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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

High Rankings with Other Peoples Popularity

I heartily agree with Jack Humphrey in the following article. This is the reason that optimized press releases do so well for high rankings of competitive search phrases, because your keywords in your press release are used on sites that already have high ranking for competitive keyword phrases. That in turn, gives you high rankings for the phrase on your site. Off site optimization is hot and those who take advantage of it will do very well.

Are You Down With OPP? Get High Rankings with Other Peoples Popularity
Copyright 2004 Jack Humphrey

There are many "offsite" promotion tactics that work well to get high rankings. But nothing works better in my experience than publishing and syndicating information pieces or articles.

Now before you run off thinking you've read about the following tactic before, hang on!

This article assumes you have come cross one of my other articles on articles. And that you know what syndication is and why it is important at it's most basic level for high rankings.

But now I want to show you a trick to get high rankings forsearch terms that you currently struggle with on your own site by optimizing SOMEONE ELSE's site for that term.

Here we go!

There are other sites that have the traffic and rankings you WISH you had, right? Well, syndicating content can put YOU on those sites and if you are smart about it, you can optimize those popular sites pages with your search terms to get high rankings for that particular page.

Why on earth would you do that?

Well, for one, it is faster to get ranked higher on a site that already has a high ranking in the search engines. Your article could focus on a term like I am doing in this one.

Have you seen a repetitious, but hopefully not obnoxious, term in this article? I am using "high rankings" on purpose. I don't have a high ranking for that term on any of my sites and I want to use OPP to get a higher ranking for my link - which LINKS BACK TO MY SITE at the bottom of this article!

Confused? Don't be. Basically, all I am doing is using the popularity of very large sites that house my articles every time I write to get attention of surfers looking for content based on less competitive but desirable keywords.

It's a known fact that Google spiders more frequently on sites that are large, established, and that change frequently. I can have an article showing up on a Google search in the top ten for a key phrase in as little as 1 day at times.

On a new site the same article would take weeks sometimes to get into Google and even then, if my pagerank isn't very high yet, I will STILL rank lower than the same page on an established site.

Higher rankings can be achieved in so MANY ways and this is just another angle for writers who have little patience for waiting on the engines to find THEM.

Syndicating keyword optimized articles is how I go out and find the search engines wherever they are spidering right now. This is also how I submit all my sites to the search engines. I just syndicate my articles.

This is basically like casting into a different, more active part of the pond you are fishing in. If the fish ain't bitin' where you're fishing (your own site) then go fish another part of the lake with OPP!

About the Author:

Jack Humphrey is the CEO of, a marketing consulting firm dedicated to small and large businesses looking for higher rankings and more traffic and exposure. We also write keyword optimized articles for you!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Cult of Linking Needs Linking Exorcist

Have you ever known someone who has blind faith to a religous sect or self-improvement group and has been taken in by a charismatic leader? The devotion to the cause is seemingly blind and support in donated time or financial contribution exceeds all reason? That is where we are with the cult of linking. You stand by marveling at how an intelligent person could be so entirely absorbed in their linking fanaticism that they lose sight of reality?

I just ran an article in this space a couple of days ago called "Link Swapping Killing Web Sites" and commented that I was glad to see some sanity returning to webmasters as a preface to the Michael Cheney piece.

Today I've been shown a bit more lunacy from three different angles. First, I have a client seeking quality links. He has hundreds of outbound links from his network of sites and uses his own linking script with an admin control panel where he approves or deletes links submitted. I talked him into scrapping that and took down links to the "swap" page from major pages of his sites. To replace those "Swap" links, I proposed that we use one of the many "text link brokers" popping up across the web.

We can simply buy the links from relevant sources from reputable brokers - or so I thought. I contacted two of those brokers asking for some type of substantiation for the value of the links they were selling. I simply asked them if they had any case studies showing search engine rank increases attributable to major text link purchases.

I'm still reeling from one response. He said, "We don't keep track of that sort of thing. Most people have been happy with our partners links." I had to pick my jaw up from the floor! He is asking the better part of $1000 for "run of site" links from a questionable "network" of sites that, although on topic, were not a good fit for my clients links.

When I pointed out to him that they were all on very close IP addresses and clearly resided on the same virtual server, he seemed not to understand what I was talking about when I asked if they couldn't offer more variation in IP address range to avoid a link farm penalty from the search engines.

I shook my head in astonishment and moved on with my day and then I got a note from a colleague who asked me if I were interested in his "Linking Engine" for my client sites. He pointed out that it cost the better part of $1000 to install this PHP script on a client site and customize it. He sent me the promotional sales letter they use to convince prospects of the value of the script. He told me he sells it ... "to all of our SEO clients".

When I asked if he had any proof that this "Linking Engine" benefits clients after installation by increasing their rank or traffic, he seemed shocked and said, "I don't have time for that, everyone knows linking works to increase rank and traffic." Now I like this friend very much on a personal level, but he's lost all track of reality when he's too busy to prove the value proposition of this $1000 software to potential customers, then expects them to take it on faith that it's worth the money.

The final straw came when I was emailed another one of the thousands of the usual daily reciprocal link requests. They wanted a link from a particular highly ranked page of my site and since their site is new, he'd give me TWO links to my one. WOW! Two worthless links for one valuable one, what a deal!

I recently heard Michael Palka speak at the WebmasterWorld Search conference, he's Director of Product Management for AskJeeves, and during his presentation, he said plainly that webmasters should ALWAYS post a linking policy on their site. I'm inclined to agree with that and I've posted a notice saying that I ONLY link to those contributing content to my site. It has been my policy for nearly a year anyway, that will just make it official. I link only to those who contribute content to my site via their resource box giving them credit for the articles.

That said, now I have only to add that to over 1000 pages over several templates. I doubt it will reduce the link requests because many are generated by software or are requsted by link campaign managers from SEO's who don't read the site, they simply run software looking for highly ranked pages for client keyword phrases and fire out a couple hundred link requests to site owners who turned up on top of their list.

