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Does SEO=SPAM?


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#41 cre8pc

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 03:57 PM

Jill, the time you take to frolick in this forum is much appreciated!

Looking forward to today's newsletter, as always.

K.

#42 Black_Knight

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 10:30 PM

I can't optimize your Title tag for you, because I optimize Title tags after the entire page is optimized.  That's one of the last things to do. Since all factors on the page play into each other, it's impossible (for me) to simply optimize a Title tag out of thin air without a corresponding page to go with it.


The optimal TITLE tag for a page where all other factors are equal between the page and a rival is an exact match. Phil is quite correct therefore to say it is impossible to optimise a page for more than one search term.

However, Jill's argument is about gaining high rankings and no-one is arguing that you can't gain high rankings for many search phrases with a single page. In fact, the only page that cannot gain high rankings for a variety of phrases is a page that has no variety on it.

We're talking about optimal, not just "good-enough-to-rank-okay" here, and that is the difference Phil is talking about - the one Jill said doesn't exist.

However, I think the argument is effectively closed following the quote from Jill that I began this post with. Jill practices holistic ranking techniques, and therefore doesn't optimize on the code level. In fact, from her own words, to do so is something she is unable or unwilling to attempt. That's fine search engine marketing, and nothing to be ashamed of.

However, I can think of a dozen examples of optimized TITLEs without a thought.

For Google the 100% exact match is generally optimal, but is dispensed with to allow a page a shot at more phrases.

A Title tag optimised for Google for the phrase "hotels in Boston" would read: Hotels in Boston.

The old Lycos algorithm wasn't so keen on exact matches, since they believed most of their audience used short-hand, and so prefered titles that were longer than the search term. For that algorithm, "Quality Hotels in Boston, USA" would have scored better, since it gives the phrase slightly less prominence and weighting.

"Hotels in Boston - The Boston accomodation Guide"
Is a title tag suited to engines that prefer lower weighting and prominence and like the latter word to have higher weighting than the former. Google likes this style on-page, but prefers exact match titles in the main.

#43 Advisor

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Posted 04 December 2002 - 11:48 PM

You guys just make no sense to me at all! :splat:

Take my RankWrite site. The title tag (as well as every bit of code on the main page -- and other pages) is optimized for:

search engine optimization
search engine marketing
copywriting

It's top 10 in Google for all of them, and they are all competitive. I mean, for crying out loud, who else is trying to rank high (and succeeding) for search engine optimization and/or search engine marketing but THOSE WHO ARE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZERS.

Case closed. I win. :flasingsmile:

Incidentally, search results are not relevant.


What is relevant? PageRank? :rofl:

She optimizes, plain and simple. Calling someone something different just because they go about it a different way is a whole different ball game.

I think Chris summed that up very nicely.

As much as you would like not to be able to call me a search engine optimizer, and as much as I would like to not call those folks who spam the search engine SEOs, we really all are under the same SEO umbrella. We just have our own ways of optimizing.

I would pit my rankings against any of yours, any day.

It is true that I prefer not to work with extremely competitive (e.g., gambling) sites, and one-word keywords. However, if I ever wanted to, just as I did with the "search engine optimization" phrase when I finally felt like doing it, I could do it.

However, smart SEOs know that optimizing for the most competitive keyword phrases isn't always the best way to do things.

And sorry to tell you this Phil, but it is all about rankings. What are we optimizing for, but for rankings? I optimize for high rankings and a great user experience. The two never have to be mutually exclusive.

Jill

#44 Black_Knight

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:17 AM

Take my RankWrite site.  The title tag (as well as every bit of code on the main page -- and other pages) is optimized for:

search engine optimization
search engine marketing
copywriting


Your main page TITLE tag reads:
<title>SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION copywriting search engine marketing - Rank Write Roundtable</title>

The tag uses the keywords, but it is not optimized for them all. It can't be. No single tag can be optimized for multiple phrases. It can target multiple phrases, but only by inclusion, not optimization. Sure the page is designed to rank well for those phrases, but that is a separate issue to being optimized.

