Google Poops on SEO Industry & Violates Your Privacy
Google is now attacking a link building strategy that incorporates using paid blog networks where one writes one article then submits it to a service that posts that article with the embedded back links to hundreds or even thousands of sites in their proprietary blog network. Google admits most of their new penalties are using manual research and algorithm overrides in order to deindex or penalize sites using the service. Of course, they are deindexing the sites that sell such services.
Google is sending out warnings that go something like this:
Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.YourAccusedSite.com/,
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
I think Google has a hard row to hoe in front of them with this Big Brother with a big stick assault on webmasters. It’s clear what they are doing is signing up for these services, then finding out where those sites are in the network, then with their trojan horse technique, they are deindexing those sites from a manually generated list. They are hoping that they only have to do this to a few sites, then others will stop the practice out of fear it will happen to them, thus creating an example of them and getting others to take down their sites. So the snowball effect will kill the practice and the industry.
The biggest flaw in this monopolistic Google attack is that all you have to do to destroy your competition is to submit an article to one of these blog networks containing back links to your competitor’s site and viola your competitor is penalized or deindexed without doing anything against Google’s policies. Therefore, I think there is going to be a backlash for Google’s reckless deindexing of people’s sites.
Google penalizes you for doing exactly what they do; in fact they are hurting you for emulating their business model. Google survives on their paid back links network called Google AdWords, so Google is hypocritical trying to hurt the little guy while doing the exact same thing they are accusing others for. Google is notorious for surrounding organic search with their paid links network. They even try to make the paid AdWords links appear like part of the regular organic search by putting those paid links at the top of the page in line with the natural search below it. This wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t a monopoly, but I get 95% of my search traffic from Google. This makes me want to fan the flame to any alternative sources of traffic like other search engines and social media.
Even though Google makes subtle changes in their paid search links above the natural search, many of my clients are fooled by them thinking those ads are part of the natural search. Even though I have gotten their site to position one on page one, the client still points out that Google’s paid links network is outranking their number one spot.
Google has been caught buying paid links to artificially boost their own websites in a Google search. Then, to add salt in the wound, they said they would penalize the rogue group at Google for doing so, but the self-imposed penalty only lasted for a brief 60 days.
Other invasions of privacy are standard practice for Google even though they are in violation of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they don’t care, for them they use those sacred documents for toilet paper. In fact they’ve submitted a patent to secretly listen to all your cell phone calls to learn your likes and dislikes to target you for ads for even more profits. This is clearly a violation of many laws, but what does Google care, privacy is a joke at Google. Their closeness to American Intelligence agencies are alarming as well. God only knows how much information they sell to the government. This revolving door relationship may be the reason Google is able to skate the law.
Big G can throw billions of dollars into their legal department to insure their violations can proliferate without restraint. Even Congress and the governments of other countries were appalled when it was revealed that Google was going around the world collecting personal data from your wi-fi signal at your house. When caught, they said it was an accident…sure. So far, the courts have only fined them $25,000 for this but not for stealing you data, but for their delays in responding to the courts inquiries.
For a long time Google ran ads across the bottom of copyrighted music videos and movies to make a profit off of other people’s’ talent without paying them a dime in royalties on their YouTube site.
Google tracks your searches even when you leave Google sites and they save that history which can be used against you in court. Some people refer to this as the Google Supercookie. In fact, the previous CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, admits it in a CNBC interview and says you should never search for anything that might cause a red flag. Of course the excuse to invade your privacy is coupled with the trite phrase, ‘what difference does it make if you have nothing to hide’, but who is Google to decide when they violate everything they condemn their users for?
Here is the previous CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, warning people that they save everything you do and are willing to share that information with the government because of the Patriot Act:
Americans think the Patriot Act was written as a result of the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, but it was authored in 1995 with Vice President Joe Biden as the lead organizer. It was locked and loaded and the politicians were anxiously waiting for an excuse to unleash this unconstitutional law. The Patriot Act was written for American citizens and terrorism was just the excuse they were waiting for. Americans chose safety over privacy because the voters have become apathetic and no longer value their freedom like they once did.
London-based Privacy International gave Google their lowest rating of any company they have ever evaluated:
I think in the end, Google will back off hurting sites that they allege use paid blog networks for link building because it’s too easy to destroy your competition beyond their control by using blog networks to build links to your competitor’s sites. After this rash practice develops enough backlash, they will only penalize or deindex the sites selling those services.
