Two search tidbits

At SMX a couple weeks ago Eric Enge and I did a 20-25 minute interview. The interview transcript is now out in case you want to read through it. We discuss some of the ways to get links that are likely to stand the test of time:

Those links are typically given voluntarily. It is an editorial link by someone, and it’s someone that’s informed. They are not misinformed, they are not tricked; there is no bait and switch involved. It’s because somebody thinks that something is so cool, so useful, or so helpful that they want to make little sign posts so that other people on the web can find that out.

I mentioned link-generating methods from original research to case studies, a service, or even an open-source product. We also discussed widgetbait and some of the criteria on whether Google would consider something spammy or not. We talked about when reciprocal links can get excessive. We discussed a good rule of thumb of when to link out to other sites (when it’s good for your users).

At the very end of the interview, I took the opportunity to send some props toward SocialSpark. As opposed to some services where paid posts pass PageRank, SocialSpark posts require nofollow so that any paid links don’t pass PageRank. If paid posts respect that requirement from SocialSpark, they’d be within our webmaster guidelines. I’ve noticed once or twice where an advertiser tried to get an extra nofollow’ed link in a SocialSpark post, but when I’ve mentioned those 1-2 examples, IZEA has taken action to correct that. So we’ll continue to keep an eye on things, but I wanted to mention the progress that I saw in SocialSpark.

By the way, we’re currently caught up on paid link reports, so if you know of sites (maybe in your search niche) that appear to be selling or buying paid links that pass PageRank, it’s a great time to let us know. Use the authenticated paid link spam report form and someone will investigate the report. We’ll be concentrating primarily on the sellers, but if you send us a site that appears to be buying links that pass PageRank it’s trivial for us to look up all the backlinks for that site to find potential sellers and work from there. That feedback will also help us improve our algorithms, so thanks in advance for any feedback you want to provide.

What’s the second search tidbit? Last Thursday I was a guest host for the Daily SearchCast. I thought it was going to be a slow news day, but when I woke up that morning Jeremy Zawodny had just announced that he was leaving Yahoo. So Danny Sullivan and I ended up having plenty to talk about.

38 Responses to Two search tidbits (Leave a comment)

  1. Matt,

    Seriously, why don’t you ask people to be snitches instead of asking them to report paid links.

    I don’t know how long you’ve been at Google but you can ask the founders if you don’t believe me, Google didn’t invent the internet or linking, and they have no right to try to impose their ‘linking morals/ethics’ on the rest of the web.

    Stop outsourcing your quality control to everyone else and write a better algorithm.


    Not a Snitch

  2. Matt, did you stop to look at how unbelievably arrogant this post makes you and Google look? I’m astounded that you would post this kind of blatant intimidation on your own blog.

    I think you’ve lost perspective here.

  3. Michael Martinez, I’m pointing to a search interview and a SearchCast that I did, which some people might be interested in. I’m highlighting that one company has changed its policies to the point where the policies would be within our guidelines. And I’m reminding people that they can use our paid link report, which is a call that we’ve put out several times, including as recently as during SMX Advanced on our official blog. I’m sorry if that comes across as arrogant to you, but thousands of reports from users tells me that lots of people do appreciate the ability to send this feedback to Google.

  4. Matt, I was aware of the interview and I thought very highly of it. It’s getting great press in the SEO blogs.

    But you chose to focus on the nofollow and paid links in your blog post. You need to stand down on this issue. It’s one thing to suggest to Web sites that they should use nofollow over links they don’t control. You’ve won me over on that issue and I am endorsing it where I share my own viewpoints.

    But you’re just hammering away at the Web, TELLING people what they should do and Google just is not the arbiter of how to manage good Web sites.

    John Battelle just recently nailed Google for failing to disclose itself as the entity behind documentation that was unfriendly to eBay. Your crusade against paid links and demanding disclosure is put into a very bad light by your company’s bad behavior.

