WordTracker Easy to Spam? Questioning Keyword Research Tools...

Apr 28th

WordTracker sells access to its keyword database based on the concept that meta search engines have data which is much cleaner than regular search results.

Regular search engines have screen scrapers, rank checkers, bid management tools, click bots, webmasters, and all sorts of interesting tools scouring through their networks.

WordTracker collects its data from Dogpile and MetaCrawler, a couple smaller meta search engines. The sales angle is that the keyword data is clean, but is it?

A couple problems with the WordTracker database:

  • As far as I know it does not store historical data (just the past two months search volume)

  • It has a small search database compared to the search volume seen on large engines. The small sample size means errors will be blown out of proportion.
  • Most people who know of and use the database are marketers, who surely could take advantage of the limited search volume by spamming it

Spamming for Profits:
A friend just recently searched and saw a particular SEO firm spamming a ton of fake search referals for their services. I guess that is fairly cheap marketing if you are looking for money from a bunch of naive webmasters.

Smokescreen Spam (Hiding Your Keywords):
Lets say you find out that the phrase gold nuggets is profitable. You run a search bot to search for golden nuggets. You do it over and over and suddenly golden nuggets looks like the money maker.

Your competition trips over each other trying to optimize for golden nuggets (where there may be little to no money), while you are headed to the bank to cash your check.

You cash your check and can afford to go buy more gold nuggets :)

Much like pay per click, some SEO markets are based on working the margins. If you can get your competitors to get in an SEO war in an area of lower profit then eventually they may get frustrated and quit or go after other markets.

Many people focus on improving their sites, but once you get near the top providing competing sites adequate amounts of disinformation may help keep you there. In SEO the only numbers you can trust are the dollars in the bank account at the end of the day (assuming they are not there from a fraudulent transaction).

Flash Design 101 (SEO & Flash)

Apr 20th

(or how not to be an schmuck just because you are using flash)

  • Most sites have at least one goal in mind. It is nice if the phone number looks great, but far better if the merchant site ACTUALLY SELLS SOMETHING OR GETS PEOPLE TO CALL.
  • Placing all text in images generally is bad usability and SEO.

  • Just because a feature is available does not mean it needs to be used.
  • Don't disable the browser back button without contacting the merchant and marketer unless you want shot with a shotgun full of rock salt.
  • Have enough decency and self respect to create a descriptive page title for each page. Running all the words together is no good. If you a making a site for Bob Ross you may even be able to work Happy Little Trees into one of the page titles, but creating a title like BobRossFlash with all words ran together is just no good. In that case the trees are not happy.
  • If you test to see if a visitor has flash and they do not maybe, just maybe a one image error page with an image full of text telling them they are all screwed up is a bad call?
  • If your site design is good and the content is of merit some people may want to bookmark the site or pages from the site. Why not embed the flash into html so that the site has multiple pages with unique page titles and textual content?
  • MacroMedia has an SDK which makes flash easier for search engines to spider, but flash still lacks content. add some content in <NOEMBED> tags if you can't add text to the page
  • If by default you generally screw up all the above (and more) and then want to sell a client SEO services for many many thousands of additional dollars you are dishonest and a thief.

Surely there are more, but I just woke up...

What is your least favorite whamodyne flash design errors?

The Pope & Link Building

Apr 19th

So a new Pope was elected. I do not follow religion much, but I do offer legitimate charities my ebook free.

A friend of mine does a good amount of link building and runs a few topical blogs.

One of his recent blogs was featured in AOL, BBC, Yahoo!, CNN, MSNBC, Salon, Guardian Unlimited, etc etc etc

He created a blog about the Pope, which was a unique idea when he did it. Many people could do well to write about their interests even if they do not have a business model in mind. Odds are if you enjoy the topic it will show in your writing and it will not seem like work.

Not every site has to make money. Some provide valuable services or build social currency. From that sometimes you can make profits in other ways, or maybe only profit from a spiritual front.

Pope Benedict XVI was just elected, and no doubt if Andy keeps enjoying and working as hard as he has been he will continue to have a voice in that space.

Good Post by Stuntdubl

Apr 19th

Google Fixes 302 Error?, Tivo Chatting w Yahoo! & Google

302 Redirects:
Claus over at ThreadWatch is reporting Google may have solved their problem.

Tivo:
TiVo is in talks with Google and Yahoo over a possible deal aimed at bridging television and the web. The deal would likely be exclusive, which means whoever partners with Tivo may get stuck overpaying if a bidding war ensues.

Interview:
Of me. I could have answered a couple questions better. Interviewing people is an exceptionally easy way to build links.

It is fairly rare that marketers turn down an interview opportunity if you approach them nicely.

SEO Friendly Affiliate Programs:
May not be so friendly if you grow your link popularity too quickly.

Ethical SEO:
I got this great comment via email:

I think when people talk about ethics in business they are concerned about someone cutting into their profits or threatening their profits. It has nothing to do with human rights or suffering (which is wrong). Either way, business people will continue to talk about ethics all day - even while they own sweat shops - because sweat shops have very little to do with ethics.

That comment was the foundation for a quick article I just jotted down. Please leave comments and hate mail below. :)

Wal Mart Facts, Brand & Link Building

Apr 17th

Wal Mart has no brand strategy. Instead of coming up with one they do small random acts of good and then spend 10 times as much to market how wonderful they are.

