Archived posts from the 'Uncategorized' Category

What is the best search blog out there?

Obviously the very best search blog out there is the famous Gray Hat News, well known for their outstanding research and well balanced coverage. Unfortunately, GHN doesn’t bother you with boring SEO topics, so Claus Schmidt’s great list of SEO bloggers will lead you to some valuable additions to your daily readings.

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TGIF - Casting pearls before swines

Today I stumbled across a crowd in the Google Sitemaps Group posting long but pointless superhero-stories on how they have excluded Googlebot because Google is that slow in indexing and MSN and Yahoo are so much better.

You know that sort of uber-savvy marketing geniuses, don’t you? Someone told them that going to the Web where everything is free of charge and the search engines owe everybody and his dog instant rankings for any kind of crap they will get rich quick without spending a dime. Clueless journalists and zillions of scrupulous do-it-yourself sites powered by AdSense have mutated many serious and reasonable people to greedy and agressive freeloaders.

TGIF, so I did it again:

Oh well, you guys are funny. Just because you did not manage to get your stuff into Google’s search index that doesn’t mean nobody can manage it. Actually, ignoring 60% or even more of all referrers on the net is plain silly.

You cannot compare the major engines. They have very different ideas, and not the same data. A new engine like MSN lacks historical linkage data for example, and therefore MSN has to weight on-the-page factors more than Google. That’s a flaw, not a goodie. The same goes for Yahoo to some degree, although they have three predecessors (ATW, AV, INK), but those engines lacked a sophisticated link analysis.

Psst… here is a secret: to rank high at Google a new site must come with a solid marketing strategy. There is no such thing as technical tricks and SEO magic to get a site indexed and ranked. Plain diversified marketing, targeting every channel out there, will do the trick. Even word of mouth will boost your Google rankings.

“Fact is other search engines make it easier to submit a site and provide better results for unit of time and money invested in terms of traffic and in terms of visibility.”

Yes. Other engines are easier to spam because their quality control fails way too often.
“Better results” from a site owner’s perspective have nothing to do with relevant results provided to search engine users.

“In addition, new content needs to be available much more quickly than is the ‘norm’ for this process to meet market [read: customer] demands.”

True, Google does exactly that. Google’s news and feed search delivers new stuff within minutes on the SERPs, and Google’s Web search is pretty current when it comes to search results from trustworthy authority sites. If you don’t operate such an established Web resource, see above how to change your site’s status.

Your problems are

1. Ignorance
If you would have read the Sitemaps home page and other information publically available on Google’s site, you would be able to fund and manage your expectations properly. You say Google owes you free traffic in return for the sitemaps submission. That’s a misinterpretation.

2. Laziness
You’ve done not even half of your job. If you want to be successful on the Web, then you have to learn how things work. That includes studying all major search engines as well as every other source of traffic. On the long haul MSN and Yahoo will dump your pages if you don’t improve your stuff. They get better every week, and in a while they will have reached Google’s relevancy and search quality as of today.

3. Lack of patience and strategic thinking
Gazillions of sites online for many years do very well with Google. These sites have created a stable base of converting traffic coming from many sources, including search engines, over years, and that’s hard work based on reasonable well thought out strategies, and diligence. Why should you arrogant noobs pop up and get rich quick?

4. Arrogance
You guys think your stuff is indexworthy, search engine users –potential customers!– may respectfully disagree. Search engines, and that means all of them, are designed to find valuable and interesting content for their users. Since the first days of AltaVista they have improved their technology, and today all major players deliver pretty good results, w.r.t. to search query relevancy and timely information as well.

The engines handle huge amounts of junk and spam quite fine, but spammers have changed the game to a great degree. That means nowadays a site must gain reputation before the search engines honor great content or outstanding offers with free organic traffic. The engines weight reputation differently in their ranking algos, but reputation is an important ranking factor across the boards. You can’t gain reputation over night. Not on the Web, and not elsewhere.

Look at the first experimental MSN results a while back, they were overwhelmed with junk and spam. Look at MSN search results now, they’re much better, but MSN still indexes way more questionable stuff than Yahoo and Google. They’ve learned to factor in reputation. They still learn to do a better job, they have deep pockets and their engineers are smart.

If you don’t promote your Web presence properly, your MSN traffic will decrease, your Yahoo traffic will decrease, and Google will send zilch because you impatient and arrogant kids keep Googlebot out. Reminds me of my 3yo daughter crying “that is soooo unfair!” when she doesn’t get a candy 5 minutes before dinner.

There is a life without organic SE traffic, actually lots of sites do very well with bought traffic, but it is thoughtless and stupid to cut off any potential source of traffic.

