Month: June 2008

Online Marketing Show Islington London

I’m at the Online Marketing show at the business design centre in London Islington, doing.SEO Consultations.

I just so happened to attend a Universal search aka Blended search presentation by Neil McCarthy CMSO of Latitude Group.

Neil’s presentation was entertaining, Neil had a good take on what it is that is required to do well in search in 2008, that is, a knowledge and awareness of what it is that is making SERP front pages in 2008 – rich media, social media, news content etc.The message to the unconverted being that search engines today are trying very hard to give users diversity and choice within the search results. Knowledge and awareness of this is an obvious asset in any online marketing strategy.

I’m being introduced to all manner of people as I sit and type. Just had a nice conversation with a woman named Nickie who works for a Media agency. It’s surprising the number of people in Nickie’s industry who have a fab knowledge of the off line world and the various channels available to enagage yet when it comes to online have very little knowdledge around what is required to do the very same.

I’ve also just talked with someone named Liz from a recruitment company. Liz has worked with a search agency for some time it seems but just isn’t being returned for her target search terms. A cursory glance at her site revealed all manner of problems relative to on page and off page factors. It truly is astounding that so many companies are making these big online pushes from such relative positions of weakness. Companies, it would seem, are offering them the earth yet failing to provide the right guidance and help from the off. it seems that somethings never change. Still, maybe we can help her out there. Sales guys, we got a hot one for ya!!

Talking of hot, damn, it’s uncomfortably hot here. Why don’t these places use aircon? What is it with conferences and dome like greenhouse type buildings ?

Interesting day so far. Just off to listen to a competitor talk about…yup, you got it, search!

If you are ever muzzled watch stuff like this and rejoice

Manufacturing consent. Nuff said.

Old School SEO Sucks and is a waste of money

Old School SEO Sucks and in isolation is a waste of money

I won’t be telling anyone anything new when I say that today in 2008 the web is a very different place from the web we knew in 1998. Back then Google was pretty fledgling, and spent a lot of time and energy building relationships with webmasters in the various webmaster hangouts. Back then, with a little programming nous and a lot of SEO knowledge you could easily make inroads to as many verticals as you had the time to manage or play in. It really was possible to wake up and say, “right, today I’m going to target x” and in as little as week you could be ranking for x related keywords and earning coin.

Today of course you still can, yet it’s a little bit more tricky of course. Many of the quick win doors have been closed. There aren’t as many keyword rich domains to choose from. The acquisition of links is also wrought with hurdles which must be negotiated with tact and a little cunning even. Every single aspect of web marketing today has changed and matured to a point where anyone considering embarking on an Internet start-up that doesn’t have a team with the historical background knowledge of the debates and nuances that have shaped things over the years is, well, to put it bluntly, taking a big stab in the dark.

How so

A look at the easy stuff for starters, the so called ‘on page’ factors would have you think that ‘hey, this is all easy stuff, just get the onpage implementations right and we are good to go’ . Yeah right, exactly if only that were so, yet you’d be amazed at how many web developers fall at this relatively simple 1st hurdle. It does not cease to amaze me the complete and utter lack of knowledge that exists out there on the most basic of SEO principles. You would not believe the number of people I encounter regularly who just do not get the most simplest of concepts. Page titles, keyword usage, clean URL’s, avoidance of flash, good contextual keyword rich navigation structures to name but a few. Lots and lots and lots of very talented smart people, just don’t get it. It’s almost as if the marketing of their product designed for a marketplace just wasn’t considered. It’s akin to building a boat designed to sail the ocean waves and sticking funky big holes in the hull because they happen to look cool. Net effect, the boat sinks!

It isn’t just about SEO

How many developers out there today hooked on Ruby and Ajax web 2 ideas are knocking up apps that in terms of search engine friendliness just aren’t worth squat. It’s almost like SEO and one of the biggest potential traffic generation drivers [search engines] is almost an afterthought. It’s as if some of these guys say, right we’ll build this site, tell our customers and make some money on the Internet, yet have no clue as to how it even works. Can you imagine thinking right, I’m going to buy me a car and drive it to the other side of the world and meet lots of new people on the way, packing your bags, filling the trunk, getting everything shipshape and ready only to sit in the drivers seat and realising that you can’t even drive? Not the best analogy perhaps no, yet that is exactly what company after company after company do. They employ inexperienced people who think they know what they are doing yet know nothing. They really believe that it’s just all about meta tags or keyword density and nothing else. They really don’t get the whole joined up thinking thing that connects what it is they do to a meaningful SERP position. The lucky ones learn fast and find a company that get the whole gig and hold their hands and walk them through the rights and wrongs of their websites, developing structured plans that’ll help them get to where they want to be.Those with the resources and patience required can usually get there eventually, but for the many trying to break into their niche without sufficient resource or appreciation of the time investment required, then it can really be a big problem.

