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Is Textbook SEO dead?


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#1 Aaron Pratt

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 08:04 AM

Mike Grehan latest Clickz article says that textbook SEO is pretty much dead.

Do you agree?

(this post has been optimized by Aaron)

:unsure:


[Moderator note: Just to be clear, if anyone were to run a search on Mike's article, the word "dead" does not appear. The following thread contains some very strong opinions on article writers, rather than the article topic itself. It is being monitored. K.K.B.]

#2 cpdohman

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 08:49 AM

aaron you hit on a topic that i find very interesting. i don't think we can ignore that seo is moving away from the traditional on the page techniques and more to off page sem. big daddy will most likely continue this trend.

mike says:

As far as my own experience goes, links and end-user behavior are the important, upwardly mobile components for decent ranking. So that's where I'd rather focus my own time and attention.



then mike poses the question:

should we waste our time on textbook SEO techniques as a "just for good measure" effort? Or should we spend more time using creative thinking and promotional efforts to succeed?



i think we need to do the textbook seo as basic first steps of building a page but the bulk of efforts should go to creating original and useful content with innovative marketing and promotion.

thanks for the topic aaron (and mike!),
chris

#3 Black_Knight

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 01:52 PM

Is Textbook SEO dead?

Kind of depends on which textbooks you use, I'd say.

Unless Mike is telling us not to buy his next book by some chance? ;)

My textbooks have always drawn a lot from traditional marketing, from observation of user-behaviour and customer profiling. If anything, I'd say that the demand for those kind of textbooks for SEO has massively increased year on year over quite some time.

However, I fully agree with Mike's actual point - that SEO today is not so much a code thing as a marketing thing. In fact, I think I specifically mentioned that somewhere recently.

#4 bragadocchio

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 02:12 PM

One of the fun things about SEO is that there really aren't any textbooks. There are some practices that you can follow from a technical stance to find tune a site, and make sure that search engines can crawl its pages, or at least the pages that should be crawled.

It doesn't hurt to create pages that are easy to find by the people who might be looking for them, and to build them in a manner that makes people want to link to, and bookmark, and send other people towards them.

Or to make sites that are credible, persuasive, engaging, and evoke some level of attachment and emotion, and that provide a reason for returning on a regular basis. Those things might all be considered part of a larger marketing plan.

I'm not sure that text book SEO is dead. Maybe instead, it's just one chapter in the book.

#5 Aaron Pratt

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 02:27 PM

Black Knight - I have also found that blogs in their default format are very noisy and do get better results when optimized correctly.

There are also still things that can be done in the code to get the carrot, but Mike wouldn't know about this, he can't seem to even fix his blog template. Muhaha!


:cheers:

#6 cpdohman

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 04:19 PM

ammon and bill, i was happy to see you guys share your thoughts on this topic. you have a lot of enlightening info that you share. thanks.

i'm in sponge mode trying to learn as much as i can on search marketing. i am currently developing a business and website/s for the long haul rather than a bunch of throw away sites. with this in mind, the seo/m i find most intriguing is more about overall marketing and promotion, and less of on-page coding. i don't think the on page optimization is useless, i just think you can only do so much of it before there are no returns or negative effects. after that, the amount of marketing you can do is unlimited. the evolution of seo to sem is a fascinating one to me.

ammon, in your interview with rand you said

Some of the hare-brained theories people come up with are some of the best entertainment you can get. In many cases this is exactly the kind of issue that arises from lack of understanding of the search engines own objectives.

i am sure i am one of those entertainment sources from time to time when i throw out a theory for people to comment on. i'm a bit stubborn at times but i appreciate all the feedback offered. a while back here at cre8 i(as siXcrookedhighways) was writing about a "pull effect" and if a domain or business name searched along with the keyword will bring attention to your site(better rankings) for that keyword. i couldn't get much support on that one, but thanks for hanging in there with me.

aaron, yeah i agree. i wish mike would fix his site :thumbs:

thanks guys,
chris

#7 seoannie

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 06:45 PM

I don't think it's dead, but I do think it has lost some of its impact. Certain aspects of textbook SEO are being adapted and integrated into a full blown marketing plan. As multimedia becomes more prevalent on the web, I'm sure its impact will even lessen more.

#8 EGOL

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 07:49 PM

Google has the ability to measure how people engage with your pages. They need to have their heads examined if they are not using that information.

#9 projectphp

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Posted 19 April 2006 - 09:55 PM

It also depends upon your market and goals. In many, many markets, "textbook SEO" works just fine thank you very much.

We tend to forget that there are still many, many searches and many industries for which the results do not show enough of the business operators.

As an example, I had a client once who offerred obscure testing facilities for a niche medical product. Niche of a niche ofa niche you could say. Basic, textbook SEO got him to number one for terms that don't register enough searches to show on any keyword research tool. We are talking less than 10 a week.

Big deal you may think, but given he won 3 contracts worth upwards of half a million ion 6 months, all from search, and I would say the result was well worth it.

As always, when Mike Grehan makes big, sweeping claims, as he is wont to do and I am glad he does, remember that no statement is really universal. Textbook SEO, as a "do A, then do B, then do C" idea was never a terribly good idea, and for the market Clickz and Mike most likely want, a move away from "10 keywords for $19.95" is a better proposition for all concerned (IMHO at least!)

#10 sanity

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 01:34 AM

It also depends upon your market and goals. In many, many markets, "textbook SEO" works just fine thank you very much.

We tend to forget that there are still many, many searches and many industries for which the results do not show enough of the business operators.

Too true. Targeting locality based products and services is one such niche with a lot of room still. For these sorts of sites textbook SEO usually works just fine.

#11 Ruud

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 07:30 AM

That it would depend on the "textbook" makes sense to me. Since search engines don't sit back and say "this is good enough, let's get some coffee" it has been impossible for years now to sit back and say the same. SEO is a very dynamic field. I bet that if you left it for a sabbatical and came back a year later you have some real catching up to do.

"Textbook" SEO as in old-school SEO just had the advantage that it would work - dot. But SE's have changed a lot and more often than not SEO has become a "it depends" issue.

Google has the ability to measure how people engage with your pages. They need to have their heads examined if they are not using that information.


Even before localised search and even before personalised search the single most important change in SE & SEO for years to come, I think. The potential is huge -- especially when combined with a personal profile. I find working towards this time very exciting. Won't be long before companies will start to sell tracking results, trying to deliver to us the same type of information Google has.

Google's recent analysis of web documents then comes as no surprise. To make sense of user behaviour you have to be able to correlate it with the page, the site. You have to understand or try to understand what it is they're looking at. An average visit of 30 seconds on a reference site is short -- but 30 seconds on a directory page is quite good.

#12 joedolson

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 07:59 AM

I think the whole idea of 'textbook' is obsolete is almost any technical field - sure, there are some basic elements of SEO, web design, PHP, you name it which are essentially constants - but the field as a whole changes too rapidly to use it as a guideline for RIGHT NOW. And, especially in the realm of SEO/M, RIGHT NOW is all that really matters.

There's no way we can continue to move the discipline and our clients' sites forward without an emphasis on what works today. The first step of any project is going to be largely based on those basic elements - web standards, semantic markup, and the basics of building a quality site - like writing interesting content or good product descriptions. But, like Bragadocchio said, that's just one chapter in the book.

Off Topic offtopic
Ruud, I just noticed your "Home Made Bread" signature link and read the article - as a happy @home baker of bread myself (when I have time), I really appreciated that perspective!


#13 bwelford

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 08:57 AM

I think projectphp's thoughts are right on the money. It's so important to define what kinds of customers you are talking about. With microniches, you've got to try to rank high for the searches the few players will actually use. A current version of the SEO text-book will work just fine for such websites.

You'll never get much traffic. However if you're getting a high percentage of whatever traffic there is, then that's success.

#14 FP_Guy

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Posted 20 April 2006 - 09:44 AM

I've noticed that the better search engines get at ranking sites the more natural the searches. I mean the less tips and tricks are going to be used and having a clean straight forward site is what the rankings will become.

Of course there is always going to be some hack out there looking for a loophole.

I think that SEO is dying and will become merged with SEM and become something totally new where instead of worrying about how many keywords are on the page you will be interested in where to get links to drive in traffic.

#15 Paul J. Bruemmer

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 11:08 AM

I believe, people who complain without providing a solution ([edited] are people who A) have huge egos, 'B) lack education, C) could be much more productive if they would apply themselves, D) generally appear to be self-absorbed, E) are usually opinionated in a way that shovels negative engery onto others, ....should I go on?

Basically, there are plenty of people in the world with opposite charateristics whom I would prefer reading, talking and sharing my time with; people who are positive about life, their work, their industry and the people around them, etc..

[edited]

I've read plenty of opinions and commentary about search engine optimization wherein the author expresses professional concerns about the industry, in a positive and professional manner. I do respect those writers and their opinions; I think opinons are a good thing, especially when framed with the intention for making improvements, providing solutions and a call to action.


Respectfully,

Paul J. Bruemmer
ClickZ's first Search Engine Optimization writer 1999-2001

[Post edited as per Rules. We are discussing an article topic, not its author.]

#16 Edgecraft

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 04:55 PM

Hi to all,

I just read the "SEO is Dead" article by Mike Grehan in ClickZ. Judging from his writings of past years, it seems that Mike's thinking has evolved beyond those super-complex algorithms. I think I understand what Mike Grehan is saying NOW, and it's hard to see the need for anyone to take it personally.