It's top 10 in Google

... which counts links and link text in such a way that even a blank page can rank #1 for any phrase if enough important pages link to it with those keywords in the link-text.

Hell, for the phrase 'copy writing for high rankings' which includes both a variant of one of your primary keywords and your site name, you're beaten by an old page from AIM-pro (which isn't actually optimized for that phrase at all), but that's Google for you.

It is not in the top ten of Altavista for copywriting (though it is on the second page at #11), nor for search engine optimization, or search engine marketing.

It is not in the top ten of AllTheWeb (the FAST engine powers the entire Lycos network) for copywriting, search engine optimization or search engine marketing.

It is not in the top 15 of MSN Search for copywriting (cre8asite is at #10 though), nor in the top 15 for search engine optimization, nor for search engine marketing.

Case closed.  I win. :flasingsmile:


Sorry, Jill, but so long as you can say "You guys just make no sense to me at all! " then you lose. You lose the power of understanding alternative viewpoints (whether or not you agree with them).

Forums exist to learn about techniques and ideas from others - even techniques and ideas we might never use or even approve of. When one completely fails to even understand the points of others, one is certainly not 'winning.

#45 cre8pc

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:39 AM

Ammon/Phil,

So based on your perspectives, I was wrong to think my title tag was doing any good for my site other than being a possible match for some of Google's criteria. Jill shouldn't be the only one getting hit here.

Ammon:

It can target multiple phrases, but only by inclusion, not optimization. Sure the page is designed to rank well for those phrases, but that is a separate issue to being optimized.


This is the first time it hit me that inclusion of an element wasn't considered optimization. Has left me at a loss for words here.

Phil says rank is irrelevant. Yes, using Ammon's example, I can see that rank is not a true measure of an SEO's success.

So. What is?

Kim

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:41 AM

where you said he was not an SEO but a "search engine spammer".


That's not what I was saying. I was saying that if I'm not an SEO but a search engine friendlierizer, then he's not an SEO, but a search engine spammer.

There is a distinction.

Jill

#47 Guest_PhilC_*

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:43 AM

[quote=Advisor]You guys just make no sense to me at all![/quote]
That's because you don't know what serch engine optimization is, Jill. I think it's been made clear in this thread that what you call SEO isn't SEO. If this thread isn't enough, then take a look at what you wrote in your latest newsletter:-

[quote=Advisor]Take my RankWrite site.  The title tag (as well as every bit of code on the main page -- and other pages) is optimized for....[/quote]
You think it because you don't understand what search engine optimization is, Jill. The home page's Title tag isn't optimized for the 3 phrases you mentioned. I know you don't realise that, because you don't understand what optimizing is. You could understand it if you didn't have such a bee in your bonnet about it, and if you stopped refusing to learn from other people.

[quote name='Advisor][quote=Advisor][quote=Advisor]As much as you would like not to be able to call me a search engine optimizer' date=' and as much as I would like to not call those folks who spam the search engine SEOs, we really all are under the same SEO umbrella.  We just have our own ways of optimizing.[/quote']
Yes, we are all under the same umbrella. I said earlier that we are in the same business, which means the same thing in this case. And, yes, we have our own ways of doing it. But we don't have our own way of optimizing. You don't optimize; you only say you do. You make sites and pages, search engine friendly - that's how you describe what your idea of SEO is. But it isn't SEO.

[quote name='Advisor]It is true that I prefer not to work with extremely competitive (e.g.' date=' gambling) sites, and one-word keywords.  However, if I ever wanted to, just as I did with the "search engine optimization" phrase when I finally felt like doing it, I could do it.[/quote']
That's a change of tune, Jill. It's not long ago that you said your methods couldn't work for highly competitive search terms. Let me tell you - your method doesn't work for competitive search terms. There is nothing wrong with what you do. In fact my article on seo copywriting states that the technique, together with SEF, works. It points out its limitations and weaknesses, but it does say that it works for uncompetitive search terms.

[quote name='Advisor]However' date=' smart SEOs know that optimizing for the most competitive keyword phrases isn't always the best way to do things. [/quote']
You won't hear any argument from me about that except to say that successfully optimizing for the most competitive search terms is a darned great help!

