SEO article in Newsweek

If you haven’t seen it, Newsweek discusses search engine optimization (SEO). I talked to Brad Stone for this article, and it was clear that he had done his homework to delve into the world of SEO. I was worried that the article might sensationalize SEO, but in my mind it was pretty even-handed. Here’s a few comments on the article from my perspective:

  • I knew Brad was going to write about Rand Fishkin because he asked me a few questions about him, but I didn’t realize that he was also planning to write about a blackhat SEO (or if Brad mentioned it, I missed that).
  • Ironically, Brad decided to profile Earl Grey, one of the co-creators of a forum where blackhat SEOs sometimes chat. Why is this ironic? Well, I was doing some training on Friday, and one of the things I talked about was how to trace from one spam domain to find more spam domains. Guess what one of the examples was: Earl Grey’s sites! Small world, huh? A page on one of Earl’s sites says that he’s based in East Buffalo in New York, but we saw how that wasn’t true; it looks like he lives in Yorkshire in the UK.
  • By the way, if Earl didn’t want his identity known, he may not be happy with the Newsweek article. It gives a specific search plus the positions of his site on Yahoo and MSN, so it’s not too hard to discover the site.
  • The article mentions that the blackhat site doesn’t rank on Google and implies that it may be because Google can take longer to rank sites. I’m happy to say that’s not the reason; this domain was already caught for spamming (both algorithmically and manually) before the Newsweek article came out. I don’t know what else to say about this other than “woohoo!” back to the team at Google that works on quality.
  • The article also implies that avatarfinancial.com is ranking higher because Rand Fishkin bought some backlinks. We’ve already covered this territory. Rand, those paid links from the Harvard Crimson and elsewhere aren’t helping the site. In fact, it looks like you bought links from the same network that the other two sites at the site clinic were buying from. :) And I doubt Rand was expecting any direct PageRank impact from Avatar’s prweb.com press release. But what is helping is good content like the articles about non-conforming loans and the new blog on that site. That’s why when I see strong links from Yahoo’s directory, Dmoz, and Wikipedia to Avatar, I’m not very surprised.

My takeaway: the blackhat’s site wasn’t ranking in Google (we’d caught it before the article appeared), and Rand has been building up the content on his client’s site. From a cursory look, that’s what is making the real difference for that site’s better ranking. One thing I’m really happy about is that the article didn’t portray SEOs and search engines as automatically being in opposition:

[Search engines] deplore the so-called black-hat SEOs who use unsavory techniques, like spamming the Web with dummy pages full of links, in an effort to make their sites appear popular. But they are increasingly tolerant of ethical or “white hat” SEOs like Fishkin, who primarily help their clients knock down the virtual walls that prevent search engines from fully indexing their site. … It’s good for Google and SEOs: better-organized sites increase the amount of content in Google’s index, while improving SEO rankings.

I couldn’t agree more. Google does not consider SEO to be spam. To Google, SEO only becomes spam when it goes against our quality guidelines and moves into things like hidden text, hidden links, cloaking, or sneaky redirects.

Reading through the piece, there’s a bit of an undercurrent of “SEOs must do some deep magic; maybe I should hire one?” Truthfully, much of the best SEO is common-sense: making sure that a site’s architecture is crawlable, coming up with useful content or services that has the words that people search for, and looking for smart marketing angles so that people find out about your site (without trying to take shortcuts). Google will keep working to make SEO easier and spamming harder. In my ideal world, a site owner wouldn’t need to think about SEO at all: Google would always find your content with no help. However, things as simple as a site map can improve how well search engines can crawl (and rank) your site.

In the coming days, I’m going to give some tips for great ways to get links that will help in Google. I’m sure I’ll pick on a spammer or two as well. :)

100 Responses to SEO article in Newsweek (Leave a comment)

  1. Josh

    Thanks Matt,

    All of your entries give us some really nice insight.

    Question: Generally doesn’t Yahoo’s directory require payment? Isn’t that pretty much the same as getting a paid link? I might be wrong on that, its been a while since I’ve looked at them, just curious.

    Thanks

  2. JCopia

    Matt,

    I have a question I’ve been wanting to know forever. You mentioned about google quality guidelines and sneaky redirects. I have been concerned about this for the past two years and have not been able to find an answer in any forum or seo guide…

    If I have a set of affiliate links set up in a database and call them from a link on my pages – “affiliate 1″ linked to ‘www.mysite.com/affiliates.php?id=affiliate-1′ – and that link redirects to the actual affiliate page, is that a sneaky redirect and would I be penalized for this?

    I do this to keep the site looking clean but feel nervous that my lack of knowledge about this subject may be hurting me. Should I put the rel=”nofollow” tag in these links to keep me from being penalized or just put the ugly links to my affiliates?

    Thanks for your answer.

  3. benj

    Matt,

    Great to hear Google making a continued effort to Combat the Crud.

    We know from the guidelines what Google classes as spam, but how about sites that have a core topic, then hidden below the main site they have huge farms of low quality ‘articles’ on every subject known to man, Covered with Adsense ads.

    One particular site I know ranks in the top 6 for a fairly competitive term that has *nothing* to do with the ‘main theme’ of the site. In fact, the two paragraph article page, is the only page out of 32,000+ in Google’s index that mentions the topic.

    The site has article pages for everything, and random searches like:

    site:thisdomain.com +monkey
    site:thisdomain.com +onion
    site:thisdomain.com +croatia
    site:thisdomain.com +bucket
    site:thisdomain.com +straight hair (yes, there is a whole article telling us some people have straight hair!)
    site:thisdomain.com +blanket
    site:thisdomain.com +bluetooth

    all return at least 1 article with the searched term as the *topic* (i.e. not just appearing in the article text), some of them many articles.

    WordPress.org got slapped, but the site I am referring to seems to be being highly rewarded by Google for these tactics. In fact, in the last month or so has risen a good 8-9 places in the results.

    What exactly is Google’s stance on this? Can you give us any clues?

    (Please don’t tell me to report it – I’ve done that once a week religiously for 3 months, which is why I’m led to believe Google rewards Adsense driven article farms)

  4. Aaron Pratt

    I get a kick out of Rand (emailed him that newsweek article this morning) and notice that some of the darker shades pick on him a bit sometimes but guess what? Mr. Fishkin has created himself a nice little niche. Rand is the non seo – seo.

    Matt – Can you clear up a few rumors about yourself? ;)

    I spam your blog! Feel free to delete this post. :D

  5. Matt I think you are right about the undercurrent implying that common sense alone won’t get you good rankings …. but then of course a lot of us who spend most of our lives working online wonder this as well – at least until the canonicalization and 301 issues are more boldly addressed by Google.

  6. I am glad to see that black hat seo is being taken care of and us white hatters can continue our white hat tricks to stay ranked well in search engines.

    I am glad to see spam is being taken care of and hope it continues to be taken care of. I’ve heard many people complaining thinking Google is going “too far” with all its attempts to stop spam. I see their point in some ways — gotta be careful what you overexert yourself into doing because people will always find ways of going the other way on you with new tricks exploited from the obvious attempts.

    Anyways, I personally think Google is headed in the right direction. Keep up the good work

    Regards,
    Programming-Designs.com

  7. Well,. since there seems to be a Peter out there who’s posts get deleted sometimes, and I don’t want to be seen as a negative poster, I decided to change my name in this blog and link to my business site from now on. (I know it doesn’t help for PR or rankings, so please don’t comment on that,. :) )

    “In the coming days, I’m going to give some tips for great ways to get links that will help in Google.”

