More on the Rel=NoFollow Tag...

Earlier there was speculation Google was going to announce a link NoFollow tag, but as it turns out a whole ton of people got together and also backed the idea.
Players in the new NoFollow tag:

Ask Jeeves / Teoma was the only major global search engine which did not immediately endorse the tag. Since they look at link clusters blog spamming does not affect them the same way as it does most other search algorithms. bBlog was not on the list, but my friend Eaden said that he too will follow the tag.

Is the NoFollow tag just for blogs?
The change is not a blog only change, but is a change which can be used on any site. If someone else is placing a link to your site or if you are linking to something shifty as an example of something shifty then that would be a good time to use the NoFollow tag.

What the NoFollow tag looks like:
Instead of linking to a site with
<a href="">Site</a>
the link would now look like
<a href="" rel="nofollow" >Site</a>

More Info on the NoFollow Tag:
Danny Sullivan has a long post about the nofollow tag explaining lots of the logic behind the new tag and how it will effect webmasters.

How will the NoFollow Tag Effect the Web?

  • Many bloggers have amazing link popularity due in part to comments they left on other blogs. This will cause lots of blogs which were primarily connected by comments to lose a good bit of their link popularity.

  • Many automated blog spam scripts may work harder to find the blogs which are slow to change. While the number of spamable blogs will go down the value of effective blog spamming will go up.
  • Bloggers will have a big riot celebrating this move. After time passes they will still get spammed and realize that this will not immediately cure the problem.
  • More bloggers will get approached with a bit of $$$ for writing editorials. More bloggers will sell out.
  • NickW is posting everywhere about how he does not like the change, which should be a good way for him to build some link popularity, as bloggers near and dear to comment spam are already linking to him ;)
  • Some people who were posting useful and thoughtful comments in part to gain link popularity may post less often.
  • Some worry that people will abuse this tag for SEO purposes, but those who would do that could just as easily use other redirects, so I really do not see any change there.
  • This change does make the role of link popularity (and how to keep it) much more visible. The "keep your link popularity" line of thinking may kill off a ton of natural linking, which in the end really does not help anyone.

  • SEOs might rush off to make their own blogs. Certainly the editorial side can be handled on the cheap
  • When low hanging fruit is removed from competitive marketing environments other opportunities and techniques also arise. Some people from WMW believe content stealing will become far more common. WMW is the only forum I have seen with significant coverage of the new NoFollow tag with threads here and here

Blog comments sure did make it easy for Joe random schmuck (like me) to rank good about a year ago but the low hanging fruit does not last forever. About 10 - 12 months ago I had a personal blog up to a PR7 with no link buying or renting. Last super bowl Google was even ranking that site high for Janet Jackson... As time passes and the web develops more and more low hanging fruit disappears. As search engines make their moves some will be reactive and some will almost always be one step ahead.

MSN Search to Launch, Picasa Upgrade, Google Nofollow Tag

MSN Search Chatter:
Andrew Goodman notes that the bulk of the MSN Search switch is to occur tomorrow. W00T for SEO's arount the globe!!!

Google Launched Picasa 2.0
John Battelle posts about their build it and charge later marketing strategy.

Google Nofollow Tag:
Wow, I guess they are going to create one, but I doubt it will stop blog spamming anytime soon.

Adding Worthless Services for Free Marketing...

I have been getting links for a few friends recently and have noticed some pretty solid links pointing at some pretty shoddy / worthless SEO services (such as free automated Search Engine Submission services).

Many of these links are from well themed .edu pages that have not been updated for years. Some of these less than stellar services are being clustered with the like of authoritative search sites such as SearchEngineWatch and major search engines.

A few options:

  1. Write more compelling posts which hopefully naturally gain more links.

  2. Edit my content a bit better and stop using words like "fuck" so that more links come naturally.
  3. Make more friends. Friends don't let friends go unlinked.
  4. Contact some of the .edu sites and remind them that submission services are past their time and remind them that they can get current info for free by reading my ebook if they would like a copy.
  5. Sponsor or donate to other sites.
  6. Test a blog spamming script <-- joking as that would suck when people tested them back and that would be like 1,000,000 negative karma points ;)
  7. Create some free cool tools to help build natural linkage data...of course many of these tools would likely need to infringe on various search engines TOS, and thus could get my site banned from search results.
  8. Write lots of press releases until one sticks. :)
  9. Make a rant post on my blog about these links. This would be a complete waste unless it also brought on other ideas of value.
  10. Create and market my own useless white label meta search service or start a directory. Require linkage for inclusion.
  11. Ask other bloggers (where is NickW) to link to this post using "free search engine submission" as the link text. Google Bombs rock!!!
  12. Create a white label anonymously registered automated free search engine submission service which requires and checks for a link back to that site before "submitting" the other sites. Advertise that site on AdWords heavily until it picks up linkage data and then advertise this site on that one.

While this post will probably not be enlightening for most people reading this blog it is a reminder to those new to SEO that there are many many ways to skin a cat, or a dog, or a fish, etc.

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Google AdSense Problems, Making Cheap Sites, Killing Comment Spam, Google Fiber Optics

Google AdSense:
Some are questioning if & for how long it will make sense. Others are noticing some problems too.

For those Making MANY Sites:
Designing a Low Maintenance Website

Comment Spam:
Google to try to kill comment spam? ... of course even if they do people will still comment spam on the off chance that people do not impliment this.

Google Fiber Optic Network?
Google wants 'dark fiber'

Yahoo! Partners up with Verizon:
Yahoo, Verizon ink Web tie-in

Name a Book:
John Battelle is looking for a subtitle for his book.