I'm sure that there are still special areas where "classical/textbook/whatever" SEO still "works." But frankly, it shouldn't have to "work."

Ken Evoy, the President of SiteSell, first said the same thing and published a book, "The Tao Of SBI!," which is subtitled "Why SEO is doomed," in Feb/2005. Ken revealed it to the LED list some months later and it leaked out to ClickZ (I think?) and from there, a lot of personal insults and uproar.

Weird.

The book is, I believe, simply saying the same thing Mike Grehan is now. It's all about how the ultimate goal of search engines is to be as smart as you or me.

"Relevance" is done.

"Quality" is being tracked by monitoring human visitor behavior before, during and after a visit.

What comes next? Increasing levels of intelligence that are NOT based on visitor reaction.

What's the solution? Very simple. Keep it real. Deliver great and valuable content that your visitor actually wants to read. In other words, "please the humans and the engines will follow."

Classical SEO is done. Nothing personal.

If you'd like more about this, here's that book...

http://buildit.sites...om/TaoOfSBI.pdf

It looks like the rest of the world is slowly catching up.

#17 kensplace

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 05:46 PM

Texbook stuff is just that, textbook.

Usually, in the real world, text book does not cut it where it counts.

The text book will never tell you the things that really matter, or things that only experience can teach.

They can be useful, to save re-inventing the wheel when it comes to learning, but never a substitute for experience.

#18 bwelford

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 05:54 PM

Welcome to the Forums, relish. :wave: .. and hello, Paul_Bruemmer. I haven't had a chance to say hello.

Clearly there's a good deal of truth in what you're saying, relish, and in the Tao book. However I think it's what most of us have been doing for the last year or two. Make sure it works well for human visitors (important for conversion reasons) and do it in such a way that you don't trip up the search engine spiders and the search engine algorithms. Sounds simple. :)

The fly in the ointment is that human beings are good at pattern recognition and less good at absorbing long strings of information. Search engine spiders love long strings of information (bytes) but have no concept of patterns. That's what you've got to look out for. One of the best tools here is the cached text version that Google keeps of a web page. Do a search and then look at the cached version of your favourite URL. Click on the cached text version. It will show you the keywords highlighted but you may be surprised at how little the spider is assessing in its figuring.

So SEO still has a part to play in assuring that you don't inadvertently shoot yourself in the foot in the way you've presented it to the human visitors. The SEO text book is pretty good for that. ;)

#19 JohnMu

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 06:19 PM

Once a computer can give you a detailed interpretation of works by Eugene Ionesco or Samuel Beckett I'll start to believe that classical SEO might need to start looking for other goals. But even then - content is content: you will always be able to "manipulate" the interpreter (search engine) to work for your goals.

And as long as people search for words, the art of keyword research will remain something that needs to be done.

This might also change if search engines changed to an Adwords-Style system where sites can bid on words, phrases, ideas.

Au contraire - it is going to get a lot harder and more detailed. "Personal search" anyone? How do you optimize a site for people in a city 1000 miles away who have interestes in classical music and historical documents? They might want to buy chocolates as well over easter - how do you make sure your pages end up in their personal listing for "chocolate shop online"? Do you really want them to find you? How do they convert in your shop? Which navigation system do you want to show to them (just see the thread about men/women online shopping preferences)? Which of your pages do you think are best for them, which should they never see?

It is moving SEO from a one-to-many to a one-to-one stage, probably faster than traditional marketing will manage that step. That does not make it easier or even make SEO obsolete, it will require even more work to produce constant, reproducable, verified results.

You cannot move the work of finding relevance and quality completely to the search engine. We simply do not have the technology to make something like that work. I spent a lot of time working in artificial intelligence for robotics - you would be surprised how "stupid" things still are. You'd think it would be a "walk in the park" to make a robot learn how to walk by itself - it's still impossible: you have to tell it what to do, how to do it and then it can start learn to optimize it based on the parameters you give it. It's been how long now? Why should search engines suddenly make that jump?

John

#20 Edgecraft

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 06:39 PM

Mr. Welford,

Edgecraft here. I assume you mean me, given the context ("relish" is the name of my login and dog). :-)

I agree with you.

When I said that "relevance is done," I meant "textbook SEO" is done and put to bed. The engines still need the right on-page hooks, of course, just enough to know that the page is about Labrador Retrievers and not Chihuahuas. But if anyone is still sweating keyword density to the first or second decimal point, they're heading in the wrong direction.

Quality, as measured by the countless things that humans can do before (for example, the old Direct Hit stuff), during (imagine Google Analytics info) and after (e.g., inbound links) a visit, is how Google "simulates" human judgment about a visit. Just imagine how many off-page factors 300 computer science Ph.Ds who worry ONLY about search can think of to track. They can't program human intelligence yet, though, so they track human response.

And "intelligence" will come. So if you are writing pages NOW, assuming that Google eventually will be as smart as you or me at "reading" a page and understanding it (and I know that may be 10 years off), you simply can't go wrong.

As Google gets smarter, Ken Evoy's Site Build It! customers simply keep doing better and better. Site Build It! does still have an Analyze It! module ("textbook SEO"), but Evoy has for years been saying that it's just to make sure you get the on-page "big picture" right. The off-page stuff, and way more than just inbound links, is what spells Q-U-A-L-I-T-Y more than R-E-L-E-V-A-N-C-E to Google (although obviously there is some relevance there, too).

What does Google want now? Both relevance AND quality.

What does Google want to have in 10 years? The same thing as the Tin Man:

A Brain. When that happens, SEO really will be dead. It will be ALL about quality content.

P.S. Ken Evoy is in Montreal, too. You should say hello to him! :-)

#21 bragadocchio

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 06:44 PM

Many of the practioners of SEO began like me, building a real site, for a real business, and wanting to make sure that it did well in search engines.

SEO isn't a paint-by-numbers process, and the goal isn't to get as much traffic to a site as possible, but rather to try to get the people who might be interested in it to see it. And the goal of many SEOs is to try to help real business owners, with their real businesses, understand enough of the web, and search engines, and marketing to help them meet their business objectives, and reach the people who might be interested in their goods and services and information that they might be trying to share.

There are too many sites on the web that are completely uncrawlable, or have serious technical problems, or which are trying to compete in niches that are much too crowded. I see people stuffing their pages with all kinds of useless meta tags, and making their sites uncrawlable with java script and frames and flash navigation. I see people who try to attract traffic to their sites, but don't want to put forth the effort in creating any content at all, nonetheless something that might be interesting and engaging, and draw the attention of others.

An SEO isn't someone who is at all times trying to trick the search engines, and pull one over on visitors to a site.

I agree with Paul in that I prefer to try to build something positive, rather than trying to tear something down. I've never been a big fan of the Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt (FUD) approach to marketing.

There are no "text books" for SEO. There never were.

But that doesn't mean that we can't make intelligent decisions and choices when we build a business, online or off. And understand marketing, and something about how search engines work, and a little about building a web site so that it can be indexed in those search engines.

#22 JohnMu

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 07:08 PM

For all those who feel Google is on the way to becoming sentient - take a look at their pseudo-official posting: Vanessa Fox on Organic Site Review session

Look at all the things that are deemed important... hyphens vs underscores ??? I fear we're heading back to a long dark SEO age :)

#23 Black_Knight

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 07:50 PM

I still remember, back in 1999, having to literally fight battles with readers of Ken Evoy's MYSS (Make Your Site Sell) because one of the absolute cardinal rules of MYSS prior to its update (2 or three years later I think) was: Never link out.

I'm totally serious. The advice was firmly given that providing links off your site was a bad idea as it provided an exit route. Like not including links made for a captive audience - it effectively stated just that. Apparently Mr Evoy's browser of the time didn't accept bookmarks, a back button, or an X in the corner. He honestly advocated that providing links off site was a sure fire dumb move. ;)

Trouble was, Google was the new kid on the block, and it depended on links.

Kim might even remember some of the controversy caused, in the old MarketPositionTalk forums, by trying to tell Ken Evoy's disciples that links were a good thing. :)

Shame I couldn't find the earliest incarnations of the site in the brief look I took. The earliest I could find was from 2000.
http://web.archive.o...s.sitesell.com/

However, I did find an old review of the 1999 edition from veteran internet marketing guru Dr Ralph Wilson of wilsonweb.
http://www.wilsonweb...eviews/myss.htm

Probably makes one laugh today to see quotes like:

A site's conversion rate can be affected by a number of factors, but since Evoy has increased his conversion rate from 0.1% to 1.0% of visitors, a ten-fold increase for a difficult product, I begin to read very carefully.

However, conversion rates for the majority (70%) of websites really were lower than 1 percent back then. It is part of the reason why I worked so hard to give away hard-won knowledge even back then.

My criticisms of the original MYSS were mainly in regard to its extreme naivity about SEO and the manner in which search worked, and some very idiosyncratic things such as the insistance that providing links was bad, and that embedding midi music files on a page was good... There was a lot of merit in the book, but it was the manner in which it presented everything in a 'this way or death' when some few of the things could actually cause more harm than good that made it unacceptable. It was a great book to borrow some, or even many, ideas from, but not one to be taken verbatim, yet strongly insisted it should be.

In short, I was of the opinion that it was a dangerous book to adhere too closely to.

Any fool can have all the answers. But not even the greatest genius will ever have all your answers to all your situation. By writing so strongly (the salesman in him) as though his way were the only way, it led as many astray as it helped.