    I´ll be very much looking forward to that!!! :)

  8. Boney

    “And I doubt Rand was expecting any direct PageRank impact from Avatar’s prweb.com press release.”

    Matt, I was surprised to read this. I have always thought of press releases as one of the “legitimate” ways to build links–after all, there is an editorial review process at PRWeb (and its brethren) to ensure releases are up to quality standards (just like the editorial process that makes Google respect links from “Yahoo’s directory, Dmoz, and Wikipedia”). Are you implying that Google discounts links from PRWeb?

    You suggest “looking for smart marketing angles so that people find out about your site” — wouldn’t putting out a press release (and thus getting found in highly-trafficked news sites like Google News) quality?

  9. Matt, as I noted to Brad, Google wasn’t counting those links at the time of his writing, and it certainly wasn’t paid links that got us back up in the SERPs – note my post on the subject – http://www.seomoz.org/blogdetail.php?ID=615

    Thanks for being so friendly to Brad about me, though. I appreciate the fact that we’re both going the distance in trying to close the perceived gap between SEO and search engines.

    As for link buying, I believe that in my position, you would have made the same purchase. Those paid links are quite reasonable, even if you only count the branding and click-through value (and your competitors have not quite caught up to your elimination of link value from them).

    Don’t let me forget to buy you a drink in NYC. :)

  10. I checked out the “black hat” site and noticed that it was running 3 sets of Adsense ads. If Google engineering has determined that this site is spamming, why doesn’t Google Adsense remove this site from its program and set an example to discourage other wanabe spammers?

  11. Aaron Pratt

    You haven’t been paying attention Rand, you drink while Matt sips sprite, after you have had a few too many you tell him all your secrets.

    Get with the program. :O

    *out*

  12. Matt

    Josh, with Yahoo, you’re paying for the manual review of a site by an editor–it’s not automatically approved by any means.

    benj, off-topic articles where someone is just renting out a subdomain on a site is pretty bad. I dropped you an email.

    Aaron, I believe that was in fact my Mom leaving a comment. Oy, how embarrassing. ;) As to the rumor that I’m a swordsman: patently false. I just bought a fake sword for Halloween. :)

    Joe, I believe we’ve instituted some more intuitive results for site: queries within the last few weeks. The test data center will be where most of the progress on 301s/canonicalization takes place.

    Thanks, Programming-Designs!

  13. Matt

    pgaz, I tried to verify what you mentioned; looks like Earl is redirecting his site to my blog post about this:

    wget http://www.private-detectives.org/
    –20:28:29– http://www.private-detectives.org/
    => `index.html.8′
    Resolving http://www.private-detectives.org... done.
    Connecting to http://www.private-detectives.org67.130.100.160:80... connected.
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response… 301 Moved Permanently
    Location: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-article-in-newsweek/ [following]

    Earl, thanks for the free redirect! Now I’m #1 in MSN for [private detectives]. :)

    randfish, thanks for adding more details. When I talked to Brad he said it was for Wired, so I was confused when I saw the article in Newsweek. Besides, Bruce Clay has been in Wired. Now you’re breaking new ground. :)

  14. Matt

    JCopia, good question. That’s not a sneaky redirect: the redirect is only used for tracking. A sneaky redirect is typically used to show one page to a search engine, but as soon as a user lands on the page, they get a JavaScript or other technique which redirects them to a completely different page. I’ve got an example queued up to show sometime soon.

    Boney, a legit press release can get you written up by reporters, or editors/sites may subsequently choose to link to your site. But the actual content of the press release itself doesn’t directly affect a site. For example, on http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/10/prweb296086.php those hyperlinks don’t help avatarfinancial.com (in Google).

  15. >>Josh, with Yahoo, you’re paying for the manual review of a site by an editor–it’s not automatically approved by any means

    Matt, with all do respect (and I’ve seen you speak several times now and really do have great respect for you), that’s a pretty weak argument for why Yahoo should be treated differently from many huge name websites that sell links but screen them for quality before accepting them as clients.

    It definitely seems like Google gives a free pass to some sites for selling links (e.g. Yahoo) while penalizing or discounting other lesser known sites that sell links in exactly the same way and possibly with the same or even higher levels of scrutiny. And as for DMOZ – surely, your team is well aware of the corruption that goes on there.

  16. Matt – I’d like to take credit for that press release, but we actually outsourced to Greg (Jarboe of SEO-PR). He did a terrific job, note the mentions industry wide – http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&c2coff=1&q=%22Avatar+Financial+Group+Closes%22

    Avatar got quite a few nice phone calls out of it, too. With Avatar, as with all clients – it’s not always about SEO – it’s about traffic and publicity and getting yourself known in the industry.

    Avatar didn’t hire us (and we didn’t go out with the intending) to make ranking the only concern. They want to use the Internet as a vehicle to build a brand. IMO, SEO is a part of that campaign, but it’s certainly not the end all.

    Not every link is intended to help rankings at Google :)

  17. Matt

    Yup, we agree on this randfish. I’m just making trying to make sure everybody understands too. :) I’m not against doing press releases; press releases can be a useful part of getting traffic and building a brand. For ranking in Google, however, the main benefit of a press release is not direct links or PageRank from the press release directly; it’s primarily the people who decide to write an article and link because of that.

  18. Very cool article – Rand is a great person and I’m happy to see such good fortunes coming his way. First, the slashdotting of his SEO guide, and now this. What’s next, a spot on People Magazine’s Hottest 50? Those shades ARE pretty trendy, I must say.

    Also, can’t wait to hear your tips, Matt.

  19. Matt

    Okay all, I’m off to bed for the night..

  20. Chris_D

    Matt & Rand – great article.

    Matt – the only really disappointing aspect to all this is the ‘commercial’ decision.

    Like pgaz – I’m at a loss to understand how “this domain was already caught for spamming (both algorithmically and manually)” – and yet the site still displays Adsense?

    “In addition to the standards above, AdSense participants are required to adhere to the webmaster guidelines posted at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html.”
    https://www.google.com/adsense/policies

    I’ll second your “woohoo!” back to the team at Google that works on quality” – and send a big raspberry to the Adsense quality team.
    :)

  21. What Matt fails to mention is that the domain was penalised in 2001 and has two owners since then.

  22. “In the coming days, I’m going to give some tips for great ways to get links that will help in Google. I’m sure I’ll pick on a spammer or two as well.”

    That sounds great! I have given up on link building and have cancelled our paid links (some still running though the pay period) so need the direction.

    If you need a great example of a site that is successful due to artificial (very SPAMy) link building let me know. They are down to #4 for our key search but amazingly still hanging in there.

    Ted

  23. Matt,

    I need to hit the hay, too. I expect the phone could be busy tomorrow :)

    Just wanted to say that I think it’s terrific you’re specifically pointing out what methods do and don’t get measured by Google’s link analysis systems. I think a post outing some of the more obvious link sources (not neccessarily manipulation, just places where folks get links) would be terrific. It would, imo, make a lot of people sit back and say “oh…”

    It would be a good way to show off your detection systems so in the future, when folks think “manipulation” they’ll think about how easily you caught all those other systems.

    If you don’t post it, I’ll go ahead and make a guess on my blog :) Thanks for the comments, there, BTW – much appreciated.

  24. Matt

    No worries. Wild that it made it to Slashdot.. :)

  25. Hi Matt

    Its so great to be able to talk to you. Its obvious that Earl Grey is one of the first people to read your posts. I have always been worried about posting publically. How is it possible to post information and ideas to you – that you dont want made public to blackhats? If you ignore the info thats fine.

