Coverage of SES San Jose: Search Engine Q&A On Links

August 10th, 2005


I’m a bit behind on my conference session blogging. Waaay too many parties going on; doesn’t leave much time for blogging. The Google Dance last night. Yahoo! party at Great America the night before. And tonight I’ve got another party to go to. Yesterday I spoke on RSS. I’ll post a recap on that session later.

I just attended “Search Engine Q&A On Links”, which was great. Lots of useful advice from Google and Yahoo! about linking (nobody seemed to want to ask poor Ask Jeeves any questions). It was funny how obviously diametrically opposed the engines were to the immediately prior session on “Buying and Selling Links”. It’s hard to reconcile the two different sets of advice. Matt in the hallway before this session was adamant: “Don’t buy links!”

Anyways, without any further ado, here’s the session recap:

Kaushal Kurapati from Ask Jeeves:
Be cautious of: reciprocal links and purchasing links
Avoid: link farms, cloaking pages, invisible or hidden links that trick the crawler
Become an authority on a subject
Focus on your busines and content. Rest will follow. [I say: “yeah, right…”]
Teoma uses subject specific popularity: garner respect in your industry, subject-specific text based links can be understood. (hubs and authorities model)

Tim Mayer from Yahoo!:
Here’s some important news!! Yahoo! has just launched a brand new service: Site Explorer from Yahoo! Search. Stop scraping the Yahoo site for backlink results and use Site Explorer instead. Access via an API is offered too. And you can export as a CSV file.
Yahoo has 19.2 billion web objects in its index. Over 20 billion objects, when you include the audio and video.
Plans to use community to improve search quality. Social search = within a trusted network, where someone within your network vouches for a site.
Create natural linking strategies. when things start to look unnatural, is when you’ll start getting into trouble. We look at intent (linking to plasma TVs, diamonds, and Viagra all on the same page) and extent (i.e. what looks normal. Having everything on the page as links or 200 links on the page is too much!)
Yahoo! offers a much more comprehensive sample of backlinks than Google, but not a complete set of backlinks. New system (Site Explorer) will be reasonably comprehensive, in his opinion the most comprehensive out there.
It’s unnatural to link to sitemap-1 sitemap-2 sitemap-3 sitemap-4 sitemap-5. If you are doing this, you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Matt Cutts from Google:
Good links are earned links, links that are based on editorial discretion.
Create services that really useful. e.g newsletters, an article a day, syndicate through RSS (attribute my article and give me a link). start a blog.
Matt launched his blog today:
Think outside the box.
Only SEOs and librarians do backlink searches. Historically we decided to dedicate a subset of our servers to backlinks. Only a sampling of backlinks would be displayed but only for a threshold of PageRank 4 or higher pages. A suggestion was made to show backlinks for lower PageRank pages too. We liked that idea so we now show a random sampling of backlinks, including low PageRank scoring pages too. We show twice as many backlinks as shown before, but still it’s only a sampling of the backlinks.
In graph theory, a clique in every node in the graph is very unnatural. So don’t link to every single node in your network of sites; it’ll get flagged.
For dynamic sites, you’re very safe if you have fewer than 2 parameters; keep the values of those parameters to fewer than 5 digits, and don’t name a parameter “id”. Googlebot sometimes tries variations of URLs by dropping parameters, but we only do that deep level analysis on big, quality sites.
Another good approach that alltheweb came up with: spider would always go 1 dynamic page deep from a static page.
Search engines only grab 100k or 200k or 500k so be careful loading up a huge page with a lot of links.
PageRank isn’t as important as SOME people make it out to be. BUT it’s NOT like “PageRank? Oh yeah let’s shuffle that one under the rug! That was sooo 4 years ago!”
“BO” = backlink obsession
We export PageRank only once every 3 months or so.