Well, I should have known better, explanations like that are a waste of time. Here is the reply I got from the guy who bragged like a marketing guru specialized in search marketing research before:

What you now say passes my poor powers of comprehension; it may be all very true, but I can’t understand it, and I refrain from any expression of opinion on it.

Will I ever learn to avoid useless efforts? FWIW, feel free to take my ‘pearls’ to cast before other swines.

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Nailing Referrer-Spammers

The recent referrer-spam renaissance annoys me. Scumbags like the ten million pixels home page, ads on the moon and zillions more of Alex Tew plagiarists, assclowns like the dutch loan & mortgage scam afab.nl, legions of eBook diddlers like articledirector.com and other make-me-rich-while-screwing schemes, affiliate mobsters like googlecashworks or adsensetoyourincome, link peddlars like belinked.info, and gazillions of other low-life artists are running bots spoofing the HTTP referrer to make me click on their fucking scam URLs in my referrer stats.

Because those suckers are usually smart enough to avoid static IPs, it’s hard to block them. However, it’s possible to shut them down. I’ve sent a few cease & desist letters, received apologies, and stopped a couple of referrer spammers. Unfortunately, this approach involves work, that is research.

My emails cc:
· the admin/abuse/hostmaster email address of each domain appearing in the referrers
· the abuse address of the hosting company
· the abuse address of the domain registrar
· all email addresses collected from whois searches including the hosting company
· the abuse addresses of the ISPs from where the bots ran
· the email addresses of local authorities and all sorts of spamcops

Q: How to get the hosting service and domain registrar via domain name?
A: Do a whois search at WebHosting.info

Q: How to get the spammer’s ISP?
A: Search your server logs for the faked referrer URL and do a whois search at GeekTools for the user’s IP address

Q: What is a C&D letter?
A: Example C&D “Konstantin Lysenko and Sergei Goshko, stop your referrer spam bot or I’ll shut you down. 100 faked requests per hour to several URLs not linked from your site with your home page as referrer URL is abusive.” Example answer “Dear Sebastian, I worked on tool that checks my clients resources for inappropriate content. Possibly it went out of control. I disabled it for now. I’m really sorry it caused you problems. Thank you, Sergei”. The reply is laughable, but at least the referrer spam from that assclown was stopped.

Be creative :)



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Can you trust a SEO who steals?

Tahir J. Farooque runs a SEO service in Los Angeles: Cresoft Corporation. Instead of writing up articles on search engine optimization for the company’s Web site at cresoft dot com, he prefers to steal those from other Web sites.

Tahir J. Farooque is not only a content thief, T.J. Farooque is an incredible stupid plagiarist. When this not that savvy thief receives a cease & desist letter, the stolen content gets shortened a bit. Laughable to think a thief can get away with theft by rearranging the sales pitch thrown together from stolen content. But that’s Tahir Farooque’s poor mind. Putting a business at legal risk and asking for bad publicity seems to be easier than writing an own copy. Perhaps Tahir F. is not capable of doing his own research, but then he lacks a fundamental skill for a search engine optimizer. Would you assign SEO work to a stupid thief?

I’ve put up a page with screen shots, whois info etc. under Content Theft: Tahir J. Farooque’s plagiarism at CRESOFT.COM (Cresoft Corporation), feel free to link to it with a suitable anchor text.

UPDATE: The content theft sold the company, and the new owner apologized for the plagiarism. That’s why I’ve removed the info page linked above and crossed out the company name.

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The "Sozialgericht Bremen" Farce

Philipp talks about a german judge threatening a supermarket owner and blogger for a top10-spot for the court Sozialgericht Bremen at Google. I’d consider the judge’s letter business as usual in the Germany of 1933, nowadays it’s plain sick. However, I’m giggling thinking of a future disclaimer on german SEO sites “our work may get your butt in jail”. If you understand german, read the “Sozialgericht Bremen” letter here. Since the Sozialgericht Bremen farce made it in the press, chances are the blog post will outrank the court soon, and that’s well deserved. Hint: a few more Sozialgericht Bremen links can’t hurt.

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If your Web site was banned by Google

If your Web site was banned by Google for reasons like hidden text, invisible links, client-sided instant redirects, doorway pages etc., chances are the ban is limited to 30 days or a few months only. When you search for your domain name and you get a result page stating “Google knows zilch about that shady site”, and you previously had some listings on Google’s SERPs, then:

Save all your server logs and extract each and every request by a Googlebot.

Shortly after banning a site Google usually will drastically reduce its crawling frequency. That is Googlebot starts to check for suspected stuff, and no longer crawls for indexing purposes.

