Mastering SEO Is Mastering the Internet

May 5, 2016

Search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is one of the prime tools Web site owners must master in order for their site to appear in search results.   A common predicament most site owners find themselves in is that they may have a fantastic page, but if a search engine has not crawled it, the site might as well not exist.  There are many aspects to mastering SEO and it can be daunting to attempt to make a site SEO friendly.  While there are many guides that explain SEO, we recommend Mattias Geniar’s “A Technical Guide To SEO.”

Some SEO guides get too much into technical jargon, but Geniar’s approach uses plain speak so even if you have the most novice SEO skills it will be helpful.  Here is how Geniar explains it:

“If you’re the owner or maintainer of a website, you know SEO matters. A lot. This guide is meant to be an accurate list of all technical aspects of search engine optimisation.  There’s a lot more to being “SEO friendly” than just the technical part. Content is, as always, still king. It doesn’t matter how technically OK your site is, if the content isn’t up to snuff, it won’t do you much good.”

Understanding the code behind SEO can be challenging, but thank goodness content remains the most important aspect part of being picked up by Web crawlers.  These tricks will only augment your content so it is picked up quicker and you will receive more hits on your site.


Whitney Grace, May 5, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Hummingbird Revealed by a Person Not Working for Google

April 7, 2016

Another wizard has scrutinized the Google and figured out how to make sure your site becomes number one with a bullet.

To get the wisdom, navigate to “Hummingbird – Mastering the art of Conversational Search.” The problem for the GOOG is that it costs a lot of money to index Web sites no one visits. Advertisers want traffic. That means the GOOG has to find a way to reduce costs and sell either more ads or fewer ads at a higher price.

The write up pays scant attention to the realities of the Google. But you will learn the tips necessary to work traffic magic. Okay, I don’t get too excited about info about Google from folks who are not working at the company or who have worked at the company. Sorry. Looking at the Google and reading tea leaves does not work for me.

But what works, according to the write up, are these sure fire tips. Here we go:

  1. Bone up on latent semantic indexing. Let’s see. That method has been around for 30, maybe 40 years. Get a move on, gentle reader.
  2. Make your Web site mobile friendly. Unfortunately mobile Web sites don’t get more traffic than a regular Web site which does not get much traffic. Sorry. The majority of clicks flow to a small percentage of the accessible Web sites.
  3. Forget the keyword thing. Well, I usually use words to write my articles and Web sites. I worry about focusing on a small number of topics and using the words necessary to get my point across. Keywords, in my opinion, are derivatives of information. Forgetting keywords is easy. I never used them before.
  4. Make your write ups accurate. Okay, that’s a start. What does one do with “real” news from certain sources. The info is baloney, but everyone pretends it is accurate. What’s up with that? The accuracy angle is part of Google’s scoring methods. Each has to deal with what’s correct in his or her own way. Footnotes and links are helpful. What happens when someone disagrees. Is this “accurate”? Oh, well.
  5. “Be bold and broad.” In my experience, not much content is bold and broad.

Now you understand Google Hummingbird. Will your mobile Web site generate hundreds of thousands of uniques if you adhere to this road map? Nah. Why not follow Google’s guidelines from the Google itself?

Stephen E Arnold, April 7, 2016

SEO Consultants Face Google Reality

March 27, 2016

The entire search engine optimization boomlet annoyed me. The idea that individuals could trick algorithms to displaying where it should not appear goes against my old fashioned notions of relevance, precision, and recall.

I blame lots of people for this destruction of on point search and retrieval. Consultants, vendors, the wonderful Google—yep, sorry. I want a search system to deliver information directly germane to my query. I don’t want search systems to think for me.

I read an amusing write up called “Google ch-ch-ch-changes. How They’re Affecting Publishers and SEOs.” The focus is not on the users’ needs for relevant information. Nah, the focus is on publishers and the members of the class SEO.