#24 EGOL

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 08:05 PM

Hey Edgecraft,

That's a great post. I like it and need to increase the amount of thinking that I do in that vein. I am there quite a bit but need to go deeper.

Thanks for the time and the insight.

EGOL

#25 dgeary9

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 08:27 PM

I agree with Bill. Until a decent number of websites out there are reasonably compliant with basic SEO techniques (in the broad sense of making your website easy for a user to find), I think that "textbooks" can be very useful.

Web analytics has this same argument (many are saying the field is rapidly dying as it merges with marketing analytics). For the leading edge companies who have the power to dump all their knowledge about a customer into one place and crunch it, that's probably true. That said, there are a gadzillion sites out there that would benefit immensely from an incredibly basic analysis of their visitor data.

I figure the same for SEO. I suspect a LOT of sites could improve their rankings pretty dramatically following Rand's Beginner Guide to SEO, for example. Until that isn't true, I believe the textbook still has value.

#26 TheRollingRock

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Posted 21 April 2006 - 10:40 PM

All,

Thanks for some great, insightful thoughts. I've been following posts like this for months and have not felt adequately experienced to contribute anything to the conversation. This time, I feel it is my relative lack of SEO experience that may be helpful.

As a web marketing manager in a Fortune 500 company that develops everything in-house, I volunteered to tackle our first ever SEO project. Until a few months ago, very few people in the company actually knew what SEO stands for. Here's my problem with the debate over whether or not textbook SEO is truly dead: for many companies our size (and countless smaller ones), the SEO textbook hasn't even been cracked. After diving head-first into forums like this and reading the blogs, sites and articles written by the SEO gurus (and some wannabes), I came to the conclusion that simple textbook SEO is a necessary first step for knocking off the (hate this cliche) low-hanging fruit. Companies like us don't see a reason to pay an external vendor a large sum of money to recommend the "quick fixes" that we can tackle ourselves. It is only after we teach ourselves the basics and exhaust all of the white hat best practices that we would consider approaching an SEO firm. For us newbies, the "textbook" is all we have and I'm sure we're not alone.

I started my self-teaching with two resources, "SEO For Dummies" and a college-ruled notebook at SES NY '06. It was great, by the way. Those of us in Corporate America are accountable to bosses that hear the latest SEO buzzwords and leave voicemails saying, "We need to get on this." Reading forums like this that basically negate textbook efforts would probably cause my boss to question the reason for SEO in the first place (again, after I finally convinced them it was a worthwhile investment of resources). You may be scaring off potential clients that feel they are too far behind to try to catch up.

Knowing that many of you make a good living selling SEO to companies like us, here is my question: do you still recommend that potential clients do their due diligence and make the quick, easy fixes before approaching an SEO firm? Is the pace of search technology (anti-spam algo's, mainly) leaving companies like us in the dust, or is this a case of the elite, cutting-edge SEO's getting so far ahead of the rest of us and "over-thinking" something that should be more simple?

Also, for companies like us, remember that the textbook is only the beginning. We may not be the next ones calling you for a consultation, but we'll be at that point someday if textbook SEO truly is dead. In the meantime, we're benefitting greatly from conversations like this so keep them coming!

Thanks for your feedback. I'm off to write a strategic brief to explain to our copywriters and designers how (and why) to pull text out of images.

#27 bragadocchio

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 01:16 AM

Hi TheRollingRock.

Thanks for bringing your perspective into this discussion, and welcome to the forums.

I don't know if you've had a chance to read through some of the rest of this forum, but you might find that there's not a lot of agreement that "textbook SEO" is dead. Frankly, I'm willing to put forth the proposition that there is no such thing as "textbook SEO," so reports of its demise are really an exercise in futility.

There are a lot of best practices that you can follow to make it more likely that your site will get indexed in the search engines. The guidelines published by the search engines describe some of those, but are really incomplete in a number of ways.

Sadly, the enterprise level software that many large firms buy off the shelf focus on things such as security, ease of use, ability to make updates, and more, without even beginning to consider how well or poorly search engines are able to navigate and index their pages. Systems like Lotus Notes/Domino do so many things poorly from a search engine perspective, that it's painful. As you noted, the acronym SEO hasn't made its way into the vocabulary of many within a large number of organizations, and the IT and marketing departments for those businesses really haven't had a tremendous incentive to learn.

While I believe that there are a number of best practices that can be learned, consultation with someone who has experience working with large and complex sites can have a profound impact on how well or poorly one of those sites can perform in search engines.

Some of the quick and easy fixes that you may believe you may be able to fix could have little to no impact if some of the potentially major issues aren't resolved first. Some of those "major issues" when it comes to enterprise level software aren't published anywhere, and won't be covered in SEO for Dummies. The notebook from the NY SES that you have may come closer to discussing some of them - see the presentations on duplicate content issues, fun with dynamic web sites, and successful site architecture. But those only cover some of the topics, and aren't really comprehensive guides to fixing some of the problems that you might come across.

Spending time going through a site, and making sure that each page has unique page titles based upon the content that actually appears upon the page, text-based links that search engine spiders can follow, headings at the top of the content that describes the content of the page, text appearing in actual text instead of images, and so on, are all good things to do. But, if you have a content management system that causes search engines to attempt to index the same page over and over with different URLs, presents endless loops to search engine spiders, and provides similar impediments, those efforts at resolving the easier problems may have little impact.

You may be better served by having someone with a very good understanding of search engines and large sites go through your pages, and provide an audit of issues that confront you before spending a considerable amount of time taking care of the small stuff.

Mike raises a number of issues with his article.

Fortunately, crawlers aren't the primitive pieces of technology they once were. They're getting smarter and dealing a lot more easily with the different technologies used to develop Web pages. The more intelligent learning machines they become, the less search engines will require the technical-based segment of our industry acting as their unpaid workforce of page tweakers.


My experience shows that they aren't that smart, and that many sites do need tweaking. Those manufacturers of enterprise level software still aren't making content management systems that make it easier for search engines. Programmers usually focus more upon building security and functionality into sites without making it easier for search engines. Newly rediscovered technologies like AJAX don't make it easier. What I've seen and read of Microsoft's Ranknet or fRank technology means having people understand more about what search engines might be looking for rather than less. The ebook cited above insults both Taoism and SEO by selling snake oil to "small businessmen like me."

Content is certainly critical to achieving the much needed linkage data to surround pages for ranking purposes. But content can come in many shapes and forms. Search a major search engine for "foreign currency exchange," "currency converter," and other foreign-currency-related searches. You'll always see XE.com in the top results. It's one page with a banner ad, a tool, and a little bit of instructional text. It ranks for so many popular searches and has done so for years… no changes or tweaks required. It's only a single page. Is that content? I think so!



A creative, intelligent, experienced SEO recognizes the power of providing useful and helpful content to people who might use their site, including tools and applications. This statement from Mike really isn't anything new, and it's another aspect of SEO that someone experienced in the field knows and recognizes. I put a currency converter on a web site in 1997 and it was linked to and visited by an incredible amount of people for a long period of time - and it was the XE program - but it was a little too complicated for many webmasters to set up on their own sites, even though it was free.

Links are good. But you can only get links from other people who have Web sites. What about the millions of end users who don't have sites? The only way they can show a search engine their approval of results' relevancy is by voting with clicks.



And there have been a number of search engines that have claimed to use click technology in their rankings - and those search engines are gone, and have been for years. But that's masking something greater here. Links aren't the only way to get traffic to a site. Word of mouth is one way. Providing something so remarkable that people hear of it from friends, online and off, makes those links immaterial. Creating strategic partnerships with other businesses that send traffic your way is another approach that can work very well.

Mike alludes to the fact that search engines are trying to look for ways to rank sites that aren't as dependent upon link popularity. That's completely true. And SEOs who have been paying attention recognize some of the ways that this is happening. The folks at MSN stated at a conference recently that they are looking at information from MSN toolbar usage, and stated the same thing in at least one paper on their ranknet technology. Google has written about using query logs and cache files of queries and pages selected as part of those queries to understand which sites people are selecting to visit. Personalization efforts focus upon sites listed in people's browser caches and browser history, and desktop search tools can check those areas, and possibly even more. Google admits to looking at toolbar information to "improve the quality" of their offerings.

But...

All that comes in Mike's article before the last sentence really is immaterial when you get to the last sentence. That last sentence is the focus and heart and soul of what he is aiming at:

Should we waste our time on textbook SEO techniques as a "just for good measure" effort? Or should we spend more time using creative thinking and promotional efforts to succeed on behalf of our clients? Let me know what you think.


SEO as just trying to drive traffic to a site by itself is useless. It really is.

It needs to be part of a larger effort. It needs to be part of a marketing plan that reaches out to people offline, and online. How do you stand out in a niche? What do you do that's different than everyone else? How do you capture someone's attention, and make them continue to pay attention? How can you make customers into evangelists for your business? How do you create a buzz, and make people notice.

If you want your web site to be an effective part of that effort, and that marketing plan, then SEO is still important. But don't focus on just SEO to the exclusion of other efforts.

You shouldn't have to worry about anti-spam algorithms. You shouldn't have anything on your site that might resemble spam to search engines. Unfortunately, a lack of education or a reliable consultant may lead you to do things for purposes of "SEO" that search engines don't like. Unfortunately, it's often when someone tries their own DIY search engine optimization that they start running into troubles.

If you haven't seen this article, you might like it:

Beginner's Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Don't consider it a text book as much as a way to learn some of the language and issues so that it's easier to have a conversation on some of them.

