What kind of links can you safely build for SEO benefit?

So it’s been about 6 years since I’ve posted on this blog.  Wow!  Well I’ve been busy running a growing agency and had other priorities.  Hence the default WP template here and lack of general direction and purpose.  Anyhow, I’ve recently (mid-2013) sold my ownership in the agency and will be serving as an advisor/consultant moving forward, which means I have more free time in my day-to-day to provide verbal discourse such as the below.  Enjoy!  :)

Question:  What kind of links can you safely build for SEO benefit in 2014 and beyond?

Simply put, none.

It’s depressing to say that, and I think just a bit “unfair” too, but just because I don’t like the situation doesn’t make it less true. Continue reading

A Beginner’s Question… Submitting to Search Engines?

I just got an email from one of my clients who does web development and fulfillment for a number of websites in the communications industry. The question to me was:

Jon, can you take a look at the email below and see if you can assist me with understanding his concerns?

And the “email below” essentially stated (paraphrasing and taking my liberty to edit):

…With (my website) in reference to SEO, what are the benefits of bringing traffic by submitting to search engines? In addition what is the difference from submitting to sites and paying for clicks? I have done both with my domain and understand pay per click a litte (I know there are many little tricks which I do not know) but I do not understand the benefit of submitting to the search engines. Does this get you free traffic eventually when accepted or does it allow you to get in specific programs when accepted.

Where to begin? Well, as this post is essentially my recycling this (IMO noteworthy and useful) email conversation, here was my response:

I suggest he read some beginners guides to SEO. This is a great one – http://www.seomoz.org/beginners.php. Frankly it would take me several days to begin to answer his questions… I’d have to essentially teach him all about SEO…

In short, there are two ways to get traffic from search engines – “organic” which is the “regular” results… and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) which are the ads you typically see at the very top and on the right when searching. The two function very differently.

With PPC, you literally pay a small amount (anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars) every time someone clicks the ad and goes to your site. You can specify which keywords you want your ad to be shown for. There are entire companies that do nothing but manage large PPC campaigns all day long, so naturally it gets alot more in-depth than this.

The other method – referred to as organic SEO is the process of getting your site to rank high in the regular results. It does not cost “per click” as the other method does, but that’s not to say its without cost. Instead it basically a bunch of methods that do one of two links – 1) add more relevant content to your site about your site’s topic and 2) get links from other relevant sites to your site. Those two things are the two main criteria the search engines look at to determine which site is the “best” for a particular search. Again, it gets MUCH more involved than this… but that’s the general concept.

Of the two, the PPC is generally more costly but yields more immediate results. Organic SEO is more of a long-term venture and not as certain, yet generally has more volume potential and higher upside.

(The person with the original question) mentioned “submitting to search engines”. That phrase lets me know someone is new to SEO. First, only 3 search engines really matter much (Google, Yahoo, MSN) as they account for 97% (don’t quote me) of all search traffic. Second, you don’t need to submit to them. They will find your site so long as somewhere on the internet there is another site that they know about that links to your site. They proactively find sites this way.

Lastly, common advice as a first step for organic SEO is to “submit to directories”. Many people confuse this with “submit to search engines”. Directories are different – you tell them the name of your site, the URL and give a description and they list you, much in the same way a phone book might list companies. They don’t actually “search” the contents of your website.

So why submit to them? Three reasons: 1) they can bring you some traffic. 2) they will get a few links to your website such that now the search engines can find your website. 3) the links you get help one of those factors we discussed (getting other sites to link to yours). The general premise is that the more good sites that link to your site, the more credible your site is. Again, its much more complex than this, but that’s the general premise. Examples of a few good directories that produce some traffic are http://dmoz.org, http://www.joeant.com and also http://www.abilogic.com.

Hope this helps!

I did not go into any more detail than that, as if I did I might never stop typing… Its important to note that many people overdo the whole “submit to directories” idea and use that as a main method for link building. Submitting to directories is okay – Google even says so:

Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites.