    People know where you stand. You don’t need to practice negative and positive reinforcement. There are some really nasty people in the SEO industry — you know them very well — and when they get fed up with sites that do Google’s bidding, they might very well rip into those sites’ search results.

    They’ve already shown they can and will take such action.

    You need to stop and tell yourself that you DON’T hold all the cards and that your own search engine can and HAS been used against you in ways you may not even have thought about.

    This is a war that no one needs.

  5. Michael Martinez, we actively want feedback to improve our search results. I had just checked with someone on my team yesterday and learned that we were ready/willing/able to get fresh feedback reports. I thought that the interview and its mention of SocialSpark was a relevant time to ask for more feedback. It seemed germane to the rest of the post to me, especially since we’d just put out a call on the official blog a couple weeks ago. I don’t want to hit people over the head with our stance (we’ve only asked for these reports a few times in the last year or so), but I did want to remind people that it’s an option if they want to send feedback.

    I think only yesterday a commenter was pinging me wanting to make sure that we would use his feedback on paid links, so there are people that appreciate the option to send spam reports to Google.

    I’m sorry if you don’t like this post, but let me set expectations that 2-3 times a year I’ll remind people that they can send in spam reports of all kinds.

  6. Hey Matt,

    How convinced are you that voluntary links, such as editorial links, will stand the test of time? I agree that having solid, well-informed, well-written, interesting content is the best way to generate links; but when you use terms like “editorial” and “cool” to explain why they would be generated, it also makes me think that they will just as quickly be removed, considering the brevity of news cycles and the universal rule of coolness (the moment it is recognize en mass as cool, it no longer is).

    Would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this.

  7. Matt,

    I have a question about a comment in your post that concerned me-

    “We’ll be concentrating primarily on the sellers, but if you send us a site that appears to be buying links that pass PageRank it’s trivial for us to look up all the backlinks for that site to find potential sellers and work from there.”

    For competitive verticals, it’s very easy & cheap for one company to buy 1-200 spammy links to a competitors site and then report that site for buying links. If a site moves from #5 to #2 or #3 in the Google results for a keyword like “mortgage” or “new york tires”, their sales from natural results could double… making the couple grand they spent on those links nearly meaningless.

    How to you compensate for this? I am hearing more and more that this practice (Google Bowling) is successful. What are your thoughts?

  8. I have no philosophical problem with Google telling webmasters how to run their site if the webmasters want their sites listed in the Google SERP. Google was originally successful because they created an algorithm that was hard to game. And that’s what Google needs to concentrate on, not trying to dictate to webmasters what they should and shouldn’t do.

    Why not just quietly adjust your algorithm to find spammy text links and simply stop passing along PR to the sites that have bought them. You can announce this on your blog and let people know. Eventually the people buying the text links will realize that they’re money is wasted and stop wasting it. End of story. This “report people here” link almost seems fascist or McCarthy-esque. I think that’s what people find so repulsive. I know I do. I’m sure there are lots and lots of people who love to report their neighbors – but that’s really not the issue.

  9. Michael . . . what the #$%^&??

    It’s his blog. If he wants to post pictures of himself getting an award by Danny Sullivan he has the right to do that. Back off. Would you want Matt telling you what you can and can’t post on your own blog? Give me a break.

    And where do you have the right to set Google’s policies. If they want to send out a message everyday about paid links that’s their decision as a company.


    Brent D. Payne

  10. Does anyone else see the implicit irony in hammering on Matt about what he puts on his site saying that its not fair for Google to tell other people what to put on their sites?

    Last I checked the disclaimer still applies

  11. Matt,

    The interview was great, really cleared up the bit on reciprocal linking. I’ve had two sites since 2000 (the older one since ’96) and I was always afraid of linking back to the old one from the new one. Can you imagine, I’ve been using “NOFOLLOW” tags to link my own site!

    I never knew that people actually try to negotiate anchor text. Since my incoming links are pretty much all editorial (though occasionally I write an article for somebody else or post a comment) I’ve never had any control over anchor text. Tons of them link to my domain or even “see here”. I don’t think I have the personality to go back and ask people to change anchor text, but maybe that will help me in the long run if they look more “average” or “honest” then tailored links.

