Dear Rand and SEOMoz, I want to create beautiful link-bait with you.
I'm buying adwords on your names for publicity and attention to attempt to break into SEO's elite upper clique, but also because I have something genuinely useful to share. Knowing your interest, Rand, in search engine patents and search technology, as well as those of Orion and the other SEOMozzarellas (I mean that in a fun, friendly sense, by the way), I thought I'd let you in on an idea I had to reverse-engineer some aspects of TrustRank.
What you're probably wondering is 1) Why should I work with you? 2) Why do you want to do this with me/the Moz?
Working with me means a share of the linkbait. The blogposts would likely read something like: "[link:]Rand, the Moz and [link:]SEO Montreal's Bookworm have some great new data on Google's TrustRank." I'm interested in collaborating with you because while I've got a solid idea, I think your experience and resources (such as programming, site design, etc.) could fill in gaps where I might be unable to do this myself. Besides, you're the one always talking about linkbait and (net)working with others, so now I'm calling you to put it in practice :).
Please email me (assuming you're interested) to find out more. I use gmail with the first part of the account being bookworm.seo (gotta fight those scrapers somehow).
Google Sucks. All of us SEO consultants work our butts off for Google rankings because Google has dominant market share and because Yahoo and MSN are too lazy to prioritize search.
Update: Reading the comments, and from emails, it's obvious that many of you searching "Google Sucks" are frustrated that you're not getting traffic from Google. If you want help getting search engine traffic from Google, (and Yahoo and MSN) then perhaps you might consider buying an hour of my time.
But Google is much more than a search company now, and while I concede they're reasonably good at search, Google still sucks enormously overall. This is my contribution to the web's massive love-hate relationship with Google: 10 Reasons why Google Sucks my Hairy Chia Pets.
Here are the top 10 reasons Google sucks:
10) Google is fine with spam in certain markets. Look at how spammers are dominating the 'buy viagra' SERPs: .EDUs keep getting hacked, having pages with links or redirects sending visitors to pseudo-pharmacies. Conclusion: Google needs to adjust its TrustRank algorithm! TR's giving too much weight to old domains/seed sites. 9) Google's tech support teams have a tendency to want to copy-paste the FAQ in their email responses. Thanks, I can read the q&a myself, Mr. Google-tech-support-bot. If I'm writing you, it's because the FAQ wasn't satisfactory.
8) Google serves all those useless, generic, bid-increasing eBay ads. Plus, it enables people to do arbitrage on AdWords traffic. G, don't you want people clicking AdWords in the long term? Why whine about the small guy trying to make a buck on being an affiliate if you're going to serve all those eBay and arbitrage ads? It's not the small affiliates that suck, Google, it's your hypocritical policies.
7) Google places extreme trust on Yahoo paid links in the Yahoo directory. Then it tells the rest of the webmaster world to put rel="nofollow" attributes on their paid links. FYI, Google: You're still allowed to make a buck even if you're not on the NYSE. If paid links are such a concern, don't get editorial-review and paid links confused, just develop another standard, like a rel="paid-reviewed" and rel="paid-unreviewed" attribute. And ask Yahoo to use them too.
6) Google's expansion into so many different markets and control over such a wide array of personal information is downright scary. And the fact Google has been willing to work with China in censoring information Chinese people may want to find doesn't comfort me one bit.
5) Google AdWords doesn't actually fulfill its promise of letting the little guy compete. Before embarking on an AdWords journey, one has to scour forums for information on targeting, match types, bidding strategies etc. The result is that the main AdWords buyers are eBay, spammers and arbitragers, and big companies. The great equalizer it ain't.
4) On a note related to #6, Google keeps on buying out the little guys. Reminds me of another big tech company that's infamous for the anti-trust lawsuits it's been hit with. Except that Google's engineers tend to solve problems, usually.
3) Google claims to be so concerned about keeping spam out of the SERPs, yet it lets so much garbage be advertised on AdWords. I can't even count the Clickbank get-rich-quick scams people are hawking through your Google AdWords ads (ironically, the scammers present themselves as get-rich-quick review sites that prevent people getting scammed). It's 2007 Google; Western society gave up "buyer beware" in favour of consumer protection last century!
2) Google's Adsense for content matching algorithms are awful, particularly in Gmail. The ads you've served me with when I check my mail are completely irrelevant, making for a sucky user experience and generally sucky "researching mode" rather than "buying mode" leads when people click. (But then, I guess I'd be creeped out if your algorithm was better.) Anyways, before you keep buying out the Jotspots of this world, Google, make sure the ads you can serve on them will be relevant.
