Month: December 2007

Paid posts are the devil incarnate according to search engines

All commercial content should contain nofollow outward links, all of it..

Read in isolation that’s some statement huh? Yet if you read the posts at Ted Murphy and Andy Beard regarding Google and paid reviews, then that would be a fair conclusion to arrive at. Seems that Matt Cutts has averred that paid reviews or posts that are commercially sponsored should all contain nofollowed links, even if they are to websites that are not owned or controlled by the sponsor.

No such thing as a free SERP

SERPs aren’t free, the sites within them are all there by virtue of a human being somewhere getting paid to create stuff or do things to get the site to rank higher for its target keywords or content. Google want the world to believe that it is they and they alone who decide how this happens, whilst SEO’s and marketers tell their clients that its their understanding of how it all works that either makes or breaks a site in any SERP. The truth of the matter is probably a whole lot closer to the latter, yet say this too loudly and the former will disprove that theory with venom.

I’ve always suspected that there is inside the minds of Googlers this huge fear that one day they will be challenged on the whole ‘free serp’ thing. In some ways I sort of sympathise too. Google have taken great pains to say from the off that their paid results (ads to the top and the sides) and their ‘algorithmic’ results are a completely unrelated and separate thing. They of course have no other choice as to say anything else would lead to a collapse of the whole delicately positioned house of cards. If sufficient weight and evidence could be applied to a position that postulated that Google knowingly allowed content that was created for the purpose of SERP manipulation to directly influence the way it ranked sites, then IMO that would make the presentation of any case seeking to disprove such a thing so much easier. The likes of the FTC and the EU commission not to mention a myriad of other national and regional governmental authorities would take great delight in disassembling the whole shaboogle implementing all manner of restrictions and investigations that would ultimately do no one any good; especially if you were Google or a shareholder of their stock.

Matt said to Ted

Ok, so I’m taking Ted at his word. I’m also assuming that what Matt apparently said is official Google policy as he is head of the Google webspam team, then it’s safe to say that what he said is pretty darn close.

If what Ted is reporting is a correct interpretation, then how could Matt (Google) realistically say anything else?If he were to say to Ted and his gang “Ok Ted, yup no probs, nofollow the core sponsor and all the other links will be just fine” then would it not be weakening its whole anti link stance? If he were to say after months of table thumping and anti paid post rhetoricising that he now accepts that a paid post is ok so long as its core sponsor isn’t rewarded in a way that would benefit their search profile then wouldn’t that just expose him and Google to derision and attack?

Content is a SERP manipulation tool

Let’s just assume that Matt Cutts had agreed with what Ted had suggested and that it was a good move and a welcome change to how they used to do things. Let’s then assume that word got out that paid reviews were now an ok method of search marketing and that the content within was now therefore ok with Google. What would people do with the knowledge that the content would be trusted editorially?

If you knew of a blogger who was part of a system that was paid by an advertiser to write reviews about a product or service that you knew would contain nofollowed links to the core advertiser, yet was allowed to link out to other content to enhance, support or compare the position of whatever it was that was being discussed then wouldn’t you try and use this knowledge? Furthermore, if you were an advertiser that understood the game, then again what would you do too? Would you seriously just sit idly by and not use that knowledge to help your cause?

Clever content creators create all sorts of value for their sponsors. Their sponsors are often unseen hiding in the shadows, silently profiting from their works. Amazon, Yahoo, Ebay and any other number of sites you’d care to mention all exist to turn a profit, all exist to benefit themselves or those employed to write or promote them in one way or another. How many of those have at one time or another appeared in the SERPs for competitive keyphrases? Were they there on the basis of being most relevant or did their market dominance and Googles over reliance on link text have an influence instead?

Bloggers themselves are exploited in the millions by the ‘free’ platforms like blogger and wordpress. Content is syndicated and reassembled and plastered with adverts that enhance the bottom line of the likes of Google and Yahoo and any other number of networks that make use of the content. Journalists are paid to push editorial agendas of publishing houses with huge commercial interests and sponsors. Politicians are influenced by commercial interests in subtle often unseen ways that lead to decisions that have massive impacts on the lives of millions of people the world over. The world is a commercial place, commerce doesn’t live in a vacuum, it’s an intrinsic part of all our lives, we all know too that it’s not going to go away either, especially in the online world.

As for Google or search engines and their SERPs. Nothing has changed, it’s as its always been. The SERPs are there to be hit, but you can’t brag about it. You have to play softly softly catchy monkey. Paid posts and reviews play softly softly catchy monkey badly for a few reasons. Most were borne out of or created by people who used search metrics as an advertiser hook. They sold their programs on the basis of the benefits to be had from an external entity unowned by them. They acted as if the 1000lb gorilla wouldn’t really notice their existence and would just allow them to go swimmingly along their merrily merrily way.

