Search Engine Optimization: Scumbags? Amazing

March 11, 2013

If you are paying upwards of $2,000 a month or more for search engine optimization, you will want to read “Sick of SEO Scumbags” and the comments to the post. Web site traffic is important. What is tough to swallow is that most of the billions of Web sites get little traffic. You can check out if your Web site rates with a quick check of Compete.com’s free analytics look up. Sign up at www.compete.com.

The search engine optimization experts practice the dark art of SEO. The idea is that these experts have methods which can trick Bing, Google, Yandex, or any other free Web indexing service. Once fooled, a query for a topic will return the client’s Web site at the top of the results list for a query. Magic. Almost.

The problem is that Bing and the other outfits want to sell ads based on the content on a Web page. If the content or other element is misleading, the ads won’t hit their target. Most ads do miss but in today’s landscape a slight improvement in targeting may be enough to keep the ad revenue flowing. Where else can an advertiser go to get traffic? SEO wizards know that paying for traffic works. Some SEO actions don’t work.

The post asserts:

Recently, a well known flower shop lost both the rankings for the brand name and the keyword ‘flowers’, the SEO agency involved are a good agency and this post isn’t about the tactics used but large companies like Interflora have years of brand building, offline campaigns, TV advertising, word of mouth, mailing lists, newspapers and shops to fill the gap incase any one vertical (search) drops, they can and will still survive, there will be a dip in some profit sheet somewhere and someone might lose their job, but the company doesn’t fold. If you do that with a small ‘mom and pop’ shop (Dom’s Flowers) and they get banned or lose the rankings for ‘flower shop east leeds’, Game Over, most of the smaller clients I see depend on Google traffic…

Where’s the scumbaggery?

I’ve seen companies who have built a site for a client, no index it then charge for an SEO package to ‘sort out the rankings’, Domain change audits with no 301?s,  I’ve seen agencies charge £10k for ‘keyword research’ which is copied and pasted straight from Google Adwords and more than a few times I’ve seen companies charge a thousands per month for an IBP report. We all make mistakes, we all have clients that want to be #1 for $crazy keyword, but as the search team involved with the campaign, you have to set realistic expectations and know the risk when placing links and making site changes, those that don’t, that just take the money and hammer with shitty links or try and scam the client to extract more money, those are the SEO Scumbags and they are giving the search industry a really bad name.

Does SEO work? The answer is that what actions the SEO expert takes may help or hurt a client. What annoys me is that the word “search” gets dragged into a traffic and click related exercise. Using the word “search” to refer for methods of buying traffic and for actions such as finding information in an organization’s archive muddies the water.

When it comes to scumbaggery or to a more serious activity such as enterprise search, clarity is useful. If a Web site wants traffic, man up and buy it from Google. If you want to build a brand or position a person, use content. No tricks required.

Stephen E Arnold, March 11, 2013

SEO Pro Suggests Peers Try Ethics

March 8, 2013

Transparency and ethics in the search engine optimization field? Interesting. Writer Pratik Dholakiya at the Search Engine Journal has some advice for his colleagues in, “Let’s Make the SEO Industry Crystal Clear and Ethical in the Year Ahead!

The article opens with this acknowledgement: in SEO circles, “ethics” and “transparency” have become dirty words, connected to Google‘s highly-resented efforts to impose quality control onto its search results. Dholakiya seems to understand he is swimming against the tide with his fifteen suggestions, most of which focus on ways to embrace, rather than reflexively reject, such principles. For example, he suggests his peers resist the urge to protect secrets from their clients and, instead, involve them in their planning. He may get more traction with entry number two, which attempts to position “ethics” as a question of smart strategy rather than morals.

See the article if you are curious about Dholakiya’s advice. The Panda and Penguin make an appearance, of course, as do radical concepts like building strong relationships and emphasizing the long view over short-term thinking. His conclusions give us a clue about why he feels now is the time to implore his colleagues to change their tune:

“We are entering an age when SEO can’t be considered separate from online marketing in general. Instead, SEO has become an online branding effort with an emphasis on search, requiring many of the general marketing skills that other online marketers take advantage of.

“Unlike, say, PPC [Pay Per Click], we don’t have the option of specializing on a small and specific set of skills. Link building, social media, keyword research, branding, conversions, content production, relationship building, viral marketing, and rich snippets: it’s all a part of SEO. This is the year to let our clients know that we are comprehensive internet marketing experts with the skills to bring them long term success and opportunities!”

So, he suggests that behaving ethically might better serve these consultants in an evolving landscape. What a novel concept.

Cynthia Murrell, March 08, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

SEO Community Jumps to Conclusions About Google and Press Releases

January 15, 2013

Are press releases the red-headed stepchild of Google, or just misunderstood from a lack of complete information? An SEO pro schools his colleagues in Search Engine Journal’s “Get Over Yourself—Matt Cutts did Not Just Kill Another SEO Kitten.” His is a voice of reason in a field that tends to defensively vilify Google’s attempts to serve up only quality content.