1) You're big, arrogant, and your algorithms are such a mess that you're likely to rank this post #1 for "Google Sucks" by the time I'm done promoting this.
The first step to link building is competitive analysis, unless you're the first mover in your market. If your competition's already found sources for links, chances are you can use the same source.
People often ask, "what do I need to do to build links?" Inevitably, they get the same generic answer: build content and make your site worth linking to. What if you're all about e-commerce or something where content isn't really relevant?
The answer then is in the second part of that generic answer, "make your site worth linking to." That means two things:
1) You need to solve their problem. A constitutional law site is never going to link to a casino site, unless there's a convention at the casino. But that won't happen because constitutional law profs are boring old farts who don't gamble. You can get a link if you're some fancy convention center where the old farts will be meeting though. The point is to define problems your company solves and go inform people, so they can share the solution by linking to you.
2) Establish a relationship with the person in question. If they're an SEO or someone who understands the value of links, and you've produced something good, a simple email will usually be opened and responded to. In the non-marketing world, emailing someone about a broken link on their site, bad navigation, typos etc. tends to make you seem friendly and make people more receptive to your link suggestion.
The added benefit of this approach is that you can go to them for more links in the future and ask them for referrals to their friends. Yes the net is impersonal, but networking still exists.
Now the thing is that when you don't have a content site, it's hard to figure out whose problem(s) you can solve. Luckily, you don't need to be so clever and original. You can just copy your competitors. Get the same links and add them to yours, and you'll outrank them. Which is where backlink analysis comes in handy, and particularly this tool from that well-known (and pricey) link-building ninja, Jim Boynkin.
The tool lets you discern which common links your competitors have (and thus which ones you can also probably get). Additionally, it tells you which ones the search engines are looking at, so that if you're not sure where to start, you can go for those at least some of your competitors have (as opposed to one you ran into while doing competitive analysis by Googling their brand, for example).
Next time: Social networking and link building, my ultimate link-bait post.
Online Reputation Management: Viagra Spam hits US Colleges
Are you managing your company's online reputation? More specifically, are you managing its search engine reputation to prevent spammers and competitors hurting your brand? These schools didn't.
A variety of American colleges have recently had their sites hacked and are now ranking on Google's top 10 for the popular keyword phrase "buy viagra." Either out of greed or a sense of irony, the spammer also hit a religious order's site (highlighted in yellow). Click the image to enlarge it.
This raises two issues:
Having a secure site that can't be exploited by search engine spammers, and
Dominating the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your keywords, including obviously your company name and trademarks.
While I'm unfortunately not an expert on website and server security, I am an SEO specialist. So I can propose some solutions to the second problem.
First, a corporation (or school or anyone else for that matter) looking to control the first 10 spots for its company name should develop smaller sites. McDonald's kind of gets the idea (click to enlarge):
You'll notice however that sites critical of McDonald's also show up for the search "McDonald's." Criticism is obviously necessary to a free society. But McDonald's could probably acknowledge the criticism while highlighting what it will change. So rather than have a site criticizing its attitudes towards animals, McDonald's could put out a press release acknowledging the problem and naming initiatives it will take to reform. Then, to get the press release ranking, it could link to it from its currently existing sites.
Another way to manage your search engine reputation would be to have employees blogging about work and about the company. Of course, like any other corporate blog, there might be a tendency to keep to the mundane. This is alright for a big company like McDonald's that can probably get any site ranking for its brand due to the strength of its main site and its other branch sites.
For a smaller company that doesn't already control a majority of its search engine reputation though, outside help will be necessary. That means that golden key of SEO: quality content. So the employee/blogger might discuss the work environment (again, legitimate criticism needs to be allowed). He/she can discuss the company's stock, which will likely earn some good links from economic blogs and finance blogging carnivals.
Note: It won't do any good if the blog is hosted on the same url as the main company site. The result then will just be to have several sub-listings like McDonald's does.
Some other ideas for dominating the SERPs include
starting a wiki for staff initiatives,
linking to charities your company supports so that they rank for your company's name (side-benefit of not just showing you in a neutral light but in a positive one),
public relations, whereby you get good [online] press and your company helps that page to rank high (news sites tend to rank well, making things easier).