#28 AbleReach

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 03:03 AM

I think of what Mike Gresham calls textbook SEO as a set of signals telling a spider where a page might fit in a filing system.

I keep banging the same old drum about the basic process of getting Web pages crawled and indexed by major search engines, compared to the more complex task of getting a decent rank. But really, if meta tags, H1 tags, alt text attributes, and other components of textbook SEO are so miniscule in the greater scheme of ranking, why do we bother?


And this is how to relate to human beings who may have an interest in a web page.

...creative thinking and promotional efforts to succeed on behalf of our clients...


SEs connect the two. SEs will develop according to relationships between market pressures, user need and the skills/priorities of SE developers.

The title "Does Textbook SEO Really Work Any More?" has WOM velcro. However, if the question really is if textbook SEO is dead, I don't get it. There will always need for some sort of filing system, whatever we call it. Asking how to nudge human creativity in ways that bring closer relationships between user searches and the algos that spit out SERPs make more sense to me, but maybe that's the next article.

How to bring a specific market interest to the top of user awareness is the province of marketing, community building, human relationships, etc. Whatever we call it and whatever the delivery method, let it have heart.

Edited by AbleReach, 22 April 2006 - 03:11 AM.


#29 bwelford

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 06:31 AM

Welcome to the Forums, TheRollingRock. :wave:

I believe if you look at the various inputs in this thread most of what needs to be said on SEO is there. That was the purpose of Mike Grehan's article - getting discussion going - and that he certainly did. I think bragadocchio's last post well describes the context in which you can decide how your limited time and resources are best applied.

I think there's an even bigger context to consider as well. SEO is only part of it as bragadocchio said. What you're trying to create with your company website is an extra selling force for your company's products and services. It is well understood that the traditional selling force takes up a lot of management time, effort and money. It's known to be challenging in getting the right people, supporting them with the right tools, managing their efforts, monitoring their achievements and learning how to continually improve. No one questions that you've got to put a big slice of the company's operating budget into traditional selling.

Now the Internet comes along. It's free or almost. The supply of web designers is infinite so prices can be very cheap. After all Web Design for Dummies (Paperback) costs only $ 15.74 from Amazon. Use a service like Rentacoder and you can probably get your website for $ 500 or less. Lots of people do it. .. and the vast majority of website owners are dissatisfied with the result. I meet company owners who have spent $ 10,000 or $ 20,000 on their website and are dissatisfied.

The problem is that the Internet and the people who are surfing it is a much more complex system than people realize. If you know how to do it right, then the results are very powerful. However it's easy to do it wrong in so many ways. I think it's much more complex than a modern automobile, for example. Few of us would do our automobile servicing ourselves or use our daughter's boy-friend (he services his own car and it seems to run).

I was struck by your last sentence, TheRollingRock.

I'm off to write a strategic brief to explain to our copywriters and designers how (and why) to pull text out of images.

I'm sure it's needed but what a sad commentary on what goes on.

I think it's all a question of expectations. If you think the Internet is cheap, then you're probably going to end up dissatisfied. If you think Internet Marketing can be powerful like your traditional selling efforts, then you'll realize you should budget the right time, money and resources on it. Calculate what your traditional selling activities cost including the management time. Take say 10% of that budget and consider what you might do with such an Internet Marketing budget. Most companies will end up spending much less than that but it's an interesting homework exercise.

#30 KenEvoy

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 12:06 PM

Hi to all,

I rarely post to forums, haven't for years (except our own). I used to love to do it, but since SiteSell has grown to be a mid-sized company and in the Top 200 at Alexa.com, purely on the basis of an affiliate program and non-paid customer word-of-mouth, I just seem to be too much of a target.

I just decided to put my head down and focus on making our customers successful. We don't "do shows." I turn down keynotes, VCs, and all that. We just move ahead, doing our own thing. However...

SiteSell Support sent me a note about this thread, mentioning two by Edgecraft. It seems he wrote to Support to tell me about some other posts in this thread. These forums have a nice reputation, so I thought I'd reply.

I appreciate Edgecraft's posts. They capture the philosophy and approach of Site Build It! pretty well...

http://www.cre8asite...ndpost&p=178335

http://www.cre8asite...ndpost&p=178346

And it seems his post was precipitated by Mike Grehan's "SEO is Dead" article in ClickZ.

I sent Mike "The Tao Of SBI!" back in Feb/2005 and he seems to be coming to the same conclusions.

And now it's come full circle. What a long and winding road the Information Biway is. :-)

--

"The Tao of SBI!" lays it all out very well, and while I'd rather that Edgecraft have asked for permission to post it, I have indeed released it to the LED group, a mailing list I enjoy, so it's OK. If you've missed it, I hope it affects the thinking of some of you because this is where matters are headed for small business Web sites...

http://buildit.sites...om/TaoOfSBI.pdf

In any event, Edgecraft made two thoughtful posts that capture my thinking well, although a bit brief and allowing room for misinterpretations. Understand that our database is probably the most sophisticated one in the world OUTSIDE of the engines themselves..

We track the behavior of every spider visit every time every page of every site (across tens of thousands of SBI! sites) gets built or edited, every time we update sitemap files -- I can't begin to explain how profoundly much we know about every site and every visit to the site and every spider move. We track subsequent indexing and ranking behavior. And we map it all back to each page in our database, and from there, back up to each site and how it is doing.

None of what I say is anecdote, based on chance observations on a mer 10, 50 or 100 sites' worth of experience. There is no "I did this and my ranking rose (or dropped)" -- that is all anecdote, as easily explained by chance as cause (I know I'll get a ridiculous example of a manipulated Google-bombing to counter this -- it's the exception that does not reflect real-world multi-factorial realities).

Our results and conclusions are based on a database that is only possible because of our unique approach to small business Web hosting. I know that most Webmasters feel that the SBI! approach is clunky. Yes, it costs 30 seconds more time to upload a page into our database than simple FTPing, the first time.

But the time saved after that is enormous. And the time to actually upload a page, compared to the time it takes to create a truly good, content-rich page, is insignificant. Most importantly, SBI! owners, for the most part "average" people with no particular tech background, but with a drive to succeed at business, outperform most pros. Smart Webmasters, who are willing to change the way they work to deliver success and not just a site, are catching on. But most, I must say, are stuck in their ways.

And that brings us back to here...

Some folks here seem to get it, and others seem to simply close their eyes and fall back on a "it's-black-or-white" mentality, supported by snide comments and an anti-marketing/sales attitude. And so, while some excellent posts did follow Edgecraft's, we see the weak arguments that we see here...

--

1) softplus makes fun of where Google will be in 10 years (maybe 20, who knows) by twisting Edgecraft's words and implying that he was saying that "Google is on its way to being sentient." Edgecraft didn't say that. He said that Google is currently NOT intelligent. It SIMULATES "human judgment" by tracking what they do before, during, and after a visit. THAT is important information -- it goes way beyond inbound links. And while it does touch upon relevance, it's much more about quality.

He did say (metaphorically, I'm sure, before we get any more "sentient" put-downs) that Google's ultimate goal is "to have a brain" and if you design today with that in mind, while getting the basic SEO elements right, you'll stop sweating every time Google dances. Yes, you'll bounce down, but you'll bounce back up, too... IF you have a great content site that pleases HUMAN visitors.

To the point of relevance, "classical SEO" is not dead. That's provocative marketing to make a point. Some folks here really need to get off the anti-marketing thing and not be so literal or upset that Mike Grehan runs a business and promotes it with a good headline. It does not make him, or Apple, or SiteSell, any less valid. All businesses understand the need for great headlines and slogans. Don't take them literally.

While it's not dead, "classical SEO" is now merely about making sure that your clients get the on-page criteria right. Site Build It! teaches ordinary people how to do that with its Analyze It! module, as Edgecraft mentions. This is elementary, even for our "non-tech" customers. So yes, if your clients don't know that stuff, they need to.

But that is CURRENTLY just the ante to get into the poker game. If they need the ante, show them how to do it or suggest they buy any one of a number of $20 basic books on it.

--

2) Black_Knight's criticism of MYSS!, a book I wrote in 1999 staggers me. He has carried my point about OUTbound links with him a long, long time.

First, I never said "do NOT get INbound links." In pre-Google days, of course, INbound links were for direct traffic and not for linkpop, and I did not find manual link-exchange efforts a particularly effective TRAFFIC-builder. THAT was valid THEN, pre-Google, pre-emphasis on getting INbound links for LinkPop.

And it's still right in that INbound links, unless you snag a lucky one, won't bring you much free, direct traffic. But, of course, the entire concept of linkpop has grown since then. And we have grown with it.

Today, we offer Value Exchange...

http://value-exchange.sitesell.com

... where good and relevant sites can exchange links if they so desire, WITHOUT any potential for spam, with far less work than the manual efforts of yesteryear.


But Black_Knight was not talking about THAT. He was talking about my advice regarding OUTbound links. And he ignores that this was within the context of a discussion on pre-Google link-exchanging. And he ignores the following core advice, straight from that edition of the book...

"It's better to request a link than to make an offer to exchange links."

Geez, I think that still works TODAY.

That first book was focused upon making a site that SELLS one or a small number of products (ergo "Make Your Site SELL!") -- the first edition did not even contain the "Make Your STORE Sell!" volume. At $17, nothing came close to it at the time. And I'm still proud of it. It caused hundreds of thousands of people to think differently about the Web. To think practically. To GET the "Most Wanted Response." And "the Backup Response."