I'm coming very near to turning into a linking exorcist in a campaign to rid these raving linking lunatics of their maniacal linking demons!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

IT consulting: Small firms flourishing

IT consulting: Small firms flourishing - This special report on Outsourcing seems to apply strongly to SEO consultants as the work seems to be very good right now. There is no doubt that times were hard for a couple of years as everyone pulled back and stopped sending work to outside consultants and kept work in-house instead.

During the lean times, I got several gigs training in-house guys to do SEO for their company. What I found was that those employees were expected to take on the SEO work while increasing their overall work-load. Most in-house IT guys are not only bored stiff with SEO, they want to automate it all. While I've been able to tell some with good web site structure and design how to automate dynamic site SEO, for most it isn't so easy.

But now I'm seeing companies hire extra programmers to major overhauls of their web sites based on my SEO recommendations PLUS hiring me to consult on more extensive detail work like link development, press release optimization and distribution and shopping site data feeds. This means the in-house guys are doing the grunt work while I do more enjoyable stuff. ;-)

I'm still very happy to do in-house SEO training sessions and follow-up consulting on problem areas. And it appears that there's lots of that work available too. Good deal.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

New MSN search engine: How good is it?

New MSN search engine: How good is it?
By Nowshade Kabir,

If you have an online business or you just use Internet as one of your marketing tools, you know that how important the search engines are in your quest to get more targeted visitors to your website. The changes in search engine field can have unexpected outcome for your online endeavors. That's why it is important to be well-informed on impending progress in this sphere.

Microsoft has recently come out with the latest beta version of its much touted search engine. Supported by 5 billion indexed pages, it is poised to become one of the most powerful search engines in the market. Right now MSN is using Yahoo provided search results for queries done through its search page, which it's planning to change somewhere in early next year with its own. You can check out the search engine at .

Google's immense success and profitable business model enticed Microsoft and others to look into lucrative search engine market seriously. Amazon, for example, has recently launched its web search site Today, Google carries out almost 50 percent of all searches on the Internet. Yahoo with 24 percent of the market share is trailing in a distant second place. MSN with 14 percent lags far behind from the competitors – a situation, which won't be very easy to change.

However, Microsoft has a long history of copying booming products; make their replicas some times, arguably, better then the originals, and clinch larger portion of the market shares. Microsoft has successfully done this to Borland's dominance of programming languages in the early days. The list of victims continued with once utterly popular word processor –WordPerfect, market dominant spreadsheet – Lotus 1-2-3, Novell's Netware and finally Netscape. Since 90 percents of all personal computers run on Windows, Microsoft gets an extra edge against its competitors, which it's capable of exploiting very effectively.

What is new in MSN search?

This version of MSN search incorporated several interesting features, which other search engines are lacking at this moment.

Direct answers to plain language factual searches

Unlike Google or Yahoo, Askjeeves has better ability to find answers to direct plain language searches. MSN search has taken this one step further by adding Microsoft's Encarta reference tools to its features. Ask, what is the capital of Russia? You will get the right answer at the beginning of the result page. Questions like "What is the size of a Blue whale?" also brings in exact answer. No doubt, students will love this feature as it makes a lot easier for them to get specific answers to the questions related to facts and figures.

Near me

Microsoft's new search engine includes a ''near me'' button that helps users find websites for a given location. In this release, this works only in United States.

Once you press this button MSN search figures out where are you located using your computer's IP address. However, this can be easily superseded by changing setting preferences. This is important if you are located in New York and looking for something near Boston.

Search Builder

In other search engines, if you would like to customize your search you have to use advance search options from a separate page. MSN search has made it a lot easier for average users by adding the ability of customization right on the search box.

Once you click on the Search Builder from the link right underneath of the search box a drop down menu will open. Initially, the menu might look a little confusing; with little patience you will be able to use available great features easily.

The tool "search terms" allows you to add Boolean search options. Site/ Domain tool is used for limiting a search to specific site or domain, or excluding them from your query. "Links to" tool helps you make your query within the sites linked to a specific site. Country/ region and language options are required to make geography or language specific searches.

The best option from this group of features is the "Result Ranking". This option allows you to refine searches and give you a better control over the search result by using a set of three bars. By sliding the bars up and down you choose whether you want to see more of exact match or approximate match, more popular or less popular, static or dynamic pages as search results. You can generate an impressive range of results for a single query thanks to this option. This could be very useful for some types of searches. For example: if you are looking for news based pages, you might prefer to choose more dynamic pages rather than static ones.

Preference setting

Most notable options on the setting page are "Safe Search" – ability to filter out sexually explicit images and texts, and ability to fix the number of results displayed from one particular site.


Many reviewers claim that if you compare the search results with Google, MSN search engine "falls short" in relevancy. However, my results showed otherwise.

I ran a search on the phrase "trade leads". The results from both the search engines were very relevant. The only difference in MSN I noticed is our managed to turn up on the first page. But, a search on the word "e-catalog" was brought better – more relevant – results on MSN then Google. This time too I was happy to see on the first page of MSN search results.


If you consider all the new features of MSN that Google does not have yet, its ability to cover natural language queries, quality level and relevance of results, ability to refine searches, there is no doubt that MSN search engine is as good as Google.

About the author

Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of A Ph. D. in Information Technology, he has wide experience in Business Consulting, International Trade and Web Marketing. Rusbiz is a Global B2B Emarketplace with solutions to start and run online business.
You can contact him at

Monday, November 22, 2004

Link Swapping Killing Websites

It's so refreshing to see this sentiment from other webmasters more often lately! Michael Cheney is one of a growing number of people who are starting to agree with me that the majority of websites have gone completely mad about linking. I'm happy to see some sense being talked after so long in absolute linking psychosis. In fact, I'd love to hear from others with innovative linking strategies to add to this discussion. Please join and post your responses if you have suggestions. I've recently reported from the World of Search Conference in Las Vegas, on the great effects of press relases as a link building method. I've written before about using testimonials as a linking strategy. Writing and distributing articles for use in ezines and newsletters is another well known technique and one I've used myself to gain wide exposure for a half dozen of my own sites and more recently, those of my clients. I've long contended that "reciprocal links" are dead and wish the rest of the webmasters who constantly email me asking for links would read my articles on web issues and send me theirs to use and link to them through the resource box, instead of asking for reciprocal links from me. I WON'T do it! PLEASE DON'T ASK!