[quote name='Advisor]And sorry to tell you this Phil' date=' but it is all about rankings.  What are we optimizing for, but for rankings?  I optimize for high rankings and a great user experience.  The two never have to be mutually exclusive.[/quote']
Of course it's about rankings. I never said it wasn't. If you're refering to me saying that search results are not relevant, I meant that they are not relevant to this discussion, which is about what "search engine optimization" means.

[quote name='Advisor]I would pit my rankings against any of yours' date=' any day.[/quote']
Ok. If you want a contest we need to pick something that is highly competitive and that neither of us is, or has been, involved with. That's to make it as fair as we can, although you'll start with the advantage of having a PR7 page to seed from. If you agree, we can ask people to suggest a highly competitive search term for us. Anything to do with casinos is out because I already do that. Shall we do it?

Btw, I seriously dislike being refered to as a "scum bucket" company and "scummy". Those who use such words cannot expect any sort of personal considerations, especially when they don't retract the comments.

Phil.

#48 Advisor

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:46 AM

Bottom line is I optimized that site for those phrases and it's ranking high in Google for them.

To say that the page isn't optimized or that I didn't optmize doesn't make sense. You can attempt to make me understand it, but how could I make sense of that sort of twisted logic?

The page and all it's tags are either optimized or their not. The test is whether it's ranking high for what it's optimized for. It is. Whatever else it is you're trying to say and to make me understand (it seems to me) is irrelevant to this particular discussion.

I optimize a page for specific keywords and it ranks high. I am totally blown away that this doesn't make sense to some of you and that anyone could say that I or anyone else does not optimize.

And BK, I didn't optimize for that particular phrase that Aim is beating me for. But I did optimize for the other ones.

Jill

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:47 AM

Ammon/Phil,

  So based on your perspectives, I was wrong to think my title tag was doing any good for my site other than being a possible match for some of Google's criteria. Jill shouldn't be the only one getting hit here.  

No Kim. You've misunderstood. What we are saying is that an element on a page, such as the Title tag, can be optimized for one search term only. That's all.

Phil.

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:49 AM

Btw, I seriously dislike being refered to as a "scum bucket" company and "scummy". Those who use such words cannot expect any sort of personal considerations, especially when they don't retract the comments.


I never referred to you that way. I do not personally attack anyone, and I didn't personally attack you.

Jill

#51 Guest_PhilC_*

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:49 AM

To say that the page isn't optimized or that I didn't optmize doesn't make sense.

That's because you don't want to understand. I'm sure it's clear to eveyone else what the word "optimize" means.

Phil.

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:53 AM

Btw, I seriously dislike being refered to as a "scum bucket" company and "scummy". Those who use such words cannot expect any sort of personal considerations, especially when they don't retract the comments.


I never referred to you that way. I do not personally attack anyone, and I didn't personally attack you.

Jill

You didn't name me personally but, when you wrote it, you knew very well that I was included in those you were refering to. And even if you didn't realize it at the time of writing, you certainly knew it when I pointed it out - and there was no retraction.

People are entitled to their views and opinions, but it really isn't a good idea to go around using such inflamatory words in public.

Phil.

#53 Advisor

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 08:58 AM

Alright, whatever you say.

I'm tired of going around in circles on this as nothing productive is coming out of it. You have your definition, I have mine and obviously, they will never meet.

To me, what you're saying is as wrong as wrong could be, and to you, what I'm saying is as wrong as wrong could be. C'est la vie.

You didn't name me personally but, when you wrote it, you knew very well that I was included in those you were refering to. And even if you didn't realize it at the time of writing, you certainly knew it when I pointed it out - and there was no retraction.


No, you've said many times that you do not use the techniques that I refer to as "scummy."

I believe there are many, many scummy SEO companies out there and I will not retract what I said.