There is still much that is evergreen (many important concepts were first elaborated there -- and the basic on-page SEO remains valid). And, of course, there is much that is outdated... not surprising in 7 years. The entire process outlined in MYSS! has evolved into <b>C <img src="http://buildit.sites...arrowright.gif" width="13" height="13" border="0" align="absmiddle"> T <img src="http://buildit.sites...arrowright.gif" width="13" height="13" border="0" align="absmiddle"> P <img src="http://buildit.sites...arrowright.gif" width="13" height="13" border="0" align="absmiddle"> M</b> as outlined here...

http://ctpm.sitesell.com

Most striking is my early philosophy of recognizing the incredible value and future of the engines, of working WITH the engines, not manipulating them. I've never screamed at a Google Dance since then.

The beginning of Link Popularity were discussed...

"... the number of links to a page is a relevance factor (albeit a minor one). This is not a strong enough reason to start a link exchange program."

And then it went on to explain how to find which sites link to you from AltaVista, Excite, HotBot, InfoSeek, Lycos, Northern Light, and WebCrawler. (The world has changed, yes.)

Post-Google, of course, LinkPop grew to the point it got spammed. And while Value Exchange remains a useful source of a few good, relevant inbound links, we stress stronger, non-exchange ways to build those first few INbound links.

Naturally...

There is some material in MYSS! that TODAY makes me blush as red as the color font I suggest to use in places (!). But even today, OUTgoing links are a matter of some debate. Even today, it's not clear HOW important they are, but it's clear that they ARE LESS important to your site's traffic health than INbound links.

And back in 1999, if you wanted to make a site that SELLS, you did NOT send folks out of your site. Of course, Black_Knight is right -- it's obvious that every visitor leaves every site sooner or later. There's just no point to even say that. But why accelerate that process? Why make it sooner? "Keep your visitor on-site as long as possible to make the sale," is all I was saying. I'm comfortable with that advice I gave back then, ESPECIALLY for a site that was trying to sell, which was the focus of THAT book (we now put MONETIZATION last, per the link just above).

Most importantly... Black_Knight's only retort was to ridicule a small part of a book written in 1999? Why pick on a 7 year-old book (and pick the wrong point, to boot?). THAT is one heck of a long time to carry that around. And Black_Knight is being a touch misleading when he says that "Trouble was, Google was the new kid on the block, and it depended on links."

According to Wikipedia...

---------------------------------------------------------
"Google began as a research project in January, 1996 by
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Ph.D. students at
Stanford. They hypothesized that a search engine that
analyzed the relationships between websites would produce
better results than existing techniques (existing search
engines at the time essentially ranked results according to
how many times the search term appeared on a page). It
was originally nicknamed, "BackRub," because the system
checked backlinks to estimate a site's importance. A
small search engine called RankDex was already exploring a
similar strategy.

Convinced that the pages with the most links to them from
other highly relevant web pages must be the most relevant
pages associated with the search, Page and Brin tested their
thesis as part of their studies, and laid the foundation for
their search engine. Originally the search engine used the
Stanford University website with the domain
google.stanford.edu. The domain google.com was registered on
September 15, 1997, and the company was incorporated as
Google Inc. on September 7, 1998 at a friend's garage in
Menlo Park, California.

In March, 1999, the company moved into offices at 165
University Avenue in Palo Alto, home to several other noted
Silicon Valley technology startups."
---------------------------------------------------------

MYSS! was written in 1998 while Google was incorporating and it was published/copyrighted 1999 while it was a startup. So please forgive me for not covering Google (hey, I wish I was smart enough to THINK of it rather than write MYSS! ;-) ). But then again... Wikipedia does emphasize that Google's main focus as a startup was about INbound links, not the OUTbound ones that I discouraged for sales that wanted to SELL.

--

3) Many people really seem to get stuck on the "seo is dead" headline and fail to read the meat of the message. It's not dead. It's relative importance is fading. A great headline has an element of truth in it, AND it must get attention. I'm sure that many techs would prefer, "Is The Relative Importance Of SEO Vs. Off-Page And Other Criteria Fading?"

Don't over-read headlines. They are meant to get attention WITHOUT misleading (unless you interpret everything concretely, which would be very difficult way to live in today's world). So let's say that the "relative importance of SEO is fading" would have been more EXACT, for those who think algorithmically.

Now let's try to get an approximation of "textbook" or "classical" SEO.

The management of on-page is more about "relevance" and is certainly included in the definition of SEO. The management of off-page is partly about relevance, but it's more about "quality," about trying to find out, "How much did that visitor like that site?" Yes, I know the two are mixed. I'm saying that as off-page becomes increasing complex, as Google matches hundreds of off-page behaviors of HUMAN visitors (way, way beyond just INbound links, as Edgecraft alluded to briefly), as individual personalized search grows to consider WHAT each searcher tends to want, more and more, the basic advice is going to be to skip all the SEO tech stuff and jump to what Google wants to see...

"Create real and great content. Keep it real."

If that ALL becomes part of the definition of "textbook SEO," then it's never going to be dead. But "classical" or "textbook" SEO does not emphasize the following...

Content FIRST. Naturally, get basic SEO right. Of course, get some good quality, relevant INbound links. But beyond that, you simply cannot SEO your way to the top in coming years.

And somewhere in the management of off-page criteria such as inbound links and perhaps a couple of others, the definition of "classical SEO" ends and the importance of "all the rest of off-page, tracking human behavior, emerging AI, and CONTENT) begins.

So... depending on how you DEFINE "SEO," you may in fact agree totally with Mike... or not. My guess is that Mike cuts classical SEO off somewhere in the management of off-page criteria, and that GREAT Content is not consider PRIMARY.

The power of REAL content is staggering. First of all, it captures the "long tail"... the thousands of rarely-demanded keywords that form 99%+ of the words by which any fair-sized content site will be found. 80% alone are "one-ofs." (Google stated a while back that HALF of their 200,000,000 searches per day are unique. Think about that.)

At the other end of the spectrum, out of 5,000 terms for which a good, 200 page niche-content site might be found over a period of 90 days, the Top 20 words (i.e., the top 1/2% of all search terms by which the site is found), account for 1/3 of all "search engine finds" for that site.

SEO focuses on those top words, de-emphasizes TRUE, passionate, knowledgeable content.

You might way, "yes, but if we capture those, man... that IS the right side of the 80-20 coin."

Nope. You have a one-dimensional site. No depth.

A TRUE content site's power comes from capturing the long tail "by accident on purpose." As a great content site "gets found" for those words, and then the "easier of the hard words," as traffic builds, Google is able to track the human reaction to those sites better and better. As it grows, they rank better and better for "harder and harder" keywords.

SBI! sites literally rise to the top on a tide. Without constant tweaking (but the rest is all in "The Tao", so I'll stop here).

We see the power of this approach over and over and over again in our database. It's why SBI! sites do so well, even though most are created by completely non-technical people... people with a simple desire to build a real online business, but who would otherwise be overwhelmed by all the technical and waylaid by the wrong side of the 80-20 SEO coin.

It's about CONTENT.

In the same way the Google's "Link message" spawned "link farms," our increasingly spreading and well-received Content message is spawning "Content farms." We recently launched our own spider to develop a far more finely tuned measure of "Supply" (how much content is created for each keyword). The engine's measure of "140,000,000 pages found for x" is a blunt approach.

In fact, we're finding that 90% of pages created are spam or junk, content created either by automated slice-and-dice software with external javascript redirects, for example. And that's just ONE example, ranging from old-fashioned duplicate content pages to "article clubs" where you buy articles and customize them.

Ugh.

Give me passion. Give me real knowledge. Give me someone with some BAM (brain and motivation). Those are the people who make SBI! work.

--

Underneath the Web we see, it's ugly...

Google does the world a HUGE service. Remember the "blue or red pill" in "The Matrix." Google serves you the one that lets you see the "pretty Web." If you saw the read Information Highway, you'd need hip-high boots to wade through the crap on the road. But, for marketing purposes if nothing else (?), they report every page in that little "# pages found" note after you do a search (observe, though, that they don't list them all in the search results).

But I digress...

The bottom line is that I agree with bragadocchio's concrete interpretation of a headline... SEO is not dead -- those headlines were never really "reports of its demise," though. He follows with good basic advice...

----------------------------------------------------------
"unique page titles based upon the content that actually
appears upon the page, text-based links that search engine
spiders can follow, headings at the top of the content that
describes the content of the page, text appearing in actual
text instead of images, and so on, are all good things to do."
----------------------------------------------------------

... but I don't think anyone is disputing that. Simple software tells ordinary people how to do that.

-----SIDEBAR----
bragadocchio did follow up with valid "BIGCO" issues. Large
companies DO need specialized help with Search Engine
Management, no doubt about it. I'm not addressing that
here, so I won't include this type of work in the definition
of "SEO" for the purposes of this post. THAT "SEO" (or a
better term might be "Search Engine Management") is alive and
of value to large companies.

It's NOT my area of expertise. We stick strictly with small
businesses, the vast majority with straightforward, no-
special-bells-and-whistles needs. I won't even pretend to
advise on tech-advanced, large company issues.
-----SIDEBAR----


Sadly, when bragadocchio's only comment on "The Tao of SBI!" is...

"The ebook cited above insults both Taoism and SEO by selling snake oil to "small businessmen like me."

Well, he clearly has not read "The Tao."

