2004 Search Year in Review, Selling Out, Linking Schemes & Semantics

Dec 24th

The Passing Years:
Battelle reviews his predictions for 2004 and posts his predictions for 2005. Peter D reviews search in 2004. Search engines release their top searches of 2004.

Kottke posts his favorite links of 2004. Good posts like Radiohead in there - can't believe I got to see them this yr :)

Doodles:
Guy trashes Google's Doodle and gets called out on their blog. Wondering if there is something I can say to Google to get them to link to me from their blog?

Quality feedback (both positive and negative) is a good link building strategy for many. Too bad Google did not serve up a link :(

Selling Out:
iProspect nets 32 million dollars
InfoSearch Media goes public in a reverse merger
SEO Book.com acquired by <-- joking ;)

Linking Schemes:
Google slowed the spread of selling PageRank when they penalized SearchKing, but now there are a bunch of easy (and sometimes cheap) ways to build linkage data which manipulate search results:

  • blog comment spam (free - other than bandwidth costs and potential reputation costs)

  • legitimate blog comments (free)
  • blogrolls (free)
  • trackbacks (free)
  • wiki spamming (free - other than bandwidth costs and potential reputation costs)
  • forum spamming (free - other than bandwidth costs and potential reputation costs)
  • guestbook spamming (free - other than bandwidth costs and potential reputation costs)
  • leaving testimonials (free - other than potential reputation costs)
  • tell someone just how awful they are (free - other than potential reputation costs)
  • writing press releases (free - other than the time it takes to write. to distribute on some of the release sites there might be a small fee)
  • renting links from websites (cheap - sometimes you can get links from sites for well under their market value. some bloggers and the like may sell links for $5 to $10 a month)
  • renting links from brokers or a third party link renting site (usually a bit more expensive than some of the other options, but you are paying for convenience, and they may get you on some sites that you could not have afforded if you had to pay that site directly)
  • registering in directories (usually free or cheap one off payments)
  • participating in community linking programs (free or cheap)
  • support non profits and the like for links (free or cheap - It doesn't cost me anything to give away my ebook or for a software vendor to give away software. some charities may also provide long lasting or perminant links for a one off fee.)
  • general reciprocal links (free - other than time)
  • using RSS to get a ton of links (free)
  • creating your own link network (cheap - only need to pay hosting and design costs - though if you create link scheme networks you will want to have a good number of them that are not cross connected so if your network gets penalized you still have other income sources.)
  • buying out old sites and fixing them up (cheap - I have been offered top level category sites in DMOZ which were one of the top three or four sites in their category as ordered by PageRank in the Google Directory for a one off $2,000 fee.)
  • buying out old community sites and entering them into community linking programs (cheap)
  • renting links on a site and entering those link slots into a community linking program (cheap - pay for links from one site and get links from a wide variety of sites.)
  • actually posting things people would want to link to (free)
  • lots of other stuff I probably forgot to post...

Google slowed the spread of selling PageRank when they penalized SearchKing, but there are a bunch of easy (and often cheap) ways to build linkage data.

What constitutes a linking scheme? What makes one link valid and another one not? Automated, deceptive, and "for the user" are easy words to use, but then there are also legitimate and cheap techniques that have exceptional power over relevancy. At the end of the day it is just a game of semantics.

Many people say PPI directories are rubbish - but that's what Yahoo is and unfortunately people pay to list there.

We can say 'well Yahoo isn't an intentional manipulation of PageRank' (or in a special class) - well what makes them special?

The fact that they played the game of the web early and now a leader is the answer :source

Christmas Cards & Gifts:
Thanks to those who sent me cards and stuff - I appreciate it. I still have not went to the post office with any of the cards and stuff I bought, so the ones I send out - if I ever send them out - will be new years cards ;)

I actually do not feel as Screwdgelike as I normally do, I just have been scatterbrained and a bit busy.

