The culture of sharing (or shooting yourself in the foot)

September 21st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

I’m setting up a blog for work and have to balance what I need and want with what the IT department will let me install on their servers. Ths means that not only am I looking at different blogging software, but where to place the blog as well – on a subdomain or in a subfolder.

There’s advantages and disadvantages to both, it’s a case of weighing up the pros and cons and deciding what’s most important to you and your requirements.

What makes me despair is the amount of comments on SEO blogs that are from, supposedly, SEO-ers, that go “I have an n website, should I do x or y?” I’m presuming the majority of these comments are from real people as they either link to real websites, or don’t have a backlink at all (and what’s the point of comment spam without a link it?)

So are there really that many people, that are so dense as to think an SEO professional is going to give out free advice about a situation they know nothing about? But then if they’re reduced to cold-asking advice in comments then maybe that’s the level they deserve to be at – shouting into the ether “WHAT’S HAPPENING? WHY WON’T ANYONE HELP ME?!”

Which also brings me to the SEO blogs themselves. I’ve been gently reading SEO blogs for a while now and there is a lot of bullshit out there, why are these guys, that are all competing against each other, sharing all their secrets?

If You Review the SEO Tools That Give You A Competitive Advantage…
You have no competitive advantage if you tell everyone that you’re using JUMBO SEO JELLY BEANS that bring in 5 links a day, 15 organic search visitors, and improve conversions by 5%.

All those people telling you “great post!” will go sign up for those tools and use them. They will either learn that you’re an idiot who can’t tell a cheap smarmy SEO spam tool from a hair brush or they will gradually erode your market advantage by creeping into your SERPs and telling all THEIR friends and readers about how great the tool is. Either way, you lose, your clients lose, and you end up looking really damn stupid because you gave away a competitive advantage for the sake of attracting a handful of links, LIKES, TWEETS, PINS, and other ridiculously over-valued social media shares.

It’s not like a closed-shop conference where one professional is is comparing techniques with another. These are supposedly industry techniques that earn the SEO-er money. I might have a chat with a car mechanic in a pub about fixing brakes but I wouldn’t expect a car mechanic to teach me how to fix my brakes, on someone elses car, for nothing. That’s exactly what these guys are doing. For anyone that asks. Except, the more brakes I fix doesn’t diminish the mechanics ability to fix brakes. If everyone could fix their own brakes, the manufacturers aren’t going to suddenly decide that brakes need redesigning with the consequence that everyone needs to relearn how to fix brakes. But that’s what happens in SEO.

For any technique that raises a website among the SERPS, the more widely it is used there are two effects:

  1. The effect is diluted.
  2. The more unnatural the SERPS become.

The more widely used a technique is used, the less it has an effect because if everyone uses it, everyone has the same advantage. If everyone has the same advantage, there is no advantage.

The SERPS start becoming unnatural because it becomes less about the content and relevancy and more about how you can manipulate things to show your page for a keyword, regardless of the context of that keyword. That’s when the search providers have to step in and try to make the SERPS relevant again.

You might say that last bit is bullshit, you don’t want to rank for *everything* to do with a keyword, but you do. Just in case…

Let’s take chocolate. You sell chocolate bunnies. A someone searches for chocolate bears. They’re specifically searching chocolate bears, not chocolate animals, or just chocolate. Just from the search terms you know they want one thing – Chocolate. Bears.

You still want to rank high up in the SERPS. Front page at least. Above the fold is ideal, though. You shouldn’t be anywhere in the SERPS though. You’re chocolate bunnies. Completely wrong species. Or in other words, irrelevant.

But you still want to rank because what if the user hadn’t thought of chocolate bunnies…? That’s fine, you’ve made a sale. You’ve made yourself relevant. You’re an anomaly. Big deal. But if everyone does it, the SERPS are going to be a mess and no one is going to be able to find a thing. You’ve lost your magic touch even before the search providers reset they’re algorithm.

Why would you do that? Make someone re-write the rule book that you’ve only just started to understand?

Maybe the commenters aren’t so dumb after all…


August 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

I can’t remember what I was up to but I fell across Malcolm Coles‘s post from last year highlighting 10 (more) websites that have a policy of not allowing incoming links or restricting them only to the homepage.

Bafflement ensues. I never knew there was such a thing.