The write up bemoans the fact that Google no longer has a wizard to explain how to fool Google’s algorithms. That’s a positive in my opinion. Next the write up points out that Google wants to use even smarter algorithms to determine what is and is not relevant. Does Google’s notion of relevance match mine. Nah, I don’t care about advertising, but my hunch is that Google cares a great deal about money with relevance a consideration. But the goal is money.

The part of the article I liked was the section labeled “SEO Is Dead.” Good. The result was a surprise. The article points out that Facebook is a better place to get information. I highlighted in social scarlet this statement:

More and more, I go to Facebook for answers because I can no longer find them in Google. Google uses AI to throw me a kitchen sink when it is not sure, and that kitchen sink rarely has much in it that’s useful for me.

How does one find on point information from a Web search engine dependent on advertising? The write up dodges the question and suggests:

If you are using informational search, SEO hasn’t gotten harder — it has just become much more irrelevant. Whereas Google used to be very good at returning exact query results, AI goes with the “broad net” approach. If Google does not have a specific “thing” it can return, it will often return a set of more general results, leaving words out of the query set. Often, the word it leaves out is the most relevant modifier.

Sound like baloney?

Stephen E Arnold, March 27, 2016

PageRank to Blame for the Lousy Web? Nope

March 14, 2016

I read “RIP Google PageRank Score: A Retrospective on How It Ruined the Web.” You can work through the romp yourself. I want to highlight one very, small, almost insignificant point. The death of the relevant Web was a direct consequence of several factors. PageRank was little more than a more usable version of what AltaVista and Jon Kleinberg developed. Here are these very small issues:

  1. Those responsible for Web sites wanted traffic. The shortest route was finding ways to fool Mother Google.
  2. Conference organizers and other whiz kid marketers crafted search engine optimization as a business.

Put one and two together and we have the findability problem. Google is not the cause. Google provided a escalator. Humans seeking traffic rode it until the escalator stopped working.

So walk up to the nifty new systems and see if you can get precise, on point, objective results. Those pesky humans have invented content spam.

Stephen E Arnold, March 14, 2016

Semantic Search: Yep, Everything You Need to Know about Semantic Search. Everything!

February 10, 2016

I love universals like “All men are mortal.” The problem is that there are not too many which click with me. I noted the write up “Everything You Need to Know about Semantic Search and What It Means for Your Website.” Very personal headline. I thought of my grandmother saying, “You should eat your spinach.” Yeah, right.

This write up is a search engine optimization take on “everything” about semantic search. Sure, there are some omissions, no code snippets, no examples of how to overcome computational bottlenecks, etc. But, hey, why quibble. This is 2016 and everything does not mean the “All men are mortal” reasoning. We are after clicks. We want sales leads. We want to be a maven.

The write up defines, illustrates with Google queries (getting smarter everyday, just maybe not with relevant results), dives into “ontology” with a diagram, gives a revisionistic glimpse of the history of semantic search, dips into the categorical affirmative barrel in “What Are All The Factors That Search Engines Use To Perform The Search?”, and offers an explanation of why semantic search is just better than old fashioned precision and recall. Oh, yeah. There is even a section which includes a superlative and this injunction:

Create high quality content.

Yep, eat your kale. Now.

If you want to become really good at semantic search, you may find that other information will be required. But, hey, this is 2016. Good enough is excellence. Close enough for SEO horse shoes is the name of the game.

Stephen E Arnold, February 10, 2016

Desperate for Traffic: Black Hat SEO Appears Quite Tasty

January 29, 2016

I read an interesting article. The title? “Are There Any Black Hat SEO Strategies That Work?” For years I have pointed out that if you want traffic, you need to buy Adwords. If the budget for an Adword campaign is too much for your pocketbook, you have to be pragmatic. Short cuts will land you in Google’s version of purgatory. If you have not been there, check out Dante.

The write up says:

Black hat tactics are ones that use deception, manipulation, and gimmicks to trick search engines into ranking a site higher than it otherwise would rank.

That sounds like a good description of most search engine optimization methods. Google does not care so webmasters try to fool Mother Google.