I advise to submit to directories that exhibit a certain level of quality in the sites they choose to list, and also preferably directories that have enough traffic and exposure to bring you some of that.  The general stance there is don’t build links for SEO, build links for traffic.  Even if your goal is really just search rankings, that stance would probably lead you in the right direction anyway.  Don’t overlook linking for traffic though, that would be a definite mistake.  Some people go and submit to any directory they can find.  IMO that is a waste of time.  Again, go for directories that are relevant (either topical or regional for example), exhibit quality in listings and hopefully have enough real traffic to matter.  A good link even if SEO did not exist… what a novel idea!

Google Now Indexing URLs with ID Parameters???

I just posted about Teleflora’s site design, and in doing a little digging I noticed they had t

I found their page for “A Dozen Premium Red Roses” and “Two Dozen Premium Red Roses” and was curious how they ranked for terms like “dozen red roses”, etc. Interestingly, their pages use an ID parameter, which I had heard before is not a great idea b/c “id” as a parameter is often tied to session IDs, which create multiple URL parameter versions for different users and thus would look like tons of pages to a search engine, all with duplicate content.

In a recent post, Matt Cutts mentioned:

I mentioned that because the parameter “id” is often used for session IDs, Googlebot used to avoid urls with “?id=(let’s say a five digit or larger number)” but that I didn’t know if that was still true.

I thought the same thing, but in Teleflora’s case they have 5 characters and the page is getting indexed – and in fact ranking quite nicely for a desireable search phrase. Perhaps Google SiteMaps can help sort this out if you happen to be using “id” as a parameter and that does identify new, unique content rather than as a session ID?

Interested more in URL parameters and indexing, user considerations, etc? See this page on Rand’s site under the heading “URLs, Title Tags & Meta Data”.

Indexing New Pages on Existing Domains – Google, Yahoo, MSN

I thought I had written a post about 6 or 7 months back about the speed of indexing a newly-designed site with new page URLs on an existing domain – comparing the speed at which new pages were added to the visible index in Google, Yahoo and MSN. I just spent ten minutes looking for it and can’t find it – so apparently I’m going mad.

Anyhow, this time I’ve got a much smaller site. The domain was registered 1-2 years ago and the site was live, although was not heavily promoted and did not get much traffic, but it was indexed. The site has been recently redesigned and the motivation behind it has been recently renewed.

I’ve found that of the “big three” search engines, MSN was the fastest this time. MSN has updated its index of the homepage several times, each within only about 2 days of the homepage changing. Also, some new pages were added that were linked off the homepage and MSN has indexed all of them (less than 10 total).

Google is next, as they’ve updated the homepage to reflect what was there about 6-8 days ago, but no more recent than that. They don’t have any of the new pages indexed, and are still showing a bunch of old URLs that have not been linked to from the homepage or more than 1 or 2 deep pages on the site for several weeks using the site:www.website.com search command.

Yahoo this time is bringing up the rear. Their cached version of the page is about 2-3 weeks old.

I’ll try and keep you posted as this progresses. The site will be adding more pages over time.

A Few Words About CSS and Indexing Pages

From an email I just sent out…

Getting pages indexed is not usually a big problem. Typically if you have issues w/ it its due to either complicated URLs with way too many parameters (common on e-com sites) or lack of good basic text-link navigation and/or site map. A hugely unpopular site might also have issues – i.e. a site with only a couple inbound links – search engines just won’t care about it enough to index deeply.

Generally if I find a site with an indexing problem the resolution is fairly evident – typically a navigation issue. Ranking high is the real challenge. The CSS likely just cleaned up the navigation alot. Spiders don’t follow javascript links, so often when people move to CSS they do away with javascript dropdown menus that block the interior pages from a spider and move over to CSS and cleaner HTML that is spider-friendly. A nice added benefit.

I’m going to paste into my blog :) I write so much in emails yet never update that friggin’ blog. Time to kill two birds with one stone!

Tips for Online Press Releases

I’m by no means experienced in syndicating online press releases, but I do know and understand the value of the topic. I’ve picked up a number of tips through a little bit of modest experience, as well as tips I’ve heard and read from others.

Today I was asked by a client:

What is the best way to do “professional looking” press releases, ones that will also proliferate through the www…?

My suggestions were:

1) Make it about a topic, idea, news event, etc. rather than about the company. Try and spin it to some sort of interesting story rather than something that is blatantly self-promotional. Those have the best chance of getting syndicated.

2) Make the title noteworthy, and include some of your keywords.