<added>Okay, let me expand on that a bit. By scummy companies, I usually mean those companies that barely know a thing about SEO. They may use WPG and just plug in the info to create hundreds of doorways...but they really don't know what they're doing or why they're doing it. Yet they try and pass themselves off as SEO companies. Very often, all they serve in doing is getting their client's site penalized -- or worse. If that's not bad enough, then they create a whole bunch of new domains and do the cross-linking thing, again...eventually getting their client's sites in trouble.

I strongly believe that these sorts of companies need to go away. At the very least, they need to understand that what they're doing can be "dangerous," and they need to inform their clients of this fact.

I'm not at all talking about companies or people like Fantomaster who know exactly what they're doing and have studied it in great detail. It's all those fly by night SEO wannabes that are more of a problem. And perhaps it might possibly be those that purchase a program such as Fantomaster's software, without really knowing what they're doing. I think relying on software without understanding what it does or why it does it, is a bad thing. It will lead to more junk in the engines, more pages being banned, and more clients being burned because they weren't informed. (I believe that Fantomaster doesn't even recommend cloaking at Google.)

I think Google and the search engines in general will eventually weed out the worst of the "bad apples" and will also eventually weed out any techniques that they don't want to allow. It's getting closer to that, but there's still a way to go.

So to get back to the original question...is all SEO spam? No. Some is, some isn't. (Using my definition of SEO of course! Using Phil's definition, I guess the answer would be yes!) </added>

Jill

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 09:04 AM

Alright, whatever you say.

I'm tired of going around in circles on this as nothing productive is coming out of it.  You have your definition, I have mine and obviously, they will never meet.  

To me, what you're saying is as wrong as wrong could be, and to you, what I'm saying is as wrong as wrong could be.  C'est la vie.

Jill

Well, whatever else, it made for a very lively thread.

Phil.

#55 cre8pc

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 09:15 AM

Well, whatever else, it made for a very lively thread.


Ok. Does this mean I can stop biting my nails now?????

K.

#56 Black_Knight

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 09:27 AM

Ammon/Phil,   So based on your perspectives, I was wrong to think my title tag was doing any good for my site other than being a possible match for some of Google's criteria. Jill shouldn't be the only one getting hit here.


It's not that your title tag will do no good, its more that it could do so much better for one phrase if it were not trying to target others. For Google, the 'exact match' title is generally the strongest title, though of course there are 99 other factors to the actual ranking of the page.

The old metrics of optimization are the best ones for nailing down exactly what is meant by optimizing a specific tag.

Keyword prominence is about how close to the beginning of an element the keyword or key phrase is placed. In TITLE tags, a high prominence is usually best, but on at least one engine, you can actually rank higher for having one word (any word) before the keywords. Naturally, where a specific prominence is best, only a single word/phrase can be in that position in a single tag. That's not to say you can't compensate with the optimization of other tags in the page, but we all know how important the TITLE is.

Keyword weighting or density is about how much of an element is keywords and how much is other words (filler even). 100% density is an exact match, with all the words of the search phrase and nothing else. If two keywords are used in a title 8 words long, then the density is 25% for the phrase, and 12.5% for either word.

Keyword frequency or count is the number of instances of a keyword. This is a complementary metric to Prominence and Weighting. A title "Money, money, Money!" gives the word money a 100% prominence and a 100% weighting, just as the title "Money" would have, but the frequency is the difference.

This is the first time it hit me that inclusion of an element wasn't considered optimization.  Has left me at a loss for words here.


Ah, but surely we as SEOs know that being included somewhere in the results for a search term (perhaps down at #296) is not at all the same as being optimized for the search term. That's the case on the macro scale of optimizing, and it is just as true on the micro-scale too.

For many companies, traditionally so few of their rivals were actually SE optimized that just using keywords where a search engine spider could find them was enough. However, SEO is in a huge growth spurt, and competition is going to get harder and harder in the coming months and years. Once every competitor out there is using the keywords in their copy, which anyone can learn to do in minutes, it will be back to one page beating another because of link popularity (which favours older companies who've already had SEO done over newer clients - your future business) or because the on-page criteria more closely matches the exact algorithm (keyword density, prominence and frequency).