First of all, I don't think any of these sites...

http://www.google.co...G=Google Search

... nor any of these books (including "The Tao of Pooh")...

http://www.amazon.co...10&Go.y=7&Go=Go

... mean any insult to the religion of Tao. "Tao" is also a philosophy. And the title is a marketing title. My only comment to his comment about me insulting Taoism is, unfortunately, to grow up.

As for "snake oil," if he read the book, he'd see that creating a great content site that succeeds is hard work, and UNLIKE the GRQ/snake oil guys, we make that abundantly clear.

But skip to the bottom line. Does this approach "work" (for those who do the work?) Yes, and we prove it...

http://proof.sitesell.com

NO other small business Web host provides data like the above. They show a few success stories with terrible Alexa rankings and that's it. The ugly truth is that most small business sites fail miserably. Not ours.

-----SIDEBAR----
Here's where Webmasters will jump all over Alexa.
So let me reply in advance...

http://www.sitesell.com/alexa.html
-----SIDEBAR----


I do NOT sell snake oil. SBI! enables small business people to literally lead lives of passion. For anyone who follows SBI! closely, they know that these are just a small sampling of success stories...

http://case-studies.sitesell.com/

... and all SBIers understand that building a real business is WORK. "Snake oil" is NOT included in the price of Site Build It!.

But bragadocchio's anti-marketing bias is evident.

He follows the "snake oil" comment, later, with but a small smattering of the "off-page" criteria engines follow. What MSN (and any engine) admits to tracking publicly is the obvious stuff. It's clear he does not understand the depth of this.

To be brief... it's everything you'd suspect "makes sense"... and more.

--

4) I like AbleReach's short definition of SEO as "a set of signals telling a spider where a page might fit in a filing system." That likely just about slices where I did above (on-page, PLUS somewhere in the management of off-page).

And she understands that Mike's headline, "Does Textbook SEO Really Work Any More?" has "WOM velcro"

What a great phrase... "WOM velcro."

That's exactly what a good headline is, and does.

Marketing is OK. Yes. :-)

--


5) I CAN tell you who SEO is not dead for. The million dollar porn and gaming affiliates. What they do is ugly and nasty, the "best" 0.001% of Black Hat SEOs. These are the super-sharp who are still, for a while longer, one step ahead of the engines, constantly pushing the envelope.

But you can't teach what they do -- these guys are so brilliant, it's a shame to waste it on such non-productive pursuits. And believe me... they don't post in SEO forums. They make too much money, and are too secretive, to do that. If your definition of SEO is "Search Engine manipulation," these folks are the very pinnacle. But...

They litter the Web with so much junk. The Net moves fast. The engines grow smarter.

Their time, too, is limited.

--

6) And to fellow Montrealer Barry Welford... your well-balanced, insightful comments are a welcome respite. Edgecraft was right -- the one time I released "The Tao of SBI!" to LED, it leaked out and soon it was mis-read and mis-quoted and slammed all over by the SEO community. In 5 years, the primacy of Content will be so accepted that it will have either extinguished the concept of SEO or will be co-opted into it.

Drop by for a coffee sometime. We live right downtown.

The bottom line of this much-longer-than-intended post?

Some posts here seem to "get it." Others? They've responded with snide comments about either Mike or me, criticisms of material I wrote in 1999 (but picked the wrong thing to criticize), anti-marketing, and a general fallback to defending SEO. No one is "REALLY" saying that "classical-or-textbook-or-manipulative-or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it-SEO" is dead.

Just dying. (OK, OK, "fading in relative importance".)

I hope this clarifies matters for those whose minds remain open to a simpler way of mastering what is otherwise becoming unmanageably complex.

All the best,
Ken Evoy
President, SiteSell.com

#31 AbleReach

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 12:46 PM

Wow. Thank you for sharing your fire and insight.

Give me passion.

You'll get a hearty handshake from most here on that one.

Well, he (Bragadocchio) clearly has not read "The Tao."

That's for B to say. His interpretation and frame of reference may be different, giving you an impression he has not read the book. All anyone else can do is guess or ask "why."

...snide comment...

Thin ice alert. How can we discuss ideas with any passion, if we let ourselves get sidetracked by crit and defense of who is snide or wrong? Arm wrestle the idea, not the person, Tao or no Tao. ;-)

Here, please imagine really bold blinking text, resplendant with trumpets and flourishes:
Spirited discussion of differing viewpoints and tactics is a lifeblood thing. Visit often! Come back and shake that idea tree.

Welcome to Cre8asite!

Elizabeth


edited for typo

Edited by AbleReach, 23 April 2006 - 03:02 AM.


#32 KenEvoy

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 01:06 PM

Sorry Ablecraft,

Maybe I should have referred to the specific post that REALLY bothered me. I just don't see much good in a post like this...

http://www.cre8asite...ndpost&p=178300

With that, I stand by "snide" (I should have been more specific).

I did think it's a tad unfair to attack a 7 year old book that was widely acclaimed at the time. 7 Net years amounts to 7 Millennia in real time.

Re "not read the Tao," I explained WHY I concluded that. I wonder why, however, you'd NOT comment on someone basically calling me a "snake oil" salesman. By your silence on "snake oil" and the above post that hits Mike very hard, am I to conclude that you are OK with those remarks?

No "thin ice" here. I just don't like being called "snake oil." And re passion...

No way I'd still be doing this without the passion to help small businesses truly succeed. Thin ice is ice without support, by definition. Aside from the above URL to support "snide," the rest is all well supported. No "thin ice."

No need to turn it into flames of course, but I would love to see more rigorous discussion and less throwaway shots ("fadeaway jumpers" are fine, but that's a different sport). And do let me know if you're OK with the shots.

If so, I'm in the wrong spot.

Sorry, I tried to elevate and explain.

All the best,
Ken

Edited by KenEvoy, 22 April 2006 - 01:12 PM.


#33 bragadocchio

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 01:49 PM

Hi Ken,

Welcome to the forums.

I have read your booklet. I read it when it was leaked to the LED group, and I read it again when a link was posted to it here. I stand by my statement. If you would like, I'll go through the booklet in detail, and explain step-by-step why I came to the conclusion that I did. The statement is aimed at the booklet, and the rhetorical tools, partial truths, mischaracterizations, and false dilemmas that it utilizes.

If there is such a thing as "textbook SEO," it isn't the textbook SEO that you write of. If your definition of SEO ever really existed, it's changed and evolved, and places like this forum advocate a much more rounded and holistic approach than might be found years ago, in the time of a paint-by-number stuffing of keywords in page elements, and pursuit of link exchanges.

Having a real business, with a unique selling proposition, and real content is important, and you aren't going to get any arguments about that here. Being able to understand the quirks of large dynamic sites is becoming more common, and if it is outside of your area of expertise then maybe it's something that you should look into. I know of at least one small business person with a site that has more than 100,000 pages, with real content, and a real business and marketing plan.

I don't have an anti-marketing bias, but I do have an aversion to being manipulated, and seeing people be manipulated.



If I understood only one thing,
I would want to use it to follow the Tao.
My only fear would be one of pride.
The Tao goes in the level places,
but people prefer to take the short cuts.

If too much time is spent cleaning the house
the land will become neglected and full of weeds,
and the granaries will soon become empty
because there is no one out working the fields.
To wear fancy clothes and ornaments,
to have your fill of food and drink
and to waste all of your money buying possessions
is called the crime of excess.
Oh, how these things go against the way of the Tao!

#34 AbleReach

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 02:00 PM

Nope, KenEvoy, you're not in the wrong place at all.

My concern was more that we not get sidetracked by what we may be said about a person, when there are ideas with gist on the table.

A TRUE content site's power comes from capturing the long tail "by accident on purpose." As a great content site "gets found" for those words, and then the "easier of the hard words," as traffic builds, Google is able to track the human reaction to those sites better and better. As it grows, they rank better and better for "harder and harder" keywords.

Very well said, IMHO. More! More!
Do you think this is the future of what we call "SEO" today?
Is today's "SEO" the province of slice and dice article mills?
How can content with depth and meaning dance with Google and come out on top, in today's climate? Many paths? One path? Linear paths? Evolving paths, influenced how? (OK, rhetorical, but you get my drift)



Sidebars
- Your passion about quality content has most delightfully upstaged my late morning coffee and home baked bread, and for a foodie like me that's saying something!
- "ablecraft," I like! & drat. Someone else has already registered ablecraft.com.


edited for typo

Edited by AbleReach, 23 April 2006 - 03:13 AM.


#35 AbleReach

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 03:53 PM

This statement is sticking with me.

A TRUE content site's power comes from capturing the long tail "by accident on purpose." As a great content site "gets found" for those words, and then the "easier of the hard words," as traffic builds, Google is able to track the human reaction to those sites better and better. As it grows, they rank better and better for "harder and harder" keywords.

This could be debated, expanded upon, seen in a discouraging or positive light.

One facet is reliance on Google rankings. They don't come from thin air, and they will change with algo adjustments and other people's marketing ploys. I always feel sad when I see small shops treat search engines as if they're in charge of what a business is able to do.

One example from the brick and mortar world is bakeries. A worthy goal for an independent shop is to have 60% of business go out the front door and 40% out the back. Back door business is wholesale or pre-existing orders. Front door is walk-by, spur of moment, nice weather for a walk in the neighborhood, gathering of friends, good review in the paper this week, stuff like that. If small ebusiness treats Google-friendly SEO as the front door, what's the back?


edited for typo

Edited by AbleReach, 23 April 2006 - 03:04 AM.


#36 bragadocchio

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 05:03 PM

One facet is reliance on Google rankings. They don't come from thin air, and they will change with algo adjustments and other people's marketing ploys.



