Archive for the 'SEO editorial' Category

29
Mar
12

What Does Google REALLY Want?

Google Galaxy

Google Galaxy

Is it backlinks?

Is it high PageRank?

Is it carefully selected keywords?

Metatags?

Sacrificial goats?

What Google wants is content, of course!

What they’ve been saying all along: in order to rank well in the search results, all you have to do is write lots of great content, with the following deep, trenchant, and impressively penetrating philo-sophical questions in mind:

(Lifted straight from Google Webmasters Central).

More guidance on building high-quality sites

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

Easy, right? So what’s the problem? Why does everyone persist with all this SEO tomfoolery?

Simple. Because Google’s algorithm, smart as it is, will NEVER be smart enough. What happens when every website in the world follows all of the above “advice”? When every single article on the web is “Quality Content™”? Who gets the top rank then? It will STILL COME DOWN TO KEYWORDS, BACKLINKS, and CHICANERY.

Now don’t get us wrong—we’re absolutely in favor of improving the quality of the internet. We’d love to see brilliant writing, jaw-dropping design, and glorious graphics burst from every page in a Renaissance of Creation the likes of which will ring throughout the Galaxy for all the aeons to come.

And even so, when that happens, when the internet is 4 billion perfect pages strong, Google’s going to need a few more questions.

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17
Feb
12

Dilbert Is God

Oh, Scott Adams, you brilliant, sick, insightful, geeky, trippy, edgy, mofo, arty, philosophic, GENIUS.

Did we mention brilliant?

Not only are you funny as hell, but you say in three panels what we’ve been trying to get across for 10 years and a half million or so words.

Yes, we do SEO for a living. Yes, we’re good at it. Yes, it works.

And YES, SEO is a negative force in the world. It weakens the integrity of the world’s knowledge depository. It makes it difficult for valuable content to find its way into the brains of those who need it most.

White hat, black hat, pantless weasel. The whole SEO industry is up to no good. Luckily, the end is near. (See our previous post for a hint.)

14
Feb
12

Is Google Building Skynet?

I'm sorry, Dave, I can't complete your search just now. Please try again later, after you've calmed down.

Well, here it comes.

We’ve been predicting for some time now that Google will pretty soon render SEO as obsolete as phone cords by evolving some serious cognitive abilities.

While this sort of thing has been tried before (WolframAlpha does kind of a pretty good job of understanding the question), the new push by Google into the realm of artificial intelligence will be the One that Changes Everything.

Why this one? Because if anyone has the resources, the brain-pool, and the profit motive to create our new Digital Overlord, it would be the Goog.

Read on, future Eloi.

Google Knowledge Graph Could Change Search Forever

17
Jan
12

SOPA PIPA WTF?

Is It Online Piracy? Holy mother of pearl. The US government is currently debating two pieces of legislation designed to protect a few rich entertainment companies from illegal downloaders* at the very reasonable and rational cost of completely destroying the internet as we know it.

If either of these bills pass, it will mean that Sony or the law-suit vultures at the RIAA or any other corporate copyright hoarder can shut down any website in the world by merely claiming that they somehow infringe on the complainers god-given right to milk every ounce of profit from the creative works of artists.

Here are just a few of the websites that SOPA/PIPA might conceivably destroy for the crime of “allowing links” to accused “pirates”:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • YouTube
  • Wikipedia
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • And thousands more

*Illegal downloaders are NOT FUCKING PIRATES. Blackbeard was a fucking pirate. Illegal downloaders are teenagers, moms, grandmoms, and your mom. Calling something like 65% of the American population “pirates” is a really asinine attempt to shore up their obsolete music and film distribution monopolies by demonizing and threatening anyone and everyone.

Don’t take our word for it. Read more and make up your own mind:

SOPA Blackout Set For January 18th: Here’s All The Info

About SOPA

Stop Online Piracy Act

NBC Universal Already Abusing SOPA

Rupert Murdoch Threatens Google with SOPA

Lots More

03
Oct
11

An Automatic Update to Our Updated Updates Post

STOP THE MADNESS!

Well do ya, punk?

Seriously. This update crap is KILLING us. Not kidding.

Last Friday, Thunderbird, our go-to mail client for the past 8 years, decided to update itself. For about the thirty-seventh time this year. Aiiiight. Whatever. Gotta keep it real, we guess.

But this particular product-enhancing, security-improving, features-increasing updated FOR-THE-LOVE-OF-GOD up-fucking-grade went one better than all the previous updates.

It completely hosed our profile, which just happens to contain

  • Eight completely different email accounts, each with fairly complex settings;
  • A sophisticated multi-layered folder system;
  • About 35 content filters that have been added over the years, mostly to combat spam;
  • Address books, filled with client contact info, friends, and family;
  • And every single email archived over the past 8 years, received and sent and even drafts.

Now here’s the thing. We are exquisitely anal-retentive about backups. We back stuff up. All the time. Automatic backups and manual backups. So all of this data was faithfully backed up.

But Thunderbird’s product-enhancement update killed the profile so thoroughly that it took us six hours and twelve minutes to restore our accounts to about 85% of what they were pre-improvement.

Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t have put so much faith in an open-source, free-as-in-free-beer mail client. Maybe we should have stayed with the old familiar Outlook. Which has an even worse habit of upgrading-updating-upchucking than Mozilla’s Thudder-bird.

Look you guys up there in software development land, we’re gonna say this again. Loudly. So you can’t miss it.

IF YOU DON’T STOP THIS DAILY UPDATE CHANGE/TWEAK/MUCKUP CRAP, NOBODY’S GONNA LOVE YOU ANYMORE AND EVERYONE WILL MIGRATE TO SOME APP-BASED WONDER THAT LIVES IN THE CLOUD AND PERFECTS ITSELF ON ITS OWN TIME BEHIND THE SCENES WITHOUT TRASHING OUR BANDWIDTH, OUR DATA, AND OUR MENTAL HEALTH. PROBABLY PRODUCED BY GOOGLE.

27
Sep
11

What Page Deserves #1 Ranking?

One of these things is not like the others

One of these things is not like the others

This has been one of our hobby horses for a long, long time. Does a page deserve to rank number 1 in a search engine for a particular keyword search because it has more links pointing to it? Or because it uses the exact keyword phrase in the title and <h1> tags? Or because the site it belongs to is big and old? Or because a horde of pixies has conspired together to deluge the page with +1s? (We’ll avoid the obvious conclusion that the most deserving page is the one we did the SEO on.)

Or does a page deserve to rank #1 for any given keyword phrase because it is a better answer to the query?

That’s the answer we desperately want to believe. That’s the answer that promotes quality content over all else. And makes the internet (and thus, the world) a better, happier, more useful, and more interesting place.

So, then, what happens when someone searches for some very specific topic—let’s say a product called WOMENS HARLEY DAVIDSON JERRI STILETTO SANDALS—and every one of 50 pages in the search result is the exact same catalog page: product photo, manufacturer’s description, price & shipping info, and a big fat glowing “buy now” button? Which one of those do you rank #1? What if every one of them has the same number of ++++++ (zero) and the same number of links (zero) and the same number of Facebook friends (zero)?

To the searcher, it probably doesn’t matter who’s on first. If they’re looking to buy WOMENS HARLEY DAVIDSON JERRI STILETTO SANDALS and they don’t look at a whole bunch of those pages, they’re very poor internet shoppers. And if they’re just doing research, well, it doesn’t matter which page they hit if the content is all the same.

To the merchant, though, it does matter—matters a lot. Because whoever’s on top gets more visits, first impressions, and better opportunity to close a sale.

What’s a search engine to do?

If you’re Google, you’ll rely heavily on domain size, domain age, and number of inbound links, +1s, likes, and whatever that  point to the domain as a whole, even if none point to the page in question. If you’re Yahoo, you look to domain links and maybe Alexis traffic data. If you’re Bing, you pull out your 20-sided fuzzy dice.

If you’re us, you’d treat merchant sites differently from all the other kinds of sites. You’d use a less-focused algorithm that says “On merchant sites, if the content is virtually the same, the page ranks are equal, despite any other of the usual ranking criteria.” And then we’d let all the identical product-description pages rotate through the ranks, randomly, evenly, equally.

And let the consumers sort ’em out.

22
Sep
11

Netflix, Facebook, and Change for the Sake of Change

Okay, this really isn’t all that much about SEO. But it does have a lot to do with online (or any other kind of) marketing.

Is Change Always Good?

Judging from the recent observed behaviors of a number of commerce giants, you’d have to draw the conclusions that

  1. Commerce giants think “YES!”
  2. Commerce consumers think “NO!”

Why the disconnect (bordering on cognitive dissonance)?

First, let’s review.

  • Microsoft Windows. We count 14 updates so far this month, not counting Office, or Security Essentials definitions, or Explorer. Hmmm. Really?
  • Adobe. An avalanche of updates virtually every time we connect.
  • Facebook. Unfathomable update to the news feed. As well as countless “privacy” updates, most of which have been detrimental to the user’s privacy.
  • Netflix. “I messed up” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Not just a bad idea, but a bad idea handled badly.

Why do they do these things?

Well, same reason a shark has to swim to breathe. In today’s corporate environment, nobody’s job is safe—not CEO, CFO, or eeny-meeny-minee-mo—unless they can show something to the board every quarter. “Here’s what me and my team are doing!” they exclaim, to the accompaniment of a PowerPoint chorus. “Look! We changed this and that and updated this and next month, we’ll upgrade that!” Doesn’t matter if it all means a gigantic loss of credibility, or loyalty, or even subscribers. Doesn’t matter if the changes improve anything. Doesn’t matter if they were necessary. Doesn’t matter if they were wise or in any way a good idea.

Just gotta put something up there on the damn agenda, don’t you know?

Well, to us, it all comes out to be one helluva argument for open-source, cloud-based EVERYTHING. Updates and upgrades can be done without impacting the users’ experience. Updates and upgrades that prove unpopular can be rolled back without loss of face (or job). Nobody feels compelled to change just because they can.




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