Someone recently told me there was a thread about SEO Book over at Digital Point. I replied a while ago, thanking people for the kind reviews, but I just went back to take a peak to see if there were any more replies and there were no more.
A site targeted AdSense ad on the page did catch my interest though. Text Link Brokers had an ad for presell pages starting at $10, which seems way too cheap to me if they are making quality pages on quality sites.
Sometimes price points and sales copy give conflicting messages, which end up driving away the low end and high end market at the same time.
The $10 presell page price point makes it seem as though the product is geared toward newer webmasters with limited funds, but then they talk about the copywriters:
Who writes the Content?
We will either write it or you can. However, we strongly suggest you let us do it since we have some of the best SEO/Marketing copywriters in the country working for us.
which makes it sound a bit more high end, but then...
We also have a feature that no other company is offering. We will randomize the content on every site where we host your HMP pages. For example, if you order 50 HMP pages on 50 sites, we can write one professional article and then randomize it 50 times,
What is the point of even writing a professional article (using one of the best SEO/Marketing copywriters) if it is going to be randomized? Does that undermine the sales point if you don't explain how it is randomized? I know Article Bot is supposed to be good at randomizing content, but doesn't that sales copy send mixed messages?
In other link related news, excuse the AdSense only above the fold area on the other end of this link, but it looks as though Linkworth might be handing out some less than stellar link advice:
It is being said that Google is looking for keywords on websites related to the selling of text ads. Rather than waiting around to see what happens, or if it is true, we feel it's in the best interest of all partners and advertisers to consider changing the titles used, alter locations of text link ads and separate ads.
Odds are good that if the links are heavily off topic and they are selling many that the pig is going to look like a pig no matter what kind of lipstick you put on it (I think I got that line from Aussie).
Why not just work out contextual relevance and matching advertisers to publishers a bit better? It seems to me that hide the links advice is counter to the whole point of running an open link market.
As search algorithms continue to advance I don't see how scalable SEO markets should be handing out advice to hide the business models instead of trying to improve the quality of the offering. After all, it is no real secret that Yahoo! LOVES to buy links for SEO.
As search advances you can try to be sneeky or try to be more open. Both will probably work if you do them right, but if you are buying links from one of the largest link networks or link brokers that probably is not going to be very sneaky, especially if many of the content sites selling links link back to the network.
How can Linkworth be telling people to worry about link rental sounding words and fail to mention that some of the content partners linking back to Linkworth probably makes it fairly obvious that the site stands a good chance of selling links? I am not sure if it is still there, but a while ago I think Linkworth also had a directory of their ad publishers openly availabe on their site as well.
I realize I am playing both sides of the fence here, but directories are getting a bad rap. Directories in and of themselves are not necissarily bad neighborhoods or whatever, but what some people call directories, and some of the stupid or greedy things that people are doing with directories are making them match the profiles of scraper sites and other sites search engines would not want to index.
Not too long ago a person launched no 2 or 3 but 5 different general directories using the same linkage data. Well that is probably an example of the types of things to avoid.
Some directories have 10,000 pages and only 300 listings. Duplicate content filters are not going to want to keep that site in the index.
Some directory owners build all their link popularity from other free directories and forum signature files. Some directories have no quality standards and do not even properly categorize the sites. Others fail in both categories: inbound link quality and outbound link quality.
Many directories sell sitewide pharmacy or debt consolidation links. In doing that they parse out a ton of their link popularity, which means less of their pages stay in the search index, the lower category pages have less value, and there is less reason for search engines to want to trust any link from that site. When you sell lots of off topic junk the site becomes ghettofied and the path the site must go down is chosen.
If you believe in the good link vs bad link algorithms some engines may have then it would make sense to steer clear from most the sites that excessively exhibit many of the above characteristics, but not all directories are built that way.
Many directory owners do not try to be unique and market their position with anything other than raw PageRank. The more a directory looks like a discount PageRank brokering service without quality standards the more likely search engines will be to want to discount the sites.
We the pundints, us with blogs, and spare times to chat on forums, need to have something to talk about. So we raise an issue up and the knock it down and then hunt on the prowl for the next issue to talk about.
Everything comes and goes in waves like that as the algorithms evolve.
When people talk about directories dying they are stating that algorithms are moving away from them more and more, but for a significant period of time the ROI on directory listings was absurdly great. Even if it drops off somewhat the search engines still have to trust something. In many industries outside of a DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory link there are less than a handful of sites worth trusting. How do search algorithms rank sites in those kinds of industries? They need to trust something.
