I’m writing this in response to a post that Adam (aka SEFL) made in regard to Full Link Disclosure.
April 28, 2007
April 25, 2007
April 20, 2007
I think Irony (Irina) is a asset to Spam-Whackers. I appreciate what she does, not only for the SE industry, but for her contribution to Spam-Whackers.
For years and years SEO has been perceived as an art of acquiring rankings in the search engines for certain keywords. Well, it’s true, of course, but only up to a point. I believe it’s also a big simplification that can lead (or should I say “has led”?) the industry into big trouble.
A typical SEO campaign usually starts like this: we carry out a keyword research, create a big sheet of keywords we need to target and then start writing pages of content around those keywords. The client expects us to bring their site to the top of the three major engines (or, at least, just Google), so we try hard.
Sure, an ethical SEO will also try hard to make sure the content makes sense, doesn’t ruin the overall concept of the site, fits in the navigation and provides useful information to one or another category of the potential visitors. But the longer the SEO campaign lasts and the more key phrases we include, the harder it becomes to comply with the rules above. Sooner or later it becomes the “site for keywords” situation; that is, we become slaves to our keywords and start messing with the initial philosophy of the site.
C’mon! It’s the logic of the development of the website that should dictate the choice of keywords, not the other way around!
The engines’ best interest
The engines are interested in delivering quality search results to their customers – the searchers. They have no reason to encourage aggressive optimisers who fight with each other for rankings and forget about the quality of the resource they are building. Actually, the engines have all the reasons to weaken (and, if possible, destroy) the existing business model dominating in the SEO industry, in which the clients want nothing but rankings from their SEO consultants, demand guarantees that the rankings will be delivered and often pay for the actually acquired rankings rather than the work done by the SEO.
That’s why the engines work hard to make the results of the SEOs’ work unpredictable and the search result manipulation as hard as possible. It is extremely easy to create an anti-SEO filter (an optimised page is very detectable), but such filters make the SERPs worthless, so the engines are trying to find balance. I’m sure that all the latest updates, starting from Florida in 2003, reflect the work done by Google to reduce all the abuse done by SEOs. Other engines are moving in the same direction. For example, the most popular Russian search engine, Yandex, which used to be very easy to manipulate, is following Big Brother Google’s example and applying new changes to the ranking algorithm to make the SEOs’ life harder.
Other measures Google is taking right now are messing with the number of indexed pages (which goes up and down almost at random), the Supplemental Result status all of sudden assigned to innocent and content-rich pages and other “practical jokes” that make it impossible to predict how an optimised page will behave in the engine’s results.
The new philosophy of SEO
So, what should be the new approach to SEO as business? What should the clients expect from their SEO consultant?
Well, the SEOs should still do their best to maximise the chances of the client’s website at ranking well for thoroughly chosen keywords. They should still apply basic SEO to every content page and dedicate a lot of time to research and self-education to keep up with the latest trends in the industry. But I said “maximise the chances”, not “deliver rankings”. We all – SEO practitioners and our clients – should once and for all accept that it’s the engines’ prerogative to decide which sites to put at the top, and we should never again get annoyed with it.
The SEOs should be able to provide detailed advice on how to design websites that are friendly to the engines and how to find balance between the development of the website and the keywords without turning the site into a mess. The SEOs should be able to guide and guard, making sure the site won’t get into trouble after certain SEO-related measures are taken.
SEO is a long, slow process, similar to raising a child and having nothing in common with waving a magic wand. The role of the SEO consultant in this process is the role of a teacher or a doctor. We are here to make sure the child (a website) will grow up healthy and learn the right ways to live and develop.
Of course, if an SEO is paid for acquired rankings, it becomes very hard to follow this philosophy. We all have to agree that this business model is outdated.
The rankings can be earned
The only right way to earn rankings is to develop our websites as logic, common sense and our visitors’ interest dictate, and then apply basic SEO to the pages built on this basis. It will take years, and there is nothing wrong with it. It always takes time to build something worth a reward, something that stands out and deserves special attention.