    I know when I’ve fooled around with the anchor text in my own navigation, I seem to get penalized for it and end up reverting. When I interview people for my publishing blog, I prompt them to talk a little about their field rather than just their publishing experiences, so a link back to their site has some useful context for them context. BTW, if you’re ever bored enough to do an e-mail interview, let me know.

    One comment on doing original research to generate attention. I have noticed that many of my best incoming links and usually the largest numbers are to various original research, but I’ve also seen sites rise up to compete with and even outrank some of my original content for key phrases, without doing any research of their own. Sometimes it’s a synopsis, sometimes they link to the source, sometimes not, but by simply targeting a key phrase with the title, URL and text, it seems they can always work their way up pretty quickly.


  12. Matt,

    I’m pleased and grateful for this post. Tomorrow I’m gonna use it as a reference to support my argument in a high level discussion that selling text link is a very risky business.

    Moreover this article is very supportive and encouraging to all Ethical SEOs.

    Keep up the good work and God bless, Matt.

  13. Michael Martinez,

    I think you´re over-reacting a bit. Though I do agree that in an ideal world, nofollow shouldn’t be necessary. Google should be able to determine the purpose of a link on its own. Since that seems to be too difficult at the moment (I’m waiting for AI to take over this kind of job), human beings have to help out.

    Google chooses to ask for help from the world in stead of relying only on employees to find these kind of problems. That’s not such a huge issue, is it?

    The alternative is a Google with whom you can’t comunicate. That’s worse than them asking for some help, if you ask me.

  14. Peter,

    Google created the problem in the first place by making links more important than they should be (you cannot determine relevance by links). Their solution — as championed by Matt — has been to dictate to the rest of the Web that it is to use NoFollow so that Google doesn’t have to work as hard to filter out spammy results.

    Matt’s role in the Web spam war is well defined but when a Web site starts doing what Google tells it to, people need to sit up and take notice. You cannot overreact when it’s too late to raise the red flags, so it’s worth the risk of being seen as overreacting before it’s too late.

    Google has too many disclosure issues for it to be nattering on people about whether their links are paid or disclosed. I realize fully there are many people who want to report paid links to Google. They’re just trying to get to the top of the search results through reverse optimization, which does nothing to improve the quality of Google’s search results.

    I don’t expect everyone in the SEO community to see things the way I do. But I’ve been feeling ill today and that does usually make me a little more contentious than usual. Ah well. Rand used to say he got more links when I was feeling ill. Maybe Matt will, too.

  15. Morris Rosenthal, it sounds like you’re doing the sort of normal, organic linking that comprises a large fraction of the links on the web. I think those sorts of naturally-given links are among the most long-lasting, in my experience.

    SEO in Nashville, I do think that voluntary/editorial links are more likely to stand the test of time, just because they reflect the fact that someone thought a resource was really helpful and chose to highlight that page/site/resource with a link as a result. That sort of “This site is so helpful/useful/educational/cool” link can be really powerful.

  16. Michael Martinez,

    You said that it is not possible to determine relevance by links. That reminded me of a forum post I did recently on exactly that subject and I’ll copy it to here. You´re really wrong with that idea and I hope the following will make you at least think about it a bit more. The post was a reply to the idea that quality and uniquness somehow make a document more relevant.

    “Suppose you wrote the best article on a certain subject. Anybody that you would show it to would be like: “This content is the best! The highest quality and very very unique!” Obviously this page should rank in the first position.

    But you didn’t put it online. In stead, you just printed it out, deleted the file and put the printout in a safe, locked away for nobody to see it.

    Now I ask you: How relevant is that article you wrote now? Does it have any relevance at all? The answer is simple: It is not relevant at all, it has no quality and it has no uniqueness. You might as well say it doesn’t exist. Simply because nobody has access to it.