Affiliate Links & SEO, Aggregators & Copyright Law

Affiliate Links & SEO:
my friend Tanya wrote an article about how affiliates can use their linking strategies to improve their SEO.

Aggregators & Copyright Law:
ThreadWatch covers a topic that has been floating around the blog world.

Databases & Scalable Social Networks:
Adam Bosworth conversation

The Missing "M" in SEM:
in a thread about questions to ask an SEM a ton of good questions are listed, but people do not speak much of the M (marketing)... Black Knight lists many of the questions an SEM should ask the prospective clients...including questions like:

My first question is always "What is your USP?" or "What does your company deserve to be ranked in the top ten available resources for?"

Andy Beal has stats from a survey showing 74% of companies are not working with 3RD party SEM firms.

Deep Web Research:
While working on Rubber Stamped Peter D finds a new deep web resource. Its a shame that there are a limited # of hours in the day with all the cool search / information related white papers out there...

5 Free Goodies:
5 Free Windows Web Design Apps You Can't Live Without! (found on Jeremy's linkblog)

Economic Model of Personal Publishing:
some great stuff in the comments area of Dan Gillmore's What Smart Money Wonders, including:

though sometimes we forget the effect of echo chambers.

Funny Stuff:
She frickin' blocked me
Happy Tree Friends (kinda gross)
Darth Tater

Google Hilltop Algorithm

Why Page Theme is Usually More Important than PageRank:
In the Hilltop white paper they talk about how they can use expert documents to help compute relevancy. An expert document is a non affiliated page which links to many related resources. If page A is related to page B and page B is related to page C then a connection between A & C are assumed.

Additionally Hilltop states that it strongly considers page title and page headings in relevancy scores (in fact these elements can be considered more important than link text).

The benefit of Hilltop over raw PageRank (Google) is that it is topic sensitive - and is thus generally harder to manipulate than buying some random high power off topic link would be. The benefits of Hilltop over topic distillation (Teoma) are that Hilltop is quicker & cheaper to calculate, and that it tends to have more broad coverage.

When Hilltop does not have enough expert sites the feature can be turned off. It is believed that Google is using Hilltop to help sort the relevancy for some of their search results today.

On the Search Financial Front...

Ask Jeeves:
Piper upgrades Ask Jeeves stating "Ask Jeeves is not only remaining a meaningful search alternative, but is gaining faster than most other players." He estimates the company's usage rates rose 18 percent from the third quarter, the highest increase for the sector.

Had a bad quarter. Tough news for them. It is a real shame since they sold me twice as much traffic as Overture with a greater than 90% bounce rate. In no way to I recommend using least not on any large scale.

Cheaper cost per click does not translate into savings when you are buying automated or useless traffic.

Online Ad Spending:

should buy Technorati? (found on SEL)

New Big SEM Firm:
WPP to enter search marketing general take is that good SEO generally does not scale that well, but they are opening 47 search offices. Best of luck to them...they will need it.

I think I have been offered at least 5 jobs in the last 6 months...with some people wanting me to form brand new companies with them. There certainly must be a bunch of opportunity in this space!

Seth Godin on the Search Industry

Seth Wakes Up to search?
A while ago Seth made a comment which basically said SEO is luck and that AdWords was the only way to do search. A while ago I posted an article about why Seth is wrong about search.

Recently he posted a post titled "Is there a Search Industry," which has been getting less than rave reviews through the SEO community.

Later Seth talks about mob justice activity within the blog community (which perhaps relates to this feedback he has been getting), but what would he say if the whole search industry said well packaged virally spreading marketing books are chuck full of bullshit?

How can such a progressive thinker be so behind the times on search? Seth is getting a bunch of links from these out-of-left-field posts about search, so maybe he is just looking for some link popularity?

MSN Search Launch Rumors, Blog Comment Spam, Google Duplicate Content Penalties, Random Google News

MSN Search to Launch:
Feb 1 according to rumors AusieWebmaster. He has been right on with some of his past rumors.

Blog Comment Spam:
It's a mean & nasty world out there!

I swapped over to the newer version of MovableType and had no MT Blacklist for about a day...and really it only took 1 day for me to get pissed enough to install it.

For the record, Soma Online is a complete POS. So is pacific poker.

I wonder if anyone ever uses these bots for socially constructive ideas.

Google Duplicate Content Penalty:
A dup penalty timespan is based on your offense.
1st Offense: 30 days
2nd Offense: 60 days
3rd Offense: 90 days
found on SEW Forums

update: Danny Sullivan asked Matt Cutts and he stated that those times were given as "for example" time periods.


How Not to Pick / Name a Site / Domain Name

Not sure I any sort of worlds leading expert in this category, but I have seen some people name some domains that just did not make much sense to me. Link Proctor was great software...too bad I didn't know what the hell proctor meant when I first saw the name. I ranted to Brad Callen about that name and he changed the software name to SEO Elite...which is a better name IMHO...and pretty darn good software to boot.

A recent link network came out by the name of Link Smile. I looked at the design and the smiley guy on it and it made it hard for me to want to take it seriously...made it hard for me to want to spend money.

Today I just got a spam email message alerting me to a new link exchange network by the name of Link Fart...which I thought was such a bad name that it inspired this post.

Colors and words evoke emotions, and if the first subconcience response people have is one of alert, disgust, or confusion in most cased your name is probably not helping you sell more widgets.

Some tips on choosing a company or domain name:

As a disclaimer: I bought that domain name when I had 0 knowledge about branding. It is a crappy domain name IMHO.

[update: a friend of mine also pointed me to Name Boy as a good domain name resource. Thanks Todd]