  26. Those quality guidelines state: Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

    I work in lyrics sites. I only have listed on site those lyrics I actually have on site.

    Dozens of other lyrics sites, many higher in Google’s listing’s than mine, list and meta tag every lyric by every artist, but when you visit the site, the links lead to “sorry, we don’t have this lyric” pages.

    They rank higher because they have, say (random figures) 100 links for Alan Jackson lyrics – most leading to dead pages – while I have maybe 24 REAL links leading to actual lyrics.

    Should I be reporting this as spam?

  27. Matt, Could you please advise of any tools that as a web owner we can see how our website is progressing in the Search results, from you blog you obviously have some special google tools but is there any good joe public tools available.

    Regards
    Anthony
    UK

  28. Stephen

    Hi Matt

    Sorry to drag you back to the test DC.

    The test DC is showing pages added by Mozilla Googlebot – which is unusual for me – however, not all pages that are crawled are added – do you expect more pages to be added by this bot in time.

    Also – It has been noted at wmw that homepages that were previously uncrawled are being crawled again – I dont know if this is due to 301, 302s being picked up better or what – however these pages are not ranking – will it take a while for these pages to build up their reputation again ?

    Thanks – I am trying to just enjoy Christmas for now – then look at the DC again in the New Year.

    Stephen

  29. ScottB

    Matt,

    Does the rule that applies to PR distribution also apply to generic article distribution sites? I’d think it would given that both are pretty much one and the same, but perhaps the information vs news angle is enough to differentiate the two?

    TIA,
    Scott

  30. Yahoo Directory Listing – how important is this in determining ranking in GG?

    I HAD 4 sites listed in Yahoo Directory since 2000 – couldn’t do them all justice so simply created one site and and directed these 4 to it and left them. Main site does exceptionally well in GG – mostly – (taking into account everflux etc). And over the years has accumulated a lot of backlinks – none paid for and all relevant to the site – some recriprocal, some not.

    Now due to a series of unfortunate events which culminated in me having 5+ identical sites in GG and suffering accordingly I just ‘nuked’ these 4 sites in August 2005 – they are no longer in the Y Directory.

    The main site dropped 40+ places for ALL search terms in October – week before Jagger – and hasn’t resurfaced yet – I’v been assuming it’s everflux BUT someone has suggested it could be because I’ve got rid of the Yahoo Directory links – and should consider resurrecting the 4 sites and try to get them relisted to get the main site back

    It is our only source of income so I ‘m quite willing to do this – but it will take me ages – haven’t got quite the hang of dynamics and automated pages – it’s all painstakingly hand made. So I don’t want to waste my time if it’s not going to produce the required result – and getting the site back up t’top (Yorkshire dialect but I’m no Greywolf – LOL) is simply a wating game.

    cheers

  31. Stephen

    Matt

    Is the only reason for catching that detective site due to the link ? – if it is easy as that to catch the algo out then surely Earl Grey cant just start linking to his competitors in the same manner ?

    The site is in the serps and has PR – in what way is this penalized ? – If you are saying that the link has no benefit I can understand – as obviously the site is not ranking – or has it actually been downranked ?

    Bit strange that for one site that has paid for links it has not been penalized and can continue to rank, while the other site which also got links by the back door has been penalized. Why is it not the same situation that the links can not help the rank for both sites ?

  32. Jonathan

    I’ve been looking at the sites you’ve been talking about (http://www.avatarfinancial.com and http://www.micromatic.com) with regards to paying for links.

    From what I’ve seen, the only way you could tell that these links are paid for is because they’re run of the site (ROS). I’ve long suspected that Google applies some kind of filter against sites that have ROS links.

    However, surely this goes against the advice that Google often gives when they say that other sites can’t effect your own visibility in Google. I could effectively take down one of my competitors if I was happy to pay for high PR ROS links to their site.

    It would be good to hear your/Google’s thoughts on this.

  33. Stephen

    BTW – I am not trying to justify what Earl Grey has done at all – I just cant see in what way the site is penalized – just the benefit has not been added from the ill-gotten link – which surely is what would be the correct course of action.

    Unless I am missing something of course.

  34. I have nothing much to add to this posting as most of it has already been said. However, I would like to add my first impression of the Newsweek article.

    “Inside the shadowy world of ‘SEOs.”

    When I see titles or comments like this it always sparks a small feeling of trepidation… it immediately states that there is more bad than good in the legitimate world of search engine optimization.
    Yes, we are all aware of ‘shadowy techniques’ that can be used to enhance a site for a short period of time. Thankfully, most SEO’s are not using these either out of professional considerations or consideration for their clients.

    From a viewpoint of running a professional web development company where search engine marketing plays a key-role in our development, design and ongoing builds this sets off alarm bells for us. Client’s see publications like Newsweek’s and question negatively the role of SEO on a website.
    In a medium now where development standards are playing stronger roles, I feel it’s about time that efforts were more concentrated around the success of SEO and when implemented correctly the benefits thereof…
    I don’t want to turn this into a rant so I’ll leave it at that.

    Nice post Matt.

  35. Good article. Being a SEO I admit that it is indeed just using common sense in making a good structured website, using the right content and making strategic connections in a website and that with effort everyone could be optimizing their own website. Thing is that a lot of ( smaller ) companies or even most companies do not have the time or the people to do this structering.

  36. Matt,
    It’s a good thing Earl Grey redirected his site. Imagine being one of those Adwords advertisers who gets to see his ad pasted on a Newsweek documented spammers site?

    BTW, the Adsense ads can still be seen by simply looking at the cache. Adsense Id is pub-4943658048607442 if Google needs any help! :-)

  37. Aaron Pratt

    Next Question

    Press Releases – Check

    Articles – ?

    What are the value of articles that appear on multiple domains linked back to it’s owner?

  38. Boney

    I’ll second that question — if Google is discounting links from press release sites like PRWeb, are they doing the same on article distribution sites such as EzineArticles?

    In the case of EzineArticles, they have a manual review process that rejects far more articles than it accepts (its articles often even rank highly for Google queries). But the principle seems to mirror that of PRWeb, which you just outed as a site which doesn’t pass link reputation.

    Has/will Google taken steps to discount links from article sites such as EzineArticles (as it obviously has from press release sites)?

  39. Josh, you don’t have to pay for a yahoo ad. My site (noslang.com) was added to the yahoo directory for free after it was a “yahoo site of the day” back in august. So that’s 1 site / day that gets added for free. Try to come up with something neat and catch an editor’s attention.

    Wanna know what works better than press releases? Getting linked on a “viral” site. I’ve had sites linked on places like Fark, E Baum’s World, ehowa, Yahoo, Kim Komando newsletter, kontraband, ceoexpress, and various other type blogs or “cool sites” or newsletters etc, and they’ve done wonders for my SEO. As soon as a site got linked from one of those, about 50-60 blogs linked it the next day. Can’t ask for better than that.

    The trick is to come up with somebody that people will pass on to a friend saying “hey, check this out”. Even if it’s just a small portion of your site, if it’s viral it will drive traffic to your main site.

  40. >Wanna know what works better than press releases? Getting linked on a “viral” site. I’ve had sites linked on places like Fark, E Baum’s World, ehowa, Yahoo, Kim Komando newsletter, kontraband, ceoexpress, and various other type blogs or “cool sites” or newsletters etc, and they’ve done wonders for my SEO. As soon as a site got linked from one of those, about 50-60 blogs linked it the next day. Can’t ask for better than that.