    But how is that possible? The content didn’t change, the words didn’t change, the only thing that’s different is access. How can something that doesn’t touch the article in any way have such a huge influence on relevance? (It’s practically quantum mechanic, properties only coming into existence when you look, 🙂 )

    So we know now that access to a document somehow has a huge effect on relevance. The more people that have access to a document, the more relevant it becomes. Quality and Uniqueness have absolutely nothing to do with it, at least not directly, and not in an objective way. i.e. you can’t determine quality and uniqueness based on some preset assumptions.

    What you can do is measure how many people have an opinion about a document and what those opinions are. And you can measure that by listening or looking at how many people are refering to that document. Online that’s done through links. Quantity of links for access and anchors represent opinions.

    (There is of course the need to filter out bad links and other spammy stuff, but that’s beyond the point I’m trying to make in this post.)

    So Quality and Uniqueness are vague terms because it doesn’t mean anything without the opinions of others. You can’t say that Uniqueness and Quality make a page more deserving. What makes it more deserving is the number of ways you can get to that document (access) which is determined by….. the people.”

  17. Dave (Original)

    We discuss some of the ways to get links that are likely to stand the test of time:

    “wayS” Surely there is only one-way? That is, by writing great relevant content page that EARN inbound links from relative pages?

    Michael Martinez, Google allow you to CHOOSE what you do to your OWN site/business. I have NEVER seen or heard “dictate” anything to anyone. That is, if you want free traffic from the Worlds most popular SE, stay within their guidelines. It’s a no-brainer for most on the Planet.

  18. Dave (Original)

    Now I ask you: How relevant is that article you wrote now? Does it have any relevance at all? The answer is simple: It is not relevant at all, it has no quality and it has no uniqueness. You might as well say it doesn’t exist. Simply because nobody has access to it.

    But how is that possible?

    It’s not possible. Relevancy, quality & uniqueness of an article does not equal ready access for all.

  19. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my question! The further clarification you made in your comment response of “helpful resource” versus “editorial coolness” answered my question. I have a few degrees laying around, so I can come up with some of those. Now if I could just pick your brain for 30 seconds on natural article distribution and it’s effects on duplicate content…

    And look, Michael, I am all for corrective criticism, but stop barking and jump back into your master’s purse. Paris Hilton has been missing you. Cute pink collar you got there! You don’t sound tough and threatening with your “nasty SEO friends,” you sound about 5 foot 2, and the Internet is the only place where you can take out your aggression for not getting first chair in junior high band class. Here’s a tip…it’s you. I would normally respond to you with polite objection to your posts, but as they say in the medical field, “like cures like.” Now go away.

    Personally, I am very thankful to have Matt’s voice and viewpoint giving us a first-hand understanding of the broad concepts of the internal thought processes of a key Google department. I would hate for an obnoxious few to cause him to lose the fun and excitement of blogging about his passion. You want to talk nasty, imagine if you end up being the poster child for the reason Google Insiders to stop talking to the public…..

    Now, Matt, if you could just release the algorithm to us, it would be greatly appreciated! Do you like wine? I know some ‘nice’ SEOs who would be willing to chip in for a case or two. 😉


    Another Matt

  20. As much as I hate the idea of being a snitch…I think Matt’s attempt to crowdsource his efforts speak to the power and efficiency of the 2.0 generation. It’s all about collaboration and building a better system, right. I agree with Peter in that the alternative is a Google/Matt Cutts that you can’t communicate with. I’d much rather have lunch with Matt at SMX and speak openly about what we are seeing than wonder about how they operate. In addition…it’s their search engine, and they should have the option to run their business how they see best fit. I think they’ve done a great job at being as open as possible, working with the people who create the web, and not being Microsoft.

    Michael, I have been reading your blog for the past two years and find your work incredibly insightful and intelligent. But claiming that Matt’s post displays arrogance is, well, the pot calling the kettle black.

    Matt used a great analogy at SMX to describe the longevity of SEO’s, regarding which tactics and methodologies they should use. Think Milli Vanilli!!! Whatever happened to Vanilli you ask…well, he lipsynced his way to to a grammy, got caught, and eventually died of a drug overdose (and not the Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin “went out as a legend” kind). The point is, play by the rules, or risk ending up like Vanilli! And no one want to be Vanilli!

