Category Archives: matt cutts

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.

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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! :D

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. :)

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WordPress Pagerank flow considerations

Matt Cutts in a recent interview said that Google does allow PageRank to flow through noindex pages. If you have pages on your wordpress install that add little value to your readers and you’d like to prevent them from being indexed, then you might want to take that into account.

Eric Enge: Can a NoIndex page accumulate PageRank?

Matt Cutts: A NoIndex page can accumulate PageRank, because the links are still followed outwards from a NoIndex page.

Eric Enge: So, it can accumulate and pass PageRank.

Matt Cutts: Right, and it will still accumulate PageRank, but it won’t be showing in our Index. So, I wouldn’t make a NoIndex page that itself is a dead end. You can make a NoIndex page that has links to lots of other pages.

(emphasis mine)

He goes on to talk about sitemaps to illustrate the example, which is very useful as ultimately, if you want search engines to index your stuff, then you probably want them to index the stuff you actually write and talk about rather than some random page that just has lots of links to your stuff.

I’ve done a quick and dirty mod to my head theme using is_archive and is_category wordpress functions as I’m not realy interested in my archives and cats being indexed. It’s my content that I’d like people to read and have the most ranking juice applied to.

Anyhow, if you add this to your header.php file in your WP theme, then it will do the job. You can make it googlebot specific or replace the word googlebot with the word robots. Do bear in mind however, that other search engines may not apply such directives in similar ways, so you might just want to stick with the googlebot approach.

<?php if (is_category() or is_archive()) {?>
<meta name=”googlebot” content=”noindex, follow”>
<? }?>

This says to googlebot, do not index this page but follow the links within it. Just open up your theme and put it after the </title> tag line wich can be found inside the <head> section of the html.

Whats the point in doing all of this?

Why am I doing this? Does it even matter?

In a world where lots of people talk about similar things, it is sometimes the small things that make the difference between getting seen or not. This for me, is one of those small things that might make a difference. It’s an experimental thing too. Currently a site:yackyack.co.uk search at Google shows a lot of pages for this domain which really just shouldn’t be there, or lets just say add little value in the grand scheme of my yackyack.co.uk world. It’ll be interesting to see in however long a period whether this little tweak makes any difference to referrals or rankings for desired keyterms.

You’ll lose longtail referals

A downside is, that I’ll get less referrals for long tail searches.
If you look at a typical cat or archive page you’ll see that its full of snippets and titles which when read in their whole make little sense. To a bot that saw these as individual pages, it could well return them for obscure queries, simply because of a certain mix of words that is purely accidental. In most cases, I’d question the value to both me and the reader.

From a grab the traffic and do what you can with it perspective, it’s a different thing entirely and if such an approach is important to you then I really wouldn’t do this.

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Want success on the web? Work hard, say something

Then the answer is simple. Work damn hard, have something to say.

I watched a video the other day from some guy in New York going by the name of Loren Feldman. I can’t find the link or recall where I saw it, but in a nutshell, Loren was talking about (in his own inimitable style) how this whole A list blogging thing is by and large bullshit. Bullsit in the sense of it really isn’y some mythical hard to attain thing. A-listers dont just happen overnight, they are not annointed to the A-list by the A-list illuminati, uh uh, no siree, they all get there through the same tried and tested route that applies to practically any other area of this thing called life and success relative to it. Hard work and having something to say.

I was looking at the work rate of various people I happen to read. Some, like Matt have slacked off a little, perhaps he isn’t hungry anymore, or perhaps he’s just a different case altogether. Matt worked hard long before he was a blogger. Matt was known amongst all manner of circles and could be seen hovering haunts like WMW whereby he’d rebutt inconstistenies or create the odd new one or two ;). By the time he started to blog though, he was already pretty well known amongst the tech community. The Googleguyilites and the Cuttlets were more or less a pretty instant readerbase. Matt didn’t have to work too hard at soldifying his position within it, yet still has to pump out the odd gem or two. Armed with access to an algo that hold the keys to web success, most people read what Matt says with a very keen eye. Poor guy really, he not only has to watch what he says, he also has to watch what he doesn’t say too!Anyways, Matt is one example of someone who worked hard in one dept and built a blogging success based upon past endeavours.

Nick Wilson is another. For those who don’t know he is the chap who created threadwatch. I remember reading Nick over at WMW and then subsequently at various other places like SEW, HR, even IHY and recall thinking on occassions, fuck, this geezer is everywhere, where does he get the energy. Then boom along came Threadwatch. Post after post after post of bang on the money commentary and insight into issues of the day that affected or influenced the world and the spaces I inhabited. It didn’t take too long before Nick had built up a nice little readership and community, that attacted all manner of people from all manner of spaces. Nick worked hard and reaped the rewards and went on to do similar things with Performancing.

Jill Whalen bless, whilst no big star in the blogosphere has nonetheless worked phenomenally hard over at her High Rankings forum, abley assisted by a fine team of mods of course. The point is however that Jill lead it. Jill worked very hard night and day sharing her knowledge, building a user base, creating a community, that took the time to get in there and unravel some of the myths and crap that are out there regarding search engines and SEO.

Someone who Ive been particularly impressed with of late and man, I do wonder where he both finds the time energy and focus is Andy Beard.

Take this year thus far.

  • March 2007 (46)
  • February 2007 (59)
  • January 2007 (86)
  • Thats 191 articles.

    Not 191 have a look at this this interesting, or my top 5 links of the week/day type posts, oh no. Each and every one is full of well considered opinons with links to prop up a postion or statement.

    Andy creates useful readable content that actually adds value to the space. He does the work and shares the results with his readers and visitors and as a result has seen a steady increase in both his subscriptions and I don’t doubt his general regular readership. Add to that fact that Andy can be seen in all manner of other places interacting and participating in forums, blogs and what not and you begin to get some level of appreciation for how hard he works. With appreciation comes recognition, with recognition comes reward.

    Mark my words, if you wan’t to see what it takes to become an A lister than a look at the works of these 4 alone will give you some insight.

    There are 100′s of others I could have referenced here. They all have one thing in common, they all have something to say and they all work damn hard at saying it. There is no secret formula its the work damn hard at saying it thats the tough part.

    Work hard, say something.

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