Let's be DONE with RECIPROCAL LINKING! Here's Michael Cheney with his views on the subject . . .

5 Reasons Why Link Swapping Is Killing Your Website
by Michael Cheney

I created my first website in 1995 - it was so long ago I built it out of rock and wood, not HTML.

Shortly after it went live I realised that nobody apart from me could see it and it started to dawn on me what this 'Internet thing' is all about. It is not about having a stand-alone website plonked somewhere that nobody will ever see - it is about being part of an INTERconnected NETwork of other websites. INTER-NET. The penny dropped - I needed to start getting connected to other websites.

Much has changed since then (my hair got longer, shorter and has since started to recede further up my head for one thing) but it seems the desire and pressure you face as a website owner to exchange links shows no signs of fading. But link swapping is killing your website! Here's 5 Reasons why...

Reason No. 1 - It's Addictive!

It's true. You might not be that far down the link-swapping path yet but I promise you it will happen sooner or later. One day you'll find yourself laughing like a maniac as you run a report to see how many in-bound links you have and start rubbing your hands gleefully as you reach that magic milestone you set yourself six months ago. You'll start mainlining reciprocal links:

"Just one more link. Please - all I need is one more link!"

Take a deep breath, step back from the precipice and think for a moment. Why do you want all these links pointing to your website? No, honestly - why do you REALLY want all these links pointing to your website? To improve link popularity? You're falling into the trap. Do you want it to boost that little green bar that Google assigns to your page? (see Wise up!

Reason No. 2 - It Is Eating Away At Your Time Like A Hungry Hippo!

Just take a look at the last time you went out looking for a link and got it. How long did it take you? Not long? Well, let me put this another way - how long did it take you to find the right type of websites, look through those and find ones that even have a links page, find the contact information for the websites you wanted to contact, create the email, send the email, respond to the email, place their link on your website, check that they reciprocated with you, email back and forth a few times more and so on...?

If you add up all the minutes that each of these elements takes you could be looking at half an hour per reciprocal link established - maybe even longer!

And don't think you're cutting corners if you're using software. It might be quicker to find possible linking partners using software but it's a false economy as, to my knowledge, people are still cleverer than machines.

What I mean by this is I can tell if you email me using software rather than using your own fingers. If you go looking for reciprocal links using software you are FAR less likely to get a response so the whole process will probably take you as long in terms of time spent per link established.

Reason No. 3 - You Are Spending More Time On Other People's Websites Than Your Own

If you spend a lot of your time researching and creating reciprocal links you'd better make sure that your website is perfect. Remember - all that time you're spending developing reciprocal links could be spent adding new content to your website, sending out an up to date newsletter to your mailing list or even sitting down and writing out goals for your website.

If you spend all the time on improving your website, adding great content, providing excellent service, keeping it up to date, testing different headlines and homepage layouts INSTEAD of spending the time building links guess what? You will magically find that more people link to you anyway!

In fact - your website will become such a great resource because of all the time you're dedicating to it that people will go OUT OF THEIR WAY to link to you! How ironic is that?!

You go hunting for links and your site suffers and therefore hardly anybody links to you. You spend time on making your website THE BEST IT CAN BE and everyone starts linking to you as, shock horror, you have a brilliant website that is worth referring to..

Reason No. 4 - You Don't Have A Multi-Million Dollar Budget To Beat The Boffins

Those white-cloaked geeks over at Google towers and the like have millions of dollars at their disposal to create the latest technology that can sniff out the merest whiff of dodginess when it comes to link swapping.

If they think something is suspect you might get penalised. First you started to see sites that used the same phrase for their inbound links get penalised. Then it was sites that engaged with link farms. Who knows what's next?

Ultimately you can bet your bottom dollar that the search engines will change their tack with reciprocal links and their importance - some of them are already starting to look at the words that appear before and after each link to make sure it is on a relevant page and not just created as part of a reciprocal linking deal.

It's a risky game we're all playing and my money's on the guys with the white coats and millions of dollars..

Reason No. 5 - You Are The Weakest Link, Goodbye!

When push comes to shove this whole 'game' of website marketing is about balance.

Imagine you are a tightrope walker. Fifty metres beneath you is a huge vat of boiling hot lava. To help you across the rope from the podium of "website launch" to the podium of "website success" you get a balancing rod.

Spending too much time and effort on reciprocal link building is like having a large sack on one end of the rod. This sack has an elephantin it. The elephant is wearing boots. Made from concrete. Get the picture?

Michael Cheney
Author of The Website Marketing BibleTM - Download your free Sampler of The Website Marketing BibleTM now and get free bonuses worth £159 ($288)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Press Release SEO Back Door to Top Search Rankings

Press Releases New SEO Back Door to Top Rankings
From World of Search #7 in Las Vegas

by Mike Banks Valentine © November 18, 2004

Greg Jarboe, President and co-founder of SEO-PR revealed a blockbuster secret back door to top search engine ranking when he presented to a comparitively small share of attendees at World of Search #7 conference. Jarboe presented a case study of client showing their press release which was distributed online in July of 2004. Jarboe provides optimization and distribution of press releases for online companies seeking publicity and search engine positioning for websites.

Jarboe projected side by side views of a before and after optimization press release for, an online resource to research and price wines. WineZap was seeking publicity for the launch of their new website and wine search engine. The changes to the press release were relatively minor, but made major differences in the most critical spot - the headline, and use of wine related search phrases in their release. They also incorporated a call to action and discount coupon for those who clicked through from the press release to a special landing page with newsletter sign-up to qualify for substantial discount on wine purchases through the WineZap web site.