On a good note, Google has revealed that they have a weakness in their algorithm that can’t automatically detect and filter links in a blog network without sending an employee in to manually pick apart these networks. Secondly, they revealed that they consider these links powerful enough in SEO optimization to go after them in this unprecedented way, so links integrated into ample content are likely very powerful to boost the ranking of a site that one links to. It may serve you well to create your own private blog network since they’ve made it obvious that those links are valuable for SEO.
After posting this article on my blog, I noticed a lot of people are finding it by performing a search that asks, ‘does it hurt your site if you link to a deindexed site.’ In the past, you could never be penalized by links you can’t control like off site links pointing to your site, but it’s always been part of the algorithm to be filtered for linking to sites like link farms from your site to theirs, so yes, I think you could potentially be penalized for linking to sites that Google says is against their terms of service. The reason Google has created this possible penalty is that you are in complete control of what you link to from your site, but not sites that link to you. This is yet another example of how they’ve violated their own policy. I do not know how far they will push this new attack as it goes against everything they’ve ever promoted about search and SEO. They are now throwing out the baby with the bath water and discrediting their company. Google constantly violates policies they imprison their users with because they have taken the stance of a malevolent dictator. They justify their hypocrisy knowing they have a monopoly on search and that is serves people well when they can return results that help them find what you are looking for efficiently. It’s clear they believe in the Machiavellian principle that the end justifies the means.
Google has become an illegal monopoly in market share and now with the obvious telltale of all, they are taking their domination in the marketplace and using their power to destroy competitor’s businesses. The only paid links they want you to buy are theirs and now they are deliberately destroying people’s livelihood that own blog networks by deindexing them and killing their search traffic for doing the same thing they do. They do it under the guise of advertising, but either way, they control the traffic and give it to whoever they want and on the flip side, they take it away to boost their own profits. Just ask the owners of BuildMyRank.com, SEO Link Monster, SEO Nitro because Google destroyed their business by deindexing their sites. Their businesses were destroyed overnight. Google even demands that they confess their sins to Google in a letter exactly like the Catholic church does in confession before you can be forgiven by the Google God. Google is a jealous God that will spend billions to kill other competitors. Can you say Congressional hearings? Can you say multibillion dollar class action lawsuit?
Google has exposed themselves to even more legal action by creating a system where you can obey the Google Bible Commandments to the letter, then have a competitor build links from one of Google’s forbidden sites and get them deindexed. So the innocent are screwed and Google’s stand is that it’s just necessary collateral damage for the greater good.
All the above is my opinion and I’ve never been a fan of paid blog networks for SEO. I have been aggressive in explaining the negatives of Google because they never stop trying to lord their monopoly over us all for control and profit. Google has become the central nerve system for a Big Brother Orwellian nightmare.
SEO has been around for more than a decade and as of this post, not one SEO Expert in the world encourages you to build back links to your sitemap. Let me be the first.
Sitemaps were developed to aid in the navigation of sites and to assure that Google and other search engines would index your whole site and even though sitemaps are widespread, SEO consultants overlook them for link building. Brad Fallon gave me my original foundation in SEO and there were a couple of things he said in his “Stomping the Search Engines” 8 hour audio course that I never forgot:
1. “Most SEO is snake oil”.
2. My SEO course gives you my latest knowledge of current best practices, but the Google algorithm changes constantly so I wish to equip listeners with the knowledge on how they can test and stay current with the changes to the algorithm.
I still remember Brad’s word in my head because I listened to his 8 hour course at least 60 times. I will read any SEO consultant’s latest blog post on SEO trends to stretch myself with new ideas, but I test all their so-called secrets in the trenches. I don’t get paid for a black box, I get paid for results.
Even though I’ve never read any advice to build backwards links to your sitemap, I do it all the time. I even build back links to my rss and atom feeds for my posts and comments. Why? Because Google indexes them.
I did a search before I pubished this post and SEOs say you’re an idiot to think building backlinks to your sitemap makes any sense other than to get your pages indexed. I’m proud to go against every SEO expert in the world, because I’ve tested this exotic link building practice and it works.
I also build links to pages which SEOs say not to, like your contact page and your disclosure pages and privacy policies. I find that deep links from any page if it has a link back to your home page is a good idea. If you are worried about losing page rank on your money pages, then use a technique that Leslie Rohde coined called Page Rank Sculpting, Page Rank Shaping or Link Sculpting where you add the no follow tag to links going to pages where you don’t want Page Rank leak.