3) Syndicate via www.prnewswire.com and/or www.prweb.com.

4) Include one or two links to your website in the body, and definitely one in the footer. Use http://www.website.com rather than www.website.com. I.E. “More information is available at http://www.website.com”.

5) Keep the paragraphs short and if you have opportunity to use bullet points, give it a try.

6) Include at least if not two quotes from somebody. You’ll have a better chance for someone to pick it up if you do that. Make the quotes about the news item rather than one of the companies.

7) Consider using an in-body link to another authoritative web site that relates to the topic.

8) Use some keywords throughout the body, especially the first paragraph. Make sure the first sentence grabs the reader’s interest.

9) In the footer state that the release can be redistributed and republished for free so long as the author is cited as in the release with a link to the website.

What is SEO?

I was just asked this question. Its sort of a tough one for me to answer – b/c I almost don’t know where to start – its such a huge piece of what I do, yet I need to realize that its still a fairly niche/specific idea that is not by any means as widespread and well known as I sometimes think it is, despite the overwhelming growth of awareness in recent months.

So, What is SEO? Here’s how I responded in my email:

Hi ABC,

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In a nutshell it refers to the tactics, strategies and initiatives used to gain higher rankings in the search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) in order to get more targeted traffic to a website.

Specifically it refers to the “organic” aka “regular” listings – which are different from the paid ads you see when you do a search in Google (the ads are typically to the right of the screen and sometimes at the top, highlighted).

Those ads are pay-per-click – aka PPC, which is what the campaign we’re setting up for ABC CLIENT is all about. Each time someone clicks the ad to go to the site after searching for something like “ABC search phrase” ABC CLIENT pays X amount. This is how Google makes its money.

The other type – the “organic” or “regular” I mentioned above do not cost per click. You can get 0 visitors or 10 million and the cost is the same. They also tend to get more volume. Those sites (the non-ads) are essentially Google’s opinion of the most valuable or relevant sites for what you searched on. Achieving these rankings takes time though, and does have fixed costs (hard costs as well as man hours) associated with it, but can have tremendous upside.

In that email, ABC Person was requesting my input regarding the press release so that I can help tweak it a bit to help get some benefits that may help generate higher search engine rankings (organic) for the blog site down the road.

Search engines are the source of more than 75% of all internet traffic, according to some estimates. Further, most users don’t browse past the first 10 or 20 sites – so the value in being one of those top 10 sites is enormous!

Hope this helps.

Aaron Wall Interviews Matt Cutts

Aaron Wall of SEO Book (who BTW, happens to be a great guy and really cares about helping out others) recently interviewed Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google who is pretty well-known in the SEO community. In particular, I’d like to highlight one Q&A from the interview:

Is all SEO spam?

Absolutely not–I need to do a post about this on my blog sometime. Lots and lots of search engine optimization is white-hat and not spam at all. Things like making a site more crawlable, tweaking the words on a site based on what users type in or what you see in your server logs, and gathering links by coming up with creative ideas or services that make people link to you naturally. To me (and Google), spam is search engine optimization that is outside our quality guidelines–things like hidden text, hidden links, doorway pages filled with gibberish words that do a sneaky JavaScript redirect, and so on.

Personally, I have a theory that some spammers want everyone practicing solid, common-sense SEO to believe that they’re spamming, or that everyone is a black hat. To me, that fails at first blush; was I a spammer for changing the word “howto” on a page to “how to,” because more people type it the second way? Of course not. I have a similar theory about doing spam reports–why would someone who claims that they will use any trick in the book whatsoever then turn around and try to convince people not to do spam reports? Those two beliefs (“I’ll do anything to get ahead in rankings” and “Don’t report a competing site that is using spam tactics”) aren’t especially consistent. There’s a lot more nuance that I’d like to go into sometime, but I’ll throw those points out there for people to discuss. :)

Phew. I love hearing that reassurance. :)

Please do go read the whole interview – as its a well worthwhile read.

Organic “Quality Indicators”

Andy Hagans has a nice post on Threadwatch about Quality Indicators in on-page optimization. I agree with him in that as this data is useful, its likely that it either does or may have some sort of impact.

IMO a search engine should use anything (legal) that it can to determine quality. Obviously link popularity and reputation is a big thing here, but so too are things like privacy policies, etc. to at least a small degree.