Even if Google was not placing significant weighting on directory links I still would use many of them for how they work in the other search algorithms, but with that being said it may also be worth looking more into other sources of link popularity as the business model of junk general directories is dying.
I think the business models that will work the best longterm will be those that have a strong social position in their marketplace, those who can afford to advertise a ton, those who can get media coverage, or those that naturally pick up the random citation on random blogs and community driven sites that provide many random unrequested links. Not every business fits in those groups though. The end goal should be to figure out how to get in those groups, but until placed in those groups we do what we have to to get by :)
If you learn well with audio and the hands on one-on-one sort of training Dan is one of the more respected people in search marketing industry. It is a 10 week workshop and the course has sessions every other week. The course costs $1095 to attend.
Dan also offers a more advanced course covering business issues if you are interested in starting an SEO firm or improving your SEO business.
I do not currently display AdSense on this site for a few reasons, one of which is that it probably would not earn much since most people reading this site can distinguish ads from content.
Nathan Weinberg recently wrote AdSense Bad For Bloggers?, where he questions whether or not people can make money from AdSense using blogs.
I think he said his network gets about 1,000,000 monthly pageviews, but AdSense is not making him much money. Blogs about Google and MSN will get traffic, but the revenue streams might not be there since technologically savvy people are less likely to click ads.
One time I had a chat with a well known web guru, who stated that not all sites need to make money. Websites can act as a team.
If you have sites with a ton of authority and little revenue there are a few options:
alienate your users by trying to force a revenue stream that does not exist and thus lose your social currency
gather feedback and create a product or service that matches the desires of your site visitors
leverage the social currency of that site to help build up a network with other high profit channels
You only need one or two strong channels to launch a network.
A few of the major blog networks have even added poker sites to their networks, and people still link through to their network not minding that they are helping to promote illegal gambling.
In Nathan's comments Richard offered a good tip for bloggers wanting to avoid the evil generic blog ads:
The biggest positive changes occured for me when I stopped using the word â€œBLOGâ€ and I stopped getting the same boring ads for how to setup a free blog.
As an added bonus, Nathan mentioned that ProBlogger made a post about earning milestones, saying that he is making over $10,000 a month from AdSense on his network of around 20 blogs (most of which are low quality content spam IMHO and thus I don't want to link into his bad neighborhood, but the post is here: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/07/12/earning-milestones/ )
If you look at his network (www.livingroom.org.au & breakingnewsblog.com) you can probably guess which ones are making money and create / market better channels on those topics that will make far more than he is. Digital camera reviews are huge for AdSense.
Probably not the first time you have heard that PageRank is only one of many many many measures of link quality, but Mike Grehan just wrote an article about it, and also interviewed Jim Boykin, of WeBuildPages, who offered a few link building tips:
"We're unlike most people who buy links in that we try to buy from the source, as opposed to buying from an auction or broker (though we do occasionally do that, too)," said Boykin. "When we're approaching the source, we usually try to feel them out and get ad space as opposed to buying a link. We might be able to put lots of ads in a space."
"It's the neighborhood, which means the most to me," he continued. "I'll normally try to find the authority sites in an industry and approach them to see what they're offering. I'll try to bargain anything, from buying their office pizza to giving them free products from the site I'm seeking advertising for, or will outright pay them."
It would be interesting to know how quickly people add links to good properties and what algorithms Google has in place to detect surges of certain types of outbound links or site factors.
I omitted my friends name, but recently I had a chat with a friend via IM. I asked him if it was cool for me to post a bit of it and he said sure. The chat went like this... friend: there are so many people out their calling themselves seo professionals
me: well its an arbitrary title
me: am i a professional
me: if so why
friend: your right.......
friend: I looked at that excel file earlier. why have you spent less time keeping it up?
me: because why should i
me: why should i promote shitty biz models that are not forward looking
me: help a few sketchy webmasters be lazy and greedy
me: and bust my ass to do it
me: for free
me: better things to do w my time
friend: I have noticed a lot of them becoming link farms anyway
friend: they are dropping everyday also
me: almost all of them are shit
friend: I have focused more on good qaulity article submissions
friend: those suckers are viral if you have good content
friend: I can incraese your list of article submission locations if you need more.....