Playing catchup in 2008

In a 10 places shop window there isn’t a lot of room for new kids on the block. A new player has to be able to hit all the buttons required to get them where they need to be, whilst competing with those who are out miles in front. If site x has 6000 quality web citations then site y is going to have to work pretty hard to get anywhere near them on that front.If site x has established communities of regular patrons drawn from a rich diversity of geographic areas then again, site y is going to have it’s work cut out to compete there too. In the web economy of 1998 links were relatively easy to acquire, you seldom had to pay and you could them from practically anywhere you liked. Today of course it’s a whole different story. Links need to be sourced from the right places , in the right ways and need to be of the right type to have the desired effect.

Universal search makes it all doubly harder too. With Google working hard to mitigate the effects of competitive SEO there just aren’t the spaces to go around either they are ‘ever dwindling’. Today’s search results are often outputted in ways that give the user a wide diversity of choice. A search for Mortgages might contain a mix of banks, local, informational, news, blogs, rich media and comparison type sites. This means that any expectation to come from nowhere and compete for that keyword is at best ambitious and at worst delusional. Understanding the hows and why’s of how those components of such universal results is an obvious asset.

Yet how many people truly know or even appreciate how or why this is important? How many people just shrug and think, ah that clever Google bot algo thingy all knowing all seeing just knows what to put there. Thankfully for most, the answer is lots.Knowledgeable web marketers today will attack all aspects of those SERPs and seek to influence them towards the goals of their clients. Done correctly, people won’t even notice the subtleties. Done correctly a new kid on the block struggling to compete for that unattainable organic 1st or 2nd position slot might suddenly find themselves enjoying the raft of complementary traffic that comes from a developed strategy. That youtube channel with the viral video, that carefully crafted, widely publicised press release or article, that funny viral game, that shock controversial revelation will be seen for the fantastic investment it quite clearly was.

At the end of it all I guess nothing has really changed at all, it’s all still about putting bums on seats and eyes in front of screen, yet the means to do so requires the employment of people who really get this kind of stuff and have the contacts and resources to deliver, it just really isn’t enough to employ an SEO who says I’ll get you a few links and fix your meta tags. If this is what your SEO company told you, then do yourself a favour and sack them today.

MSN Live Search Spam BOT Cloaked referrals

Hey Microsoft? What gives with all these dodgy false referrals? Do you think it’s a good thing to send zillions of false queries to website owners? Why are you doing this? Don’t you think it’s a little rude.

Back in December here Nathan Buggia said on the very issue of these cloaked referrals

Hopefully webmasters have also noticed these issues disappearing. If you are still experiencing any issues, please contact us before you block MSNBot, to see if we can address the issue.

Yet it’s now what June six months later and it’s getting worse. Can you please stop, thanks! This isn’t a way to endear yourself to the search community.

Here are 10 other people commenting on the same.

  1. Microsoft Plays Referrer Stats Games and Ruins Your AdSense Income
  2. Microsoft Reports That Issues With Their Live Search Cloaking
  3. MS Live Search hitting web sites with fake referer information
  4. Is Microsoft Live Search stuffing our log files
  5. MSN, Ban Me I don’t Care, But Stop Sending Spam Referrals
  6. Strange Referrer Activity
  7. Yell if Microsoft’s Spammed You Too
  8. Live search referrer spamming
  9. The Art of Web ~ System- Referer Spam from Live Search
  10. Microsoft Live Search’s Strange Spam-Like Referrals Are Official Tests

(hat tip to Carlo)

Psst Carlo, drop the nofollow on those links in your post!

The cant rank for jack shit looky likes a penalty penalty

Interesting, it seems like a ranking penalty has been applied to, that or some funky Korean hijack has had the effect of kicking this domain out of the rankings

Go try a search for any of my unique title strings and see what comes up! I tried,, .com, .ie, .in, .jp google domains and all returned the same.

Here is unique page from this site.

Here is the Google result for a search for the unique string, notice that doesn’t appear anywhere on the first pages.

The interesting thing about this apparent penalty is that pages from my domain appear in about position 60 odd for a 92 result SERP. For a unique ‘in quotes’ search it isn’t returned within the 7 results returned, yet the page concerned has both pagerank and a cached representation.

There is a slim chance that the  ‘enjoy Korea’ (see graphic) result that frames this site is having an  impact,  but it seems unlikely.

I’ve had penalties before (not here) it goes with the territory of PTASHFYCG  (push test and see how far you can get). Great for learning and ultimately harmless, well perhaps not so for me at the time, but in terms of getting to know how far you push before you break it then priceless.

I have to say, it does look like a penalty yet… OTOH, maybe someone decided it’s warranted, not for spamming or anything like that but for simply being a contrary oppositionist, I’ve certainly said a thing or two in the past that might just have put a nose or two out of joint.

Where’s that old rascal Igor when  you want him 😉

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