    Bingo!

    Getting slashdotted a month ago might have killed my site’s server for a little bit, but it resulted in dozens and dozens of blog links, plus mentions in Digg and all those other tagging sites. Everything just snowballs – it’s great.

  41. Steve

    Matt this is a comment on overall serps but has relevence to SEO
    having looked at a number of results I find that of the top 30 in some 40 serps checks G seems to be rewarding those sites who do nothing more than reproduce white pages and any sites that do put links to sites seem to be penalised , I do not believe this is good for the searcher and gives clear signals that the way to spam the G index is create thousands of pages reproduced from yellow pages , I also see a heavier number of cloaked pages ( presume they are cloaked ) not that knowledgeable but page is not related to search query.

    As a webmaster who tries to provide visitors with the information they have requested I do and will continue to include links to relevent sites and wonder if G can ever address the spammers of thier index as sometimes it seems that they resolve one problem and introduce another
    PS I do not envy G’s task and have no ideas how i would go about resolving but still feel that the battle against spam is being lost

    sorry for negative comments but just wanted to provide some feedback and would have no problem supplying keyword examples
    steve

  42. > Truthfully, much of the best SEO is common-sense:
    > making sure that a site’s architecture is crawlable

    You know, the “SEO” buzzword has made it much harder to get people to decide to go for “common sense” accessibility. You can say “we need to have HTML links, not just JavaScript links for better crawling to improve SEO”, but try saying, “we need to have HTML links for people who turn off JavaScript, or Lynx users”… because management will simply laugh at people who turn off JavaScript :)

  43. You’ve got a point Phil. I’ve seen companies react to bigger problems in the same way:

    “90% of people use IE, who cares if it works in firefox or opera”.

    In fact, 2 months ago Saturn’s webpage didn’t work in Firefox. They’ve since fixed the issue, but that’s a huge problem.

    10% on the net is millions. I can’t fathom how a CEO of any company can say “Nah, those 8 million potential customers don’t matter to me, we don’t need them”

    The economy isn’t that good.

    I personally can’t wait until more people are educated about SEO. It will stop all the “magic an mystery” about it, and hopefully put the “i don’t know what seo is but i know it’s a 2 billion industry so we sell it” companies out of business.

    I’ve done work for one of those companies. They actually fired me when I told them I couldn’t make their “contact us” form show up on the first page of google for some un-related term. They gave me 10 pages, and 10 un-related terms and wanted each page (of the same domain) to rank for each keyword. It just wasn’t going to happen.

    I’m glad I only do SEO now on my own sites. “Software Engineer” looks better on the business card too.. I don’t have to explain it to everybody I meet anymore.

  44. Josh,

    If your site fits into a non-commercial category in the eyes of an editor, it can be listed for free.

    Search Engines Web:

    Paid backlinks should absolutely be discounted (and by the way, if they carry less weight, they are), based on the following statement from Google at http://www.google.com/technology/ :

    “PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B.”

    Now, if a site sells a backlink to someone, is that really a vote? No. It’s a paid endorsement.

    Matt,

    Interesting piece of bidness. I find some aspects of it and your comments somewhat confusing, however:

    “Google will keep working to make SEO easier and spamming harder. In my ideal world, a site owner wouldn’t need to think about SEO at all: Google would always find your content with no help. ”

    Since spamming and SEO are very deeply intertwined, with millions of different ways to manipulate the SERPs, how exactly does Google or any other engine delineate between legitimate SEO and spam?

    To provide an example:

    “For ranking in Google, however, the main benefit of a press release is not direct links or PageRank from the press release directly; it’s primarily the people who decide to write an article and link because of that. ”

    I’m not sure if I’m interpreting this properly, and I think I’m “thirding” the question about articles that Aaron asked. But I’ll ask it in my own way.

    I interpreted this statement to mean that people who write articles and press releases for the sole purpose of gaining IBLs are seeing said IBLs discounted.

    The question is: how does Google tell?

    A well-written article can see syndication in 50-100-200 or more different websites that publish articles without ever having submitted to said sites.

    Or are you talking more in terms of the sites that publish the “you can make millions in your underwear by subscribing to some weird MLM scheme that will never work” articles that see minimal syndication and redistribution due to their lack of sustenance?

    Also, I have a suggestion for the DMOZ/Yahoo!/Wiki portion of your article. I agree with the poster that discusses the mob mentality of DMOZ and how it has deteriorated in quality due to the editors operating in their own self-interests.

    Google obviously has the technology and the ability to set up a directory site a la Yahoo! and at least partly offset any costs of development and maintenance via sponsored links. I propose that Google sets up its own directory for human-edited listing of websites, and use the submissions to that directory to partly influence Google rankings.

    Doing so would accomplish six things:

    1) It would allow for quicker and easier removal of at least some spammers. A Google editor could quickly peruse the site and see any potential SE manipulations (e.g. keyword stuffing, IBL manipulation, etc.) and if a site has quality content and either Accept the submission, Reject the submission, or Blacklist the submission due to spamming. I suspect a lot of Blacklisting would go on as a result, which in turn cleans up the engine and provides more relevant results.

    2) An in-house directory would provide some sense of stability when algorithms are updated. Sites that end up in the directory (assuming they’re of quality) would be less affected by shakeups caused by algorithm changes, since directory listing in Google would be of some importance.

    3) New sites would have a relatively quick and easy opportunity to get into Google and potentially rank in keywords that they may not have otherwise had before, which provides a greater likelihood of fresh content.

    4) Increased relevancy over a 6-8 month period, once the majority of sites who deserve to be in the directory are included.

    5) The Directory Search (a feature I always liked myself) could be reincluded. This ties into the possibility of offsetting costs with sponsored links.

    6) Any effect that blackhat SEO could have becomes further minimized. Sites like wildaboutweightloss.com and coldfusion-tools.com, which have nothing to offer anyone, wouldn’t be included (presumably).

    Now, if that’s not all, how about the potential for greater profit? Charge for paid consideration a la Yahoo! (Not to be confused with paid inclusion). If you guys came in at $150 a year, you’d make an absolute killing from webmasters since your directory would cost have as much as Yahoo!’s. I’m not a fan of paid inclusion, but if it means getting the directory in there, so be it.

    Anyone else for this?

  45. Boney

    I don’t see Google EVER going the directory route. It would be a headache more than anything else. They like algo’s for a reason!

    But I am very interested to see Matt’s reaction to your statement:

    “I interpreted this statement to mean that people who write articles and press releases for the sole purpose of gaining IBLs are seeing said IBLs discounted.

    The question is: how does Google tell? ”

    Is Google preventing link reputation from passing on article bank sites?

  46. Adam,
    I agree with your assessment wholeheartedly. Sitemaps might be the mechanism with the addition of categories and applying Matt’s magic analysis tool to weed out spam and blackhat offenders. I’d pay a fee.
    Here’s my one additional suggestion. Adsense applicants would be REQUIRED to submit their sites through this process as well. I would like to see Google hold these sites to the same (or higher) standard as the search engine. Google could accomplish a world of good by screening its Adsense partners.

  47. Matt

    Steve, I’d leave a comment under a diffrent name which hasn’t been approved before and leave a big

    **** DO NOT APPROVE THIS POST *****

    at the top of the message.

    Stephen, the test data center certainly has some different crawling and indexing characteristics.

    Weary, Yahoo links are helpful because they’re high PageRank, but that’s the only reason; there’s no special “Yahoo boost” or edu-boost or gov-boost. Those links just tend to be higher quality.