There are also some nice comments in the thread… especially via Randfish and a few others.

Now to go add a privacy policy to all my sites :) Hehe.

Google Page Removal Emails – A Welcome Initiative

A post at Threadwatch discusses a new initiative being tested by Google to notify webmasters when Google finds certain “black hat” type techniques being used that are against its guidelines. In essence, Google would send an email to the webmaster notifying them:

1) that the pages have been removed
2) what pages and generally what violations there are
3) how to request a re-include after removing the violations

The overall reception to this idea seems very positive, as it helps those webmasters who really focus on building a great site, and are cognizant and aware of their rankings and search engine traffic, to “optimize” or hire an SEO firm without worrying excessively about getting banned for something that is not intended to artificially manipulate results.

I had one such experience lately. My largest client had a META redirect on their homepage, and put it there without my knowledge. They had a very legitimate reason, as its purpose was to send all visitors from www.sampledomain.com to a specific page on the site. All visitors from www.sampledomain.com were referred as part of a promotion, and the page they were redirected to was associated with the promotion. I forget the specifics, but for some reason it was necessary that they be routed through the homepage. Anyhow, they had no idea or intentions of this being in any way related to search engine rankings.

Suddenly their homepage disappeared from Google instantly, they dropped from a PR 6 to PR 0, and their number of pages indexed began to decline. I discovered the error, we removed the redirect, found an alternative method and contaced Google explaining the situation. I believe within a couple of weeks the homepage was indexed again and number of pages indexed started to increase. A couple of months later there was a PR update, which restored the site to its previous PR.

Anyhow, I haven’t read the whole Threadwatch thread and cited sources off that site, but I believe they are using the domain name registration info to identify site owners, and then perhaps the DNS servers to identify hosts to CC. This is one possible use for Google recently obtaining domain registrar status (and thus access to such records). This is also likely to get me to update my domain name contact info!

I think this is a welcome initiative, in that it serves to help legitimate sites/pages to produce legitimate content for their visitors with less fear of being banned permanently for something unintentional. It only helps to improve the good pages to bad pages ratio of the index. That’s a good thing.

Copyscape and Content Stealing

I’ve seen the “protected by Copyscape” images before, but never bothered to check it out. I always assumed it was some code-related method to prevent people from being able to copy and paste or something of that nature. You know what happens when we assume :)

http://www.copyscape.com/

– per Willie Crawford’s blog

Anyhow, their site has a nice quick check – where you type in the URL of your page, and it searches for other pages on the web that have a large portion of common text.

Definitely on my useful list now, as I just noticed I had some user with 300+ page views on a site of mine that is usually lucky to average 5 per user. It became apparent that they just went to every page systematically and were saving them to their hard drive. I noticed that when the reported pages viewed in my web stats program began looking a bit suspicious:

Default Page
pagenameA.asp
pagenameB.asp
pagenameA.asp
Default Page
c:/documents and settings/***edited***/desktop/2ev/index.html
c:/documents and settings/***edited***/desktop/2ev/index.html
c:/documents and settings/***edited***/desktop/2ev/index.html

I’m tracking them whether or not the pages are being served from my server :) Shhh, let’s hope they go ahead and publish the pages and reveal their true identity!

I hate content stealers! Sheesh, the content on that site isn’t even very good! If they spent the time just writing their own they’d be much better served. Hopefully the search engines’ content filters will ding them hard for that, should they try and publish those pages.

META Tags… Seriously

If you’ve followed the search engines for any reasonable period of time you’ve likely seen a number of very old articles about META tags. Perhaps even more likely, you’ve probably seen dozens more articles since roughly 1997 or so proclaiming that META tags are dead, useless, etc.

Honestly, I don’t know exactly how big a factor they are. I do this: lots of sites can get ranked very well without even having META tags, or with doing the not-advisible and using one tag copied and pasted on each page of their site.

So clearly this is not a critical factor. It hasn’t been for quite some time, as they are just too easy to manipulate in an “unethical” manner. The search engines made a valid conclusion in that if Site A really is all about topic ABC, than surely they should be able to derive that from looking at the visible content of the page and not relying on hidden tags which were widely abused and misused.