I guess the best way to put this into plain english is to talk about tastes. Lets take a simple cheese and tomato sandwich. Now, if someone were to build a robot that would go out and find, taste and rank all of the cheese and tomato sandwiches in the world we have our search spider.

It will not be enough to simply remember to include both cheese and tomato in our sandwich. Sure, in the past our competitors forgot to include one or other ingredient within the actual sandwich, or else covered it with so much fancy relish and garnishing that the robot couldn't taste it, but everyone is learning.

There is a world of difference between a sandwich that just includes cheese and tomato, and a sandwich which is your ideal (optimal) cheese and tomato sandwich. ;) So much for my analogy - I'm starving now and off to make a sandwich, optimized for my personal algorithmic preferences. ;)

#57 Guest_PhilC_*

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 11:22 AM

That's all very well, Ammon, but what if you don't like cheese? How can someone optimize for a cheese and tomato sandwich who doesn't like cheese? Do they tell the prospective client to go away? What kind of world (and livelihood) would it be if we had to turn down clients just because we don't like cheese????

Phil.

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 11:48 AM

Okay, wait! Something is starting to click.

It seems that you are saying that an optimized page would *only* be one that was like this:

<title>Cheese Sandwich</title>
<Meta Description>Cheese Sandwich</>
<Meta Keywords>Cheese Sandwhich</>
<Body text>Cheese Sandwich</>
<graphic image>A Cheese Sandwich</>
<Alt tag on the graphic>Cheese Sandwich</>
<link pointing to the page>Cheese Sandwich</>

So this is what an "optimized" page would look like?

(Now I'm hungry too :roll: )

#59 Black_Knight

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 11:56 AM

Tsk, you forgot the tomato! :roll: ;)

#60 cre8pc

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 12:00 PM

What kind of world (and livelihood) would it be if we had to turn down clients just because we don't like cheese????



ok Phil. You're just totally scaring me now. :crazyeyes:

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 12:12 PM

Tsk, you forgot the tomato!  :roll:   :lol:

Would hate to try and optimize for TWO sandwich items!!! That would be impossible. :rofl:

#62 Black_Knight

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 12:50 PM

Well, we all knew that there is no clear definition of "Spam", and have illustrated here that there can be a multitude of valid (but largely incompatible) definitions of SEO.

Perhaps when posing the question "does SEO = Spam" we might as well ask "Does x = y" without defining the value of the variables. In fact, we may as well be asking "how long is a piece of string?".

We could spend months arguing a definition of SEO and never reach an agreement even on a majority concensus. For example, does SEO include optimising PPC listings that appear on search engines? For many it does, and for others it does not.

There is no definition of SEO, only thousands of differing implimentations.

Even attempting to look at specific optimization techniques is generally a fruitless endeavor. Google have recently slammed 'shadow domains' and yet dozens of companies, including search engines, use domains that simply serve to redirect to their main domain.

Try visiting http://www.av.com/ for instance and you'll be speedily redirected to a location specific sub-domain of Altavista.com. This is not only IP redirection, but av.com is indexed in Google and could therefore be called a shadow domain...

There is no specific technique that is always wrong or disapproved, only implementations of any and all techniques that are likely to get complaints and penalties.

You are just as likely to be labeled a "spammer" for over-stuffing meta tags as for using javascript redirects to move visitors to pages that are substantially different to what was indexed/listed. That doesn't mean that either meta tags or javascript redirects are themselves wrong.

Questions like "is this technique spam?" or "is that technique wrong?" are missing the real issue. The real issue is and always will be "what are the risks and implications of using this technique to acheive that objective?". The end does sometimes justify the means, and the reason one uses a technique is more important than the technique one uses in many cases.

#63 bragadocchio

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 04:00 PM

Now, how about a cheese, tomato, and spam sandwich?

If we did spend months debating the definition of SEO, I think that if we came up with one, it would be out of date by the end of the debate. Take a look at Kim's excellent post, which is a fine encapsulation of the history of website promotion.

Call it a character flaw, or whatever, but whenever I see someone screaming about ethics, I find myself prone to question what prompted the inquiry. If a search engine is examining the ethics of an industry that closely related to it, I have to ask myself why. And, I find myself wondering about the ethics of search engines.