    Boney, if someone is just syndicating articles from ezine or articlecity or wherever, that’s not adding a lot of value in my book.

    Adam/pgaz, we’ve always tried to avoid fees whenever possible, because of the potential for a conflict of interest. Adam, when we’re talking about links that Google likes, the best kind are editorial ones where someone chooses to give a link based on the merit of a site or how useful it is, not because someone is paying/trading in some way.

  48. Matt

    Vincent, I agree that the headline “inside the shadowy world” was a bit unfortunate. Often, the person who wrote the story doesn’t get to choose the headline, and the headline can be more grippy than the whole rest of the article in order to get attention; I chalked it up more to that. I agree that it makes SEO sound a little seamy when that’s not in the industry’s interests.

    “What Matt fails to mention is that the domain was penalised in 2001 and has two owners since then.”

    Hi Earl! So you chose to do SEO on a domain that you believed had already had penalties? Huh. The penalties that I was referring to were much more recent, when you owned the domain (although again, before I knew about the Newsweek article).

  49. Stephen

    Matt

    This Penalty – is it a penalty that discounts the ill-gotten link – or a more general penalty due to the domain being detected as a employing spammy techniques ?

    Cheers – and thanks for answering my earlier question :) – I guess patience is required there with the test DC – as I say good point so far in more homepage being indexed – maybe due to 301/302 changes ? :)

  50. Great post Matt. Thank you for taking the time! I’m new to SEO and this discussion is all very informative.

  51. Hi Matt,

    “Adam/pgaz, we’ve always tried to avoid fees whenever possible, because of the potential for a conflict of interest.”

    I never thought of that personally, but that is certainly a valid point and I agree with it fully. I stand…er…sit in front of my computer on a break…corrected.

    Adam, when we’re talking about links that Google likes, the best kind are editorial ones where someone chooses to give a link based on the merit of a site or how useful it is, not because someone is paying/trading in some way.

    In a rather roundabout way, you’ve managed to clear up something for me regarding this issue. So I thank you very much for that.

    Off-topic question: where would I report a potential bug with Google caching? I’ve noticed that a certain layout I’ve done is left-justified in Google cache whereas in the major browsers it’s centered.

  52. What a Maroon

    >Client’s see publications like Newsweek’s and question negatively the role of SEO on a website.

    I didnt read it that way. It is a shadowy world. The positive spin is to acknowlegde that there are a lot of shadowy “snake oil” SEOs who give the industry a bad name and can actually do more harm than good. This is where “value added” selling comes into play.

    Props to you Matt, for outing the snake oil. keep it up.

    And I second the motion that the Adsense guys adhere to their own guidelines when approving sites. It would go along way in reducing the scrapers.

  53. Quote Matthew———-
    Hi Earl! So you chose to do SEO on a domain that you believed had already had penalties? Huh. The penalties that I was referring to were much more recent, when you owned the domain (although again, before I knew about the Newsweek article).
    End Quote——–

    Yeah the domain was banned from google when i bought it so i ranked it just for msn and yahoo and never gave a second thought to google as it never actually got indexed from the previous banning before i owned it
    The links i built were actually for yahoo mainly and i never actually gave a second thought to google although i did notice that it got unbanned a few months ago.
    By the time it was unbanned it had gotten pretty much all the traffic i needed from msn and yahoo so if it ranked at google it was a bonus but not a necessity.

  54. Aaron Pratt

    press releases – check
    articles on multiple domains – check
    paid links – check
    manual removal – check (30-60 days or longer)
    “automatic” algorithm removal and devaluation – check
    ninja socks – check

    In fairness to Mr. Cutts he doesn’t work on the Adsense team correct? So, I believe he is doing well presenting all this (via multiple channels) in a slow metered way. If you are listening I beleve you will learn a lot. Thank You!

  55. What a Maroon

    >In fairness to Mr. Cutts he doesn’t work on the Adsense team correct?

    No, but Matt is into fighting spam. Seems like he could at least get some help from the AdSense guys with the product that is the motivation behind a lot of spam.

    Even Inigo would appreciate someone having his back.

  56. Ben

    I’m still unsure as to why Google feels it’s okay to penalise ‘paid / advertising links’ when the bulk of their revenue is generated from ….. ‘paid / advertising links’.

    Just because G. chose to use JS to output their links – for their own auditing, statistics and whatnot – doesn’t change the fact that you’re raking in money from effectively ‘selling links’ while pointing the finger at others for the same practice albeit a slightly different implementation.

    I really like the thought of a Google directory, and I’d be very surprised if that idea hasn’t been kicked around before (or in the works).

    AdSense definitely needs to be approved on a per-site basis, it has to be the most abused advertising medium, with countless turnkey ‘made for adsense’ crap polluting serps on all engines.

  57. >I’m still unsure as to why Google feels it’s okay to penalise ‘paid / advertising links’ when the bulk of their revenue is generated from ….. ‘paid / advertising links’.

    Eh, that’s not really a fair statement. Google isn’t penalizing people for those links – it just isn’t a reason that they rank well (if they do), but it does not hurt them.

    Paid links (AdWords) don’t even get touched by spiders and transfer no PageRank or any boost to the rankings, so they don’t offer any pro or con in terms of ranking.

  58. Matt – are there penalties for sites that *sell* text links?

    You said in LV that buying links is usually a waste of money but indicated it’s not a penalty offense for the buyer – but what about the sellers?

  59. Tom from Guam

    Speaking of quality guideline, the Google guidelines say, “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).” Is this for human usability or for Google crawling. The reason I ask is that my site map is really designed for crawlers, not people and has many more links than 100.

    Curious,

    Tom

  60. Show me your websites? Damn right I will!

    Matt – I would love to be part of your class, I want to offer my Water Garden website as something for you to review because the ground is frozen and I will not continue working on the site or water garden until spring. It gets zero traffic so far from Google just as my other sites do. I would love to have a hint as to what I am doing wrong and if you will use me as an example (good or bad) it will be helpful.

    The website is linked in the above URI.

    Thanks

  61. Hey Matt, I want you to know that I really like your blog and respect what you are doing here.

    Yes…this will be great…I’m looking forward to seeing good ideas on generating traffic, getting relevant links and seeing a few spammers slammed!! haha…I am looking forward it it ;-)

  62. Matt, what a great insight this posting has provided so far! Cheers mate!

    Regarding the test DC, some (only a few actually) of my 301s seem to be working there. My 301s all worked fine before Jagger. Will the results of the test DC filter across soon? (Fingers crossed)

    Thanks….still desperate to get some more of my traffic back!

    Justin

  63. Russell

    Hi Matt

    Thanks for the great information.

    Is every link purchased concidered SEO? I have 1 inner page on my site with over 400,000 links coming in from a PR7 site which is on topic (relevant) to this page. The conversion rate to sales is very high and the referals are approx 800 per day. Running these sitewide links cost me less than usd200 per month on a long term basis. Yes a great deal, not to many like that. The cost per referal is far lower than the targeted term with PPC or Adwords. That is the only reason I keep it running and those are the types of links i look to buy. Is this called S.E.M.?

    I doubt that there has been any increase in PR from these links as the actual page does not index high in Google and the PR did not increase after the purchase. The funny thing is Rustybrick Google prediction tool has for the last 5 months been giving these results for this page:

    Results: Your current Google PageRank is 6. Based on our calculations, we predict your future PageRank after the next Google update will be 10.

    Yes i have been waiting and waiting and waiting for that 10, but it is not going to happen.

