The Great Google Data Grab of 2007

If your Google AdWords quality score is too low, Google will allow you to compete in the auction with reasonable ad pricing ONLY if you give them your conversion data:

The arguement from my representative was that your pages are terrible so if we can’t see how well you convert our users then we will need you to pay $10.00 per click to make up for your low QS (my average keyword price was $2.75 at the time). That of course would have put me out of business.

Once I caved and allowed them to snoop on my conversions they allowed me to keep buying at or near my original keyword price.

If your copyright content is being uploaded to YouTube, Google will protect you if you upload your copyright content to Google:

I see a monetization in the works.

a) All of the big companies will make the effort to supply Youtube with good qualities of their videos. Movies, Shows etc.
b) YouTube gathers all that stuff, and builds the largest database of top quality videos.
c) Youtube offers the media companies to enter into a partnership. “Hey guys, you already have the stuff uploaded…why not sell the premium content to our millions of users?

If people are scraping and stealing your content Google will eventually allow you to rank for your own work if you sign up with Google Webmaster Central and register your copyright work.

After all your sites are registered with Google, how easy will it be for them to force compliance on smaller webmasters? Given the indiscriminate attitude exhibited when Google recently hand edited PageRank scores, it seems there is good reason to not register with the borg.

Published: November 1, 2007 by Aaron Wall in google


November 1, 2007 - 4:43pm

A few days ago, I was thinking, why doesn't Google require webmasters with commercial/e-commerce type sites to hand over their usage data, esp. conversion rates and % of repeat customers to them to rank in the organic Google SERPs.

It would probably be a way better proxy of how good an e-commerce site is instead of relying on incoming links generated mostly through (value-?)added content that has little to do with how good the actual store experience is. High conversion rates + many repeat customers might be a way better signal of quality and I doubt Google would shy away from leveraging their power to do something like that.

Any idea why they're not doing something like that? Maybe they're already moving there slowly: first asking people to do it for their paid listings only, but also using it for their organic listings and then eventually "asking" webmasters to give them their conversion data to be able to get into the top10 of the organic SERPs?

This is quite a bit off-topic, but I cant help asking it (knowing you plan on starting a google-safe start up before the year ends):

I know in most industries search traffic will probably be the better focus, but Im wondering if webmasters/SEOs who say "link traffic isnt worth it" are making it a self-fulfilling prophecy by thinking "links for ranking" not "links for traffic" (if one focussed on getting links for for direct traffic, I think one would ignore many of the links the average SEO is trying to get for their rankings).

Are there some industries where going for traffic from links can be a similarly good investment as going after the organic SERPs?

November 1, 2007 - 8:10pm

Hi Patrick
Yes there are industries where links or citations are worth as much or more than search engine rankings.

Each day I sell far more ebooks from recommendations on other sites than I do from ranking in Google, and that is for an SEO related product.

A few years back Google stopped ranking this site for its own brand (bad relevancy filter by Google that hit many sites) and this site still had 85% of its (then all-time high) prior month volume, even when it did not rank for its own name. And that is with selling information on how to rank even when this site was not ranking.

Google has not been more overt with their data grab, because if they were there might be a backlash. Look how much negative press they took for changing toolbar PageRank values...and that had no bearing on traffic or anything...that was just changing an arbitrary value only located in their toolbar.

November 1, 2007 - 8:51pm

They are the borg.... but since they have all the traffic all advertisers are locked into them.... what do people do who are already buying everywhere else... you can't walk away from it.

November 1, 2007 - 9:33pm

You can't walk away from it, but you can try to shift a bit of your brand and awareness related budgets to content creation, viral marketing, and word of mouth related efforts instead of pouring all those dollars into Google.

November 1, 2007 - 9:05pm

Entries in both can be bought at a fixed price per annum. There are winners and losers but once you have identified the ones that work they can perform well. Theres always off-line advertising.

November 2, 2007 - 12:11am

I already knew that your site once didn't rank for "SEO book", but you still got the majority of your sales volume (I think I read it on your blog or your e-book?). However, I was wondering maybe all your other search terms make you far more sales than "SEO book" does.

Anyways, it's great to hear you say there are industries where links or citations can be worth as much or more than search engine rankings.

Actually, I think people who say direct link traffic is not worth much as opposed to search engine rankings (on Google) because rankings can give you *more* traffic/sales miss another point:

If it's your business model and especially if you're making a living off such sites getting an additional 100 sales from direct traffic might be worth more than getting an additional 200 from organic search. The added value in money is less, but there's added value in safety/a lower risk profile.

Sort of like investing in the stock market (or other investments). Nobody would say making 60,000$ a year on volatile stocks is necessarily better than making 50,000$ on blue chips.

Anyways, I cant wait to hear about the start up you said you planned on launching before the year ends ;-).

oh and sorry for going off-topic, but thanks for the thorough reply, Aaron.

November 2, 2007 - 12:19am

I think if you sell the same raw commodities that other people sell then search traffic is important to keeping the business going.

The solution to lowering search risk is to find some way to make your commodity a non-commodity that people talk about. This creates a two fold benefits

  • word of mouth lowers your risk profile search by providing a low cost alternate channel of customers
  • word of mouth ends up providing signals of trust and quality to search engines, which helps them rank your sites better AND raise your ad clickthrough rate and quality score to ensure you are charged less for their paid ads

If you are in high touch industries search may not provide enough of a cue of trust to lead to a conversion. I worked for one of the biggest websites as an SEO consultant. They didn't find me through search...they found me at a conferece.

November 2, 2007 - 1:37am

It's hard to stop the scraper sites, in many cases though they copy the page verbatim with the links pointing back to the site they scraped from!

Regarding Adwords quality score that only applies if you can do that (eg you're using Adwords to promote your own product so you can set up conversion goals). If however you're an affiliate for someone else's product this is impossible to do (so you just have to either make sure you get decent Quality Scores or run lots of variations of different ads as you know some will be made inactive).

November 2, 2007 - 1:47am

I see what you mean about trust when it comes to high-ticket items. I assume when it comes to buying an e-book for 79$ (which most people are a bit uncomfortable with) the conversion rate from search might not be as high as the one you get from recommendations on SEO forums where often moderators and trusted members recommend your e-book and only very rarely someone says your book isn't worth the money.

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