Google hack me off too but..

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t like the fact that bloggers have to tread tippy toe and exercise great caution around what they write or how they monetise what they do. I don’t like the whole dictatorial attitude that is expressed by those who leech off of and make millions from the backs of those whose content they use. I don’t like the fact that they are now influencing the very shape and fabric of the time space continuum Internet by way of nofollow and adsense based content, I don’t like a whole list of other things either, yet I’ve ran out of time so I’ll leave the list at that for now.

I’d just say in closing that there is a radar and you have to keep below it. Once spotted you have to have the right markings and paperwork too, otherwise you just get shot out of the sky. If you want to get those markings and paperwork then it isn’t so difficult. You just got to stand in line or know a few people on the inside of the bureaucracy who can help you get them; suffice to say you need a little money to do that.

SEM Role Acquired – Attention span required

This isn’t really an SEO type post. It relates to the whole job seeking thing and my recent experience of it, feel free to read it if you like, you might fall asleep or you might even learn something. I’m not qualified to say which, you can be the judge of that!

You may recall that I made an SEO job required post about 3 weeks back. Well, I am happy to announce that I have found a great new role with an excellently progressive search company in London . I won’t say with who exactly as it’s good to keep some things under ones hat.What I will say is that they employ top quality people (why else employ me 😉 ) and are very proactive in the search space with an ever increasing base of quality clients looking to either solidify or improve their on-line presence. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun there in what seems to be a forward looking finger on the pulse type company.

Are you looking for that new role in SEM?

Looking for a job for me, was an interesting process I knew what I didn’t want to do, which was a great start in finding the type of role I was looking for. I was particularly surprised at the activity within the marketplace at this time of year. On day one of putting my CV out to recruitment consultants I received 10 phone calls, over the proceeding week I had a number of roles put my way, some suitable and some not so suitable.

I ended up going for 5 interviews, one of which was a two part process one of my interviews consisted of a test phase which much to my dismay I failed! Some tests require a score of 100%! One company required me to handcode a page in xhtml using CSS2, all from a PSD file, not just that, I also had to jump through a number of PHP code hoops whereby the aim of the function was provided and I had to fill in the blanks. It’s funny when you realise that you don’t necessarily know as much as you thought you did, especially when you spend in excess of 10 hours finding it out. Still, an interesting diversion nonetheless.

I was eventually offered 3 jobs, the one I opted for had the best package overall offering a good mix for progression, diversity and job interest, yet it certainly wasn’t an easy choice. Frank, if you ever read this, you are a great guy with a great team. I doubt it’ll take you too long to find just the right person. It would have been a pleasure I’m sure. That offer still stands too.

So what did I do right and what did I do wrong?

I guess that ultimately you’ll have to ask the people who interviewed me for the precise reasons, but there’s no harm in exploring a few of the obvious ones that may have helped as well as a few of those that may have hindered!

  • Write a good CV

    There’s little point in expecting to land interviews if you have too generic a CV. Think about the roles to which you are applying and tailor your CV to best fit the type of thing you are looking for. Focus tightly on your experience and talk about what it is you have done in your career and how you did it. List your achievements, give examples of how you made them, show people how you planned your approach and strategies. List your skills for the job, stick to the ones that are most relevant. Resist the urge to mention your flair for origami or dirty joke retention. Don’t overdo it, be honest, sound human, sound approachable, try to engage the person who will be tasked with reading your stuff.

  • Help the recruiter

    Engage with the recruiter, treat them like you would a friend. Don’t be all wooden and stuffy, you want them to help you. It may as well be a fun process too. Tell them about what you are looking for. If you don’t have the necessary experience then convey a little passion and enthusiasm for what it is you want to do and why. Carry them with you, get them to believe in you. If you believe in your ability then your confidence will shine through, if you um and err from the outset, then you’ll give the wrong impression and they’ll miss the you opportunity.

  • Be well presented

    If you are fortunate enough to get invited for interview then make an effort stick on a nice whistle and flute! Just because you may have sat around in your bra and knickers or underpants in the past mixing it up with a bit of PHP and HTML, doesn’t mean that your prospective new employer will be ok with a laid back ’employ my skills not my dress sense approach’. You may well be one of the most smartest critically thinking abstract diverse SEOs on the planet but that won’t count for rock salt if you give the impression that you some maverick arse who can’t even think in terms of clients and respectability! Business people especially, want to deal with people who inspire a confidence in their needs. If you can’t take the time to care about how you look, then why would any right thinking employer or client think that you’d even begin to care about them and their needs?