Thanks to

  • those who gave me good ideas;

  • those who taught me;
  • those who inspired me;
  • those who helped me;
  • those who invited me to hang out;
  • those who brought me to the best curry in the world;
  • those who recommended me;
  • those who gave me feedback;
  • those who told me when I was all hosed up;
  • those who bought my ebook;
  • those who worked with me; &
  • those who are reading this post.

Google Theming, Gigablast Custom Topic Search, Death of SEO?

My Way or the Highway...
Dave Hawley (who is on my ignore list) recently created a thread to prove that signature links do not count. Given limited sets of data and a desired goal one can, after all, prove just about anything.

DaveN cites the thread stating that he thinks all links will help some, but that he is seeing more theming at play in Google today.

Questionable:
When you know people manipulate information systems and you need to research you should become a Skeptical Business Searcher

New Library:
Internet Archive's Text Archive project will challenge the recently launched Google library.

Search a Bunch of Sites:
GigaBlast allows you to create a custom topic search engine which searches up to two hundred of your favorite domains.

Taking Bets:
Sebastian reviews 2004, and bets that SEO firms will drop like flies in 2005. I have grown to know a good number of SEOs over the past year or so (and chat with many daily). Many come from bright business backgrounds, but it also seems to me that many of us also had exceptionally low points in our lives and looked to the web for something to do when other things did not make sense (I am definentally part of that second group).

I would not bet against the resiliency of internet marketers, especially with how fast and cheaply the web provides feedback. No matter how much search advances people will still make money off SEO services. Some SEOs will always be able to manipulate most any search results, while others will move on to other business roles.

I think niche SEO services (knowing everything about an industry or link building or directory registration or keyword research), more sophisticated SEO services (those who can instantly rank anything or know how to get around any technical problem), and more personalized SEO services (working exceptionally closely with just a few clients) will spread.

General broad SEO services for some random set fee to tons of clients will be a business model that provides less and less value as time passes and search advances.

More clients means more data, but understanding social networks and finding the key things that various web based businesses need to do to succeed longterm is not something that can scale out to work well with thousands and thousands of clients. Most base level salary workers can not do the deep analytical stuff and there is only so much that you can automate or mass produce before it loses value.

Some of the best SEOs work for a limited number of clients and share profit with companies that they help make successful. In the long run it is much more valuable to forge a few strong relationships than to spread too thin. From my experiences usually those who demand the cheapest rates also are the most likely to be bad customers in many many many other areas.

If customer SEO fees and service structure are not customly designed around what their sites need then they are:

  • paying for a package they may or may not need; &

  • probably are not getting the individual attention their business needs to succeed longterm.

Even selling things like directory registration or consulting I have fees listed on my website, but in my mind the numbers are arbitrary guidelines to qualify prospects...really nothing more. In my opinion no legit service price can be given for full quality SEO services without first extensively chatting and feeling each other out.

SEO in and of itself will not go away anytime soon, though many of the people doing it may create interesting new business models and ideas or have job positions that go by some other official name.

Then again I could be wrong ;-)

Do you think SEO is going away anytime soon? How will it evolve? Will customers learn to pay in jars of peanut butter?

Content SEO:
When I moved my other site the DNS propigated through amazingly fast (before I even had the site up - oops). My site was not up when Google crawled it and it still ranked at #6 for search engine marketing. Also here is the cache copy of the page. For competitive terms the actual page copy does not usually matter that much IMHO.

Google Search Suggestion Tool, Spamming Google: a how to ;)

Spamming Google 101:
DaveN has created a new SEO blog. The early posts already have a few blog spam and page hijacking tips, and DaveN has comments open for all.

Google's Search Suggestion Tool:
Earlier Google released a search term suggestion tool which has already been reverse engineered.

Some people have discovered suggestion data via links like
http://www.google.com/complete/search?hl=en&js=true&qu=google
which DaveN stated should be used as a proxy.

JasonD offered many helpful reverse engineering tips to asstute webmasters throughout the ThreadWatch comments.

A couple more tools which have came out from the Threadwatch thread...

