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Friday, September 29, 2006

Reciprocal Links in a Coma - or Dead?

It's just that, in the course of doing reciprocal link management work for over 8 years now, I have yet to see any real indication that a link is devalued simply due to reciprocation. It still works here, very well.
Dirk Johnson LED #2256

I wrote an article titled "Reciprocal Linking is Dead!" on October 9, 2003 that offended many reciprocal linkers at the time, but I stand by what I said then - even though it was due to deceptive practices by those requesting links - I stopped doing link swaps back then and have never looked back. My reasons have evolved, but I still believe it is pointless to do link swaps.

I still get endless link swap requests and send them all to my "No Reciprocal Links" page.

There is no definitive statement forthcoming from the search engines. We all have our opinions and preferred methods of building links because we all agree (even the search engines) that they are helpful. There is a noticeable lack of comment from Yahoo and MSN on recips. But Matt Cutts has said repeatedly that in his blog that Natural links are best. I have yet to see him clearly say DON'T DO IT, just "don't overdo it."

As in August of 2005 when he said,

"The best links are not paid, or exchanged after out-of-the-blue emails–the best links are earned and given by choice."

Or when he said in December of 2005,

it was easy to tell whether a site was (over)doing reciprocal links"

Or when he said in May of 2006,

"sites where our algorithms had very low trust in the inlinks or the outlinks of that site. Examples that might cause that include excessive reciprocal links"

and in the same post, "As these indexing changes have rolled out, we’ve improving how we handle reciprocal link exchanges and link buying/selling."

And then more in that post ... "I think this is covered by the same guidance as above; if you were getting crawled more before and you’re trading a bunch of reciprocal links, don’t be surprised if the new crawler has different crawl priorities and doesn’t crawl as much."

And then again in that post, "Some folks that were doing a lot of reciprocal links might see less crawling."

All of the above comments were found via my Search Engine Gurus & SEO Experts Commentary Search Engine which includes 150 top SEO bloggers and the official search engine blogs, including Matt Cutts. If you want to know what any search engine or top SEO says about linking, including the "Linkbuilding Blog" from "Text Link Ads" dot com. Some SEO's are reciprocal link apologists and claim they still work regardless of what they hear from Matt Cutts.

Here's a WebMasterWorld Reciprocal Linking Forum Thread on the Matt Cutts comments above.

John Alexander of Search Engine Workshops and Online Web Training puts out a great "SEO Tip of The Day" in which he offers great information on a daily basis. On recently that daily SEO tip was as follows:

We all know the importance of building link popularity and link reputation. However, the days of reciprocal linking are over. There are too many pitfalls, so straight reciprocal linking is best left alone.

Are you looking for linking suggestions? Stay tuned, because your next SEO Tip will be sent tomorrow.

Highest regards,

John Alexander
john @
Search Engine Workshops
Online Web Training

You can draw your own conclusions from all of that - I guess it's rather clear where trends are leading.

I've posted that SEO Gurus and Search Engine Expert Bloggers Commentary Search Engine so you can search for yourselves to see what the search engines and top SEO's have to say on that topic (or any other SEO topic).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Keyword Meta Tags - SEO Bloggers & Search Engines Say

... implementing meta tags - more specifically the keyword meta tag - is not going to have any affect on your rankings.
- Jill Whalen, LED 2248
Wednesday in LED discussion list, two list members quoted Jill Whalen's above comment suggesting they believe that keyword meta tags still have an effect on ranking. But then both backpedal on that statement by saying other factors are more important to ranking well - but meta tags still matter? Title tags still matter critically, description tags may, sometimes matter ... a little, but keyword meta tags?.

It's long past time to stop wasting energy on that tag and I hope you'll both spend your energies elsewhere in the future. It's old news that keyword tags are worthless.

I wrote a keyword meta tags article in 1999 or 2000 titled "Keyword Meta Tags Search Phrase Tutorial" listing the top 8 ingredients to ranking well in the search engines.

I went back today to review it and found that remarkably few things have changed. So I massaged and edited a few things, added a small type disclaimer ;-) and linked to some online tools from that page, including a "Search engine simulator tool" and an "HTML source code viewer" and a previous article I'd written in 2002 called "SEO Keyword Voodoo: Invisible Meta Tag Mumbo Jumbo" because, as you might guess from the title, I am 100% with Jill Whalen on the futility of mucking around with keyword meta tags.

Keyword Meta tags went south in about 1998 or so when webmasters began keyword stuffing and the search engines stopped paying attention to them. They are not used, nor are they trusted at all by any search engines. If they are not purposely abused, they are completely misunderstood by webmasters still. Don't waste your time fussing with them or tweaking them. They're an old and badly abused element of HTML code that no longer does a thing for ranking.

To further prove my point, I've created a Rollyo search tool, directly below, which allows you to search only the top 25 top SEO bloggers, and includes the Official Search Engine Blogs, for the search phrase "keyword Meta tags".

SEO Bloggers & Search Engine Blogs on Keywords Meta Tags

Powered by Rollyo

At the time of this writing, only 9 results came back on that search. After visiting each of them, I discovered that most of those results are either derisive comments about "keyword meta tags" from the SEO blogger or are derisive comments left by visitors about the folly of meta tag massaging!

My favorite blog post from among the results of that SearchRoll are from Aaron Wall of SEObook when he said,

"... an old client wants me to rewrite their meta tags. A total waste of time, but if it makes them happy, oh well...Meta tags? ... hehehe"

Convinced yet that keyword meta tags are pointless?