  21. SEO in Nashville, there’s a reason I don’t drink around SEOs. 🙂

  22. First and foremost – I think the reply from SEO in Nashville toward Michael is appauling. I guess I’m next for a personal attack, completely irrelevant to this post.

    Paid links or as some would say… Sponsored Links, are such an open and wide arena to be abused, I fear the results and implications on legitimate websites that offer very good value to their visitors.

    A very popular and highly visited website, often mentioned on this blog, has a Sponsored links/Advertisers section that does not use the nofollow attribute… the content however is very unique, informative and thorough for readers. Should the site be penalized?

    My concern is where the line is drawn… for instance: One comment pointed out that if Matt wants to post about an award he received, so be it. What happens when the day comes that Google feel ANY form of compensation, even an award or a paid interview, should be nofollowed… after all, it was a form of payment or personal gain.

    My next concern is that we as Webmasters not only need to worry about our own site content, but we need to pay close attention to those we link out to, not only today… but forever. Assuming I have this very good article linked from a reputable resource who, 6 months from now decides they will sell a link or two on their site. Do I now need to go back to them and ask to remove or nofollow the link back to my site?

    Finally, I agree that the only way webmasters will stop trying to game the system, is to eliminate any exposure to the system itself, in other words.. Pagerank.

    We know people use PageRank to determine the relevance of a website. Sure, some webmasters agree that is just a very small part, but if you poll the general webmaster public, you will probably find it is in the +80% range, thinking PR is king for a site to succeed. If you also ask those same people what it takes to increase PR, the one common answer is backlinks.

    I feel confident saying that EVERY person commenting on this post has at some point, developed a strategy for increasing backlinks, whether that is social networking, directory linking, or ANY form of “You must read this”… we have all played the backlinks for pagerank game, even if it were only on the first day, to help Googlebot find the site and begin indexing!

    Until exposure to the ONLY measurable part of the Google system is gone, people will continue trying to increase their own exposure, using the one and only “at a glance” tool they see, PageRank.

    btw – Sorry for rehashing the old argument.


  23. Hey Mark,

    I’m not going to attack you for your comment. Actually, thank you! You are right, I went a little overboard with my response. Michael’s comments seemed arrogant and threatening. I don’t appreciate bullies, especially online. So I responded in a way that I didn’t need to.

    I would edit the comment, but it won’t allow me to.

    All the best!

  24. Hey Nashville SEO – stop the link building effort here – to be honest it’s not right .

    Try getting them elsewhere it’s not that difficult and you don’t need that many to rank well


  25. Matt,

    As someone who STRICTLY practices white hat SEO, I am one who appreciates the reporting procedure. It’s really annoying when I work for 6 months building up a site to get passed in a week by a cheater. We should all be playing from a level playing field. Thanks Matt.

    However, you mention your spam team has the time to address submissions right now, but our submissions continue to go un-addressed. We want to help. We are believers, but why should we continue if you don’t address the problems?

    We submitted one SEO that offers in writing to build “landing pages that point at a portal site” (obviously doorway pages), no result.
    We submitted a different SEO for buying links, no result.
    We submitted a law firm that has doorway sites for every PI case in the books pointing back at one site, no result.
    We submitted a doorway site that even has the word “doorway” in the title tag, no result.
    We submitted a site hiding text. They were dumped for one day, back the next and the hidden text was still showing in their google cache.
    We submitted several apartment sites abusing sub-domains with doorway pages, no result.

    Really, Matt, we want to help, but the current system isn’t working. The sites we have reported are explicitly violating your guidelines, yet nothing is done after multiple submissions. I’m about to give up on the whole thing, which is sad, because I think it’s a good idea in concept. Maybe the implementation needs some re-thinking?

