MSN announced they are upgrading relevancy and coverage. The increased coverage likely means that more inbound link sources are getting indexed. From looking at rankings of a few of my sites it looks like:
anchor text got A LOT more weighting
many lower authority links that were not passing weight (due to not being in their index) are passing weight. For some competitive core industry related phrases (not SEO, another industry) I see a site that went from #150 to top 5 based on the anchor text of lots of low authority links.
fresh links are still heavily trusted, but sites with older links but few fresh links now rank a bit better than they used to in the older MSN, likely due to the more comprehensive index coverage. for as much as Google has beat down some directory links, MSN just gave them a lot of love.
Internal anchor text still counts, but it might seem slightly demoted, as a side effect of more competing pages and more links getting indexed.
MSN mentioned that they were also looking to get more into universal search.
Yahoo! Search Update
Yahoo! recently updated their infrastructure, then rolled out universal search and are getting more aggressive with search suggestions. You can see they are serious about universal search because they are not only promoting their internal content, but they are also promoting YouTube videos. I believe this also indicates that YouTube will remain the #1 video destination in years to come.
Rand also noticed that Yahoo! is using their homepage to drive search queries for recent news. As Yahoo integrates their own content in their SERPs even more aggressively look for them to get more aggressive on this front to help further their search brand.
As shortcusts and search suggestions get more advanced and more common they are going to be cheap traffic sources for those who understand the engines well enough to benefit from them. As search engines roll out these features you can always keep searching and keep testing until you figure out what causes them to select certain pages.
If you are looking to build links one of the easiest ways to do so is to place yourself inside a conversation that is already wildly spreading. Sites like Techmeme and Del.icio.us show what stories were recently hot, and you can find some bloggers who cited those stories using Technorati and Google Blogsearch. Google has a date based filter on news and recently launched a date based search filter for their regular search results which allows you to find fresh content on any topic. If you follow up on a popular story and contact these people you might find a few easy to acquire high authority links.
I can polish that post and market it, or I can take the best bits of it and rewrite it as a new post that cites some of the popular people posting on Google vs Facebook, insert pictures and a chart comparing Google to Facebook, and then start emailing some of the websites I came across on Techmeme, Google blog search, Technorati, and recent results in Google's regular search index.
Polishing your story, aggregating data in a pretty format, citing sources, and stroking egos are crucial to helping your story spread.
Avoid Brand Damage
It might be harder for me to succeed with this on Seo Book since Google branded SEOs as being scumbags. If my site was not about SEO it would be far easier for me to get links from those other sites, but it is hard to push market an SEO site to high authority tech channels without expecting some brand damage as a result.
Even if your site covers a lovable topic you still can get burnt if your ads are too aggressive, your contact email looks automated or spammy, or you contact mean spirited people. Use your gut instincts for judgement calls on who you should contact and how you should contact them, and don't place ads on your linkbait.
If your site is brand new then you likely are not risking that much if one person responds with a hate post. I once had a person link to me from a PageRank 8 site with over 1,000 inbound .edu links as the punishment for contacting them. Sorry to offend and thanks for the high authority link worth about $500. :)
Use Blog Comments Too
Another option would be to leave blog comments or have a friend leave relevant blog comments, but these are typically much less effective than personalized emails at building links. If you leave insightful comments without looking like a link spammer you are more likely to get links from your comments.
Many Ways to Filter Blog Search Results
When you search on Technorati and Google Blogsearch you can search for people writing about a specific subject and then organize those results by freshness or authority. You can also search for blog posts that cite a specific post related to your post. Another option with using date and blog search filters is to go back to some of the people who cited one of your recently popular posts and ask them to look at the post you are trying to spread.
These Tips are Timeless
You can use all these search tips to aid your link research using seasonal stories that spread a month ago, last year, or three years ago.
I need to verify the new CMS is working ok. I figure the easiest way to do so is to do a bunch of stuff with the site. Plus this will help me know what other features should be added. If you have any SEO questions please ask them below. Also if you have any ideas for improving the site layout and feature set I am all ears on that too.
I recently saw a spam AdSense site covering just about every angle of the financial category, with
about a half million rented links (many are sitewide on PR8 and PR9 sites)
thousands of pages of near Markov generated quality content
ultra spammy internal site structure
a bad design
ranking for well over 10,000 unique Google search queries
likely making anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 per day from AdSense
Some high ranking sites can last for years as long as they stay out of the limelight. But when those sites get public scrutiny they need to have enough community influence to make a search engineer fear hand editing them.
As soon as non-corporate sites get mentioned on a popular SEO blog (as a success story or a spammy site) they stand a good chance of getting killed. My site that got hand edited by a Google engineer was nuked after I signed up for Google Webmaster Central and an SEO blogger mentioned the site.
The moral of the story is it is best to not seek exposure as or get categorized as an SEO play unless your brand is strong enough to hurt Google if they try to hurt you.
When a page or section is new and you are competing against older sites that have built authority for nearly a decade one of the easiest ways to gain traction is to pick a specific keyword phrase that is not that competitive and go after trying to rank for it.