    Happy Holidays to everyone at Google. Thank you for everything.

  64. > I’m still unsure as to why Google feels it’s okay to penalise ‘paid / advertising links’ when the bulk of their revenue is generated from ….. ‘paid / advertising links’.

    Because the paid/advertising links Google sells aren’t for the purposes of manipulating an engine and creating an artificial PageRank.

  65. Matt,

    This may be a bit of topic, but in my opinion still related as it is about spam. I live in Brazil (not brazilian though, but Dutch) and I think that therefore I get a view on what you guys catchs algorithmically and manually. I notice a real difference between the english language and the portuguese language version of Google.

    Simple spam like hiding text and sneaky redirects still rank happily at the top in Google Brazil. Hit me with an email if you want to see an example. It´s very frustrating to see, what you probably consider old types of spam, ranking high.

    It’s kind of funny, because looking at all the hidden content and cached versions of these pages it shows you exactly what works best in the Google algorithms.

    If Google is lagging behind in foreign languages on catching spam, then you have a real problem I would think.

    Let me know,

    Peter

  66. I think I just got the core concept Matt! It’s “link sincerity”. I’ve been thinking that if the link is *relevant* Google should not care if it’s begged, borrowed, or bought. But in keeping with the concept of ranking as “votes” for a site maybe you should care since a bought vote is not sincere, even if it’s relevant.. A sincere relationship between sites comes about in a different way than a relevant linking relationship …

  67. Matt I am a little concerned after listening to you radio broadcast.. Is it my understanding that having simialar content on various pages could harm a site.Even if the site is about 1 product? I will give an example on my site we sell wheels and tires. With over 100 different brands of wheels many of the pages may be considered duplicate such as 1 page may decribe a certain wheels and trhe desc may say “American racing Estrella wheels” Then describe 15 inch wheels 16 inch wheels etc.. the next page “American Racing slider wheels with the same concept”. With the duplicate content filter is this hurting me?? I really do not have any other way to describe the products they are all wheels??

  68. Todd – Ah yes and here is another example. A site that sells gift baskets for dogs, each basket page has a comb, flea collar, toy and several other items that are exactly the same and must be listed in the same order to make it less confusing for the reader. The only difference in each page is 1 or 2 different items but to a robot there would be duplicate areas yes? Good one Todd, never could get an answer from anyone on this. Matt?

    I have linked the URI for further inspection if anyone cares to see if it is something being overlooked.

    Thanks.

  69. Dave

    RE: “SEO is not exclusively of course BLACK or WHITE”

    Yes it is, read the SE guidelines and it’s all spelt out

    Dave

  70. Ben

    Adam and BadSense – isn’t it presumptuous to assume that all paid links are bought purely for PR? Does PR even carry weight any more?

    I know personally that I have plenty of 5/4/3/2/1/0 pages that pull traffic from Google, and they’re ranked higher than pages and sites with better PR.

    One very good reason to make you wonder how much PR really matters .. why isn’t every #1 result one of the PR9/PR10 ‘heavy hitters’?

    With hugely popular and diverse PR9/PR10 news sites discussing most topics of interest, why would a search for Stanley Tookie be showing me a PR6 and PR5 pages as the top results? My theory is because the PR doesn’t mean anywhere near as much as the content. If a PR5 site can beat MSNBC/Yahoo/CNN/BBC/Google News etc …

    Meanwhile, I can think of plenty of good reasons to want a link to one of my sites on a busy site, and realistically, a ‘maybe boost’ in a rank that ‘maybe matters’ isn’t the main goal in getting your link where 10/20/50 thousand people a day glance.

  71. It would be presumptuous, were it what I said.

    What I pointed out is a reiteration of what Matt said: that the difference between the links Google is penalizing (not all paid links) and the ones that it sells is that there isn’t any way in which SERPs are affected by the links Google sells.

    If they make a few extra bucks off of it, hey, more power to ‘em. Let ‘em sink it into spam and scum and increase relevancy and that’ll be good enough for most of us here (at least me, anyway.)

    As far as this statement goes:

    “One very good reason to make you wonder how much PR really matters .. why isn’t every #1 result one of the PR9/PR10 ‘heavy hitters’?”

    Think about it for a minute. How many PR9/10 sites ARE there? And of those PR9/10 sites, how many actually cover every possible thing that a human being could search for? That has nothing to do with the PageRank Google assigns a page: that’s relevancy.

    Does that mean PR is unimportant? No. It generally takes a PR3-4 minimum to rank for a half-decent term. So it can be used as an indicator of success in that regard.

    It also lets webmasters know how well they’re doing at gathering IBLs. If I’m at a PR0 after 6 months of campaigning in this regard, I’m not doing a very good job that way (and no, that has never happened).

    So yes, it does matter. It’s just not the be-all and end-all some people seem to think it is.

  72. Harith

    Good morning Matt

    You wrote:
    Boney, if someone is just syndicating articles from ezine or articlecity or wherever, that’s not adding a lot of value in my book.

    That comment needs a thread by itself to be discussed. And I respectfully disagree :-)

    If I spend several hours in reading 30-40 articles, for example on articlecity , related to a specific subject. Based of my own knowledge of the subject, I chose one or two articles which I believe will benefit visitors of my site. By this way I achieve two things:

    - visitors don’t need to go through 30-40 articles to find the two articles.

    - visitors stay on my site

    Nothing spammy or unethical in that. And it does add value, IMO.

    The other factor we should keep in mind is, not all webmasters are good writers or have enough knowledge about a specific subject to write an article about.

    Matt!

    Lets keep in mind that the nature and culture of internet is about sharing and learning. Sharing is added value, IMO :-)

    I wiah you a great day.

  73. Matt

    Harith, the danger is that you end up with an article written by someone else, and you have an article that also sits on many other sites. But you’re right, that is a thread for a different day. :)

  74. Steve Driskill

    The simple fact is, if quality was job one at Google, they would start by the folks making 30,000 plus a month from Adsense getting pulled en masse. ( Will never happen…) If there ever was a company that did NOT walk it as they talk it, it’s Google. Wouldn’t wan’t the other engines develauing those adsense sites would we?

    An the other hand, Matt seems like a genuine person and his anti porn spam vehemence has to be appluaded. At the same time , who ever posted Earls adsense id was completely wrong, flat out wrong, and I do think Google wants to make Earl an example becuase of his 2000 member forum rather than anything else. Do you really thing Google will let a spammer get a newswek mention, let alone slashdot, AND have a 2000 member Black Hat forum without having a say in it?

    It would have been totally out of character for them. Google is the traffic king granted, but not the benelovent king they want so desperatly to be portayed as. Google allows much worse to go on, untill newsweek gets involved it seems..

    For petes sake , leave Earl the hell alone. There are 2000 more where he came from..

  75. Ben

    Adam,

    Between Yahoo, MSN, Google, SlashDot, Wired, CNN, MSNBC, Reuters, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay and every major manufacturer and retailer, there’s enough PR9/10 to dominate many results were it truly a factor.