By using Leslie Rohde’s dynamic linking of internal pages, you can get a big boost in ranking because Google counts on site links as well as off site links.
Link building to your site map or rss feeds does not give you dramatic page rank boosts, but all things being equal, it can give you an edge against a competitor’s site. One of the primary services I offer is Online Reputation Management where I push the negative links in a Google search off of the first several pages and replace it with content you or your company is comfortable with, and in doing so, I often need an edge over other sites, so little things like building links to sitemaps and rss feeds can make a critical difference.
There is a small percentage of SEO consultants that will recommend you list your feeds with anchor text in RSS directories, but you never hear them encouraging you to create regular anchor text links to your feed urls. Even if you don’t get a direct boost in the rankings by building direct links to your RSS feeds, you will get targeted traffic which indirectly gives you more incoming traffic and it builds page reputation. The Google algorithm now counts page traffic and bounce rate in their ranking. At the time of this post, I have no indication that it is a major factor, but I have evidence that it is at least a minor factor.
As a guy that builds thousands of links before I have had my first cup of morning coffee, exotic link building to these taboo pages is a standard practice for me. If you only have limited resources, then I’d stick to traditional SEO because you’ll get more bang for your buck. However, when you’re going head to head with the best of the best, then I’d do it for the edge it gives you. If you are worried about leaking Page Rank from your primary pages, then make sure you link to the forbidden pages with the no follow attribute. Then, when you link out from the dead zone pages to your money pages, do it with a do follow tag.
Today, I did a Google search for my name on page 2 of the SERP in position 7, my sitemap for GlenWoodfin.com is right there staring me in the face: http://www.glenwoodfin.com/sitemap.xml. If Google indexes the link, do you really think it doesn’t count for ranking? Quit following the so-called SEO experts…think for yourself (see photo below).
Sitemap SEO: Link Building to Your Sitemap
A couple of years ago, I was in the dark about RSS feeds, they were a bit of a mystery, so I read everything I could get my hands on about xml feeds. Many attribute magical qualities to RSS feeds. They talk about them like they are similar to Super Balls that ricochet all over the Internet like a virus, but what is the truth? Their primary function is twofold:
1. To notify the search engines that new content has been published and is ready for indexing
2. Those with RSS readers will receive the content automatically through a push system so they don’t have to return to your site to see if you’ve updated it with fresh content. If you have subscribed to a site’s feed, the content will automatically appear in your RSS aggregator. With spam filters on overdrive using email, this has been proven to be a more reliable methods of delivering content. Once you’ve subscribed to a feed, the content will be delivered with 100% success.
Where do feeds get their reputation to hold magical qualities? Their 3rd power is in syndication. I speculate that after feeds began to proliferate, creative webmasters and marketers saw that they could amplify their content distribution with RSS. Many auto bloggers and scrapers search for feeds 24/7 using keywords to grab content from feeds and publish your content on their sites on autopilot. Therefore, if you have back links in your content, one hopes to gain back links on autopilot and also get traffic from the funnel created. Does this technique work for an SEO boost? Yes, to an extent. There is no Google algorithm penalty for duplicate content on other people’s sites regardless of what all the phony SEO experts clam, but their value is diminished by Google detecting it and moving many of those links into the supplemental index. Those links absolutely will not hurt your site’s ranking but their link juice is mitigated. Up to the Panda Update in February of 2011, it was a proven method to get a boost in rankings. It still works to some extent, but it’s not nearly as powerful of a technique as it was pre-Panda. In fact, the creation of Google’s supplemental indexing of duplicate content much earlier clipped the wings of using feeds for link building a long time before Panda came along.
You will get more traffic through content syndication, which will give you a small boost in rankings. I’ve published press releases and have had literally thousands of other sites publish my content on their sites either word for word or as a truncated summary on their sites. Some of the web sites will carry your active hypertext links on their sites while many others will post your content because many strip out your links, leaving the only benefit of a boost in traffic if people see the content on someone else’s site then come over to your site if they find the content attractive. There is also the hope that others will come to your site and find other things to crow about and give you the credit through new back links. In order for this phenomenon to kick in, your content will need to be good, the syndication alone won’t assure that.