They then further their lack of brand by creating http://www.walmartfacts.com/ as a site people can visit to learn the truth about Wal Mart. The problems with that are:

  1. it does not give Wal Mart any legitimate brand strategy

  2. Wal Mart is still hated by many people
  3. the web is a bad place to try to spread pro mega corp propaganda, as...
  4. Wal-Mart-Facts.com is still avialable if anyone wants to register it. Surely it could be a fun project that would garner a number of links. You probably could even make a one page list of anti Wal Mart sites, contact them, and ask them to link to you and quickly outrank the official site.

Hate can be a cheap source of link popularity. Market leaders make the rules, but there is no reason to follow them.

Pfizer is another company which has been doing the right thing :(

SEO Audio

Apr 12th

Jim Boykin busts on the audioblog scene with the exclusive WeBuildPages theme song. hehehe

If he posts often I am sure he will end up having one of the best SEO blogs.

Bonus audio: I chatted with John Jantsch (long download time!!!) for about an hour a week or two ago. I usually get bored listening to anything that is over 3 minutes long, though I did find it interesting to hear how my voice changes over time (I have never done much public speaking and I think there were over 100 people listening - eek).

When I was 16 I remember someone told me I had a great radio voice, though listening now I am not hearing it. John however does, and was a great host. Thank for having me on John.

Also John is going to interview Andrew Goodman on Wednesday for some PPC chat at 1PM Eastern.

Links are All You Need !!!

Apr 9th

links, links, links, links, links, links, links, links, links.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.
There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be in time
It's easy.
All you need is links, all you need is links,
All you need is links, links, links are all you need.
links, links, links, links, links, links, links, links, links.
All you need is links, all you need is links,
All you need is links, links, links are all you need.
There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.
All you need is links, all you need is links,
All you need is links, links, links are all you need.
All you need is links (all together now)
All you need is links (everybody)
All you need is links, links, links are all you need.

Death of SEO, Part XVII

Apr 5th

SearchTHIS: For Whom the Search Bell Tolls

From the communications I have seen, the advice offered to site owners is pretty consistent with what is posted on the search site in helping site owners avoid terrible mistakes and helping them structure content better. Rumors abound relating to search sites deliberately trying to remove agencies from the picture with search advice.

They probably don't typically want to remove agencies to offer quality in depth advice in house. They simply want people to realize that PPC ads are better than SEO, which of course is not universally true.

Also, if they can get enough people to think that structuring their site is all they need to do then it becomes much easier to create relevancy algorithms and mitigate index manipulation.

With search sites offering counsel to webmasters on how to properly structure sites, why should a site owner pay anyone when they can simply check in with Google for a search solution?

Because Google will not say "this is the most effective way to undermine our current relevancy algorithms." Most of the people who are making a living from manipulating regular search results may not have enough money to reach those direct search engine channels.

Pay per click will get easier and easier to sell and manage, but that market will also get increasingly competitive.

As long as there are social networks and machines that interpret them there will be SEOs. Surely as time passes it will get harder, but that means more profits for those who do it well.

Incorporating Third Party Triangular Link Email Spam as Effective SEO?

Apr 2nd

Hello I am a Bot, Please Link to Me:
So I just got spam email offering a trinagular link relationship. They didn't mention my name. They do not know who I am. Hell, they might even be a script. Not a big deal really.

An Even Trade?
Unlike most reciprocal link spam requests I get, this wanted me to link to a site which regularly lists on the first page of Google for terms such as "SEO."

In exchange they wanted to give me a link on this crap site:
www.hannahdesign.net
doesn't this directory look appealing?
www.hannahdesign.net/business-directory/linkspage.htm You are only as good as Your Partners:
Some firms like to play stupid when they outsource things. They like to say "we didn't realize what they were doing" but after you have been providing SEO services for many years you should have your shit in one sock.

If you can't promote your own SEO site without sending spam email then what does that say about the quality of service you provide to your clients?

Even if it is a lack of research that caused the problem it is still your fault for partnering up with people who provide shoddy services.

A friend of mine wrote popular software. A person who he hired to do link building spammed people. I being a friend of this person told him about the spam I got and he fired them. Weeks later they were still sending spam at least a few times each week. Firing a shoddy partner does not necissarily mean they will stop!

Email Spam Builds Brand, or Maybe Not!
In a service based industry such as SEO why would any well established company use automated scripts or outsourced email spam to promote their main site? In a social network that is a rather stupid way to build relationships.

If an SEO firm is that successful at ranking and is that sloppy promoting their own site imagine how they must destroy their customers brands.

At least 3-5 times a week I get asked who I would recommend for SEO services. I certainly will not be recommending these people anytime soon.

Building Social Value:
I do not think link exchanges or triangular linking schemes are bad, but I think that they are not usually cost effect on a unit time basis. Most link trade offers are a waste of time.

Emails like this one are the exact reason I emphasize that most people new to SEO should look at some of the community aspects of their topic and try to build social relationships to augment their SEO efforts.

I still like the idea of picking at the edges and am a big fan of manipulating the machines sense of authority, but if you are trying to build a business and a strong brand why not try to build it authentically at the same time too?

At some point after you have built enough brand value it probably makes a bit of sense to be a bit more conservative with the promotional techniques as well. Using that measure, the email I just got sucked.

disclaimer:
I realize that the web is somewhat anonymous and competitors could try to destroy each others brands. Hence I did not list the main website in this post.

[update: I emailed the person / bot who sent me the link request pointing them to this page and got the following reply:

Hi,
I m not able to find my link .
Plz tell me where my link is placed .
Sorry for this.
Thanks
Sonal

hmm...guess you get what you pay for]

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