Slashdot has a good long thread about Google Suggest as well.

Problems with the Google Search Suggest Tool:
If this tool ever made default it would help users search with longer queries (and thus more targeted searches), but it would artifically condense traffic patterns...thus making top keywords more expensive and static on both the free and advertising side of Google. The drop in ad supply would cause prices to shot up and encourage lots of click fraud. The other obvious problem with the Google search suggestion tool is that it suggests Eric Rice is a child molester, which is obviously uncool for Eric...

Amazing Posts 101:
NFFC asks what is the Best put down line in a forum setting....

My personal favorite is "I don't think there are any medications for being "honesty impaired", but that's something hes going to have to own up to."

Google Spam Reporting, What Links are Important?, Total Optimizer Pro Linking Tools

Nov 27th

Subscriptions:
Are usually not worth it...even if they are free.

Snitch Squad:
Google to hire remote quality raters. A while ago I was naive enough to think that spam reporting was generally worthwhile, but usually it has no effect and if it does then you are working for another company free of charge.

Google stands behind the branding / marketing angle of letting the democratic nature of the web determine relevancy, but just like all other engines they hand edit at least some search results. At least 9 time out of 10 people reporting spam would be far better off focusing thier time on making their own sites better instead of worrying about competitors.

Make content, socially interact, buy / rent / trade links...there are lots of things you can do to make progress. Even if you tell on someone today odds are that another site will replace them tommorow. Just make a kick ass site and get the links required for a search engine to understand that your site kicks ass.

Scaling Out PPC:
Is Search Sustainable? NFFC plays devils advocate with the PPC gurus.

What Links are Important?
Everyday someone has a "the sky is falling" post about how smart search algorithms are and how some links do not count at all. Recently WebmasterWorld hosted one about BlueFind. SearchEngineWatch hosted another thread where the author was determined to speak his own outcome when he started the thread. My good buddy Lots0 shot him down in post 25:

I just watched a page climb to page one for a VERY VERY competitive keyword, using ONLY guest book links with keywords in the anchor text... And No I am not going to give you the URL in a public forum, unless you want to send me about $25,000 first (expected first quarter earnings for this page). ...
I don�t know why some people want to give google more credit than they are due. I have seen many many people come on a forum like this and make all these statements about what google does or does not do, usually most all of these statement are FALSE.

My own opinion, I think some people want google to be some super all knowing, all powerful search engine and that this super search engine should be able to do all, even if at this time most of the things that some of these people think google does are technically impossible.

Also this idea that everyone that works at google is smarter than the rest of us, I find insulting. I have been pitting my wits against the �google super search engine� and their �super brained� employees for years... and winning (as have most of the folks around here).

Hi-jacked domains:
Google is having a few problems.

Linking Tools:
WebmasterWorld has a good thread about building a linking tool. Also I recently got to try out Total Optimizer Pro, but left for Vegas and have been playing vacation too much. I will hopefully have more time to review it soon, but I am starting to think that much of the best link building software will probably be custom developed software.

Overture & MSN Extend Partnership, Google Scholar Search, SEO Secrets

The Ruling Class:
NFFC is the David Beckham of SEO?

Auctions Expert...
knows how to make bank from click fraud, says Google.

While We are Selling...
google founders selling stock

Give it away, give it away, give it away now
Perfect 10 is in a sea of distress,
unimpressed by Googles information access.
porn is free
porn for me
say hell yes :)

Google Scholar:
New Google Scholar Search. Andrew Goodman has an interesting post about Google Scholar.

Toolbar
for your site. free and customizable.

Deskbar:
Google Deskbar API

The Best SEO Secrets:
are kept secret...says Nick W

MSN + Overture:
Partner up for another year.

Link Building Info:
Andy Hagans has a new site offering link building tips.