Okay, so why bother to spend 15 minutes of my day writing this post? Well clearly I think they do still have some marginal value – however incremental it is. And in fact, as is my trend lately – let’s chalk this up under “general internet marketing” rather than “SEO”, as I don’t think they directly help in moving up the rankings as an algorithm criteria.

Where they do help is in your CTR (click-through rate). Getting a top 5 ranking is great – but that’s only 1 phase of the mission. Once you are there, you want people to visit your site. Thus, it is desireable that the link and description shown for your site on the SERPS (search engine results pages) be:

a) highly-related to the search and your page’s content
and
b) enticing and “action-worthy” – clickable

Over the past year I’ve noticed all of the Big 3 search engines experimenting with the META description tag and using it in certain instances as the description of the site in the SERPS. Think about it, this is your chance to NOT worry about rankings for once, and do some real marketing. Make a good description tag that, alright, still mentions a few keywords – but more importantly appeals to the actual person viewing your link and deciding in an instant whether or not to click on it.

Too often I catch myself forgetting that the web, the internet, search engine marketing and website conversions are, in fact, all about people. We’re not talking about computer programs or automated bots visiting your site who you are hoping to convert 5% of – we’re talking about someone that may be very like yourself, or one of your good friends or family members. A little “traditional” marketing and a personal touch can really help here.

Now to go practice what I preach… :)

What I KNOW about SEO

Many SEO specialists will tell you that SEO is part science, part art. I’ll skew even more to the art side of things, but perhaps I’ll classify it and maybe call it “practical art” or something like that. In the quest to gain high rankings and relevant traffic, some spend many hours conducting research, collecting data and attempting to reverse-engineer the search engines’ algorithms. I am not one of those types, although I sure do appreciate reading about any substantial findings :)

While we have lots of research, we also face a consistently-changing and evolving environment. This makes proving various concepts with respect to algorithms very difficult. Did Site X improve 5 spots because we changed the keyword density in the title tag, or rather did some of our competition make adversely-effecting changes to their sites? Rather, could the change have resulted from an algorithm tweak and thus have benefited us regardless of any change we made? Its usually not possible to say with 100% certainty. In fact, in many cases people would be happy with 75% certainty. As such, many rely on core, common principles about building a search-engine-friendly site, and work with the understanding that the nitty-gritty details will change from time to time.

So, since so many things we hear about we don’t actually know for sure, is there anything we do truly know. Probably not, but regardless I’m going to pretend there area. Let’s classify things as what we’re 95% sure about, what we’re 75% sure about, and maybe scaling down from there.

What I KNOW:

(95% sure about anyways)

  • Having all simple “a href” html text links on your site is best for spiderability.
  • Having more pages on your site is generally better than fewer pages, so long as those pages have a purpose.
  • Having more text on a page is generally better than having lesser text, so long as that text has a purpose.
  • Content may or may not be the king, but its certainly a king. Lots of high-quality, relevant content is a very good thing. It provides a value to your readers and helps make your site a memorable, worthy resource. That, my friend, can help you to build links to your site.
  • Inbound links are huge. Lots of links from good, quality, related sites that are not doing anything sketchy. Quantity of links seems to matter more for Yahoo, whereas the number of real high quality links seems to be more of a Google thing.
  • Anchor text is a good thing, especially in acheiving rankings in MSN. As is my general view on all things SEO-related, variability is key here. Get links from many sources, via many channels. Build a great site that attracts its own links. Register your site with reputable directories. Issue online press releases when appropriate. Seek out partnerships (not link farms, but actual partnerships – this means it will take more than 30 seconds of discussion) with related sites.
  • Time is huge. Its nearly impossible to get a domain that is less than 6 months old to rank very well in Google for anything even mildly competitive. I believe there are two aspects to this – 1) how long the site has existed (i.e. first appeared in index) and 2) the age of inbound links to the site. As each of those two things age, rankings generally improve.
  • Good keyword research is crucial. Top rankings mean nothing, unless they are for terms that actually attract visitors, and in turn a reasonable amount of those visitors convert. Too many people go after rankings for rankings’ sake. I suppose that gives them something to brag about while they are going out of business.
  • As a follow-up to the immediate above, don’t discount longer, more specific search phrases. While they generally yield less traffic volume, they generally also convert at a significantly higher rate, since chances are your site is indeed more relevant to those phrases if you are ranking for them than a very general phrase.
  • Time is huge. Yes, I’m repeating this. Not only is time for pure age’s sake huge though, the ability to improve steadily over time is key. This means 1) keep your content fresh and updated periodically, 2) add new content periodically and 3) make sure you are getting new links to your site periodically. This would be the exact opposite of building a site with tons of great content and attracting thousands of links in one month and then not doing a thing for the site for two years. Yes. That would be a bad thing.
  • Title tags are key, as are H tags. Not just for rankings, but for steering visitors as well.
  • Clean code is key, although truthfully I’m not quite that convinced it helps w/ rankings. It probably will help you keep a good site up and updated though, which will help in a roundabout way.