If I do a vanity search, and look up my own name, on a number of engines, I'm also asked if I want to find books about myself through a partner site. Or:

Search for "william slawski" in your local yellow pages    
Find "william slawski" at eBay! Register now!
Comparison shop for "william slawski"


Are those ethical practices? I don't know. Is this search engine a reference resource, or is it a sales and affiliate portal?

Should there be a code of ethics for search engines? Maybe. Who should come up with it? I found this article interesting: Search Engines - Economics & Ethics. It appears to be a fair, and objective essay on the subject. I liked this paragraph:

Third, any code of ethics should not be set directly by a search engine industry trade association.  Industries are often not very good at setting standards for their own behavior with the public.  I would suggest that the ethics code be developed, with both user and search engine input, by ethics, computer science, and business professors in universities around the world.  The broad nature of a proposed body of ethics would make it difficult to achieve consensus, but only a broadly based body could produce a code that is accepted all over the world.  Professional societies, such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, already have ethics committees.  Perhaps these could get involved.


I received an invoice for services rendered from an SEO company for a domain name that I have registered but haven't set up a site for yet. The way that it was written could have easily had me or someone else hand it off to the bookeeper for payment without having read it first. They want to register the site for search engines, and in a small box, in small print on the back of the page ask for my seven keyword choices for the ten or so engines that they will submit the site to for me. My dilemma is whether I turn the invoice over to the consumer fraud division of the State Attorney General's Office, or send a copy of it to the Federal Trade Commission.

That's an easy case of finding an unethical practice. As Kim's post noted, what we see search engines wanting changes over time. And those are often, but not always, in an effort to build a useful and relevant seach service. Efforts to clearly mislead people are of questionable morality.

When I find a page that lists ahead of mine in search results, and I look at the source code, and I see two comment fields that are filled with a couple of hundred keywords, am I supposed to drop everything and filed a spam report at Google? The implication from Google is that I'm being unethical if I don't:

Ask your SEO firm if it reports every spam abuse that it finds to Google using our spam complaint form at http://www.google.co...spamreport.html. Ethical SEO firms report deceptive sites that violate Google's spam guidelines


I wonder how many "Hail Marys" I'm going to have to say for not reporting that site?

I love getting traffic from Google. I think that getting relevant results from their pages is great, and I don't want to do anything to stop that from happening. I introduce people to Google on a regular basis. (Yes, there are people out there in the world who still don't know that Google is a search engine.) Their framing of SEO practices as moral or immoral just doesn't seem to be appropriate. Especially when it includes things like:

You should ask how long a company has been in business and how many full time staffers it employs.


I'm wondering how many staff members the company that sent me the invoice I mentioned above have. I bet that it's more than one. They probably have a few dozen people stuffing envelopes.

#64 peter_d

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 04:11 PM

What kind of world (and livelihood) would it be if we had to turn down clients just because we don't like cheese????


RALMAO!! That would be a killer by-line for an SEO site.

#65 Black_Knight

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 05:03 PM

Great post, Bill, and a worthy point indeed about those somewhat scummy "find books about [your keyword here]" type links that some search engines show.

#66 Adrian

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 05:10 PM

OK so I'm thinking were having trouble even decided what were discussing so maybe we need to apply some sort of definition to the terms so that were not just argueing about them!!

Posing the question Does SEO = Spam?

Well I think in this instance we are refering to SEO as meaning any practice of doing something to a site to improve its ranking in a search engine (mainly Google but others as well). This will encompass any other terms like those used by Phil and Jill. I believe this to be the context it was used in but someone please correct me if I'm wrong. Maybe using the term SEO isn't strictly accurate.

Then Spam. This I'm not so sure I can do justice too. Search Engines are telling us that all sorts of techniques are 'unethical' or are considered 'spam'. What they mean is that those techniques can and are being used to manipulate the results in a way they don't like. taking control away from them.

Based on that, yes doing anything to improve rank is taking the control away from the search engine and you are using their algo for your own needs and could be referred to as spam.