The write up sort of agrees with me. I noted this comment:

White hat tactics can be technically manipulative, since we’re taking specific actions with the goal of trying to rank higher in organic search…

The author then reviews some well known methods for getting an invitation to digital purgatory.

I came away from the write up with a sense that folks are desperate for traffic. Google buys traffic from Apple. You can buy traffic from Google. This seems pretty basic to me.

SEO is a game of diminishing returns. Even raising the notion of black hat methods only makes the white hat methods show their true color: Black. What’s on the head of the SEO maven? A black Barcelona ball cap. Black hat. Get it?

Stephen E Arnold, January 29, 2016

Ah, Ha. Search May Be Dying

January 18, 2016

I did not know that. I am delighted to have wisdom available from a blog focusing on search engine optimization.

Dear, old search. Are you really dying? I thought you had pulled off one of the Carlos Castaneda transmogrifications into augmented intelligence, customer support services, analytics, and my favorite Big Data. If Vivisimo can pull this off at IBM, almost any company with information access capabilities can wake up as a metasearch company and go to bed as a Big Data champ with the four Vs dancing in one’s dreams.

The write up points out:

Recent years have revealed a worrisome trend (for Google anyway) — search engine use overall has declined from 90 percent in 2009 to 86 percent in 2014. This might not seem like much of a downward trend, but if you consider that overall global Internet use has increased by 67 percent in the same period, that’s a lot of Internet users who aren’t turning to search.

The article represents this wonderful Pew Research chart:


But the section which tickled my Alphabet Google fancy was this passage:

There’s no denying that Google is the most complex searchable database on the Internet. It offers billions of results and is constantly innovating new ways to determine your search needs. However it would seem that Google’s impressive scope is the very thing that is sending people to apps and other websites to find the information they need. People want results that are personalized for them, while Google is busy trying to be everything for everyone. There are simply too many relevant results in Google’s database to match the personalization capabilities of apps and websites. That’s why apps are increasingly being used as research channels, especially among teens, who are 30 percent more likely to use them for search.

The inescapable conclusion seems to be that search is a goner.

I don’t agree, but that’s not germane to the SEO mavens who stand ready to serve customers eager for clicks, app downloads, and lots of SEO goodness.

At least the Mirror comes at the Alphabet Google thing with a bit of creativity. See, for example, “Google Slammed over Refusal to Advertise Plus Size Fashion to Curvy Consumers.” Now that’s real hard hitting evidence for the argument that search is on a down ward trajectory.

Stephen E Arnold, January 18, 2016

Stephen E Arnold

Scientific Research Has Turned into a Safe Space

December 31, 2015

The Internet is a cold, cruel place, especially if you hang out in the comments section on YouTube, eBay forums, social media, and 4chan.  If you practice restraint and limit your social media circles to trusted individuals, you can surf the Internet without encountering trolls and haters.  Some people do not practice common sense, so they encounter many hateful situations on the Internet and as a result they demand “safe spaces.”  Safe spaces are where people do not encounter anything negative.

Safe spaces are stupid.  Period.  What is disappointing is that the “safe space” and “only positive things” has made its way into the scientific community according to Nature in the article, “‘Novel, Amazing, Innovative’: Positive Words On The Rise In Science Papers.”

The University Medical Center in the Netherlands studied the use of positive and negative words in the titles of scientific papers and abstracts from 1974-2014 published on the medical database PubMed.  The researchers discovered that positive words in titles grew from 2% in 1974 to 17.5% in 2014.  Negative word usage increased from 1.3% to 2.4%, while neutral words did not see any change.  The trend only applies to research papers, as the same test was run using published books and it showed little change.

“The most obvious interpretation of the results is that they reflect an increase in hype and exaggeration, rather than a real improvement in the incidence or quality of discoveries… The findings “fit our own observations that in order to get published, you need to emphasize what is special and unique about your study,” he says. Researchers may be tempted to make their findings stand out from thousands of others — a tendency that might also explain the more modest rise in usage of negative words.”