    I’ve come across a number of sites that also suggest that PR is dead, dying, useless or decorative. The last link is worth a mention purely because it’s a pretty thorough work on ranking with contributors from a number of SEO sites, and doesn’t even bother to mention PR.

    http://forums.seochat.com/google-page-rank-47/has-pagerank-got-useless-23482.html
    http://www.accordmarketing.com/tid/articles/pagerank-commodity.html
    http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/000751.html
    http://www.seomoz.org/articles/search-ranking-factors.php

    There are plenty of lower/no PR sites outperforming sites with more PR, such as:

    Searching for: christmas gift idea
    PR of results: 5,4,5,4,6,8,0,6,5,0
    Searching for: modeling agencies australia
    PR of results: 3,0,3,3,3,3,4,4,5,3
    Searching for: help firefox
    PR of results: 8,8,0,0,5,0,0,4,7,0
    Searching for: cheap car parts sydney
    PR of results: 2,3,4,0,0,0,0,0,3,3
    Searching for: cheap cars melbourne
    PR of results: 3,4,5,5,5,4,3,4,2,5

    I don’t think it’s really playing a role any more, or at least if it is it’s not much of a factor.

  76. Dave

    I don’t think Google would supply a free tool to the World which could be used to determine REAL PR. Let’s be real here and realise what PR a given page shows on the G toolbar is likey not its real PR.

    I would also think that Google simply ignores links that are for the purpose of PR inflation. Why would Google “penalize”, what otherwise, might be the most relevant page????

    If buy links just pay for the *click traffic* they can deliver. If you pay for PR, why would Google lose any sleep?

    Dave

  77. Jack Teabag

    I think you should leave blackhats to spam, the spam pages only show up on good result pages if there isn’t much competition. So it ain’t harming many people at all.

  78. It seems like some of you are confusing correlation and causation.

    SERP rankings are not caused by PageRank, nor is pagerank directly caused by SERP rankings.

    They are however strongly correlated. SERP Rank is a measure of relevancy. How relevant is your site to that term.

    PageRank is equivalent to the wandering drunk algorithm. If I go into the parkinglot with my car keys while drunk, and try random cars until I open one, how often am I going to try your car versus somebody elses? I tried your car 5 times and Matt’s only 3? Great you have a pagerank that is 5/3 higher proportional to Matt.

    so why do higher ranking sites have higher pageranks? Well, high pagerank means you probably have alot of links, and Google search was founded on, and still heavily relies on links.

    so while 1 doesn’t cause the other, they do share a common cause.

    Correlation / Causation is one of the most common mistakes, not only in the SEO world, but in the medical, psychological, religious, philosophical, and sometimes even mathematical communities as well.

  79. its good to have a google worker do a commentary on a SEO article. It helps defray the hype.

  80. arubicus

    “Harith, the danger is that you end up with an article written by someone else, and you have an article that also sits on many other sites. But you’re right, that is a thread for a different day.”

    Please start a thread on it. I bet it would be a doozy!

    I also agree yet disagree with you Matt when it comes to this subject. I understand that sites that use re-distributed articles my help muck up search results but to say they have add little value is a bit harsh. Let me put it as nice as I can…Google is not able to bring together the information from such a wide range of authorities like we and many others have that use re-distributed articles. I am sorry but it is true. This is the value that we add to the internet. Just as Google tries to organize the world’s information, we try to organize as well as display useful authoritative information across certain subjects. In my opinion Google cannot and will not be able to do so. This is evident in current serps as well as evident through not being able to clearly distinguish good content from rubbish. In the future I hope and expect things to vastly improve when it comes to search (if not from Google then someone else).

    For sites like ours that allows the viewing of re-distributed articles is a way to bring together large and small authorities from across the web. A typical user would have to search, scratch, dig, and go nuts to find the information many of us have put together. They can find tons of on topic reviewed information right in one spot. Visitors can read and draw the benefits from the information right then and there. This further increases the site’s usefulness and also plays apart in being the authority of authorities.

    So why not just supply a link and commentary about an article? Here is why. Publishers thrive on maintaining eyes on their site for advertiser sake. Rather than shuffling visitors through to another site, by hosting the article means visitors won’t have to be shuffled to many thousands of different sites and loosing eyes. This gives a publisher an extra opportunity with an extra page to maintain visitor eyes. So instead of just a commentary you can have both the commentary and article working for you. Honest interested visitors will then proceed to the author’s site from the article leaving the rest to continue on to other parts of the publisher’s site. Simple recycling if you will. Without this aspect it can mean thousands of dollars of revenue. We can also add extra user experience and value to the articles with our own features, reviews, products, and any other value we deem fit. This added value and experience can help to promote our site as well as authors articles in which in turn benefits through more exposure to their brand/site.

    Doing this can and will help give a publisher a SUPER AUTHORITY status. What happens is that your competitors become allies if you will. You will virtually ELIMINATE most if not all of your competition. You become the authority of the authorities. This is the market many like us are after. This is the VALUE we add to the internet. Just as Google is the super authority of search and search technology.

    We also add value by creating opportunity by giving free exposure to mom and pop authorities that get buried in SERPS under junk and/or suffering from aging delays. Google may believe that such sites are algorithmically useless or of no value but as we know by looking at the SERPS that this many times this is untrue. Content not seen is virtually useless and adds no value. In order for value to be given you need someone to consider it to be of value.

    To further the discussion, unique content does not mean better or more valuable. One site in particular stands out in Google serps outranking some of the best sites with junk content my 12-year-old can produce. Why is this? It adds no value to the internet but it remains and it is considered by Google to be of greater value. Yet there are plenty of re-distributed articles that would be better in it’s position adding much more value to Google users than the said unique content.

    Many site owners are just trying to market their site and are now running into a brick wall with Google because of fear that has been instilled in them. If you think about it, site owners are caught in a pickle because they manage to rank well in Google they naturally come to rely on this traffic and exposure. Site owners who want stability know that they need to break away and/or decrease the reliance of this traffic. Most channels are being closed to them. They fear they may do something that may eliminate this traffic while trying to break away. Now many site owners are affraid of doing anything onsite, linking out to other sites, obtaining links, advertising/paid links, sharing content… If you seek exposure (for the internet that means links) then you may be penalized for “gaming the system” and this is the fear blasting through the internet (Not saying it is true but it is an honest fear many webmasters are feeling). This is also why also many site owners are looking to you for help. Not necessarily for information to “game” the system but more for peace of mind and ways they actually promote, market, and run their sites in a way that won’t destroy many years of hard honest work.

  81. LikeGreen

    ——————————-
    Pgaz:
    It’s a good thing Earl Grey redirected his site. Imagine being one of those Adwords advertisers who gets to see his ad pasted on a Newsweek documented spammers site?

    BTW, the Adsense ads can still be seen by simply looking at the cache. Adsense Id is pub-4943255048907432 if Google needs any help! :-)
    ——————————–

    This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

    If there is even a hint that Google is banning folks because of the presence of their AdSense codes in a web page, even the vaguest unconfirmed rumor of it, watch for holy hell to break out.

    Really, if someone can create hundreds or thousands of web sites with little problem, how hard would it be for that person to, say, fill those sites with donkey porn or Paris Hilton video caps and drop in, say, Bob the Builder’s AdSense code in a few dozen of them and then turn him in as violating the TOS?

    And if you think that’s too obvious, there are a LOT more subtle things that can be done with these codes to make someone look REALLY bad. You can rent a few hundred clickers in India or China or wherever, throw that code onto a couple dozen web sites and watch them overwhelm the anti-fraud mechanisms. How many hundred clicks within a couple of hours would it take to get a code invalidated? Not many. And the next code they get issued. And the next one. And you can get even more subtle than that.

    Frankly, throwing around someone’s AdSense code in a discussion like this is petty, juvenile, vindictive and incredibly small minded. I’m surprised Matt even lets that post stand.

    If Google can’t out keep the so-called ‘search engine spam’ – a term that doesn’t even make sense – with it’s vaunted algorithms, how good is that code to begin with?