Monday, September 11, 2006

SEO Bloggers Said What? Search Top 25 Blogs Here

Like dozens of SEO's, I saw Rand Fishkin's list of top 50 SEO bloggers and wondered how I could possibly read them all. (Does Fishkin read that much?) So I put it together with the search engine (Roll Your Own) which allows you to choose a list of 25 trusted sites you want to search (Sorry Rand, had to edit the list from 50 down to 25).

If you use the search box below, it will look at the top 25 of Fishkin's list of 50 top SEO bloggers and return results about any topic you search for. I've tried it for a few things and find it provides interesting results, so I thought I'd turn it loose here. "SEO Bloggers and Blogs" will search just those SEO blogs.(Just for reference - you can already search what I think on any particular topic by using that search box at the top of the page above.)

Powered by Rollyo

Let me know what you think of it. The list of sites it searches will appear in a left side column on the results page at so you can go to any one of the blogs directly from that list.

The results are a bit slow to load and they come from Yahoo, so it will be a bit older information than if it came from MSN or Google, but it's worth it knowing what your favorite SEO thinks on topics near and dear to you, isn't it? Does it provide results you expect on topic queries you search? This has got to be a much more efficient way to read top SEO bloggers when you want to know what they think of link baiting, SEO conferences, Black Hat vs. White Hat techniques, and maybe unique marriage proposals at ;-) I'm going to try putting it to the test on a few topics I discuss here by posting the Rollyo search box under my own comments here and there.

If you'd rather go to each of those SEO blogs individually and read for days, I've provided the top 25 in direct links below. Or you can just Go directly to that Rollyo SEO Bloggers & Blogs page and search from there. Maybe I'll use the Google search API and ... nah. Rollyo will have to do it. I've got too many newsletters, forums and magazines to read already and doing the linkbaiting thing is - what I'm doing already.

Friday, September 08, 2006

SEO Fluff Dominating Discussion Forums LED & SEM2

There seems to be a lot of talk about SEO this past week, with few discussing much of substance.

Here's a suggestion for substantive discussion of SEO: Danny Sullivan leaving his post at Search Engine Watch after 10 years, meaning he'll stop organizing Search Engine Strategies conferences now that Incisive Media bought previous owner JupiterMedia (which bought SEW from Sullivan).

I covered the San Jose Search Engine Strategies show last month on my RealitySEO blog from the show and in a couple of follow-up articles after the show. It was an excellent conference and featured dozens of great sessions. Google CEO Eric Schmidt thought the conference was significant enough to the industry that he gave Danny Sullivan an interview as the keynote presentation. Several sessions covering new areas - like social media search (YouTube, Flickr, Digg, and another excellent session on the rarely discussed "local search".

While Incisive Media will likely continue with that profitable show without Danny Sullivan, it's unlikely to be structured with such broad interests discussed and will very likely lean heavily on the corporate SEO end. Sullivan will be missed.

Here's another suggestion for substantive discussion of SEO: How about looking at the new Google Search Patent? While it is likely difficult to discern true intent of the search giant from the publicly posted patent, at least it leads us to look seriously at a worthwhile SEO industry issue.

Meanwhile, at LED Shari Thurow and Detlev Johnson (both of whom regularly speak at search conferences) dropped in to calm the storm over the "Search Guru" thread a bit with their thoughts. I'm convinced that not everyone on the LED list know enough about SEO to realize that those two could be called Gurus. Bruce Clay (another Guru worthy of veneration) commented in LED about three weeks ago to respond to posts complaining about the same speakers appearing at search conferences over and over again.

Why are people apparently up in arms when recognized and established names in a very well established industry speak regularly at conferences?

Let's look at an interesting question posed to us by someone worth listening to:

Shari Thurow asked:

... I wonder how SEO as a discipline is
going to evolve. I think it's chaos right now,
with black-hat techniques dominating....
- Shari Thurow, LED 2240

I'll take a shot at that one Shari.

Black hat techniques are not practiced by those worthy of Guru-like veneration and those techniques can be left for the Tricksters (dare I say Satans?) of SEO. (You are safe Shari - you are definitely seen by most as a true SEO angel.) SEO's only use black-hat techniques if they want clients to abandon and hate them after the client sites are banned from the search engines. They'll die off and disappear as those techniques are weeded out with search engine algorithm updates.

I'm convinced that SEO will evolve well, with the gurus of SEO continuing to move in-house at substantial web companies and it will become a more firmly entrenched corporate job as it has over the past couple of years - thus lending legitimacy and cementing best practices of SEO. (We'll try to overlook the BMW SEO using black hat techniques to rank tops for "Used Cars" and BMW's subsequent short ban from Google for the transgression.)

With the New York Times listening to (in-house) Guru Marshall Simmonds, IBM listening to Guru Bill Hunt (both or whom regularly speak at conferences too) - we can be certain that evil-doers will prey only on the truly naive and ignorant - who don't read up on SEO.

But the mom and pop web businesses will continue to talk about and attempt to learn SEO - probably from search Gurus at conferences or from SEO articles, discussion forums and blog posts. Five to six thousand people per event will still listen to a learn from those Gurus at conferences.

Everyone wants to talk endlessly about search engine fluff and go on and on about small single attributes of SEO (like linking), but smart business owners highly value search engine authorities (er, Gurus), and want to see them speak at conferences.

Mike Banks Valentine