If anything, the above is meant to show that really what is needed is simply (or not so simply) to build a great site that not only trys to look like a great, relevant resource, but actually is one. Duh! Build a great site with lots of great content. Update it and add to it regularly. Implement features that help your users and make the site more valuable. Promote it using all sensible vehicles that you would use for legitimate advertising, PR, etc. Don’t ever fall into the trap of doing something purely for the reason of trying to get high rankings, as it most likely will be something sketchy that will get you into trouble. Rather, focus on building a great site that has a high profile and the rankings will follow.

In this sense I’m beginning to describe myself no longer as an SEO, but as a more general Internet Marketer. I still accomplish the same goal – more (relevant) traffic to help a site do more of whatever it is that it does, but the strategy and approach is a bit different now. In that respect you could say the search engines have won a great victory here – as I used to think in terms of getting good rankings, and now I think about building great sites. Isn’t that what they want after all?

MSN Showing Less Organic Listings

Until recently I’ve not followed MSN Search very closely. For that matter, I take the general philosophy that one should spend the bulk of their time focusing on their own site, rather than the engines… but that’s another post. Anyhow, I was doing a product search and noticed something quite interesting. I then went to confirm this with another non-commercial search (which had no paid ads listed) and the phenomenon did not repeat. I then tried a search for “search engine optimization” and voila, back again. Unless I’ve been under a rock this is something fairly new:

MSN appears to no longer be displaying 10 results per page for searches that have ads bidding on those search phrases. Rather, they show roughly 10 results for the first couple of pages, and then scale back on the number of organic listings. Why? My guess is b/c they wish to increase the ratio of paid ads to organic ads on those pages without significantly messing with the bulk of the traffic (first couple SERPs aka results pages).

Here’s some data I found on my search for search engine optimization:

SERPS Page # of Organic Listings
1 10
2 10
3 9
4 8
5 6
6 10
7 9
8 5
9 8
10 10
11 6
12 9
13 7
14 9
15 5
16 8
17 6
18 5
19 5
20 7

After 20 pages I got tired of looking :) There doesn’t even seem to be a real set logic to the pattern – at least not in the first 20 pages or so. I’d imagine it eventually fits some sort of pattern or levels out… Anyone else notice this before? I realize I still have comments closed – but feel free to email me if you like. Eventually I’ll get a decent comment spam filter installed!

Google Not Recognizing Capital Letters in File Names?

I just noticed a little something in Google related to file names that I don’t believe I’ve seen mentioned much (read: at all). It appears that while there is much in the way of advice and recommendations about including your targeted keywords in the file name of a page file, Google does not seem to recognize the keywords under certain circumstances.

Example: I was doing a general product-related search. Let’s use “Mr Coffee Filters” as an example – a search for coffee filters that is also associating the brand Mr. Coffee. Now on the first page I didn’t find tons of examples, so below I have used an inurl search to illustrate my point:

>> Search for Mr. Coffee Filters

Mr. Coffee Search

Take a look. You’ll notice that while Google DOES recognize various formats of the term “Mr Coffee” in the TITLE tag and BODY text sample (as illustrated by bolding), it does not follow the same rules of formatting for the file name. In this one example, it seems apparent that only file names with all lower-case letters are getting recognized (or at least bolded). Take a look for yourself via the link above. The only URLs with bolded file names are the ones with all lower case letters for the keywords – i.e. mr coffee filters. The ones formatted as Mr. Coffee Filters or in all caps do not seem to be getting bolded.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a relatively small criteria, but still interesting nonetheless.