Although I'm sure we all agree that we are entitled to take measures to improve where we disagree is how far we go in the pursuit of it and whether we go against what the Search Engines specifically TELL us not to.

I think if search engines were as clever as sometimes they make out, they wouldn't have a problem with a lot of the techniques they say are bad or unethical.

There is no specific technique that is always wrong or disapproved, only implementations of any and all techniques that are likely to get complaints and penalties.


As Ammon mentioned, it is not a technique that is unethical, but the way in which it is used. In my mind a technique is unethical where it is used to decieve a user in a detrimental way. For example where cloaking is used to take a surfer to a site completely unrelated to where they thought they were going.

I think Phil has used the following example before, or at least part of it and to a certain extent at least I have no problem with it:

If someone seraches for "London hotels" and on the results page they see a link that seems to refer to hotels in London. If the person then clicks that link and ends up in a place about London hotels does it matter if it isn't the exact same page that came up in the results?

I'm not really in favour of creating loads of pages 'optimised' for a specific word or phrase that is never going to be seen by a user, but I guess there is nothing in principle wrong with it (I would expect a few to disagree with me there).

If we go back to the definition of spam and redefine it as anything that leads to less good results, maybe not less relevant as such but just sites of poorer quality. Then doing something to improve rank is not necessarily spam. Only using a technique that either causes a site to be found in places where it shouldn't be or maybe even causes a good site to drop down the rankings!!

Again though its how a technique is implemented, not the actual technique that should be looked at, you can just as easily misuse page content and alt/title text as easily as you can misuse other methods usually thought of as 'spam'.

#67 bragadocchio

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 05:31 PM

Great post, Bill, and a worthy point indeed about those somewhat scummy "find books about [your keyword here]" type links that some search engines show.


Thanks, Ammon.

And, you know, ever time I click on one of those, they never seem to have any books about me. Guess I'm going to have to work harder.

#68 sanity

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Posted 05 December 2002 - 05:36 PM

Tanking aside all the argumets of who is/isn't an SEO and what is/isn't Spam, I'd like to know what the search engines think of SEO and whether they think all SEO (in it's various guises) is spam.

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 10:38 AM

Tanking aside all the argumets of who is/isn't an SEO and what is/isn't Spam, I'd like to know what the search engines think of SEO and whether they think all SEO (in it's various guises) is spam.

I've just been taking another look at the Google document and they do say what they think SEO is:-

Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted

They say that it includes writing copy, giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories.... These can be part of SEO, of course, but they are not what is widely understood as SEO; i.e. optimizing pages to rank highly. Even writing copy doesn't suggest anything to do with seo copywriting, and giving advice on site architecture is to do with website design and not SEO, although an SEO can advise on it with respect to crawling.

I think it's quite clear what sort of things Google considers to be SEO, and it isn't anything to do with optimizing or, if it is, it's only on the fringe of optimizing. I think it is also clear that Google views any sort of optimizing for rankings as spam.

The document goes on to say, "there are a few unethical SEOs who have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results". The implication is that SEOs who go further than the sort of things that Google mentions, and actually optimize pages to benefit rankings, are unethical.

Later in the document, Google lists a number 'credentials' that reputable SEOs should have, and they warn people against SEOs who don't measure up. But there isn't an SEO in the world who doesn't fall foul of Google's 'credentials'. There are people who can write copy (not seo copy), advise on site structure and even on directories but they aren't SEOs and, in SEO terms, they have no value.

I don't undertsand how any SEO, of whatever flavour, can agree with Google's document. It is an obvious and blatant attempt to persuade website owners that optimizing pages to benefit rankings is unethical and should be avoided.

How wrong they are. It's almost pathetic. Fortunately, their effort cannot succeed.

Phil.

#70 Advisor

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 10:51 AM

There you go again... :bad-words:

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 11:03 AM

hehe. But how can any SEO agree with the first paragraph on that page? Can you explain how it could be interpreted as meaning that even seo copywriting for rankings is acceptable?

Phil.

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 11:09 AM

Google wrote:

SEO is an abbreviation for "search engine optimizer." Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted. However, there are a few unethical SEOs who have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results.