Look at every page requested by Googlebot. Double-check it for hidden stuff and artificial linkage. Fix the on-page mistakes (polite description for over-optimization). Delete the page if it is part of a thin-page series (high amounts of pages carrying low amounts of repetitive but keyword optimized textual content, a.k.a. “doorway pages”). Delete all (thin) pages which do a client-sided redirect to the homepage or a profitable landing page. “Deletion” means physical removal, not redirection to a clean page. If your doorway pages don’t respond with a honest 404 when Googlebot revisits them, the ban will not be lifted. Consider canned site-search results, thin product pages with full navigation (e.g. only SKU, name and image), and stuff like that shady too. If you think those pages are helpful for visitors though, then make sure SE crawlers cannot fetch or even index it.

Hire a professional SEO for a last check and a second opinion as well. Removing questionable stuff is a good opportunity to implement effective optimization.

As soon as the crawling frequency goes back to the old cadence, and you’re sure your site is clean, file a reinclusion request. Write up honestly what you did to cheat Google, explain how you’ve fixed your stuff, and why it can’t happen again.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a second successful reinclusion request. That means if you cheat again, even unintentionally, your site is toast.

If your site was suspended for 30 days or so, it can reappear on the SERPs even without a reinclusion request. However, filing a reinclusion request should not hurt, and doing it before an estimated algorithmic reinstatement can speed up the process, if the initial penalty was a hand job, which seems to require a human review to lift the ban.

Best of luck!

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Thanks folks

Thank you all for reading my blog and clicking the ads charity links that much. In 2005 I didn’t manage to become a real blogger, and I won’t mutate to a frequent writer next year, because 2006 will be the year of splogging auto-blogging in huge blog-networks, and I can’t output interesting stuff in a competitive cadence. However, stay tuned for a nice gem in January or February at the latest.

I wish you and yours an awesome holiday
Sebastian



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Google to provide SEO services to AOL?

John Battelle’s post on the Google-AOL deal contains a very interesting snippet in the updates:

….Google will also provide technical assistance so AOL can create Web pages that will appear more prominently in the search results list. But this assistance will not change computer formulas that determine the order in which pages are listed in Google’s search results.

To do a SEO job like this one I’d even ask Google for employment. Seriously, Google should hire professional SEOs for this task.

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SEO for Consulting Firms, Laywers, Tax Advisors …

To attract targeted search engine traffic, a consulting firm must publish all business secrets on the ‘Net. Well, that does not mean the payroll and the balance sheet, but I needed a provoking slogan for a piece I wrote on a suitable SEO strategy for consultants, which by definition do not tell anything without a fee payed upfront ;)

Asking why so many consulting firms lack search engine visibility leads to a simple conclusion: they hide themselves on the Web. They do actively prevent search engines from ranking their Web sites in top spots on the search result pages, although they spend shitloads of jolly green giants to operate fancy Web sites, which please the ego but not the engines or even the user.

In their constant fear to reveal knowledge which may be sellable some day, they praise their genius in terrific mission statements and generic visions, but they don’t put up any indexable content with the potential to rank for solutions and services they provide.

I hope it’s a good read: A SEO Strategy for Consulting Firms

Related link: Web Logs for Lawyers: Lessons from Ernie the Attorney

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SQUIDOO Impressions

Thanks to Peter’s reminder I’ve added a lens to Seth Godin’s content network, Squidoo BETA. The Lensmaster Workshop makes it easy to add text content, images, links lists, RSS feeds and whatever. Even a technically challenged expert on a topic should be able to put together a nice page within minutes.

Squidoo promises to share the ad revenue, but a few shared AdSense cents don’t make a goodie. If Squidoo ever gains an authority status like Wikipedia or the ODP, a well linked page in this network can help to move a Web site into a good neighborhood of related high ranked sites. For example if you have a Web site dedicated to foo, then link to all great foo related resources including your site from your foo lens, and wait.

Unfortunately, most likely Squidoo will never become a trusted authority from a search engine’s point of view; from the sales pitch:

WHO SHOULD BUILD A LENS?

You should, if you…

1. …have a Web site and you’re not happy with your PageRank in Google, a lens will increase it. That’s because a lens provides exactly what search engines are looking for: authoritative insight so people can find what they’re looking for.

Sounds like a fox’ free raid into the hen house. Inviting link spammers to flood a non-audited content network with crap is plain weird. LensRank will not be enough to close the loopholes:

Wikipedia has a system with one entry per topic. We don’t. Instead, we encourage multiple lenses on a topic. Then, we use an automated algorithm—LensRank—to rank the lenses. We look at user ratings, lensmaster reputation, clickthrough rates, frequency of updates, inbound and outbound links, and other factors and give the lens a number. And we make it clear to the lensmaster what her rank is and how to improve it.

There is nothing a savvy spammer can’t abuse with ease.

Besides potential spam issues, I do like Squidoo.

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