How do I know for a fact that the other SEO experts are wrong about this aspect of duplicate content? A local Volkswagen Audi dealership brought me in for a marketing consultation and they gave me some powerful ammunition to reel in new clients from beyond their local market by guaranteeing the lowest price in 3 states: South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. I put up identical blog content on about 50 sites while changing only a few small items: the keywords in the domain names, the title, description and keyword meta tags and the H1 tags. Everything else was cookie cutter exact duplicate content. Each of the sites soared to the top of the search engines in their respective locations as I created sites for every major city in all 3 states. The campaign worked well until the dealerships in those cities whined to the regional franchise managers. In fact, many of them were downright outraged that we were able to go head to head with them without having to have a brick and mortar facility in those remote cities. We offered the guaranteed lowest price plus free delivery to their door, or if they were willing to pick up the vehicle in person, we’d put them up in our city’s finest hotel and take them out to dinner for a romantic get-a-way. How could they lose? I am taking down all of those sites as I write this, but the campaign worked for the whole of 2011.
If you appreciate me revealing SEO secrets like these, please encourage me to continue by sharing this on your Facebook, Re-Tweeting or clicking the Google+ button below.
Want to maximize the promotion of your feeds, check out my post on: Twitter feeds. Also, I did a post on how to ping a page to get it indexed faster at: Auto Pinger.
When people trash your name online, it can kill your business and destroy your personal reputation. In fact, many have committed suicide over what is said about them online. That’s how serious this issue is. Whether the allegations are true or not, when people search for you or your company’s name, if they find dirt it can be devastating even if it’s unfounded. Contacting Google or Bing on the grounds that it’s not true are nearly hopeless. You’ll have two chances of getting them to override the algorithm; slim and none. Google does not care about you specifically, they do the best they can at creating a system that works on autopilot and they are not designed to manually override their algorithm unless you are a Democratic candidate for President. Google absolutely has a Liberal bias. For example, when someone went viral with a photo of Michelle Obama blended with a monkey’s face, they manually panned the ranking of that photo in no time as where Google bombs which put George Bush in a bad light continued to rank highly for an extended period of time. So, if you’re not married to a Democratic President, don’t expect Google to help you set the record straight. The previous CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt and the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, promote Democratic causes. Many of them are public.
If you’d like to contact Google and ask them to help you, knock yourself out, here is the Google phone number and contact info (good luck!):
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Phone: (650) 253-0000
Fax: (650) 253-0001
Or, even better, just drop by in person and ask Google for help (see map and may the Force be with you):
The process of cleaning your reputation can involve contacting the webmaster/author or administrator of the site where the negative piece is and negotiating the removal of the negative content. If contact information is not available on the site, sometimes you can use the WhoIs Database to find out who owns the site. When the registry says the domain name is owned by proxy, you can email the custodian and they will forward your email to the owner/administrator. When these methods are fruitless, you can use DomainTools.com to do even more private investigation research, but there will be a nominal charge to use their service. If they remove it, then mission accomplished, but often if that person holds a grudge against you, then they’ll be happy to know that you are twisting in the wind over their hit piece, so often this is a last resort. If they know it is keeping you up at night, then they’ll promote it even more causing you more pain.
The safest approach is quietly pushing positive content higher than the negative and they won’t even know you’re being proactive. The higher the positive sites rank, the further down the page the negative will drop until it’s off the first page. Then, you keep going until you scrub the second page of a search as well. The first page of a search is the most critical because most people never even go to the second page, in fact, studies show that 42% of clicks done after a search go to the site in position 1 on page one. About 12% of the clicks go to position 2. The last listing on page 1 in position 10 only get less than 3% of the traffic. You can mitigate over 97% of your problems by getting the negative off of page one of a Google search. You are golden if you can push the negative off of the first three pages of a Google search (SERP: search engine results page(s)).
One solution to someone slamming your name on the Internet is to hire an online reputation manager. A good one is worth every penny. Short of that, you can do some DIY or do it yourself online reputation management. If someone has something positive they wish to promote, then I push those sites higher in the Google ranking so they will get more sales and promotion, thus killing two birds with one stone. My services often more than pay for themselves using this technique. I find this personally gratifying.
Online Reputation Management Tips
1. Start by buying every domain name associated with your name or your company’s name you can afford. For example, if your name is Barack Obama, buy BarackObama.com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .us, .co, .ws, .mobi and .tv, etc., because people with bad intent can nab those and use them against you and they tend to come up higher in the search engines just by Google giving them a boost in ranking as part of their algorithm. If you can’t afford them all, the most important ones are the .com, .org and .net, in that order. Publish them as a website immediately, even if you don’t have time to put up any content. The sooner you publish them, the more authority they will have in ranking. I recommend putting them up as a self hosted WordPress blog if you can, because of the built-in rss feeds and free plugins to assist you with SEO (search engine optimization). I’d recommend hosting them at Bluehost.com; they have the best 24/7 American customer support I’ve ever experienced. For less than $8 a month, you can easily host 50 to 80 sites and you have push button installation of WordPress blogs. If you know what meta tags are, then you should at least put those in with your name or your company’s name in the title, description and keyword tags. Google will give you extra points for adding that optimization.