  • Be yourself and demonstrate your knowledge

    Nerves are a PITA. We all have them, they are that unfortunate aspect of ourselves that sometimes help us perform or otherwise bomb. The thing to remember is that in practically every case, the person sitting in front of you wants you to be that person they are looking for. They don’t want to have to keep interviewing person after person after person, no. They are hoping that you are the candidate and if you are sitting there in that seat, then there’s a very good chance that you are.If you have made it this far to the interview stage then you should give yourself a big pat on the back as you are already half way there to securing your new position. Resist the temptation to bullshit or lay it on thick as unless you are some kind of sociopathic narcissist, the reality is it will look false and sound unconvincing. None of us really like interviews, but they should be seen for the opportunity that they are. They are that opportunity to show who you are and what you have to say. If you are good at what you do and have done well at it in the past then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to convey that experience. Just be yourself, see the person sitting across from you as your allie. You are there to help them find what they are looking for; unless it’s an aspect of the role, they won’t wish to make you feel anymore uncomfortable than you may already be. If you helped client x get to position 1 then show them how you did it. You don’t have to breech client confidentialities just present it generic styley, the principles are broadly the same, especially when it comes to the disciplines of SEO.

Today and tomorrow and the day after that

At the end of it all, I guess I was lucky to have received the offers I did, in such a short space of time. Being in the right place at the right time can go a long way in determining where it is that we’ll find ourselves on the next months or years of our existential path.

The great thing about the search scape is that it is an ever changing, ever shifting place. It never sits still, companies and individuals push and promote new ideas, practically daily. Only last week we saw the unveiling of ‘Google Knowls‘ yet another big play at securing the ever participative web, which kind of ties in nicely with what it is that makes this whole ‘thing’ work. If you can engage your readers/users/customers/visitors/friends then you’ll gain their interest and make a success of things. Be it a user registration, a comment, a link, a purchase, a date, a job interview…

Fulfill the needs of the people you encounter, demonstrate how you’ll improve their experience, get them to participate in project you.

Merry Xmas and happy holidays all!

Meanwhile in a search engine vortex oft 53rd street..

Very soon, you’ll no longer have to confess to being a sinner in order to use Googles re-inclusion or reconsideration request ( I suspect it’ll be called the take me off the naughty list next week, being xmas and all that)

This is a good thing, a small thing, but a good thing nonetheless. Anything that allows you to challenge without putting you on the back foot from the off, can’t be bad, can it?

Whilst Google are probably of the view that it’s an easy thing to do and even almost a no brainer for them to implement, you do nonetheless find yourself wondering why they employed the whole nasty evil language approach from the outset.

Still, at least now if you find yourself with a white bar or an inability to rank, you can just toodle along to the webmaster tool page and make a bit of a tool of yourself and ask to be let back in, without admitting guilt! Yay! Um…they’ll probably ignore you or leave you where you were at, but at least you get to ask without fessing up! 😀

Seriously – it’ll be a good thing if people get feedback, like ‘no dude you have a paid post on blogpost number 234 of your 1500 that you’ve made’ …don’t you agree? Shouldn’t it be a two way process?

I suspect that there’s a strand of thought that runs through the plex of ‘aaaargh, it’s one of those evil bastard spammers asking for some feedback on their evil wicked spammy ways’, and that this might just contribute to a view of ‘let em stew’. But hey, I’ve been wrong once if not a thousand times. I’m sure I’ll be wrong again. 🙂

New SEO/SEM Job required

I’m looking for a role in an SEM/SEO environment. I currently live in England but would consider relocation for the right kind of role. Areas for consideration are London Hertfordshire and California, yes you did read that right Sunny California. Anywhere north of Watford is too cold

I have worked in a solitary environment for some time now and have decided that it is something I no longer wish to do. I don’t therefore, wish to work on SEO projects that are primarily solitary or long distance telecommute in nature. I wish to work with real people in a team environment on things that are challenging and interesting. This is of primary importance.

For your information I am 39, hold a UK Passport, and am of good character.

I’ve worked with a variety of projects in the travel industry as well as a range of smaller niche type projects. I have delivered results for some very competitive phrases such as London Hotels, Paris Hotels Cheap Flights and Car Hire.

I have built all sorts of websites housed in LAMP configurations. I’ve watched websites flourish and die through a string of search engine guideline changes and have a very good grip on what is required to deliver ongoing results for quality projects.

I am also an experienced PPC marketer with a very good working knowledge of programs like Google adwords.

I have excellent written and verbal communication skills, am well presented and do not take myself too seriously. I have strong interpersonal, client facing and technical skills that would suit an ambitious organization in need of a quality SEM professional, looking to grow its client base by delivering for its clients and enhancing its reputation through doing so.

If you could do with someone like moi, or know of a team who could benefit from a person who has lived and breathed search related stuff since 1998, and have something that you think I might be interested in then do please drop me a line to watts_rob(at)

I with be available from January 30th 2008

Thank you

No agencies or recruiters please!

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