I understand the need for corporations/organisations/charities to keep an eye on their brands and one way to do that is to try and control the anchor text and what pages are linked to. Fair enough, it’s their brand. They don’t want it trashed, but what sort of fucknut a) reads a website’s terms & conditions before using a site (apart from for research purposes) and b) sees the “Don’t Link to Us!” words and thinks “aw, shucks. I’m not allowed to link directly to that really handy, informative page. I’d better do as I’m told and link to the homepage instead.”

Is this particular little term & condition actually enforce-able? After all, the incoming link is coming from a website that is not under control of the linkaphobic site. Unless the anchor text is a lie or defamatory, then I can’t see how a site can enforce a request to have a link removed.

Getting a link removed or modified is purely down to the owner of the site that is linking out. Having a statement that says you’re not allowed to do something in your own backgarden, seems desperate and a bit of a warning of bully-boy tactics to come if not followed.

Be interesting, be relevant, be nice and then you won’t have to worry about what the incoming links are saying about you.

On linking out

August 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Robert Sharp is correct

Linking out, regardless of whether you agree with the person you”re linking to, should be the standard for blogging, just as it is for academia. It is the link to sources which gives the work credibility.

In contrast, anonymous gossip disguised as lobby reporting is one of the reasons why there is so little trust in journalists at the moment (a topic discussed at the recent POLIS journalism conference, where I asked a panel of spin doctors and hacks whether the press should abolish anonymous sources)… and the fact that a tabloid does not have to cite its sources is one of the reasons why #Hackgate could happen.

This goes back to the dilema of not giving your opponents publicity or letting your readers see the source of your anger/opposing arguement so they can judge for themselves how justified your view is.

In the case of the Daily Mail and other tabloid sites there is (sorry if I’m beginning to sound like a cheerleader) which caches the page and reduces to the hit count of visitors to the page, doesn’t show the adverts that are on the original and doesn’t show up in search results.

For others the only choice you have, that I know of, is to use the “nofollow” tag in the hyperlink. The target page still gets the visitor hits as your reader visits the page but search engines do not count the link and so using the “nofollow” tag will not help the target page rise up through the SERP rankings.

A link using the “nofollow” tag looks like this when you’re writing your post…

<a href="" rel=”nofollow”>anchor text</a>

(The “nofollow” tag is in bold, if you couldn’t see it)

I’m sorry if this is teaching you to suck eggs, but there really is no excuse for not linking to source material, unless it really is dispicable content you’re writing about.

C’mon, we’re better than that, aren’t we?

An unimportant News of the World Google snippet

July 8th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Not that it’s of any importance, but I spotted this (click to enlarge)…

Google reassures us the News of the World is (or was) regulated by the PCC

Like I say, it’s not important, but just curious as Google doesn’t reassure us that any of the other national newpaper websites are regulated by the PCC.

DuckDuckGo: The private search engine

September 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

So. DuckDuckGo. A hybrid search engine. This one though, doesn’t collect personal data. Which many people would say is A Good Thing.

What DuckDuckGo also does is prevent what they call ‘search leakage‘…

At other search engines, when you do a search and then click on a link, your search terms are sent to that site you clicked on (in the HTTP referrer header). We call this sharing of personal information “search leakage.”

For example, when you search for something private, you are sharing that private search not only with your search engine, but also with all the sites that you clicked on (for that search).

In addition, when you visit any site, your computer automatically sends information about it to that site (including your User agent and IP address). This information can often be used to identify you directly.

So when you do that private search, not only can those other sites know your search terms, but they can also know that you searched it. It is this combination of available information about you that raises privacy concerns.

Because DuckDuckGo prevents ‘search leakage’, by redirecting your click on a result in a way…

…that it does not send your search terms to other sites. The other sites will still know that you visited them, but they will not know what search you entered beforehand.

No information about your computer is sent to the site you click on via a DuckDuckGo search. Not even the search terms. The very thing that tells you in your analytics package what someone was looking for.

This could present a problem for Search Engine Optimisers/Marketers if this type of ethos gains traction*. Not being able to tell what operating system someone was using when they landed on your site is one thing, but not knowing what someone was looking for when they got there is another.

*I don’t think it will as the money to be made from this information is too great an opportunity to pass up for some people.
**Discovered via Tygerland.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the SEO category at Sim-O.