Jarboe recommends a "sweet spot of 400 to 500 words" as the ideal press release length and though he wavered on the right keyword density and recommended experimentation to find the perfect density for rankings, he showed a list of wine related terms included in the WineZap press release from "wine prices" to "wine variety" of about a dozen keyword combinations. Critical terms were included only once each, but were each included in the short 400 word release. Important keyword phrases were hyperlinked within the text and the release posted to site press release archive.

Jarboe showed ranking results from within both Yahoo News and Google News searches where the release turned up in top 5 rankings, with similar results in standard web searches within a few days. This ranking is unheard of in a highly competitive wine and wine magazines online for search phrases dominated by long-time online players and was achieved within a week for WineZap, a newly launched wine website. This client had paid for tracking of results over time and Jarboe showed slides showing over 90,000 views of the press release on the PRweb site with 1400 views by journalists! This for a site launch in a competitive sector got them press notice and reviews.

Jarboe provided insight into standard search algorithms and news search algorithms, which vary dramatically and some are nearly opposite of standard rankings. News searches rank based on how many news sites are writing about the topic of your press release, how recent or "fresh" stories are, the length of the story when covered by the press and the frequency of the search term. One element of news search algorithms that's vastly different from standard algorithms is that number of sites linking to the release is hugely discounted because news is expected to be new, and as such, won't have time to gather links.

As a matter of fact, the news release gets picked up and used on dozens of sites with live hyperlinks to the website issuing that release, since the item is considered time sensitive is linked very quickly. This has the effect of gaining widespread permanent links to the client site because it is reproduced by topical sites, sometimes archived, which gives the site issuing the press release both very early visibility in news sites and news searches, AND in standard search engines because they've been linked to through that release on relevant and topical sites, therefore gaining long term rankings and visibility.

For a cost of between $400 and $2000, depending on press release length and additional services ordered, (archiving, tracking and optimization) a site can gain immediate and long term rankings for critical search phrases if they distribute newsworthy, topical and well-timed press releases. Smart SEO's should seriously consider adding press release writing, optimization and distribution online as a value added service. Jarboe offers a partnership with PRweb and distribution channels, plus a network of promotion partners.

Jarboe presented additional items of interest about news search, including statistics showing that 98% of journalists go online daily, that 92% go online for research purposes, and the most stunning statistic claims that 73% of those journalists go online to search for press releases! News releases are typically indexed within three days. Online news search queries are for vastly different topics than standard web searches and are performed using much more targeted and intelligent phrases than standard web searches.

Probably two-thirds of WebmasterWorld of Search attendees were down the hall at the Las Vegas Convention center at a session called "Link Building and Referral Tracking" hearing about tired SEO link building techniques which are rapidly declining in effectiveness while a sprinkling of REALLY smart attendees were listening to Greg Jarboe talk about the most underused new blockbuster technique for link building - online PRESS RELEASES.

Of course, link building should not be the purpose of press release distribution online and is secondary to gaining MEDIA attention for your online business or event. But when releases are distributed to journalists online and used in major media, it can lead to television and radio appearances as well as site reviews by journalists covering online business.

Jarboe pointed out that the "Public Relations" is 100 years old this month and told the story of the first press release, which was sent to newspapers by snail mail for damage control on the first train wreck by offering to transport reporters free of charge to the scene of the accident (by rail) to witness the scene themselves and give first hand accounts of the accident so that rumors and embellishments didn't destroy the railroad industry.

Vastly different from today, where we email press releases to thousands of journalists as fast as we can write them and click the "submit" button through online press release distribution services such as Jarboe's

Press releases online are currently used by large corporations routinely through their in-house PR departments but small business webmasters and online businesses should learn the value of news search rankings and media attention gained through online press release distribution and optimization.

Press releases are the new back door to high search engine rankings for popular and competitive search terms and SEO's need to learn to integrate press release strategy into their search ranking services as a value added service.


Mike Banks Valentine offers Press Release Optimization & Distribution for online businesses.

This article may be used on your blog, in your newsletter or on your website if you maintain this resource box and make
links hyperlinks. It is available online with working links at:

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Linking Advice From Experts at WebMaster World of Search

Linking Advice From Experts at WebMaster World of Search

by Mike Banks Valentine © November 17, 2004

Link building has become an integral part of search engine marketing and positioning. The topic is inevitably the subject of many web conference programs and the WebMaster World of Search conference was no exception. In a session entitled "Proactive Linking", three experts in search marketing, Bruce Clay of, Jim Banks of WebDiversity and Greg Boser of WebGuerrilla, shared their strategies and opinions on the linking campaigns.

Bruce Clay suggested what he called "aggressive Linking campaigns" be done with some basic guidelines. Saying that many uneducated link builders do foolish linking into multiple domain networks which are all hosted either on the same server or simply buy links from a series of sites hosted within a single C block of IP addresses. He recommended gaining links from a wide range of IP addresses hosted in different places so that it replicates "natural" links that might be gained over a period of time. This guideline was given as "IP address - Different is Good".

Another aspect of aggresive linking is to vary the PageRank quality of those sites linking to you (or client sites) so that, it too, appears more natural to the search engines. This is because too many linking campaigns target only PR8 and PR9 sites. Clay warns that this is an "un-natural" thing, especially for new sites or those with low PageRank themselves. He suggests that link partners should not be chosen purely based upon PageRank and that, if it is, that you should seek a full range of PR level link partners to replicate "natural" links. This guideline was stated simply as "PageRank - Natural is Good".

Jim Banks of WebDiversity recommends looking at linking campaigns from a highly scientific, regimented and tested method involving segmented groups. He contends that there are different types of visitors to web sites, including "shoppers, buyers and visitors" and that each carry a different return on investment, or ROI, to the site owner. Clearly if you've determined the value of a visitor based on their actions and paths through a site, what search phrases the different visitors use to find your site, and which keyword phrases convert to sales - you can target link text in your campaign based on the highest value customers.