    I’m waiting for confirmation that they are using AdSense codes to ban people to really watch the fun start.

  82. Stephen

    I have to agree posting someones adsense ID is pretty below the belt.

  83. Ben

    It’s irrelevant it be posted, the code is available for anyone who wants to see it when you View Source.

    AdSense should be generating url-specific encrypted strings and then disregarding any clicks or activities that aren’t the url the account owner added.

    How hard could it be to have:
    Add New Site, “site.com”
    Site specific code generated: 324080785087350875
    Anything from *.site.com/* not using ^^^ = discounted.

    I have to say as an AdSense publisher I don’t experience many problems. On one occassion (in over a year) someone/progam did click an ad 100+ times, but I was not penalised when I reported it (and was told their fraud stuff has detected it already).

    Nevertheless, there is always the real threat that I may piss someone off (if I don’t piss someone off every day, I’m just not trying), and they use my freely available id to kill my account.

  84. Dave

    RE: “and they use my freely available id to kill my account.”

    As you haven’t posted your ID, should we take your statement: “It’s irrelevant it be posted…” with a BIG pinch of salt?

  85. I absolutely totally love this line…

    “In my ideal world, a site owner wouldn’t need to think about SEO at all: Google would always find your content with no help.”

    …can’t wait for that to happen! :)

  86. Ha you sound really hurt he got more print than you – what a wus! You corporate drones cant control the internet forever

  87. As quoted from above.
    “Since spamming and SEO are very deeply intertwined, with millions of different ways to manipulate the SERPs, how exactly does Google or any other engine delineate between legitimate SEO and spam? ” What rubish. SEO and spamming don’t have to be intertwined. Thankfully there are many of us, including Google, that believe there are “by the book” methods to “SEO” a site that are useful to the client and the community.

  88. Likegreen,

    Too bad I didn’t see your post earlier or I would have responded.

    >>If there is even a hint that Google is banning folks because of the presence of their AdSense codes in a web page…

    I’m not sure of your point here. An Adsense ID is published on every page where you wish ads to appear. If you are not an Adsense advertiser or don’t know how it works, then I could understand this statement.

    There is no secret code – its there in plain site – anyone can view it in 30 seconds by looking at a page’s source. I point this out to Google on every copyright violator I report and these reports are likewise published on the web by ChillingEffects.com. Sorry, no leaking of classified material here!

    Earl Grey’s website was an Adsense Partner prior to redirecting his traffic to this blog. The fact that the site was an Adsense partner was very significantly omitted from the Newsweek article. There are lots of reasons for spamming, and generating Adsense revenue is right up there.

    My point stands – if Google can clearly state in an article that a website is unworthy to be listed in its search results, it should likewise be unworthy to display advertisements from Adwords.

    How would you feel as an advertiser if Google effectively says in public that a site is a known spammer, yet feels its still OK to put your ads on this site and charge you for any clicks that it generates? How would you rate the quality of those clicks?

    Mr. Grey in his own words specializes in putting up quick sites, generating a lot of quick traffic(?), generating some quick revenue, and then moves on to another site when he gets caught and banned.

    This is a common technique by a lot of Google Adsense spammers

  89. Hi Matt,

    In regards to the following comment:

    “And I doubt Rand was expecting any direct PageRank impact from Avatar’s prweb.com press release. But what is helping is good content like the articles about non-conforming loans and the new blog on that site. That’s why when I see strong links from Yahoo’s directory, Dmoz, and Wikipedia to Avatar, I’m not very surprised.”

    You’re absolutely right, but I think there’s more to the story that your readers might find valuable in regards to PR and Online Visibility
    :
    My experience is two fold:

    1) PR is content, and rich content. PR on PRWeb.com (the Alexa leader in online PR) and the top-ranked PR distribution engine for gaining online visibility permeates everything from Inktomi to Yahoo! News and Google News to the blogsphere and corporate news sites. It’s “push” content, and it’s specifically formatted to provide fast, easy syndication and be rich in keyphrases, relevant links and search-friendly attachments. This is the exact opposite of passive content – no waiting!

    2) Though a single online press release may not change page rank for a given site, if formatted correctly a release distributed by PRWeb will receive 150-350 backlinks in Google SERPs within a week or so. If you sequentially deliver weekly PR like this, you’ll find from 5,000 to 65,000 mentions within 3-6 months (I have the stats to prove it).

    Good, well written, audience and industry specific content is the basis for good SEO, right? In my experience, by utilizing PRWeb, tapping their editorial staff and ensuring good links and keyworded attachments, I can get more bang for the buck faster using PRWeb than I do in almost any other area (caveat: if your site lacks valuable content and good organic SEO in the first place, then force-feeding online PR will not save you over the long haul).

    I did a recent case study on this that you are free to download here. Let me know if this makes sense, or if I’m missing something here.

    http://301url.com/Case-Studies

    Thanks for keeping the industry on its toes, Matt!

    Best regards,
    Mark Alan Effinger
    RichContent.com

  90. Hi, a new contest was opened.. more info : http://chmlsrucnoc.ablog.ro/

  91. Matt Cutts wrote: “Josh, with Yahoo, you’re paying for the manual review of a site by an editor–it’s not automatically approved by any means.”

    Paid links are paid links, Matt. Many link sellers refuse to put links to certain sites on their pages. That constitutes just as much editorial review as Yahoo! places in links that it sells (especially considering that they charge annual fees for their paid links).

    You seriously need to stop trying to convince people that Yahoo! doesn’t sell links. They sell links, they sell links, they sell links.

    Everyone knows that Google doesn’t threaten Yahoo! and other large link-selling sites the way it threatens smaller sites. You’re treading on extremely thin ice on this issue, as you always have been, and the inappropriate exclusions for Yahoo! really do infuriate many people in the Webmastering community.

  92. Matt: Well OF COURSE Earl Grey is from the UK; that’s who they named the tea after! ;-P

  93. I dont know if it is possible Matt but is there a way of testing your website for over optimiation on any given keywords..

  94. Speaking of quality guideline, the Google guidelines say, “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).” Is this for human usability or for Google crawling. The reason I ask is that my site map is really designed for crawlers, not people and has many more links than 100.

  95. if a page containing more than 100 links, I don’t think anyone will click or ready all of those. If you search google, you will find no more than 10 result on the first page, which is good enough for a average users.

  96. Matt, if a website submits a sitemap with a limited number of links, would Google confine indexing to those links or would additional pages be also indexed regardless of the number of links in the sitemap?

    Nice articles, I have only just discovered your blogs. I previously thought Google could not be communicated with regarding organic searches.

  97. I don’t know how you did it but I see that your site is having a PR7 . This is amazing.

  98. Steve I think he did it naturally by gaining links!

  99. Matt,

    Very simple and easy question: Do Press Releases help increase a site’s positioning on the Search Engines? Many companies (wire services) are selling “SEO Press Release” services claiming that they will help increase a site’s ranking and help them achieve first page results for their keywords. Once and for all….True or False?

    Thanks Matt!

  100. @ Paul Bruce.

    Paul, i found press release to be of use a couple of years ago, when releasing genuine news. however like any decent way of developing valuable links, the practice has been spammed. Stick to the reputable services over the free ones, at least they publish to a wide audience and if the release is genuine news, you may pick up some additional visits.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

If you have a question about your site specifically or a general question about search, your best bet is to post in our Webmaster Help Forum linked from http://google.com/webmasters

If you comment, please use your personal name, not your business name. Business names can sound salesy or spammy, and I would like to try people leaving their actual name instead.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

css.php