Scoop:
A while ago a sketchy self proclaimed "white hat page generator" (www.metawebs.com) hit the market. I do not know a ton of programming, but Dan Thies, one of my well respected SEO friends sent me an email stating:

It took me about 15 minutes to write a Google API app with PHP to fish these out of the SERPs, using a very small list of seed terms (<20 words). I stopped it after a while, but it's like shooting fish in a barrel to find these "unfootprintable" pages. It will get even easier as these sites get indexed, because it increases the odds of a "hit" when searching for them.

Various SEO Tools...

Oct 25th

Free Reciprocal Link Checker / Manager Tool:
ClickSentry link tool I have not tried it, but it looks cool.
(thanks for the Scoop)

Free PageRank Tool:
yet another one. DaveN says you should run it through a proxy.

Article Submission Spreadsheet:
Recently a guy named Zoran read my ebook and is trying to rank well for stuff like Search
Engine Positioning Firm
. He submitted articles to a bunch of sites and created a free XLS articles checksheet which shows over 70 sites where you can submit articles. Thanks Zoran :)

A while back I made a much shorter article list.

Adobe Partners with Yahoo!
Yahoo! Search to power Adobe Acrobat

Food for Thought
another interesting DaveN post

Obligatory SEO Motivational Poster (Funny?): Many SEOs spend too much time at the computer (well at least I do). Thus I designed and framed a wonderful deluxe collectible limited edition motivational poster...which reminds me to do stuff like exercise and see the sun.

Feel free to use it if you need some motivation :-)

Motivational Poster.

there are lots of other good motivational posters on the market as well...

How to Promote a Golf Site:
Make a fun game...
(thanks to John)

Cloaking Q & A, Deep Link Ratio Tool, Untitled Document

Oct 18th

AdSense Tool
SenseTool I have not tried it out, but it is free and looks neato...

Cloaking
a Q & A with Fantomaster

Backlink Update
Google did one yesterday.

Me Too:
the new Yahoo! Search sure looks familiar.

Deep Link Ratio:
When links develop naturally interior pages of a site acquire numerous links. Sites which have a ton of deep links usually have a broad range of refering websites and good traffic. This free deep link tool queries Yahoo! to look at the percentage of backlinks which are deep links.
(link from Tara via Danny)

Untitled:
Gary Stein talks about the keyword untitled (and gives my ebook a good review...thanks for that Gary).

I think something like Untitled Document or Untitled Page would be a cool name for an SEO firm.

Audio Clip:
I was on another marketing show recently. I feel weird being listed on sites with guys like Bob Bly or Jack Trout...I still have a ton of learning I need to do...luckily for me guys like those write awesome books I can read.

While peaking at Seth's blog recently I saw that Malcolm Gladwell has just wrote another book. <--- runs off to buy it...

If Blink is anything like The Tipping Point then it will probably be in my top 5 favorite books.

How to: Automate Reciprocal Link Exchanges

Sep 29th

How to: Automate Reciprocal Link Exchanges
I am not normally a fan of automating link exchange contact emails, but Doug Heil (also known as Ihelpyouservices) points out a "refreshing" link exchange request email that did a good job of fooling him. Arelis is one of the more popular reciprocal link exchange software programs.

Ineedhits.com Search Readiness Report

Sep 28th

I need better img alt tags & more on topic inbound links!!! please link to this site ;)

I got my Search Readiness Report PDF report back from Ineedhits.com

$30 is not a ton to spend for individualized report so I did not expect to get a ton out of the report. I would say if you are new to the web it might be well worth spending $30 on the report. They really only need to find one thing wrong or teach you one good tip to make the report worth its price. One thing I would recommend to improve the report is to give 1 to 10 type scores for each element of the report versus yes or no results.

Beware of 1P.com: Traffic Power now 1P.com

Sep 10th

SEO Consultants reports that they believe Traffic Power has purchased the rights to and is now using 1P.com...Just in case you are wonder who Traffic Power is, here is a prior post titled Traffic Power & Cold Call SEO.

The original Traffic Power brand has a good bit of tarnish to it...I was wondering when they would adopt a new name.

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