Next, buy the most obvious negative domain names with the words scam and sucks in them. There is evidence that Google ranks negative words like scam higher in the search results, especially in their drop down list in the Google suggestion list of relevant searches that appear instantly below the search form as you’re typing in your search. For example, if you are Wal-Mart, buy WalMartSucks.com and WalMartScam.com. An ounce of prevention gives you a pound of cure. Why leave those out there on the market to those with bad intent to use them against you? Those are super powerful negative domain names which are easy to use to put a cloud of doubt over your reputation. Often, perception is reality. I recommend buying your domains at: GoDaddy.com as they have some of the best prices in the industry along with 24/7 customer support by phone.
2. Grab all the social media accounts in your name that you can. The most powerful ones are Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter, but I suggest you use a tool to help you get a comprehensive list of what’s still available on lesser known sites. A great tool is NameChk.com. Before you do a search for your name, be sure you select the option under the search box that says: “Show All (159)”. See illustration below:
Other social media username availability sites are: KnowEm.com, CheckUsernames.com, NameCheck.com and NameCheckList.com for starters. Mashable.com has a list of 7 of the top social media username checkers here: http://mashable.com/2010/08/17/reserve-social-media-names/. I’d take every one off the market you can. It’s time consuming, but you can outsource it. To really get the most bang, I’d put a link to any site that you wish to rank higher in the profile of each account when permitted so you can promote the good while you’re fending off trolls who would love to drag your name through the mud. Make sure the link is complete by adding http:// and http://www. when appropriate to increase the probability it will show up as a live link. An anchor text link surrounded by relevant content is the most powerful link of all. Google anchor text link and learn how to create them on the highest ranking authority sites you can.
3. If they have a place for comments, you can give your rebuttal. I usually don’t do this because it fans the flame and draws more attention and it will likely start controversy and welcome other people’s opinions. The more comments and discussion, the usually it creates even more traffic and ranking to their position on a Google search and now traffic and time spent by visitors on a website are now part of the Google algorithm and it is usually best to let sleeping dogs lie. In rare cases, I have gotten things removed by countering the negative by telling the your side of the story, but it’s usually a risky tactic.
4. Get a YouTube channel in your name or your company’s name immediately. Google bought YouTube several years ago because of its popularity and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that Google favors their products in searches. Yes, they cheat, but what would you do if you were Google since they make a fortune from the ad network on YouTube, not to mention the killer traffic. It’s usually ranked in the top 3 for Internet traffic by Alexa.com/topsites and YouTube’s search engine has been ranked the 2nd most used search engine behind Google.com for a couple of years. Yes, the YouTube search engine beats Yahoo and Bing. Talk about owning traffic, whew! So use YouTube’s traffic to your advantage and as they say in advertising, ‘shoot where the ducks are flying’.
Next, put up a video and in the title, description and tags, add the name (keyword or keyword phrase) you’re are doing reputation management for whether it’s your personal name or your company’s name. If you wish to drive traffic to your primary site, begin your description with a link back to main site. Do a search for your site and see the complete url that Google has indexed on the search engine results page. If you died today, that video would keep sending your site traffic while you are playing your harp in the heavens. In order to make the link a clickable blue hypertext link, you’ve got to start with http:// or http://www depending on your actual url. For even more traffic, tell people in the video to click on the link in the description. It’s best to do a really good description loaded with your keywords because the search engines will index the whole description and it will help you come up higher in more searches for the keywords you add in the content. Most people don’t add the link or a good description; they usually just add a line or two because it takes extra work and they’re not aware that it can help them in the rankings.
YouTube is not just a place to watch videos, it’s a major social network as well and Google will reward you with higher search rankings and more traffic if you get involved with the social network. Frequently, friend people, watch their videos and comment. If you see a channel that you really like, subscribe to it. Every time you make a comment, it will leave a clickable link back to your channel and that will help you in ranking and more views. The more social you are, they more traffic you’ll get. Being social within the YouTube network is critical to rankings and traffic even if your videos are bland. So, if you don’t have a video of a water skiing squirrel, then you’ll need to be social and create value through virtual friendships. The difference is like night and day.