Often I find myself making a page title relevant for a wide basket of related keywords, then when I check the rankings the page comes in at #12 or #16. My mom's blog currently ranks at #13 in Google for weight loss calculators and #4 for free weight loss calculators using the page title Free Diet, Calorie, & Weight Loss Calculators. The page also ranks #30 for diet calculators and is deep for calorie calculators.
The best thing to do here is to focus the title on the phrase closest to ranking at the top, and try to get it a few more links. If the page starts picking up organic traction after ranking and eventually grows into a self reinforcing authority status then I could help it get more traffic by including those related phrases that don't make much sense to highlight in the page title right now.
If a site has 100 units of link equity and offers 10 sitewide categories then each category gets 10% of the link equity. If that same site limits its number of sitewide categories to 5 then each category gets 20%. By being a webmaster who tracks results one of your biggest advantages you have over webmaster who do not track results is you can limit your navigational selection to suit your financial goals. Is something hot this season? Rotate in the featured category or featured products. Is a category unprofitable or far beyond the authority needed to rank for it? Place less emphasis on it.
The nice thing about template sites with includes and dynamic websites are that it is easy to quickly change your weightings to place more focus where the revenue is. A few #6 or #10 ranking pages in the good section suddenly going to #1 might mean 3x to 5x the earnings.
I have been noticing with Google recently that if you search for something like seobook video that Google pulls in results for SEO Book video as well. They may have been doing this for a while, but if so it seems like it recently got more aggressive. If you are banking on targeting an unpopular version of a keyword you may actually end up having to compete with some of the most authoritative pages ranking for the alternate more authoritative version.
This feature, spell correction, and toolbar search suggestions eat away at some of the easiest portions of the organic SEO arbitrage market by helping search engines consolidate language usage patterns as best they can.
Many authoritative tool pages have gobs of link equity, but rank for few keywords beyond their official name because they offer little background information. Providing no background information not only wastes ranking opportunities, but also makes it hard for some people to use the tool. In some cases it makes sense to keep documentation separated from the conversion process, especially if the tool is a for sale item, and especially if you are selling to people looking for an instant autopilot wealth generation system. But if your offering is of value and free, there is no need for the mystery card. You can make the download and/or usage instructions clear at the top of the landing page, and then get deeper into features and benefits as you go further down the page.
Since placing mint code on my tools page about a week ago hundreds of unique search queries landed about a thousand searchers on my keyword suggestion tool. About 10% of that traffic was from core terms, while the rest was long tail.
I could have paid Google $500 for that traffic, but I am fine with getting it for free. :)
In an SES panel yesterday Matt Cutts claims paid links pollute the web ,while he advocates off topic link bait as a useful search marketing strategy. Michael Gray and Greg Boser are a bit more honest:
Link Baiting, what Googleâ€™s suggest as link building strategy, is as egregious if not worse for relevancy than paid links - viral content of such an off-topic nature should not help your rankings and is more â€œpollutingâ€ than relevant paid links.
Linkbaiting is Expensive, Time Consuming, and Unpredictable
The reasons search engineers advocate link baiting are:
it is expensive
it is time consuming
the results are hard to predict
it requires social connections
it provides off topic low value traffic
it typically creates content of limited commercial value (other than the ability to pull in links to rank other pages for stuff they did not have enough relevancy or authority to merit ranking for)
the valuable results can take a while to show
it often undermines the credibility of the source doing it (by allowing people to think of information from certain sources as link bait, which is a derogatory classification term)
many companies have restrictions that prevent them from doing it
Because of the above reasons, the technique of link baiting is outside the reach of most webmasters. Since few people can do it, it is highly unpredictable, time consuming, and expensive OF COURSE that is the only way search engineers recommend you build links. They might even like you to believe that almost all links are acquired that way. The more brutally tough it is to build your SEO strategy the more appealing AdWords ads look.
Shopping Search? Try AdWords!!!
If you can't buy links to rank, then some irrelevant old sites and marginably relevant articles on authoritative domains (that typically gained their link based authority before Google polluted the link graph with AdSense and NoFollow) gets to clog up the organic search results, and the only way people can find commercially relevant results is if they look at Google's AdWords ads.
A mainstream media magazine did a spread on one of my friend's websites, where my friend gave them virtually all the content for the article, and they refused to link to my friend's site in the article because they felt it would be too promotional. Sorry, you already sent out 100,000 magazines with the article in it. You already were too promotional. Sadly, that is just one more example of the death of organic links caused by Google's fearmongering.
If I have a blind bid that is too high would it tell me to lower that bid? Nope. A search marketing campaign is only properly optimized if it sends more money to Google, which is the problem with the field of SEO. Google doesn't get a cut of the action. The organic results have yet to be properly optimized.
Why Waste a Breathe Scaring People Unless the Intent is to Lie or Deceive?
Matt also says that it's very difficult to buy paid links effectively as a business or as a search marketer because Google does such a good job detecting and eliminating the value of those links.
How often do you hear Matt Cutts droning on about duplicate page titles or stuffing your meta keywords tag? You don't, because they are no longer effective.
Google would not be trying to brainwash webmasters about links so often if paid links didn't work. The problem with paid links is they work too well.
Who is Getting Paid?
To properly understand search marketing you have to understand that the fight over search spam has NOTHING to do with result relevancy. The label of spam is only applied if the wrong company gets paid.