This approach involves extensive keyword testing and conversion analysis through pay-per-click advertising campaigns. Once you've determined the highest value keyword phrases, then you apply those phrases to the anchor text you request from link partners. This method allows some very clear requests for link anchor text based on the highest ROI determined in the PPC testing. Banks contends that this method allows very clear guide to organic search optimization and targeting highest value search phrases and highest ROI for each individual client.

Greg Boser of WebGuerrilla offerred commentary on both Clay and Banks methods when he called the PPC testing method advocated above as "Checkbook SEO" and basically agreed with Clay by recommending that linking campaigns should "agressively replicate natural links". He warned not to buy links without knowing they will be posted to sites spread across a wide spectrum of pages, with varied link text and geographically varied hosts and IP addresses. Boser joked that sites that go from zero links to 20,000 overnight may be red-flagged by the search engines.

During the Q&A session following the three presenters, audience members offered up a long list of questions about linking. Questions ranged from how to determine the IP address of link partners, to which Clay responded that he simply writes a PERL script to retrieve IP addresses from domain names. Most webmasters know that there are many services online which return the IP address if you enter domain names into a text box and click the button.

Additional questions included how to find out if domains or IP address ranges were considered "bad neighborhoods" as mentioned in warnings by several search engine webmaster guidelines for good ranking. Bruce Clay responded by saying that he does research to determine "is the IP block dirty," as a way to avoid those so-called bad neighborhoods and that there are several published lists available that could be found with a simple search for "IP address resources".

Audience members asked if there were words that might be avoided in page filenames such as links.html, which would be seen as what has become known as "poison words" which search engines have used to determine possible reciprocal links pages and downgrade the value of those pages. Panel members all agreed that the word "Link" should be avoided in filenames and title tags of reciprocal links pages. Audience members asked about results they are seeing at the search engines with nothing but links and pages full of what appear to be search results on top ranking sites for competitive search terms.

Clay responded that he had a problem with sites employing "search scrapers" which gather the top ranking results pages from the search engines for competitive and expensive search phrases which then link to him through those results purely as fodder for lazy webmasters using AdSense ads on those pages, which become highly ranked themselves. These "search scraper" results are happening more often for terms fetching PPC bids higher than $5 from Adwords and Overture ads. "Search engine optimization" as a PPC term ranges from $3 to $6 and is targeted by search scrapers for those Adsense ads.

Stay tuned for more reports from WebMasterWorld of Search #7 in Las Vegas.

Mike Banks Valentine practices ethical SEO and can be reached at:
This article is available online at with
links to resources. You may use it on your site, blog or newsletter
if you maintain this resource box and make links live hyperlinks.

Search Conference SEO Black Hat Tricksters

World of Search Conference Vindicates SEO Basics, Exposes Bad Boy SEO Tricksters

The 2004 "World of Search" conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center began Tuesday, November 15, with a short welcome address and conference kudos and credits from (WMW) owner Brett Tabke. The first session, titled "Big Site Promotion" provided a glimpse into search engine gambits employed by the SE strategists for the big boys at (Joe Morin of Boost Search Marketing), (Marshall Simmonds, Primedia in-house Search Director) and IBM (Bill Hunt of

"Big Site Promotion" turned out to be a vindication of the standard SEO rallying cry, "Content and relevancy are King!" Both Simmonds ( and Morin ( told tales of basic SEO issues. Both work in a change-resistant corporate culture where adoption is slow and "proof of concept" is often necessary before multiple division heads will sign-off. Mulltiple division directors must agree to page templates changes, even when those changes are well recognized necessities of SEO.

Other issues pointed to were on-page javascript and inline CSS as barriers to search engine robots crawling thousands of pages. An extreme example was given of a corporate home page that ran to 21 printed pages of jscript and CSS - BEFORE any visible page text was finally reached! Reference those javascript and CSS files OFFPAGE folks!

In the same session, we heard from IBM SEO Bill Hunt with a story of finding and removing rogue robots.txt files that kept SE spiders out of literally thousands of pages. He quizzed audience members on the issue and got only a sprinkling of upraised hands when he asked how many thought that problem might be significant.

Hunt warned them that they'd better take it seriously when pages are not being indexed and look for unknown robots.txt files that may be found lurking on client servers of monstrous corporate sites. He noted that the starting point for large site SEO is often the bare essentials (the standard Title, Heading and Metadata) on global templates, followed byresolving "barriers to crawling" such as dynamic URL's, cookies and session ID's in visible URL's through URL rewrites.

The after lunch "SEO Super Session" served mostly to frighten and anger any honest and ethical SEO's when a panel discussion exposed the so-called "Black Hat" SEO techniques as common, acceptable and routine for at least one panelist and some audience members, who shared a laugh over illicit ranking techniques. Even though one panelist pointed out the presence of Google's Matt Cutts in the back of the room, another panelist grinned through his "do what works" justification for even more black hat techniques and said, to more laughs, "You're not a true SEO until you've been banned at least once!"

I beg to differ on that point and hope the friendly chuckles passed around that session aren't a true reflection of the majority of this audience so accepting of underhanded black hat trickery. I literally got physically ill over the spamming techniques and cloaking skullduggery so easily accepted in the name of "client advocacy" by many SEO's. Panelist members mentioned that they'd been surprised at the number of people at SEO conferences who refuse to offer their name and occupation when greeted because they don't want to be identified as one of those bad boy SEO's. I'm proud of my occupation and refuse to use questionable "algo-busting" trickery so readily acccepted with a wink by some.

The latest widespread dirty trick is done using an IP delivery ruse which forwards recognized search engine spiders to a higher ranked site trhrough a "301 page moved", thus inheriting the forwarded site's PageRank, while showing all other visitors the true pages. Although I suppose I'll be seen as a naive and gullible-SEO-prude by those using "brute force" techniques to manipulate the search engines, I'll accept the inevitable ribbing and sleep well at niight.