Another reason you’ll want to use YouTube videos to protect your name is that Google often shows a color thumbnail of the video on the search page and like a moth to flame, searchers can’t help but notice them more than a text listing, humans are naturally visual creatures and images paint a thousand words as the song goes. There are only 10 links on the default setting of a Google search, so have a goal to take up all the real estate on that page. The more of those 10 spots you control and the higher they rank, the more likely you’ll push the negative off of page one. If you focus on this technique, you can get several color thumbnail links on page one as well as page two, so jump in, the water’s fine. By ranking highly with YouTube videos, you can begin to control the two largest search engines, Google and YouTube.
Go to YouTube and create an account: http://www.youtube.com/create_account. It takes about 60 seconds. They just want the name of your account, an email and a password, so no reason to procrastinate.
5. As light overcomes the darkness, promoting good content will overcome the negative content. Unless you’re dealing with a black hole, darkness can never overcome light. Light is more powerful than darkness. Simply walk in to any dark room and turn on the light and the darkness is gone. You can’t walk into a room filled with light and turn on a darkness switch. This principle of physics applies to the Internet as well. 99% of all negative pages can pushed into oblivion by simply promoting content you are comfortable with over negative links. When you push your good sites to higher positions of a search, the bad sites will vanish like roaches into places where no one will see them. If a tree falls in the woods when no one is around to hear it, then the noise it makes affects no one, so the hit pieces remain on the web, but no one sees them, so their power to hurt you is minimized to the point where you can have a normal life again.
Some people call this technique Reverse SEO, but it’s not, one selectively chooses which content they wish to promote while avoiding doing anything to help the bad urls. Reverse SEO would be doing something to harm the ranking of the bad content. Short of hacking in to the negative site’s account and changing or deleting the content, it shouldn’t be attempted by doing anything offsite to the offending site. It is possible to run bots building massive spam links to a harmful site and have it drop off the first page, but the results will be temporary. After a brief sandboxing or Google Dance, those spam links will likely end up helping the bad site in the long run. If Google permitted this tactic, then the healthy search process would be destroyed. E-commerce sites would have SEOs build bad links 24/7 to their competitors sites to destroy their ranking. So, the rule of thumb is that you can never hurt the ranking of someone else’s site by off site link building.
Analyze which sites you think say positive things about you and promote them by quality link building, the bread and butter task of an SEO. Those sites do not have to be your sites, they can be anyone’s site you think represents you or your company in a good light. Link building and SEO strategies are evolving daily because Google can tweak their algorithm overnight so that is a topic I can cover in another post so you can do it yourself or you can hire an SEO expert to do this for you. A good link builder is hard to find, they are not created equally. You can do a search for a link builder or SEO specialist, but odds are against you to find a good one without a lot of frustrating trial and error.
Be relentless in building quality links to your positive sites until the negative site is relegated to a page you can live with. Make sure your site has the keywords you are trying to protect in the title, description and keyword meta tags. Meta tags are published in the admin account of your website and they are not visible by simply going to your web page, only people who pull up the source code to your page or the search engines will ever see them but they are powerful strategies for ranking. Also, it’s good to have them in the h1 title tags on the actual page which are visible to all. Usually, this is displayed at the top of the page or in the header in large bold type. If this is beyond your ability, any common web developer can do this for you for peanuts as it’s a task that can take as little as two minutes if you know the basics of HTML. Using the keywords you are guarding in the regular content is a plus as well.
6. How do you fight a major media site like the New York Times if they are bashing you or your company? This is the nightmare scenario that hopefully never happens in your lifetime, but if it does, you are facing the black hole of search engine reputation management (SERM).
In this dire case, you’re going to need to pay a lot of money, especially if you are a presidential candidate where the media is just itching to devour your reputation. Different strategies are:
1. Spin the story to your advantage.
2. Beat the others to the punch by getting ahead of the story so you can frame the bad news and control the message. Speed is everything.
3. Hire a company like Hill & Knowlton, a PR firm, to change the news even if you have to massage the story. Large Public Relations firms have many people on their staff that used to work in Main Stream Media and they use their connections to syndicate your story among the top influencers while making them think they are breaking something juicy.
4. Publish a bogus study or whitepaper to support your argument.
5. Do all the above while doing a massive link building campaign to push sites you’re comfortable with thus making negative stories fall in the rankings. Pull out all the stops.