Sites that use this kind of SEO strategy may not show impressive results at first, but grow steadily and demonstrate an amazing ability to withstand the Google Hurricanes (a.k.a. Major Algorithm Updates), in which sites built to chase rankings often fall from the first pages and out of the Top 1000. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some sample sites that aim to earn rankings rather than chase them are used by the search engines’ research teams to fine-tune their algorithms and make sure that good rankings will go to those who genuinely deserve them. Try coming up with such a “sample” website, and watch the engines getting kinder to you with every new update.
A few days ago I received a request from one of my former clients: to find out why exactly the Google rankings for his site so drastically dropped and didn’t come back even a month later.
I said I couldn’t help, because nobody except a few people in GooglePlex knows exactly what happens to the ranking algorithm when the rankings drastically change. We SEOs can spot certain patterns and come to conclusions (which are probably, but not necessarily, true), but we can’t give a site owner an accurate list of reasons for ranking drops in each particular case and say, “Just do this and the rankings will be back”.
But I’m naturally curious, so I retrieved the old keyword lists from my archives (I haven’t touched the site in question in months), along with the saved results of the manual rank checks I do from time to time while working on websites. A brief check showed at once that though rankings in most groups of keywords had dropped dramatically indeed, other keyword groups, on the contrary, had improved over the months. This led me to the following conclusion: the ex-client’s site is not being penalised or permanently filtered out, but is suffering from yet another Florida-like update.
The “Florida” Google update (Google updates receive names according to a system very similar to the system of naming Atlantic hurricanes) struck in November 2003 (about the time I entered search engine optimisation). It dropped to the nowhere millions of sites that used to comfortably sit on the first positions for their favourite search terms. SEOs who had never seen anything of the sort before started making thousands of desperate postings on various SEO forums and blogs, and nobody knew what to do at first. Then people slowly calmed down and decided not to do anything rash, but wait and see what happens.
In January 2004, another update named Austin dropped still more sites. It looked like the second wave of Florida, but at the same time it brought certain victims of Florida back to where they used to be. A month later, the Brandy update released even more Florida-struck sites.
This happened more than three years ago. We’ve had more updates of a similar kind (supposedly applying new filters developed by Google engineers, testing them and then rolling back those that have proven ineffective). In October-November 2005, we had the Jagger update that went in three stages, but even more updates remained unnamed. Right now, in March-April 2007, we are having another one. It is also noticed that every update affects different niches and SERPs, in turn. So, the first advice: if your site got hit by a major Google update, don’t panic or turn your site upside down.
I’m not saying don’t do anything
If your site suddenly loses all the rankings, it’s a good time to check how clean it is. Check and double-check your code. Even such a small thing as a questionable alt attribute or a misplaced <h1> tag can trigger a filter. Check your linking patterns and if you are heavily cross-linking 20 or 30 sites belonging to you, remove the unnecessary links and merge the sites themselves where possible. Check your outbound links for bad neighbourhoods.
If you are sure your site is clean in terms of SEO, consider moving to higher website building standards. For example, if you have been considering switching from table-based design to a table-free one, there is no reason not to do so now. You can also add more content or revise your navigation. But be careful and don’t make your site worse than it was.
An aggressive link building campaign won’t help, but a few new solid links you might receive from your friends are a good thing.
Your rankings will probably return slowly during the next months. If they don’t, the next Google update might bring them back to you. In certain cases you will probably have to wait through two consecutive updates.
I know that it hurts when a sudden whim of the #1 search engine harms your business and reduces your income. Unfortunately, it’s useless to get annoyed about it and blame (let alone sue) Google. Google owes you nothing. Another useless thing is to keep bugging your SEO consultant all through the update with endless “Why me?” or “Please do something” emails and phone calls. Even the most knowledgeable SEO expert can’t stop a hurricane.
April 14, 2007
April 13, 2007
As far as I’m concerned DevWebPro is nothing but another e-mail spammer hopping to take advantage of those who don’t know any better. I’ve never heard of them until today. I don’t know how many spam e-mails I have gotten from them in the past. Maybe none. I usually just delete this kind of stuff.
This one caught my eye today. Frankly one spam e-mail is to many. Here are a few excerpts from the e-mail, but the subject is what caught my eye.
The reason the subject caught my eye is because I am an on-line merchant (Condells.com). Couple that with my hatred of e-mail spam (all spam), and you should get the idea.
What Is Your Merchant Service Provider Offering You?
Then a little text from the body
This is a DevWebPro Sponsor Update
Please see the bottom of this mailing for subscription information.