An audience member wondered out loud why Google hasn't done something to correct this latest underhanded IP delivery technique. Panelists had no answer, but suggested attendees corner search engine representatives present from Google (Matt Cutts) and Yahoo (Tim Mayer) to see what they had to say on the subject.

Though I've lost clients to those willing to employ these rotten egg techniques that attract visitors like maggots, at least I don't have to return later and clean up the mess left by the buzzing bugs crawling over the stench left once their techniques die suddenly, are discovered and banned. I've earned substantial money doing the cleanup for previous, banned SEO's. I hated that work and the extensive cleanup of rotting doorway pages, stinky cloaked pages and endless putrid piles of deteriorating mirror sites.

I just this week lost a job to a black hat SEO team. The work I bid on and lost was from a substantial company seeking to cover up bad press that is ranking in top spots, right below their sales site. The clear honest solution is to displace those bad press results with high ranking and legitimate press releases, FAQ's, glossary of terms and relevant contextual sites that rank above them. I will, in the future, refuse the inevitable job of cleaning up the mess left by the black hat winner of that contract.

Though more sessions capped the first day agenda, none could hold my attention after that stomach turning black hat technique discussion - I had to flee to my hotel room to suffer my illness in private. Damn! I hope some good announcements or innovative ideas emerge from days two and three of the "WebMaster World of Search #7" so I can get over that upset stomach brought on by the bad boys of search. I know there will always be those willing to cheat, lie and steal as long as there is money to be made. I also know I won't be one of them.

Monday, November 15, 2004

MSN Search Beta Launched!

MSN Search Beta Launched!

Well here it is, the much talked about release of their shiny new search engine with some innovative features, most notably, the "Search Builder" popup layer that allows you to create complex queries in a simple way and a "Near Me" button for local searches!

Early testing suggests relevant results (read that favoring good content and thus my sites and those of clients ;-), clean user interface, and generally good reviews.

Now we must wait and watch our visitor statistics and see if MSN Search sends more visitors to those top ranked sites than the anemic numbers seen from MSN top ranked sites in the past.

Personally, I think Yahoo has more to fear than Google with MSN entering the race. MSN delivers relevant results and then sends searchers from those top ranking results TO the web sites that turn up in top results. Something Yahoo has yet to

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Reciprocal Linking Turkeys!

I had an email exchange with an SEO client today after his webmaster called him pushing reciprocal linking software (when all this web designer was after was to generate some extra work from a client that hasn't needed him for awhile). Then that client called me after he received my email denouncing the software, fully convinced by a follow-up phone call from his web designer that the reciprocal linking software WAS valuable.

He had been assured that the spamming, er - I mean, linking software, would increase his visiblity for an inside page on a hot topic currently in the news. He didn't want to hear my unpopular opinion that reciprocal linking is DEAD! Halloween is over people! We don't need the mummies of yesterdays' linking schemes haunting our Thanksgiving too! Oh, it must be a Thanksgiving TURKEY! A reciprocal Linking Turkey! Can reciprocal linking Santa's be far behind? OK, I'll drop the holiday metaphors.

I tried in vain to convince this client that he didn't need that software for his review of the Myriad Pictures flm, "Kinsey" about early sex educator Professor Alfred Kinsey. We had just that morning distributed a press release online that was posted on over 100 high visibility news sites and Yahoo news picked it up!

These are hugely valuable ONE WAY inbound links that will vastly improve his search engine ranking immediately due to the topical nature and excellent timing of the release. This client is a sex educator and runs an educational web site about sex and love. His press release put down the idea of the use of the new Intrinsa© testosterone patch to cure the low sexual desire of post-menopausal women and praised the new film Kinsey. He'll be top ranked for two highly desirable and valuable (to him and his web site) keyword phrases within the week.

By the way, I HIGHLY recommend this approach for those with newsworthy issues they want to promote to the press. will send your newsworthy press release to over 100 top news sites, hundreds more radio, television and newspaper reporters, and tons of journalists who have signed up to receive them. is syndicated by major news organizations and you can gain hundreds of links while generating interviews and even television appearances, all for only $400! Some people will pay that much for worthless reciprocal linking software and installation by webmasters having a slow week. ;-) Back to our story...

I re-affirmed my opposition to the use of the software as we ended our call and he hung up disappointed because he wanted my support and assurance that the sales pitch he got from his web designer on the reciprocal linking software was accurate and that it would do more for him than his press release would do.

Unfortunately, we'll never know because he bought the sales pitch from the web designer, installed the software and immediately sent out a sp*m - AHEM, er, I meant to say - email to his newsletter mailing list announcing the availability of reciprocal links and asking them for links to his newsworthy new page.

When will this linking insanity end?

Following is my reasoned - and decidedly calmer than I am now - email response to him.

Dear Gary,

This link generation scheme is standard for reciprocal link software. The value of "Reciprocal links" is far lower than the value of the ONE WAY links you already have from that press release distribution and the posting of the press release on your site which, by the way, includes linking instructions at the bottom of the relevant pages.

I've written an article call "Linking Psychosis is Treatable" which discusses the foolishness of links pointing all over the web. Read it at the following URL:

It doesn't address reciprocal linking so much as the insanity with which webmasters persue them. Your press release has ALREADY generated a huge number of inbound ONE WAY links that will increase the visibility and rank of both Kinsey Film Review and Intrinsa© Testosterone Patchpages.

Doing the reciprocal page will initially LOWER your rank because it is RECIPROCAL.

There is a concept called "Authority Site" that search engines use where ONE WAY inbound links are ranked VERY highly and reciprocal links are devalued BECAUSE of software like that being promoted by link-crazy folks not willing to do the hard work of generating the more valuable one-way links.

The search engines know about the software available from linking fanatics and DEVALUE pages that use it. Ultimately it can increase your visibility, sometimes, over the long run, but it just isn't that helpful in most cases.