6. Simply tell the truth. Admit you screwed up. Apologize. Ask for forgiveness. Move on to other pressing issues. The public is forgiving and it makes those who attack you look like vultures. This technique is my favorite.
As I’ve been adding additional content to this post as time allows, I can’t help but remember where I got my original foundation in SEO. Several years ago, after investing $40,000 in courses on Internet marketing and SEO, one name kept popping up over and over: Brad Fallon. I wish to shine a spotlight on Brad Fallon, because after I realized that most of what is out there on the net about SEO is snake oil, I came across an 8 hour audio interview that Andy Jenkins did with him in a course called, ‘Stomping the Search Engines’, and it literally changed my life. After hours of listening to Brad talk about techniques that work along with the logic behind them, he said that SEO is a moving target because the algorithms are changed all the time, so it was his intention to equip his listeners with the ability to respond to the changes in the Google algorithm in realtime and therefore one could always stay on the cutting edge based on solid principles and not Internet chatter. Brad gave me that solid foundation and everything I have built since then began with his rock solid SEO understanding. Brad Fallon saved me about 3 years of aimless wandering and for that, I am grateful.
While living in Rio de Janeiro in 2006, I was frustrated that I couldn’t work as a foreigner in Brazil. I reasoned that if I could learn how to promote things on the Internet, then I could work from anywhere in the world in the American market as long as I could get an Internet connection. Imagining that even if I was old with one tooth and unable to walk, I could still make a living if I could simply lay in bed as an invalid with a laptop. I decided then and there that I would learn how to make a living online.
For the next couple of years, I burned through over $40,000 investing in online courses and live seminars struggling to crack the code on how to make a living on the net. Gurus lurked everywhere in wait for me to see their ads and lure me in to buy their over priced courses. Everything looked so shiny and I confess, I often took the bait. Over time I realized that most gurus where only good at selling their courses, Internet marketers were simply marketing to other Internet marketers. I gained a few general tips along the way, but most of the courses lacked real “how to” content or they made me feel I was jumping on a horse and riding in 50 directions at the same time.
Fresh air arrived when I came across some reviews about Brad Fallon, Stomping the Search Engines and SEO. Online marketers were raving about Brad and mentioned how much a course called “Stomping the Search Engines” about search engine optimization had made a difference for them. I finally found a place to order a copy of it for $300. Everyone’s review sounded like it was really old and out of print so I felt lucky I was able to still buy it.
When Brad Fallon’s course arrived, I found it to be an 8 hour audio interview with him going from the basics to more advanced methods on how to get your website to the top of the search engines for a particular keyword or keyword phrase. Brad even covered black hat techniques that some marketers tried in violation of the search engines terms of service. I found the course astounding. Brad Fallon spoke with such authority.
Since the Bose iPod Docking station came out years ago, I put one in my bathroom and listened to podcasts and educational courses every time I took a shower. When I purchased Brad’s course, it immediately became the only thing I listened to for a year and a half. I must have listened to that 8 hour audio course over 60 times. I listened to it in my car; I listened to it while jogging. To me, it opened a door that was worthy of my commitment.
I started experimenting with Brad Fallon’s techniques on some small time sites, sheepishly. I was so afraid that I’d make a mistake, so I’d build some links then sit back and wait hoping I wouldn’t be banned by the search engines. It was a slow agonizing process until I started to realize that the techniques were working. In fact, I found that by dedicating myself to the execution of his theories, I was getting websites to the top of the search engines at will. For the next few years, I dedicated myself more and more, going from local sites to helping multinational corporations and international broadcasting media companies get to the top of the search engines. I started devouring everything I could get my hands on in organic search until I lost all fear of SEO. I practiced my craft for a couple of years and during that time, I got everything to the top of Google that I desired. I always succeeded. It became child’s play. The Google algorithm was a joke to me, even though they claimed there were over 200 factors in their rankings. Whoop-tee-doo…I found that, like politicians, Google’s declarations about SEO were duplicitous.
Invitation to Speak at Brad Fallon’s SEO PRO at $20,000 a Seat
I rarely go to live events because most of them are just sell-a-thons to create even more revenue while fleecing attendees when they are on an emotional high. However, Brad Fallon’s Stompernet events had a reputation of attracting serious Internet marketers while keeping the upsells to a minimum, so after Brad’s $300 Stomping the Search Engines course gave me such a solid foundation with zero hype, I decided to go to a Stompernet Live event at the W in downtown Atlanta.