Over-Optimization – What’s the Point?

Sometimes you see a website that is ridiculously over-optimized and you just have to ask… What’s the point?

I can’t take credit for finding this link – as I found it on one of the blogs I read and emailed it to myself, but now I can’t seem to find the article and thus give proper credit. My apologies.

http://www.migraine-headache-medication-treatment.com/migraine_headache.htm

Check that out. Wow. Okay just for kicks lets say that page actually gets traffic. How many people with Migranes do you think are actually going to convert on that site? For that matter, what’s the call to action? What IS a conversion on that site?

Okay just found it – its the link in the body area. So they are banking that someone will do the following, thus making them some money:

1) User finds that page.
2) User doesn’t immediately click away b/c it looks so spammy and worthless.
3) User decides to click the link in the body with no compelling reason to do so.
4) User is taken to homepage and decides to either click on AdSense-like ads or Affiliate links.

Hahaha. Good luck!

Msnbetter Thangoogle Polish SEO Contest

Apparently another SEO contest has sprung up. It seems to be within the Polish community, and this time the search phrase is “msnbetter thangoogle”. I would argue that statement in many cases (though not all), but oh well…

Some people have got alot of time on their hands, to be creating sites for imaginery search phrases :) How is anyone searching on msnbetter thangoogle going to convert into meaningful traffic or sales/leads/conversions for anyone?

Then again I suppose something like flying purple camel saddles or coolest guy on the planet might not really be much better than msnbetter thangoogle either… :)

Coolest Guy on the Planet Wannabe

As hard as it is for me to say this, I’m not the coolest guy on the planet. At least not yet. I want to be the coolest guy on the planet, but as of right now I’m not even in the game.

So who is the coolest guy on the planet? Well as of the moment I’m writing this I am less cool than:

  • Brad Fallon
  • Andy Jenkins
  • Brian Johnson

At least according to Google anyway. Brad Callen and Jeff Fowler also get honorable mention as other cool guys on this planet. But me? Very un-cool as of now.

Obviously there is some funny business going there, because if you knew me you’d insist that I, Jon Payne should be seen as the coolest guy on the planet. I guess Brad is just more *link* popular than the rest of us. Stinking *link* popularity contests. Just as in high school, I will refuse to participate in such coolness popularity contests…

Unless of course anyone wants to volunteer to help me be the coolest guy on the planet? :)

I guess I could always try and sell some flying purple camel saddles

– Jon Payne
(Barely one of the top 10 coolest guys on the planet)
Baltimore, MD

Update – This coolest guy on the planet shindig has really sorta taken off since I first posted this. I jumped on the bandwagon where there were fix or six others, and now there appear to be a few dozen! It started more as just a funny, quick on-page optimization thing, but now people are building inbound links with text like coolest guy on the planet in the anchors. I’d love to be one of the cooler guys in the world, but by no means is it that important that I’ll take away client time to build inbound links for something that has no real call or benefit… That said, lets see how updating this post helps the ranking for the phrase “coolest guy on the planet.”

We now have guys who went out and registered the domain names www.thecoolestguyontheplanet.com and www.coolestguyontheplanet.com. The latter site is also paying for PPC traffic via AdWords. Why? This was about being clever, and now its gone to another level to see who’s willing to spend the most time and money and compete the hardest. Some of the higher ranking ones are now even trying to use this to sell SEO services and position themselves as “experts”. Perhaps the new deal should be for geekiest guy on the planet :)

New MSN Search Now Live!

I heard rumors that it was supposed to be 90-95% live yesterday or even the day before (these were predictions over the weekend) and I had noticed some stats on some of my sites that indicated more visitors from MSN – visitors who searched on terms that the sites were significantly more highly ranked on the Beta version than on the old version, leaving me to suspect that to at least some degree the Beta version was feeding some of the live results.

But whenever I went to check things out for myself I was still getting the old results – right up through last night. This morning I tried again and voila! New results! I don’t know if I’m one of the first people to be seeing these or if I’m one of the last to get the new results, but in either case I can say the new search technology for MSN is now live. Just not sure if its only partially live or completely live. At least a few people have been seeing this for a few days now, but count me in too now.

My original post about the MSN Beta launch
Recent post about the start of the switchover