I've taken a hard line about this and get a lot of flack about it from those without SEO experience or knowledge. But smart professional SEO's agree that reciprocal linking schemes - AND ESPECIALLY SOFTWARE GENERATED PAGES - are not worth much in search engine rank. The search engines are reducing the importance of those type of pages daily because it is too easy and too commonly used by scores of webmasters looking for an easy ranking.

I have written in the past that " Reciprocal Linking is Dead!" in which I outline my linking policy and encourage all reciprocal links requests to submit articles to be used on my site and that I'll link to them through the resource box of their articles - IF I decide to publish them - but that I just don't do reciprocal linking - period. I don't even require them to link to me, but I point out that I have over a hundred fifty articles on my web site available for use on their site if they use my resource box, provide author credit and link to me through my resource box.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it. ;-) No matter how unpopular it makes me with software vendors selling the programs or link fanatic webmasters looking for extra income and easy solutions.

Don't be a linking turkey! Happy Thanksgiving!


Here's some free link popularity software if you want to see your own inbound links and those of competitors as rated by Google, Yahoo, Alexa, AllTheWeb and MSN. This article written about experience with SEO client Dr. Gary Schubach, of (NOTICE: This is an Adult oriented site from a sex educator) and is used with his permission. You may reproduce this article on your site if you make all lilnks live, maintain this resource box and provide author credit.

This article appears on the RealitySEO blog with working links to all referenced pages.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

MSN Search Won't Affect Search Landscape

MSN Search "Unlikely to Change The Search Landscape Greatly" says Mary Meeker, Morgan Stanley Internet Analyst.

Why am I anxious and hopeful then? Because financial analysts look at balance sheets instead of SERP's, or Search Engine Results Pages, and where my sites and those of clients rank in those results.

Users determine the popularity and value of a search engine long before any financial impact is felt that Wall Street analysts can see on their charts and graphs. Google became a hit with the public due to user preference for its speed and relevance of results returned in user searches.

According to my own tests of MSN search tech preview, it could be very relevant and fast. That makes a huge difference in whether I will use MSN search or not - and, I suspect, a huge difference in whether the public will use MSN search for their daily queries.

Since MSN search is built into the Internet Explorer as the default search engine and since IE is so very available on every new computer you buy. If MSN search returns relevant results quickly, why would anyone take the extra step of navigating to Google or Yahoo to do their searching?

I submit that the only reason MSN search isn't already number one is because they return non-relevant results pages, loaded with pay-per-click ads above and below organic search results. People who don't want all the extra stuff, escape to the clean Google interface with minimal Adwords PPC ads on the page and vastly more relevant results. THAT is why people leave that default MSN search in IE and jump over to Google.

If the "New" MSN Search returns relevant results quickly and with minimal PPC and "Sponsor" ads, then they will quickly become number one and have a HUGE impact on the "Search Landscape".

But to comment now, before seeing how the public takes to the "New" MSN search, would be foolish! Mary Meeker needs to understand that fickle public perception could make MSN Search a hit or a miss - and it will dramatically affect the bottom line of Microsoft if everyone takes a shine to that new introduction.

If the MSN search results pages look no different than the current ones, littered with PPC "Sponsor" ads but still offer relevant and speedy results, then users will still gravitate to MSN search and away from Yahoo and Google.

Maybe they'll resist the urge to clutter up the search engine results pages with too many PPC ads and provide speedy, relevant results. Then maybe I'll convert to MSN from Google. That would be a GIANT shift in my love for all things Google.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

MSN Search Launch December '04

MSN Search Launch December '04? Wouldn't it be a kick, if they stick to effective algorithms and the slick look they're offering in the October tech preview incarnation! That version has me very happy with the rankings of my own sites and those of clients as I've mentioned in my previous posts here.

I can't wait until the official announcement of MSN search and to see whether they will deliver visitors at the same rate as does Google with top ranking sites. I've commented before about the much lower referred visitor counts found in search logs for both MSN and Yahoo search as compared to Google and wondered out loud if it were because of the heavy "sponsor" PPC links covering the pages at those two also-ran engines. They simply don't deliver traffic to top ranking sites at the rate that Google does.

What exactly is the value of a search engine to web businesses when they rank at the top of the SERP's but garner little traffic from those rankings? For that matter, why would the users of those engines care which sites rank at the top if they instead choose to visit pay-per-click ads on those results pages? Are users of Yahoo and MSN PPC ad "suckers" that don't know the difference between organic and paid results? I doubt that, but let's look forward to seeing how MSN delivers on referred visitors once they launch this shiny new baby.

I'm excited to see this newborn only because of the promise of the additional traffic it will deliver to top ranked sites of clients and customers of my search engine optimization services. My tests indicate that the new MSN search will bring thousands of new visitors to my customers, and this vindicates my methods and strategies. That is - content and relevance rules!

Here's hoping MSN search rules in referred traffic as they prepare to give us all a Christmas gift of new visitors to our web sites.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Pay-Per-Inclusion Search Engines Dying

Why Pay-Per-Inclusion Search Engines are Dying
By John Lynch

A Pay-Per-Inclusion search engine is a service in which a search engine charges you a certain amount to spider and include your website in its database. For this fee, regular repeated spiderings are guaranteed, so you are sure to be indexed.

However, rankings are not guaranteed. These pages have no advantage over any page submitted for free. A few years ago, pay-per-inclusion search engines such as Inktomi, Altavista, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo were introduced. However, they have failed badly and have lost traffic to Google.

Why Google is Tops

Google built the LARGEST search engine database because it refused to adopt the pay-per-inclusion model. By allowing every website to submit its pages free, it built an enormous database of websites. Good news for everyone searching Google’s database!

Google’s competitors were unable to deliver the same results,partly because they had fewer websites to choose from. If you charge for entry into a search engine, you eliminate over 90% of the websites on the Net which cannot justify such a fee.

What the pay-per-inclusion search engines did not understand was that their real customers were the ADVERTISERS and not the searchers. Nor were the websites the customers of the engines.