The latest dustup began in the Google forums, where one poster asked about press release companies that only push their stories to “legitimate” (quality content) sites. Google’s Matt Cutts (probably unintentionally) stirred things up with his simple statement: “Note: I wouldn’t expect links form press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however.” Hyperbole ensued.

Many in the SEO community took those words to mean that Google will now ignore all links in every press release it encounters, and were quite perturbed. Writer and SEO veteran Alan Bleiweiss takes the alarmists to task, and it is entertaining to read. I’m more interested, though, in his comments on press releases. After acknowledging the wealth of garbage that is now often distributed as “press releases,” he wrote:

“REAL press releases, that communicate TRULY time sensitive newsworthy information, have, and always will be a valuable means of spreading information that deserves to be spread. REAL press releases don’t get written purely for the links. REAL press releases are designed to communicate with legitimate news people. REAL press releases are designed to let others know valid updated information.

“And a well-crafted press release, targeting truly accurate niche recipients can lead to legitimate journalists, bloggers and social media influencers contacting a site’s owners, or doing their own write-up on the subject, and potentially even generating their own links.

“So from a sustainable SEO perspective, press releases are STILL an SEO best practice recommendation. As part of a comprehensive marketing solution that is vital to providing multiple layers of direct and indirect signals for SEO purposes. But ONLY when those releases are executed properly.”

It is good to see such reasonable sentiments from someone in the search engine optimization field. Will Bleiweiss succeed in talking sense into his colleagues?

Cynthia Murrell, January 15, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Relevance Plagues SEO Pros

December 25, 2012

The future of search through SEO sunglasses has been revealed, we learn in “Online Business Expert Predicts Next Search Engine Change Will Be Equivalency Score” at PRWeb. The press release recounts a recent interview with Steve Fitzpatrick from DigitalDomination.com in which the online business consultant explains what he believes will be the next big challenge for players in the search engine optimization game. The press release states:

“Mr. Fitzpatrick revealed [that] since 2010, Google Trends shows that search engine optimisation interest has flat-lined, reaching saturation point.”

That’s great news, at least for those of us concerned with relevancy. Finally! However, for those who make a living or build their businesses by gaming search engine results, this turn of events could spell trouble. The write-up quotes Fitzpatrick:

“Now most commercial business interests are heavily contested in the organic search results, with very little separating the top competitors for the number one spot. . . . This means that if the top four commercial search results are equivalent in nature, Google will show them in a different random order each time the results appear. So no one business will have a monopoly at position number one. A change like this will provide challenges to business and SEO professionals who are ill equipped to deal with them.”

Fitzpatrick’s advice, naturally, is to turn to his company for help navigating these choppy waters. To which I submit this caveat—businesses who have focused on supplying honestly helpful information, rather than on gaming the search engine, never entered those waters in the first place. Google is constantly revising their algorithm to better serve good information to its users. Isn’t it time to realize that the entire SEO field is destined for obsolescence?

Cynthia Murrell, December 25, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

HP Autonomy and SEO

December 18, 2012

Online Media Daily recently reported on the use of Autonomy’s Optimost Campaign platform by Omnicom’s search division, Resolution Media, in the article, “Resolution Media Gains Autonomy, May Extend New Search Platform to All Omnicom Clients.”

According to the article, Hewlett Packard and Omnicom have been working together for years and in February 2009 Omnicom took over HP’s marketing efforts. Since Autonomy was acquired by HP last year, the company is incorporating its SEM campaign with the Optimost platform. This technology has been found to improve cost per clicks and conversion rates.

The article states:

“A case study with Braun Corp. earlier this year documented improved SEM returns, based on Autonomy’s search platform. The campaign generated a 42% increase in conversions, 64% decrease in year-over-year cost-per-acquisition, and 17% decrease in year-over-year cost-per-click. Other Autonomy customers include Avis, Discover Financial, Hilton Hotels, Macy’s and Target.

HP’s Software business includes two units: Autonomy and the legacy HP software business. Autonomy, which HP acquired in October 2011, focuses on supporting a product suite, rather than marketing services. Rivals IBM and Adobe support clients through software and Web-based products, but also a full suite of services.”

Interesting approach from the struggling HP which seems to be moving from its comfort zone into some new territories. How will the HP way match up with the SEO way?

Jasmine Ashton, December 18, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Government Needs to Prioritize SEO

November 18, 2012

Search Engine Watch recently reported on a federal government initiative to consolidate government domains, websites, and databases in the article, “Government SEO is Broken.”

According to the article, there could be one major hinderance to this operation. The United States government is not taking SEO into account when executing this plan. Since the federal digital presence currently includes more than 1,400 domains and 11,000 websites run by 56 agencies, consolidating is certainly necessary. However, it is also important that the government consider the daunting task of employees needing to search for information in that mess.

The article states:

“Each negative or frustrating online experience contributes to the public perception that government is too large, unresponsive, and indifferent to the needs of its diverse set of stakeholders.

But what if users were able to quickly and easily connect to government directly from the search engines with a minimum of clicks? Instead of visiting a government agency home page, navigating the site, and finally finding the information they need? What if agency activities and perspectives were highly visible and above private sector sites in the search results?”