Technorati tag: Search Engine Strategies

Link Buying Basics for Business Bloggers

August 6th, 2005


Any search engine optimization consultant will tell you that links are the currency of the Web. They’re also the currency of the blogosphere. Without any inbound links, you’re just blogging to yourself. In Mike Grehan’s seminal piece “Filthy Linking Rich“, he explains how those rich with links just keep getting richer.

So how can new business bloggers get a jump start in the search engines? Simple: just whip out your wallet. The business of text link ad buying has matured, and it’s on the up-and-up. We’re not talking about “buying PageRank”… what we’re talking about is a totally legitimate business practice of buying text ads where you choose your hyperlinked words carefully based on keyword research and your advertisement appears on a reputable, relevant website. And of course, it links directly to your website, sans click tracking, so the ‘search engine juice’ flows unhindered. If the practice weren’t legit, would you see such well-respected link-building pundits as Eric Ward on the board of the link broker

Buying links is not quite as simple as I make it out. Yes, you can use a broker and they’ll happily take your money. Caveat emptor! In order to make an informed purchase, you’ll need to evaluate the quality of the links using a number of criteria. Here’s such a list of criteria, courtesy of the ABAKUS SEO Blog:

  1. Inbound site traffic and page traffic.
  2. Inbound dot gov and dot edu links.
  3. Click though traffic you get from the page.
  4. Site in DMOZ and Yahoo directory.
  5. Age of domain and time of domain being used (longer the better).
  6. Inbound links shown to that page on Yahoo (link:http:www.domain.ext/page/).
  7. Ranking of page for the keywords it is optimized for.
  8. Relevance of theme of site and page to your site and page.
  9. Alexa ranking (lower is better).
  10. Deep link compared to home page links.
  11. Location of link.
  12. Length of allowed description text.
  13. PR of page (still matters a bit).

Personally, I’d also add to the list:

  1. Appearance of any link advertisers on the page that would attract the attention (negatively) of the search engines (e.g.: casinos, Texas Hold’em, Viagra, pharmaceuticals, insurance, Rolex, etc.)
  2. Quality of the landing pages of the existing link advertisers (if you find any are spammy-looking, turn and run!)
  3. Placement of the link. (i.e.: being relegated to the bottom of the page as footer links is not ideal)

How blogging has paid off

July 19th, 2005


I was recently interviewed by a journalist on business blogging and its benefits. He wanted to know specifically what it’s done for me to have a blog. Here’s what I told him:

  • I’ve gotten inquiries from prospects who found Netconcepts through my blog.
  • My blog helps me get speaking gigs and PR. In fact, I recently got one of my blog entries taken verbatim by a well-respected US magazine — DM News — and published as an article.
  • It builds credibility and establishes me as a thought leader in the eyes of prospects and clients. For example, one of our recent clients choose us over a competitor for online marketing services partly because of my blog.
  • It’s helped upsell existing clients on additional services, as many of them are regularly reading my blog. For example, some of our clients are going to start a blog and use us for blog design, blog consulting, etc.
  • I’ve gotten links from popular bloggers, like Robert Scoble of Microsoft. It’s much more difficult to get a mention from Scoble (or other prominent bloggers) if you’re not a blogger. Scoble’s blog, called Scobleizer, is one of the most well-linked blogs on the Internet. Some bloggers have even included me on their blogroll, like Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing Blog (Thanks, Toby!)
  • It’s helped me with recruiting panelists for Thoughts Leaders Summits that I organized and moderated for MarketingProfs. For example, the lineup of panelists for one of the recent summits included Internet marketing gurus: Seth Godin, Doc Searls, Robert Scoble, Steve Rubel, and Debbie Weil. My blog played a role in establishing my credibility with them and getting them to respond to my “cold call” email message.
  • Blogs are also great for SEO (search engine optimization). Links are important to the search engines, and the blogosphere is richly interlinked with bloggers linking so much to each other. Blogs are also rich in content, which search engines also like. If I blog about RSS and SEO (which I have), for example, next thing I know I’m #1 in Google for [rss and seo].
  • I’ve also built some great business relationships with other respected bloggers. They have referred business to me, shared speaking opportunities with me, etc.