  26. Thanks for the interview transcript. Very interesting read. I was particularly interested/concerned about the section regarding hidden text. There still seems to be an unresolved debate among web developers and Google about the use of the SWFObject and displaying alternative content.

    From what I understand, Googlebot may determine the “hidden” div as cloaking, even though it may not be doing anything nefarious. Google reps have hinted that as long as this div contains nothing but a reiteration of the content contained in the Flash, you should be ok. But then that begs the question: if Google can’t spider Flash files, how would it know if the alternative content accurately reflects the Flash content?

    It would be wonderful if there was a more definitive answer on the “legality” of using the alternative div that the SWFObject script provides for users who have either blocked Flash or don’t have it installed.

  27. I would say only worry about your own site/s and let google do “THERE” job. I am not going to be policing the web but I will make sure my sites are all inline with googles rules. I want to be listed on google, and yahoo, and MSN, and all the others but I will not be a an online narc. If google wants you to follow rules then follow them. I just think it is a crapy thing to be pointing fingers all the time. It would take way to much time to look for people doing evil and I would rather spend my time writing great content or blogging or even spending time with my wife and kids.

    Thanks Matt for the post. You offer a window into how all of this stuff works.

  28. hmm. You say you don’t want to point fingers at a site who is spamming. That’s all nice and such, but when it involves a client competitor who is cheating the system and does their very best to try to beat the system, that’s when it’s harming my client. I would be doing a disservice to my client for not reporting it. I also want to feed my family as you stated. Can you imagine telling a client you don’t want to help them by reporting spam? You tell your client that you always “work within they system”, but when someone is trying to ‘beat the system’ without working within it, you turn your back on the client and say sorry, I can’t help you. Too funny.

    I’ve also read blogs out there talking about how a SEO could buy a link to a competitor site and then report that site to Google for buying links. Well gee SEO industry; isn’t that what you or anyone might call unethical? It’s amazing the crap out there on SEO blogs and social sites.

  29. There is a major flaw in Google’s new algorithms that rely on trusted experts to link to “cool stuff” to determine rankings in organic search. The SEO just has to make friends with a few of these people and get them to link out to their product as if it was something they found on their own. The product now outranks those of us who do not chase down bloggers like drooling puppies to get the links.

    Need another example? Say I sell a new brand of “garden rake” and want to rank high in Google. All I need to do is send a “trusted” blogger, reporter who gardens, anyone with a domain a free sample and develop an email, IM relationship with them, then in a few days start asking for favors (links).

    In some cases bloggers are contacting people who sell cool products and asking for free samples for links. Do I need to say more?

    Well why not, ever see a blog post (from a trusted expert) out there titled something like, “An open discussion about garden rakes” ranking in the top #5 in Google? Focus your bullshit meter down a little deeper and you might just determine a few relationships that are unholy. No algorithm has yet to develop a meter to sniff out snake oil. Link based algorithms are failing in many ways currently…

    Michael Martinez – You attention getting posts bore me.

  30. I had a few free moments to catch up and was over a Sphamm a.k.a Sphinn tonight and noticed a link to something about “relationship building”.

    Do a search and you will find all kinds of unholy “relationships” driving current organic search results. How do those trying to follow the “guidelines” compete with that?

  31. “I’ve also read blogs out there talking about how a SEO could buy a link to a competitor site and then report that site to Google for buying links. Well gee SEO industry; isn’t that what you or anyone might call unethical? It’s amazing the crap out there on SEO blogs and social sites.”

    Well said, Doug!

  32. Thanks Harith. It’s sad the industry doesn’t distinguish between what’s right and what’s wrong, but it’s a fact. I’ve worked within 3 different industries in my life prior to this one and all of them knew the difference.

    Good posts Aaron Pratt. This is why I see social media as mostly bogus and filled with self promoting marketers who kiss each other daily. It’s hard to believe Google actually gives weight to links acquired in this way, but they certainly do. I can understand the idea of good content acquiring links, but all these blogs out there who do nothing at all but email friends to link to them, etc are ruining the internet…. not to mention the many SEO’s exploiting readers and Google and other engines in every way possible.