Great point about marketing, Elizabeth. One of the many advantages that a small business online has over a large business is that they can react quickly to emergencies, and to others' marketing ploys.

It can really help if a business takes the time, and makes the effort to build an effective marketing plan. The Small Business Administration has an excellent set of pages on the subject at:

http://www.sba.gov/s...ing/basics.html

There's also a nice section in there on competitive analysis, that can help you anticipate potential marketing issues:

http://www.sba.gov/s...g/analysis.html

It really pays to pay attention to your competitors.

As for Google Rankings, search engines should only be one of many ways one would use to reach out to customers. It's less likely that a site will be affected negatively by changes in search engine algorithms if the site is constructed well, has no impediments to search engine spiders, has well written and engaging content, is credible, persuasive, and something that would appeal to the intended readers of a site.

Build something that people want to see, that they will link to without being asked to, that is usable, and engaging, and changes because of shifting algorithms are much less likely to happen. But make sure that there aren't technical issues that will keep a site from being spidered.

Make a site that you visitors will want to use. Test it. Pay attention to your analytics. Improve it, and keep people coming back.

I always feel sad when I see small shops treat search engines as if they're in charge of what a business is able to do.



I agree. The truth is that many small businesses, online and offline fail. This risk of failure can be mitigated by making sure that the businesses get involved in niches where they can succeed, and that they start conversations with their customers and potential customers, and listen to them. With a serious emphasis on the listening part.

I also want to stress that if someone wants to start a business online, that they should make a serious effort in learning about the web, about search engines, about marketing. I'll agree with Ammon's signature file that this is the most important thread in the forum:

Marketing 101

You don't start an automobile repair business without knowing anything about cars. Why would you start an online business without thinking that you don't have to learn something about the web?

Well, part of the reason is that small businesses have a tremendous advantage over large businesses when it comes to starting a business online. Actually, that's not completely true. Small businesses have a large number of advantages over large businesses when it comes to starting a business online. But it still makes sense to make that effort and retain control over your own business instead of being reliant on others. Here are some small business advantages:

1. They can identify and act upon opportunities much faster than a large business which faces bureaucratic inertia.
2. They can set up shop in their own basement or den or family room instead of having to provide a place for an army of employees.
3. They can focus upon narrow niches that large companies can't afford to target.
4. They don't have to spend large amounts of time delegating, reviewing, interviewing, hiring, training, holding meetings, creating policies and employee handbooks and orientation materials.
5. There are fewer government regulations and controls than face a large business
6. They are better able to provide personal service and interact with their customers.
7. It's easier to start a small business than a large one.


If small ebusiness treats Google-friendly SEO as the front door, what's the back?

  • Building business relationships with others,
  • Creating joint ventures and partnerships,
  • References by word of mouth,
  • Community (offline) involvement,
  • Attending and speaking at conferences and tradeshows,
  • Participating in online meeting places,
  • Sponsoring contests and little league teams and charitable efforts and other things that might bring both personal satisfaction and friendships and business,
  • Participating in the local chamber of commerce,
  • Providing tools on your web site that others will find useful
  • Providing information on your web site that others will find useful
  • Writing articles for newspapers, magazines, ezines, newsletters, blogs
  • Print advertising
  • Radio Advertising
  • Television advertising
  • Writing a book
  • Using your URL on letterhead, envelopes, invoices, billboards, etc.
I could go on, but really the only limitation is your imagination. If you'll notice, I agree with Mike Grehan completely on the wide range of imaginative efforts that we can pursue.

I also think that SEO still has a role in achieving your business goals - and can play an important part in that effort.

For instance, look at the businesses that enable people to browse online, and make a pickup in person. That's going to only grow.

Envision local restaurants that post their menus online, with their telephone numbers and fax numbers, so that offices can order and make a pickup, or have food delivered to them. For that to work, the businesses need to be able to be found.

The web is another medium to market upon, and offer services and goods upon. Learning how to use it, without relying upon a search engine or a service that you depend upon too and which might leave you reliant upon limitations that you have no control over.

The focus of SEO isn't on getting high rankings and lots of traffic. It's on getting the people who want to see your site to be able to see it. Sure that's an expansive view of SEO. What do you expect in a forum that has a section on Usability, Marketing, Online Education, Design, and a web site hospital section where people (small business owners, large business owners, web designer, students, and others) can bring their web sites for constructive criticism, support and encouragement?

If Google drops your site in rankings, your response should be, "So What," because there are plenty of other ways to get people to find you. If the "back door" business approaches 100%, big deal. If your marketing plan doesn't encompass that, it's time for a new one.

#37 Black_Knight

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Posted 22 April 2006 - 11:36 PM

I rarely post to forums, haven't for years (except our own). I used to love to do it, but since SiteSell has grown to be a mid-sized company and in the Top 200 at Alexa.com, purely on the basis of an affiliate program and non-paid customer word-of-mouth, I just seem to be too much of a target.

Good to see you here Ken, regardless of the reasons.

This forum has been active since 2002, and I think this is the first time you've been mentioned, so whether or not you've been a "high-profile target" elsewhere, you can see that's not something we really do here. In fact the only reason your name even arose this time was at the prompting of a customer of yours making some referrals.

I think SiteSell, as it stands today, is a very powerful product, powerfully sold, and something most people can learn from. I probably didn't make that clear in my earlier post, (but with Edgecraft acting as a missionary, and you not yet here to discuss it with, it didn't really need me to).

No, my earlier post was highlighting some of the reasons why (perhaps), as you noted, you are sometimes a bit of a target. It is sometimes hard to shake a 'first impression', and just as you yourself are now wise enough to say: "There is some material in MYSS! that TODAY makes me blush as red as the color font I suggest to use in places (!)". I'm of the opinion Ken that I am not so smart that I was the only one back then who noted how embarrassing some of that material was at the time. I'm just not that unique. For quite a number of 'old timers' (in web marketing terms) like myself, their very first experience of you was with you making some rather embarrassing, but awfully strongly and insistently presented, commandments.

2) Black_Knight's criticism of MYSS!, a book I wrote in 1999 staggers me. He has carried my point about OUTbound links with him a long, long time.

How's the saying have it? You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In fact, didn't you even say something a little like that in MYSS at one point? The importance of that first impression.

Fact is that I think that near-sighted advice has caused immense harm. I believe that a large part of the PR hoarding and link hoarding of today still dates back to its being such strongly made advice in the past. And of course, it is ridiculously near-sighted and naive. If no site provided out-links, where the heck are you getting in-links from, Ken? Yet there's your advice telling them all to stop it at once. ;)

Yup, sorry to say it, but it is my genuine personal opinion that your over-strong, over-simplistic urging to 'never link out' way back has been the root of a great many problems for the whole field of internet marketing, and is indeed the reason for a lot of the whole philosophy of PR hoarding, right down to cloaking links, or forcing links through redirects, ever since.

My opinion on that has lasted no longer than the ill-effects of that near-sighted and naive advice. Once I no longer have to deal with the mess it causes on a daily basis, I dare say I'll be delighted to forget about it. :)

First, I never said "do NOT get INbound links."

And since noone said, nor implied, that you did, we can forget entirely about any argument that might be based upon an erroneous suggestion otherwise. We're in perfect agreement on this point.

In pre-Google days, of course, INbound links were for direct traffic and not for linkpop, and I did not find manual link-exchange efforts a particularly effective TRAFFIC-builder. THAT was valid THEN, pre-Google, pre-emphasis on getting INbound links for LinkPop.

Surely we are not to pretend that links only have one end? That an inbound link here is not an outbound link on that other site? I think our audience here is a little smarter than that. If you proclaim to the world at large that they should not link out, there'll be no links in. The web without links has no web, no strands. It would be the World Wide Dots, and far less successful. Just think, if your book had reached Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point you could have destroyed the web itself. Thankfully, it never got close to that particular tipping point, and the majority of the webmasters were too well balanced with understanding the value of outbound links to the web as a whole.

But Black_Knight was not talking about THAT. He was talking about my advice regarding OUTbound links. And he ignores that this was within the context of a discussion on pre-Google link-exchanging. And he ignores the following core advice, straight from that edition of the book...

"It's better to request a link than to make an offer to exchange links."

Praying all the while that the person you request the link from is no fan of your book I take it.

But this does indicate my point about your naivity regarding search. You seem to presume that link popularity was 'invented' by Google. That Altavista, the biggest search engine at the time your book was published, hadn't been working heavily on link popularity. Funnily, the very first patent on Link Popularity I read was one of Altavista's. But by the time the patent was granted, all the names on the patent application worked for that new engine we call Google. :)

Ken, seriously, take a look at the date on Kleinberg's research into using links as a method for determining relevancy in search. Take a look at the date of IBM's CLEVER project. You're not expected to know everything. You are a darned fine salesman, and not an expert SEO, nor a researcher into the science of Information Retrieval. Try to be proud of what you excel in, so that you can take advice and criticism of any misunderstandings of the fields you are not expert in, without the need to defend yourself as though it were personal criticism. Sometime people will point out flaws in the accuracy of things to help you, not attack you.

But even today, OUTgoing links are a matter of some debate. Even today, it's not clear HOW important they are, but it's clear that they ARE LESS important to your site's traffic health than INbound links.

If you ask Bill nicely, he has covered some interesting papers and patents regarding outlinks in search. He has a real wealth of such info. If you're not aware of it already, it may give you some further ideas (although I'm sure you have thousands) on how to improve your sites even further in coming years.