Phil asked:

Can you explain how it could be interpreted as meaning that even seo copywriting for rankings is acceptable?


I think by the fact that they call writing copy a useful service, your question is answered.

Jill

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 11:18 AM

I think by the fact that they call writing copy a useful service, your question is answered.

Not at all, Jill. They make no mention of writing copy with a view to improving rankings. They go on to say that "there are a few unethical SEOs who have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results". The part of interest is in (my) bold.

I'm not splitting hairs here. From their examples of what is good, which don't mention anything at all to do with improving rankings, to their description of what is bad, which does mention the idea of doing things to improve rankings, Google clearly shows that they are against anyone doing anything, however mild, for the purpose of improving rankings.

Phil.

#74 Black_Knight

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 11:28 AM

I'm not splitting hairs here.


Oh yes you are, and two can play at this game! :P

They go on to say that "there are a few unethical SEOs who have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results". The part of my interest is in bold now. So ner. :D

By including the word unfairly, there is a clear implication that there must be other (fair) forms of manipulation, which are apparently okay. :)

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 11:30 AM

Phil, as I've seen you do before, you read too much into what is NOT there, in my opinion.

One can only judge by the words that are there and cannot make assumptions by what is missing.

It's obvious that some extra thought could have been put into the writing of that document. But I feel that their general intent was fairly clear.

Jill

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 12:14 PM

Jill: Google say that "writing copy" is fine. I see what it says - it says "writing copy" and nothing else. Nowhere in the sentence, or even in the rest of the document, does Google suggest that seo copy writing is fine. If they brought you to court for seo copywriting, they would ask "where in our document does it even suggest that doing anything to improve rankings is ok". You would have to answer "nowhere".

It is very important to see what is NOT there. It is unwise to assume that things are really meant when they are not said. We can only go by what is said, and what is said here is that writing copy is fine - nothing more. It isn't me who is going by what isn't said, Jill, it is you. You are adding to Google's words and meaning.

Ammon: I quoted that part myself - YOU are splitting hairs :D Are you suggesting that Google accept that there are fair ways to manipulate search results???? I don't think so. I am certain that their use of the word "unfairly" describes the act of manipulating search results, and is not intended to seperate different methods of manipulating them. You need to do something about those split ends!

Phil.

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 12:27 PM

Phil,

SEO copywriting is copywriting!

To make a distinction is like saying someone can't write "sales copy" for their site. They have to only write non-sales copy, or editorial copy, or whatever.

When Google comes out and says no copy that stresses the benefits of your service, that will be the day we should all pack up and go home. For them to say no SEO copywriting, they would essentially be attempting to dictate the content of your site. "No writing copy that describes what you do!"

I don't think so.


Jill

#78 Black_Knight

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 12:34 PM

I am certain that their use of the word "unfairly" describes the act of manipulating search results, and is not intended to seperate different methods of manipulating them.


If all manipulation is bad, there is no need to describe the act at all. The fact that they add a description implies that only manipulation that matches the description is counted.

The use of a qualification to a condition is grammatically always an indication that qualifications apply. Sure, perhaps this is simply poor grammar, but it is uncertain, and should not be assumed - assuming meanings that aren't there is exactly what you're telling Jill off for. :D

You need to do something about those split ends!


Are you sure you want to debate hair with me?

*looks at Phil's pic meaningfully* :roll: :P

#79 Guest_PhilC_*

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 12:37 PM

I am reminded of a saying that my old grandmother used to say - "There are none so blind as those that don't want to see" - except she said it in a north of England accent.

It's pointless my discussing it any more when people can't see what's in front of their eyes, and insists that Google meant something they never said. I'm out.

Phil.

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 12:43 PM

I am reminded of a saying that my old grandmother used to say - "There are none so blind as those that don't want to see" - except she said it in a north of England accent.

It's pointless my discussing it any more when people can't see what's in front of their eyes, and insists that Google meant something they never said. I'm out.

Phil.


I couldn't agree with you more! (Finally, something we agree on!)

Jill



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