EMPS is a Merchant Service Provider who offers Low Rate ECommerce or Retail Plans,
Easy Set Up and Free 24/7 Customer Support. Call
1.800.426.6413 Today or Click Here!
Once you learn how much you can save processing with Express Merchant Processing
Solutions (EMPS), our small business experts, will walk you through the entire
process and ensure your transaction is fast and efficient. Our trademark
is providing fast, safe,
and cost efficient transactions.
I uploaded the e-mail to this web page. OK the page looks like sh*t. So does the e-mail. Look at the source code. The only thing I changed from the original spam e-mail I received from them is the personal information before the head tag.
DevWebPro seems to be closely connected to Ientrymail.com and or Ientrynetwork.net, based on links I saw in the source code.
In Goggling for DevWebPro everything looks good on the first page except this one result which had some very negative things to say. I think I looked at all the sites that came up on the first page. To me there was something fishy about most of them. No I didn’t do whois look ups. I just have a gut feeling that some of those sites on the front page are connected to the Ientrynetwork.net network.
April 12, 2007
Walk on my Path is a fairly new blog. The blog is owned and operated by Adam Senour (aka SEFL). If I remember correctly Adam (aka SEFL) got involved in blogging because he needed to develop a blog for a client. He started a blog to get some first hand experience about how to set up a blog.
Adam is somewhat of a tech geek, (especially in regard to IIS). His blog covers a wide range of topics, including some that deal with SEO, and Spam.
I have known Adam for some time because of his participation at IHY. In fact Adam was recently made a moderator at IHY. For anyone who does not know, that means that Adam hates Spam (all forms) as much as Irony, and I do. Adam does write about Spam on his blog, as well as some other SE related topics.
Welcome to the blogging world Adam.
April 11, 2007
I rarely view comment spam anymore. This one slipped by Akismet which meant I got a e-mail about a new post and the post was held in moderation for my approval. Of course I’m deleting it as spam, but since it was so stupid I decided to post the message. This one is different from most comment spam I get.
IP: 22.214.171.124 Date: April 10, 2007[…]
What Does Rel=”NoFollow” Mean? […]
It would appear that they are getting what they wanted. A link to their site. However, I’m going to add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to their links.
The spammer gets no link juice for their spam. I get something to post about. I think this is one of those rare occasions where I came out the winner.
Look at the URL. I don’t think I have ever seen one that Spammy.
Added February, 3, 08
The links are non working. Other than the domain name which I changed, the link and anchor text are accurate.
April 10, 2007
Some time last year Bloggers started tagging each other. I didn’t pay much attention to it, because I not a popular (or big time) blogger. In the SEO circles where where I am known, I’m generally not thought to highly of. Danny Sullivan banned me from SEW, and Jill put me on a moderated post basis at HR forum.
In the latest issue of Gray Hat Search Engine News It appears that I have been tagged. They could have tagged me before. I don’t know. In doing a little research about blog tagging (to refresh my memory) I discovered that Michael Martinez tagged me back in December of 06. Michael has since moved his blog to a new home at SEO-Theory.com.
For a little background on blog tagging I came across this blog post which will explain the tagging concept a little.
Some people respond to tagging by telling 5 reasons why they blog. Others tell 5 things about themselves. I guess I will do a little of both.
- Despite my name I am a guy. The aviator you may have seen of me on various forums was from a wedding picture taken in 1998. I tell people I’m like the “boy named Sue” if you ever heard that old Hank Williams song.
- I’ll be 63 this year (in May). I set down to a computer for the first time in 1998. I started getting involved in the Internet mid 1999. I had to quite my job to take care of my wife who was dying of cancer. I’m as dumb as a rock when it comes to any kind of tech stuff, but I do have a passion to help people.
- I hate all forms of Spam. Even the canned kind.
- I’ve alway been an introvert. Since my wife died in 1999 I became a hermit. My only social contact with people is basically on forums anymore.
- I have a degree in biblical history. I’ve been a foreman or superintendent for a couple of large companies building apartment complexes, shopping centers, or hotels.
At this stage of the game who do I tag? All the really popular bloggers have been tagged to death IMHO. Be that as it may I tag the following.
Chris & Gurtie
Adam Senour (aka SEFL)