While there is some doubt associated with the findings, because it was only applied to PubMed.  The original research team thinks that it points to much larger problem, because not all research can be “innovative” or “novel.”  The positive word over usage is polluting the social, psychological, and biomedical sciences.

Under the table, this really points to how scientists and researchers are fighting for tenure.  What would this mean for search engine optimization if all searches and descriptions had to have a smile?  Will they even invent a safe space filter?

Whitney Grace, December 31, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph




SEO Tips Based on Recent Google Search Quality Guidelines

December 30, 2015

Google has recently given search-engine optimization pros a lot to consider, we learn from “Top 5 Takeaways from Google’s Search Quality Guidelines and What They Mean for SEO” at Merkle’s RKG Blog. Writer Melody Pettula presents five recommendations based on Google’s guidelines. She writes:

“A few weeks ago, Google released their newest Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, which teach Google’s search quality raters how to determine whether or not a search result is high quality.  This is the first time Google has released the guidelines in their entirety, though versions of the guidelines have been leaked in the past and an abridged version was released by Google in 2013. Why is this necessary? ‘Quality’ is no longer simply a function of text on a page; it differs by device, location, search query, and everything we know about the user. By understanding how Google sees quality we can improve websites and organic performance. Here’s a countdown of our top 5 takeaways from Google’s newest guidelines and how they can improve your SEO strategy.”

We recommend any readers interested in SEO check out the whole article, but here are the five considerations Pettula lists, from least to most important: consider user intent; supply supplementary content; guard your reputation well; consider how location affects user searches; and, finally, “mobile is the future.” On that final point, the article notes that Google is now almost entirely focused on making things work for mobile devices. SEO pros would do well to keep that new reality in mind.

Cynthia Murrell, December 30, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Overhyped Science Stuff

December 30, 2015

After Christmas, comes New Year’s Eve and news outlets take the time to reflect on the changes in the past year.  Usually they focus on celebrities who died, headlining news stories, technology advancements, and new scientific discoveries.  One of the geeky news outlets on the Internet is Gizmodo  and they took their shot at highlighting things that happened in 2015, but rather than focusing on new advances they check off “The Most Overhyped Scientific Discoveries In 2015.”

There was extreme hype about an alien megastructure in outer space that Neil deGrasse Tyson had to address and tell folks they were overreacting.  Bacon and other processed meats were labeled as carcinogens and caused cancer!  The media, of course, took the bacon link and ran with it causing extreme panic, but in the long run everything causes cancer from cellphones to sugar.

Global warming is a hot topic that always draws arguments and it appears to be getting worse the more humans release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Humans are always ready for a quick solution and a little ice age would rescue Earth.  It would be brought on by diminishing solar activity, but it turns out carbon dioxide pollution does more damage than solar viability can fix.  Another story involved the nearly indestructible tardigrades and the possibility of horizontal gene transfer, but a dispute between two rival labs about research on tardigrades ruined further research to understanding the unique creature.

The biggest overblown scientific discovery, in our opinion, is NASA’s warp drive.  Humans are desperate for breakthroughs in space travel, so we can blast off to Titan’s beaches for a day and then come home within our normal Earth time.  NASA experimented with an EM Drive:

“Apparently, the engineers working on the EM Drive decided to address some of the skeptic’s concerns head-on this year, by re-running their experiments in a closed vacuum to ensure the thrust they were measuring wasn’t caused by environmental noise. And it so happens, new EM Drive tests in noise-free conditions failed to falsify the original results. That is, the researchers had apparently produced a minuscule amount of thrust without any propellant.

Once again, media reports made it sound like NASA was on the brink of unveiling an intergalactic transport system.”

NASA might be working on warp drive prototype, but the science is based on short-term experiments, none of it has been peer reviewed, and NASA has not claimed that the engine even works.

The media takes the idea snippets and transforms them into overblown news pieces that are based more on junk science than real scientific investigation.


Whitney Grace, December 30, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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