The advertisers pay the search engines, so they are the customers. Google recognized this and decided to keep the advertisers happy by providing a large database of websites. This large database became well known and it attracted great numbers of searches. These searches were exposed to the advertisers’ products and the searches led to good sales. To make this most efficient, search engine submission must be free.

Search Engine Model is Similar to Television

This is all similar to television where programs are made for the masses and given away free. Then the advertisers step in and make the money! As a search engine survives by the quality of its search results, surfers and sites flocked to Google making it the number one search engine.

Why the Death of Pay-Per-Inclusion SE’s is Good for Small Sites

Only large quality SE databases can fulfill the needs of surfers. Your relationships with the search engines is one of mutual benefit. You need the traffic and the search engines provide the quality content.

Therefore by creating good websites with quality content and submitting them free to the search engines, you are both winning. There is no need to spend enormous amounts on search engine submission and optimization. All you need to do is create good websites with the appropriate keywords for your pages and everything else will take care of itself.

Of course, this is where we were at the beginning of the Internet revolution, except certain search engines got too greedy and thought they could cash in on unfortunate small website owners!

© John Lynch

Review of Site Build It – the leading website and store building software package which encourages good content for high search engine rankings

Monday, November 01, 2004

Search Engine Submissions Reality

Reality of Search Engine Submissions

by Robin Nobles Copyright 2004 All rights reserved.

Over the last few months, search engine submissions have changed dramatically. Now is the time to analyze the way we're submitting our Web pages and to rethink our submission strategies.

Regretfully, I still see people paying big bucks to search engine submission services who will submit their pages to thousands of search engines for one "low price." What they aren't told is that the act of "submitting" their pages has nothing to do with top search engine rankings. Even taking a step back, submitting doesn't guarantee indexing.

Fact: The majority of traffic to your site will come from the major search engines like Google, Yahoo! search engine, and MSN. Therefore, submitting to "thousands" of search engines really isn't doing your site any good.

Let's take a serious look at the reality of search engine submissions. Do we need to pay a submission service to submit our pages to the search engines? Can the search engines find our pages on their own, or do we have to pay them to index our pages?

Let's look at the variables and try to save you some money.

Search Engine Submissions . . .
Ways to Submit Your Pages

1. Don't submit! Let the search engines find your pages through links on other Web pages or Web sites.

To be honest, this is my favorite, most "stress-free" way to submit to the search engines. Think about it. You create your Web page and optimize it. You make sure to link TO the page from another page on your site, such as your site map. The idea is that when the search engine spiders your site map, it should find the link to your new page, visit the page, spider it, and index it. Can I guarantee it will happen? Of course not. That's why you need to monitor your spider traffic and your rankings to make sure that the page makes it into the search engine's index.

Search engine spiders were created to SPIDER the Web. That's their "job" -- to crawl the Web and index new pages. I have always found this method of "submitting" to be the most effective.

2. Submit pages through free add URL pages at the various search engines.

My main concern here is that the search engines have always said that over 90% of all submissions through free add URL pages is spam. I have never wanted my submissions to be lumped in there with all of that spam.

Therefore, I personally stay away from free add URL pages. In particular, I never submit to Google through its free add URL page.

3. Use Overture's Site Match to submit to Yahoo!'s family of search engines.

Overture's Site Match has taken the place of the old Inktomi, FAST, and AltaVista paid inclusion programs. However, Site Match isn't just a paid inclusion program -- it is also a cost-per-click program, with the cost being based on the type of industry you're in. You pay a flat fee for your site to be reviewed, and then you pay a cost per click as well. The paid inclusion spider crawls the page every 48 hours, so you're able to tweak it to try to get better rankings.

Site Match gets your pages into Yahoo! Web pages, FAST, AltaVista, Overture supplemental results, HotBot, and more, so the visibility is certainly impressive. It's important to note that Site Match pages are shown with the regular Yahoo! crawler results with no distinction between the two.

If a page is important to you and you're having problems getting it picked up by Yahoo!'s family of search engines, you may want to consider Site Match. However, it can certainly get expensive if you have a number of pages to submit.

4. Do we need software programs or search engine submission services that will submit our pages to thousands of search engines for one "low price"?

In a word -- NO!

We've already learned that the majority of traffic comes from the major search engines. Submitting to the important international or minor engines through a software program like WebPosition Gold 3 is a consideration. But submitting to thousands of search engines, many of which are "free for all" Web sites (pure junk), won't benefit your site at all.

Save your money!

5. All of this is fine and good, but what if the site is brand new with no inbound links?

Get your site listed in a directory such as Yahoo! Directory or the Open Directory Project. Then, spend some time finding a few sites that will agree to put links on their sites to yours.

Are there any vertical search engines and directories in your topic area? Visit Search Engine Guide and search through their topical search engine directory:

So, take the stress-free approach with search engine submissions and . . .

1) Link to all of your important pages from another page on your site.

2) Get inbound links from another site pointing to your site.

2) Let the major engines find your pages on their own.

3) Monitor your progress. If a search engine hasn't indexed one of your pages, make sure to place additional links to that page in the pathway of the spiders.

Important Note: You may be using an SEO company to handle the optimization of your Web pages, including your search engine submissions. Does this mean you're paying too much for those SEO services? No. SEO work is extremely complex and time consuming, and a good search engine optimizer is helping to make your online business a success. The purpose of this article is to educate you on search engine submissions in general, since so many people wrongly believe that the acting of submitting pages will get those pages to the top of the search engine rankings.

In Conclusion . . .

So many Web site owners and SEOs make search engine submissions much harder than they have to be. Take a deep breath, direct the spiders through your Web site to make sure they are able to find your Web pages, and relax. Let the search engines do what they do best . . . spider the Web!

Robin Nobles is the Co-Director of Training of Search Engine Workshops, where they teach "hands on" search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe. They also offer Ultra Advanced SEO Symposiums for advanced search engine marketers who want to take their learning to a new level. They have opened the first networking community for SEOs called The World Resource Center for Search Engine Marketers
Search Engine workshops Europe