Most importantly... Black_Knight's only retort was to ridicule a small part of a book written in 1999? Why pick on a 7 year-old book (and pick the wrong point, to boot?). THAT is one heck of a long time to carry that around.

We've covered why it is still a relevant point (i.e. its disinformational effects remain today, and a first impression remains long after you may wish people had forgotten it), so let's not double-cover that I still remember it, and will probably continue to do so for some years to come.

So let's skip straight to the flat-out wrong part about my comment on links being the 'only retort'. I'm not sure why my post would be a retort, since you'd not arrived yet, but whatever...

My comment on the part about "Never link out" was anecdotal, at the mention of you, the first I recall in all these years at Cre8asite, simply sharing what the mention of your name always reminds me of first - the headaches that your advice those years ago caused, and continues to cause, to me personally in my attempt to help people create better, more successful, web-based businesses.

My criticisms came a little later on in my post. I'm sorry that I didn't see a need to number them at the time, but I think there were 5.

My criticisms of the original MYSS were mainly in regard to its extreme naivity about SEO and the manner in which search worked, and some very idiosyncratic things such as the insistance that providing links was bad, and that embedding midi music files on a page was good... There was a lot of merit in the book, but it was the manner in which it presented everything in a 'this way or death' when some few of the things could actually cause more harm than good that made it unacceptable. It was a great book to borrow some, or even many, ideas from, but not one to be taken verbatim, yet strongly insisted it should be.

[1] Naivity of SEO and Search engines.
[2] Inability to see that INlinks here are OUTlinks somewhere else, and that Outlinks matter.
[3] Embedding Midi files
[4] That it mixed helpful and harmful advice without distinction
[5] That it heavily (the salesman in you) insisted all its advice was good advice.

But of course, these were mentioned really as simply a few of the contributing factors to the essential point: That I'd been unable to recommend your book, despite all the truly great things it contained about testing and measuring, about marketing and advertising, because:

It was a great book to borrow some, or even many, ideas from, but not one to be taken verbatim, yet strongly insisted it should be.


Hopefully there's enough of the marketer in you to appreciate the honesty and value that this simple feedback can give. It is rare in life that the customers one didn't get give you the reasons why. When it happens, it is a very valuable gift. It lets you adapt for the market you didn't manage to tap successfully. Don't let the salesman eager to impress lose that.

Just for reference, there are other aspects to SEO than you may have realised. For starters, it is SEOs that have done much to attract long-tail search traffic. The insistance since the mid-nineties that I can personally attest to is that we provide good lengths of content which increases the likelihood of 'long tail' terms occuring in a page. I can tell you from my experience with over 600 clients, companies of all shapes and sizes, that I have never yet had to ask a company to decrease its text to meet SEO needs. :)

In addition, SEOs throughout the same period have recommended and championed mining log files and traffic stats, precisely for finding those long-tail terms, long before we had that name for it. Good SEOs are not looking at the stats to praise their successes, but rather are looking for the opportunities they could not foresee. Looking for that one search on a specific term that came through from the 5th page of search results, because that's how far the person had to dig to find what they sought, because noone had foreseen that search term phrasing. Once you've seen it, you'll try to ensure your site will not be 5 pages deep in the SERPs anymore.

Just like your own success, SEOs base their work on testing, measuring, and refining.

#38 KenEvoy

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 05:53 AM

Thank you for your reply, Black_Knight. Here's my final reply to you and this thread. We both need to cut this and get productive again.

We'll end up agreeing on two things...

--

1) Your fine testimonial of the work we are doing today...

"I think SiteSell, as it stands today, is a very powerful product, powerfully sold, and something most people can learn from. I probably didn't make that clear in my earlier post."

Thanks very much, Black_Knight, much-appreciated. The product is actually called Site Build It!. SiteSell.com is our company that has grown into the Top 200 at Alexa through affiliate marketing and customer word-of-mouth only. So we know one heck of a lot of people agree with you. And I thank you for those kind words.

--

2) We'll agree to disagree about the profound negative impact of MYSS! upon the Web. The good old WWW seems to be doing just fine "despite" MYSS!. ;-)

We could both waste an awful lot of time, with me continuously and carefully countering what you claim I either said, or what I didn't say, or what I missed back in 1999, or seem to feel that I did not know, but did.

Black_Knight, you are, of course, aware that not all sites contain an equal number of INbound links and OUTbound links. The Web seems to work quite well with the now-simplistic concept of hubs and authorities and everything in between.

My advice to sales sites back then was to concentrate on OUTbound links. I doubt if that advice ruined the balance of the Web, and readers did well by the advice. "If everyone did that...." has always been such a disingenuous argument.

You took great pains to ridicule that advice in your earlier post (ex., "I'm totally serious. The advice was..."), culminating in... "Google was the new kid on the block, and it depended on links."

Well, Google back then depended primarily on INbound links, as I quoted from Wikipedia. So yes, when you mention Google as the "new kid," you are in fact claiming what you NOW point-blank say that "no one said or implied." Well, you certainly did imply it strongly by raising the "new kid." (And you only raised AltaVista's work AFTER that first post.)

Since we can't dispel of that simple one, and since you either deny or miss that I did in fact recognize Link Popularity way back in 1999 (read it yourself and see) and that the entire discussion on linkpop and link management was greatly expanded in mid-2001, there's little point to continue. Linkpop was not a significant factor yet, back in late 1998-1999.

Remember, that book was not intended for SEOers. Small business people do not need to know about Kleinberg's research, for example, only what would serve them well. And that book accomplished that job well, exceedingly well in your opinion. Or "excessively" well, I guess. ;-)

--

Given the back and forth this could lead to, there is simply no point in me investing more time dispelling all the additional disinformation, that will lead into an never-ending spiral. I'm still on the first post, which hopefully I've clarified. I just don't time to dispel the increasing amount of misinformation in the follow-up (although I touched upon it a bit above).

So enough (at least as far as I am concerned)... let's advance to today...

My advice today remains that INbound links are more valuable to small business sites than OUTbound links. If you read "The Tao," you will know the full picture of what we suggest for link management, and it's only a small part of a much more holistic approach. And it, contrary to your belief about MYSS!, adds to the Web enormously.

We'll agree to disagree as to whether a 7 year old book ruined the Web. I suggest you let it go -- the Web is a very, VERY big place, Ken Evoy is a very small fish in relation. In a sense, I thank you for the impact you think I had. I wish you felt it was positive overall.

But focus on what we do so well right now and I do thank you for that acknowledgment. It's an exciting and rewarding time. Without any need for Webmasters or professional SEOers (although some pros have been catching on to it, too)...

The average small business person is now able to not just "build a site," no... s/he creates a life of passion and independence. That's what drives me TODAY, Black_Knight.

TODAY (and TOMORROW) is where I prefer to stay rooted.

All the best,
Ken Evoy
President, SiteSell.com

#39 bragadocchio

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 10:15 AM

Ken.

You are a professional SEO.

Cheers.

#40 Black_Knight

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Posted 23 April 2006 - 11:19 AM

Thank you for your reply, Black_Knight. Here's my final reply to you and this thread. We both need to cut this and get productive again.

Ken, for me this is productive. I'm here to freely discuss things with anyone who happens by in order to present views opinions and advice to people who make up the Cre8asite audience.

Most of our audience are precisely the kind of 'small business' owners you continually refer to, just perhaps with a little more time to read and learn about the issues, and not trusting to brief summaries that may miss out important points. As the saying has it: "the devil is in the details". There can be hell to pay when just one devilish detail, missed out in a summation, affects any business, but especially the small business, with its limited resources.

Small business people do not need to know about Kleinberg's research, for example, only what would serve them well.

You see, here's where that difference in audience applies. Here's where the short summary misses the details, and a myriad of little devils that may lurk. Thus thousands upon thousands of small business sites managed to get themselves into trouble for 'link manipulation' and all kinds of ludicrous link exchanges in the past 5 years or so. I think the more times we encourage people to go beyond the "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" stage, to helping them see the whole picture, and indeed, to quite possibly see their own new opportunities that we may not have, well, that's the priceless part, isn't it?

I view time spent here, helping those who are willing to help themselves in whatever way I may, as very productive indeed. These are honest, hard-working people with dreams and aspirations not afraid to attempt to make those aspirations happen. I expect you feel the same way about your own community, and I hope you'd feel that way even if yours didn't pay for the same level of consideration and support.

Thank you very much for coming by here and giving some free time to those who are not paying customers. It is appreciated that you took this brief time from your more productive and lucrative schedule.

2) We'll agree to disagree about the profound negative impact of MYSS! upon the Web.

I'm terribly sorry that I seem to be continually phrasing my posts in a way that is causing you some miscomprehension Ken. It is not in the least intentional, you just somehow seem to keep taking my supporting rationale as the point itself, when it is only said by me to support a point.

I don't believe you to have had a 'profound negative impact' upon the web at all. I thought I had been very clear in stating that what you had was a profound negative impact upon me. All those references to that 'first impression', you see? The reasoning why you made such a negative first impression was the naivity of certain arguments, the use of straw-man argument, etc which I attempted to give merely a few supporting examples of. My sincere apologies if I confused you with such.

I really thought you'd gotten that point with your own multiple references of incredulity to that I still think about that first impression these many years later. It is true - a first impression only gets made once in a lifetime. It can take decades to change the gist of that first impression. 7 years on, the first thing I think of when your name is mentioned is that old book - reasons stated in previous posts.



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