I had yet another experience with that last item, just today in fact. I’m speaking at the Frost & Sullivan Sales and Marketing East conference in Boston, and a fellow blogger from a competing SEO firm who was sitting at the table I was facilitating earlier today on blogging very kindly publicly commended my blog to the rest of the group for its content and thought leadership. (Thanks Stephen!) There’s a guy who understands the benefits of coopetition (rather than competition)!

The journalist also wanted to know how my blog’s traffic had grown over time. Here are the charts I shared with him showing the growth trends in pageviews and visitors:



A pretty respectable trend, I’d say. If you’re curious what the actual numbers are, I will give you a hint and say that the both charts measure into the tens of thousands of visitors per month. Hopefully the trend will continue.

One thing I really need to do to keep the numbers heading northward is to blog more frequently. I’m sure traffic growth will accelerate once I do. I just need to buckle down! I guess I’ll just sleep less… (sigh). You other bloggers out there know what I’m saying here, don’t you! More often than we’d like, it’s the wee hours when we’re blogging.

How might a blog pay off for you? For some general ideas, read this article of mine, on blogging, published in last month’s issue of Multichannel Merchant magazine.

Link Popularity Checker

March 4th, 2005

$url “;
if (++$c != count($urls)) {
$prev_seeks .= ‘ / ‘;
} ?>

Use this handy tool to check for inbound links to your site that the major search engines know about.

Enter a web site URL (for example “”):
(Note: and returns different results!)

Be careful who you link to

December 14th, 2004


There is an interesting and amusing thread over at SEW. A punter asks, on the surface, an innocent question as to why his mate’s site has dropped out of Google.

A bunch of the regulars offer some suggestions for possible problems, and then on the second page, GoogleGuy appears and really wades in, revealing the site is linking to some very bad evil affiliate spammers.

Interesting that GoogleGuy would take the time to do some research on the site. Interesting that SEW allow such specifics to be discussed. Interesting that a good number of other SEO’s didn’t catch the real problem. And amusing that the punter gets his butt kicked from very high up in such a public manner. At least he had the good grace to admit he’s been a bad boy.

The lesson here people, is to be careful who you link to and who they link to in turn. Reciprocal linking is bad, you don’t know who else they have requested a link from. And do you have the time and skills to research those link properly. It took GoogleGuy to find the real problem and a bunch of professional SEO’s missed it.

Maximizing Your “Natural Search” Channel: SEO That Really Works

MarketingProfs virtual seminar series — online (webcast)

November 18th, 2004

Webcast by

Imagine an online ad that costs you nothing per impression, guarantees both a local and worldwide audience actively seeking your products and services, and offers 6 times the click-through rate of a banner ad… a search engine listing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the ultimate targeted, low cost and high return weapon in the e-marketer’s promotional arsenal.

Learn how to maximize your reach through the “organic” (unpaid) results in the search engines:

  • Which search engines to target
  • Keyword research tools and tactics
  • Writing copy that “sings” to the search engines
  • Benchmarking against your competitors
  • Link building strategies that work
  • Optimal search engine architecture
  • Best practices to emulate
  • Scams exposed
  • Case studies – including the “inside scoop” on what worked and what didn’t
  • Making your e-commerce or database-driven site “search engine friendly”
  • Measuring the return on your search engine marketing investment
  • Developing a search engine marketing plan
  • Criteria for selecting a search engine marketing agency
  • Online tools and resources

President Carter’s blogging experience

“We are grateful to Stephan for planting the seed for one of the most successful Web projects The Carter Center has undertaken to-date.”

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Case Study: Steve Spangler Science

Steve Spangler Science logo

  • Revenue has doubled every quarter
  • Website drives catalog readers to buy
  • Blogging a sales success
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Orders increasing, search engine rankings soaring, science company takes off

“Above everything else, I am most pleased with the people behind Netconcepts. Throughout the entire project, promises were kept and expectations were exceeded.”

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