me: well if its easy to import the data sure :)
me: in the end though
me: most of those will get spammed out and deweighted too
friend: I took the liberty of adding sites to the excel file you sent me, ie. article subs and press release subs. it doesn't get any better than that.;-)
me: well if you want to email it through thats cool
me: but the thing is
friend: it seems like all of the good marketing outlets are getting lost in the shuffle because of spammers
me: I cant be the central maintainer because I thought that would scale but it does not ... so I can accept contributions, but its too hard to keep up with
me: not really
me: i dont buy that at all
me: good marketers evolve
friend: you just said a second ago that you thought article subs and press release sites will go down also. it sounds like you agreed with what i said.. i am confused
me: not the good marketers dropping off
me: just the lazy easy channels
friend: i was just venting in terms of spammers screwing it up for the rest of us
me: well my take is we are all spammers
me: is the stuff you are promoting uniquely inovative and useful? if it was you probably wouldnt need to rely on article submissions
friend: promting useful information doesn't always get you a spot in the top. Why do we try so hard to get links pointing in our direction if that were an absolute?
me: well what do people want
me: you need to serve multiple needs
me: what people will buy
me: + what people want to market for you
friend: thats where i think we are. I don't think articles should be writtien to spam. But, they can be written professionally to get better exposure online.
me: right. but your opinion doesn't much matter in the grand scheme of things
me: as mine doesn't either
friend: opinions are like butt holes, we all them and they sometimes stink....
friend: so how do you propose meeting the many needs of the masses?
me: well thats the point
me: each needs to decide
me: there should be no mass system
me: mass system = spam
friend: meeting the needs of the mass isn't spam if you are doing ethical work, su as putting toegether great content as you have put it many times on your site.
me: thats the whole point
me: if the content was so great
me: it wouldnt need an automated type system
friend: it seems as if we have very similar ideas
friend: i haven't been talking about automating things in our industry. I am just interested in gaining some insight as to your opinion about helping others online.
friend: thats all
me: well my insights are this
me: create something useful that people are interested in
me: and then be creative from there
friend: i know you have always taken the stance at emulating a users experience online. I have learned a lot from taking that mind set. believe me
me: so that is where I stand
me: the basic thing that is screwed up
me: is people think that online they can just get links
me: without thinking about the social aspects etc
me: sure it can work
me: but longterm it is way easier if people want to link to you or if you have a legit brand off the web
friend: i know you are big on the community aspect. this is a safe bet on or off line. I deal with people online like I would in person. This has also helped out a lot
friend: i remember you saying on the phone that after you reached a low point from circumstances in your life, your outlook was changed for the better
me: i still am bitter mean and evil often
friend: you remind me of one of my best friends. he too is kinda outspoken and ruff around the edges. but, underneath it all, i know what he is all about. You are the same way
I didn't leave that last part in there to pump myself up or pat myself on the back, but more to show the emotional bond.
The guy I was speaking with I spoke to on the phone for about 10 minutes about a year ago and have emailed a few times, and yet he feels he knows and understands me. He may or may not (I sure don't!), but either way it is a good deal for me.
People with emotions create algorithms by which search engines function, but their job is so grand in scale that it is hard for them to care about ones and twos.
As search algorithms advance in some fields it will become easier to manipulate other webmasters and web users than it is to try to manipulate the algorithms directly.
It is the same reason there are so many 50 page sales letters, because like selling stuff, ultimately selling the idea of people giving you quality inbound links or recommending you is one person and one conversion at a time.
I am not saying that everything you do should have manipulation in mind, but it is easier to do well if people want to help you, and it is easier to win over 1 person at a time than it is to fake relevancy across all the major engines, at least if you are hoping to have a longterm business model.
Marcia also mentions identifiable link networks, staying below radar, and how many directories appear as link farms:
There are some that are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, visibly identifiable as being part of linking "networks" - either networks of likeminded directories interlinked and cross-linked with the same business model in mind, or quite visibly as SEO networks.
Unfortunately, trying to emulate BH techniques without following the basic rule of BH, which is to stay off the radar, isn't what so many of them are doing. Publicizing and soliciting business for them right at SEO forums, right where search engineers can and do read, is exactly the opposite - it's putting them right on the radar and it's only been a matter of time before the ships either float or sink.
A good, substantial, vertical directory that's well established and gets inbound traffic for the relevant keyword set will do that, but those are a far cry from many of the little directories being thrown out there daily, both independently and as part of networks, that hope to monetize by selling text adverts or footer sitewides, even though, as pointed out, in many cases they're literally undistuishable from scraper sites
For a while I tried to help promote some of the directories, but almost all of them have turned out to be quick buck operations, and I will not be sad to see that business model erode.
What have you seen of Google and directories? Are they becoming less effective?