  33. Matt I think if you made the grey area a little thinner with some specific cases that are not “paid links” webmasters will be more forthcoming.

    In the past for instance I mentioned Google buying links from Leweb

    The sponsorship image links are part of the advertising package.

    You might argue that you can discount those in some other way, but that immediately suggests that is bad, plus of course those links are frequently text links.

    Ok so that is an offline event sponsorship, but there are the equivalent online only events, where you still have to pay for your “stand” in the exhibit hall online.
    Sounds like an elaborate trade directory to me…

    What happens if a blogger decided to run their own product showcase, with interviews of the people in the showcase, links from reviews etc – all for just $200 per exhibit

    We are nearing paid reviews, they just need to all be placed in a category and be high quality.

    Then there are event sponsorships. Did WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg buy a link for $1000 from WLTC?

    David Airey was given a massive penalty last year, and one of the reasons was a competition. Since then tons of people have run giveaway competitions requesting links with specific anchor text, yet they still have search traffic.

    You have never cleared up affiliate links, clean, clean with specific landing page, or with parameters.

    It is strange, but on the webmaster blog there were instructions on how to clean up results if you run an affiliate program, then a little while later Aaron Wall who was using clean affiliate links noticed links being discounted.

    Last year we had a year of Google telling us what isn’t allowed – how about a year of Google telling us what is allowed – very specifically with clear examples of dos and don’ts

  34. Aaron,

    That’s not a flaw. I think that’s actually the whole point of the Google algorithms. If the trusted expert would link to who ever gives him a call, then soon he wouldn’t be a trusted expert anymore. So if he does link to you, it says a lot about your site and business.

  35. Hi Peter,

    I would just like to thank you for posting your comment about the availability of content. I have found it to be the best description in terms of relevance regarding how important links are with regard to highlighting content etc, does that make sense 🙂

    Having read through some of the interview (still reading through the rest) I do find this statement a little concerning: “Whenever you pay money to a social media consultant to try to show up on Digg, you are not paying for links. You are funding some creativity; you are sponsoring your page for some creativity.

    It’s not like you held a gun to anyone and said “Okay, you have to link to me”. The people who link to the site are linking because it’s something compelling instead. So, there is still some editorial choice there.”

    Historically small companies could build links themselves, possibly to begin with by purchasing links through decent directories etc. Surely the process of hiring “someone in the know” is every bit as devious, as actually placing the link yourself? Surely this idea will only help the bigger corporate players who can afford to pay whatever these people are charging? IMO these people are paying for links, whether it is directly placing the link, or indirectly placing the link.

    Perhaps paid for links could just be given a lot less relevance in terms of passed on PR? Perhaps it is actually time for more “human” intervention in search engines, so that a real “human” element can actually help decide what websites were of real quality, or an authority on a subject.

    An algorithm is great, but it is far from perfect!

  36. Matt

    A question about reciprocal linking. If I reciprocate with people sepcifically within my industry, keeping the net very tight so that the links are completely relevant to my site, is there any limit to the number of sites that I should reciprocate with?



  37. Sorry to bother you guys but i have a question concerning duplicate issues, blow is the link of the website i just made, and on the bottom navigation is a city directory for each and individual city, but all pages are the same text, would this be considered a duplicate issue with in my own website? Thank you in advance.

  38. Hi Matt,

    This is my first time posting, though I enjoy reading your blog regularly.

    I hope I’m posting on an appropriate entry – our site (URI in my email domain) recently was penalized for what I believe was interpreted to be bad linking. The discussion on is the full digest if you have time to read it – could be interesting to others who have made the same mistakes as we have.

    I’m posting here because I’ve seen related posts like this in the past asking for help when they seem to have run out of ideas on what could be causing the penalty. If our efforts over the past month and reconsideration filed address the penalty issue, we’ll be happier and better educated about SEO for it. But I am posting here in case perhaps we have not yet stumbled upon the penalty issue, and you could provide any enlightenment.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.