical of web spam, AND allows Google to monetize the organic search results (via YouTube). If you think video is a passing fad you bet wrong, but if you are doing it you are best off branding your videos to be associated with your domain name and uploading them to YouTube. Eli offered tips on how to make $1,000 a month re-purposing video, but now the number is more like $20,000.

Sure Google has done many YouTube users wrong, but if you need exposure, Google turned back the clock on SEO. Top ranking have never been easier. All you need to succeed is to format your content in video and upload it to YouTube.

Tim O'Reilly compares Google and Amazon to offline companies:

If Google or Amazon were your bank or credit card, they'd let you know which merchants had the best prices for the same products, so you'd be a smarter shopper next time. They'd let merchants know what products were popular with people who also bought related products. They'd help merchants stock the right products by zip code. They'd let you know when you were spending more on dining out than you have set in your family budget. They'd let you know when you were approaching your credit limit, with a real-time fuel gauge, not just a "Sorry, your card has been declined."

Universal search mixes videos and news in the organic search results and recommends other verticals at the top of the search results. And Google is testing a broader array of layouts.

By making search richer you have less reason to leave Google. Google started with targeted text ads, but it is even better if they can combine their targeting with trusted brands and offers while making their ads look like a useful piece of content in any format.