The fact that government agencies are not number one on search engines like Google and Bing is ridiculous. The federal government needs to take advantage of the preferential treatment it receives by ranking algorithms and make search a priority.

Jasmine Ashton, November 18, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com

SEO Pro Emphasizes Content Quality

August 31, 2012

Desperate SEOs are constantly looking for a new angle. In Search Engine Journal’s “Content Confusion: Why Webmasters Fail—Time After Time,” Gregory Smith tries to convince his readers that it should be all about quality content instead of the latest ploy to game an algorithm. He begins:

“I’ve discovered many Webmasters who have lost a lot due to Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. Many have lost their entire income virtually overnight. Can you imagine how badly losing your income would affect your life in a very intolerable way? Instead of learning from this lesson, more and more people are steadily heading in the same direction, still completely confused.”

Yes. Smith spends some time discussing ranking tricks like guest posts, links of dubious quality, and infographics and the very good reasons such tactics no longer work like they used to. Though he insists that search engine optimization is still “one of the most valuable investments that any business owner” can make, he implores his SEO colleagues and their clients to focus on providing quality content. If they do, the rankings will take care of themselves, he says.

Well, to a certain extent. We wouldn’t want all those SEOs out of a job just because their field is becoming increasingly obsolete, right?

Cynthia Murrell, August 31, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Ranking Factors for Local Search

August 3, 2012

Here are some trivial recommendations from the search engine optimization experts. Free SEO News offers, “Local Search Ranking Factors Survey: How to Get High Local Rankings.” The survey in question asked 40 local search marketers around the world which factors were most influential in gaming local search results. The write up explains:

“For some keywords (for example ‘plumbers’), Google shows local results at the top of the search result list. These websites aren’t listed at the top because they have good content or good backlinks. They are listed at the top because they fit to the geographic area of the search query. If keywords that show local results are relevant to your business, it is important to be listed in the local search results.”

Can no one seem to find the local restaurant run by your next door neighbors? Well, put this SEO research to use and help them out. The survey found that the five most important local ranking factors included the businesses physical address, its category association, its proximity to the center of the searched area, its Web site’s domain authority, and citations on aggregation sites.

Negative influencers were also noted. For example, different phone numbers across data ecosystems can hurt, but so can having multiple Google Places pages with the same phone number. Also, make sure the restaurateurs include a crawlable version of their businesses name, address, and phone number on their landing page.

So, there you go local businesses, it is simple. Or, is it simply pointless?

Cynthia Murrell, August 3, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Latent Semantic Technology Tops Business Strategy List

July 26, 2012

The current 2012 year is going by quickly, but there is still time to implement business strategies that could gain your company a bigger presence on the Internet. Venture Beat reported on the “Top 10 Most Important SEO and Social Marketing Tactics of 2012.” Generally these top ten lists yield information we already know: distribute content via social channels, list your social media connection buttons prominently on the page, enable sharing content, join Pinterest, etc. Some of the ideas are new: author guest blog posts, keep your own blog content interesting and new, but the number one suggestion that caught our attention was:

“Get an onsite SEO audit: an onsite SEO audit is the foundation of your SEO campaign. Getting one will help you answer questions like: Are your title and meta tags optimized? How’s your keyword density? Have you correlated certain pages with certain keywords? Is that evident in the copy? Have you done your LSI (latent semantic indexing) research and incorporated it into the copy? An onsite SEO audit is relatively cheap, and it’s a one-time payment that you shouldn’t need to address more than once a year.”

An SEO audit done by a professional company will work wonders, heck, if you do your research you can do provide the service for yourself. One important aspect of the audit is latent semantic indexing, a powerful component of text and document analysis.

Whitney Grace, July 26, 2012

Sponsored by Polyspot

 

SEO World Reacts to Google Knowledge Graph

July 23, 2012

Yikes, it’s a semantic invasion! Search Engine Watch declares, “Semantic Search: The Eagle Has Landed.” This article takes a look at Google’s newest Web search incarnation, the Knowledge Graph; the shift to the new system is already in progress.

Writer Jiyan Wei’s intended audience is made up of SEO pros, so most of the article focuses on what the development means for those who game results page rankings for a living. He does, however, give a good description of the service, using a search for “The Dark Knight Rises” as an example. He writes:

“Google’s goal is to infer that ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is a specific entity type (a movie). Once this inference is made, they are then able to relate the entity with a set of associated entities (directors, actors, theatres, etc.). This relational understanding lays the foundation for a search experience that is far more consumer friendly, far more like ‘how humans understand the world.’. . .

“The right-column is almost entirely composed of content derived from semantic inference: it displays a list of people who have contributed to the movie as well as information about the movie pulled from Wikipedia.

“Semantic search is also currently influencing the organic search results by displaying people related to the movie, dates associated with the movie, and once the movie has been released and reviewed, ratings associated with the movie.”

Wei notes that the schema Google is using is publically available at Schema.org, a collaborative project shepherded by Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. If you’re interested in keeping up with the changing rules behind the search engine optimization game, see the second half of the article.

Cynthia Murrell, July 23, 2012

Sponsored by PolySpot

« Previous PageNext Page »