One should know that I’ve been self-employed for over 20 years so I rarely show up for a seminar on time, I come and go as I please. True to tradition, I came into the event in the middle of a session while the speaker was talking. I tried to let the door close behind me quietly and the first thing I saw was Brad Fallon sitting in the back row taking it all in. I could have been a good little attendee and find a seat, instead, I beelined right over to Brad to introduce myself. I was a bit shocked that he was open to a quick quiet chat and asked if I had a card. I didn’t, so I told him I’d talk to him later.
After the speaker finished his seminar, people remained in the room to share ideas one on one and in smaller groups. After saying hello to the people around me, I zipped up to Brad Fallon and I talked about what a difference he’d made in my life and how I took his solid SEO principles and evolved them into strategies for defending someone’s reputation online. I called it online reputation management (ORM) and Brad called it SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management). I did ORM for a living and I’d never heard of SERM. My ideas intrigued him and he invited me to speak to a select group of committed marketers who had not only attended his SEO Pro events, but they had opted for his intensive high level training at $20,000 a person. This elite team featured guests from all over the world. Brad wanted a strong connection with this select group of marketers, so he invited them to come to his house for many of the sessions.
I came in the night before the event and I brought an old salt friend named John, who’d built a business for 30 years and had the scars and stories to show for it. Brad met us outside and we talked a few minutes before going into his Buckhead home.
Within minutes Brad sat down at his dining room table in front of his laptop and John and I sat in the living room about 20 feet away. The living room, dining room and kitchen were really all one big room visually divided in sections. The living room was separated from the kitchen with an island bar and the dining area was off to one side creating a large L shaped room with a high ceiling.
As John and I had light conversation, Brad became entranced on his Mac. Brad asked me a few minutes later if I’d seen his new uQast project that he was about to launch. I didn’t know much about it so he scooped up his laptop and brought it over and set it on the coffee table in front of me. Brad started clicking around the admin area talking about everything the site could do. His hair was on fire as he talked. Before long I realized he’d created a propriety platform for content providers to brand their own space on the site and share any type of content imaginable from written word to high def video. He said people could share their content or create a membership section for a fee. The owner would have complete control over their own space including whether links were follow or no follow.
Brad enthusiastically went on and on about it. He talked about how long he’d worked on the project and mentioned a little about each of the coders that he’d attracted to the site’s structure. I remember that they were from various countries, but in the end I think I remember him saying one of the lead programmers lived in Costa Rica. I think he’d dropped a few coders along the way as Brad was clearly a perfectionist. He even mentioned the price tag to date which I seem to remember was over 2 million at that time. Whew! When Brad jumps into something he jumps in with both feet. I could tell from his intensity that Brad spent a lot of all-nighters testing and retesting the site and making design changes until his vision was a reality. I completely respected his commitment level. Few are able to be that focused on anything, for Brad, he didn’t know any other way.
He mentioned a tip jar and asked me if I thought it was a good idea. He said people could see your content and then give you a tip if they found value. It could be a tip as small as 10 cents. Brad asked, “Glen, have you heard of micro payments”? I said no. He explained a viewer might want to leave a small tip for good content all over the web, but the problem would be that the merchant account would actually cost more for the transaction than the tip itself. I knew that was correct, because usually banks charge 25 cents per transaction, then an additional 1 to 3% of the total. He said to solve that problem, he’d set up a way one could create an account for say $50 with a one time traditional merchant fee, then once funded, they could tip people without any further charges regardless of the amount. Sounded smart.
He and his team had worked hard on creating a proprietary search engine with ranking determined through social feedback; so, the better the content, the higher in the search engine it would rank. Very cool.
We all started talking about going out for dinner and since Brad lived there, we let him decide. We went out to his garage and got into his late-model Mercedes that had that airplane wing arch from front to back. At first I thought it was a Maybach. It wouldn’t have surprised me as I knew he’d had businesses that had grossed 20 and 30 million a year. That was common knowledge.
The first restaurant he took us to was packed, so we all agreed that it was too much of a zoo. He asked if we had any preferences for the next choice. I said that I’d always wanted to go to a Brazilian restaurant that was closing their doors on a Sunday night right as we entered. I said I think it’s in Buckhead. Brad said, he liked it and it was just down the street. Yippie! I was excited because if you’re not familiar with Brazilian steakhouses, you’re in for a treat. They typically have multiple people waiting on you and you’ll never leave hungry with their rodizio style dining.
The Wikipedia defines it like this: “Rodízio (pronounced [ʁoˈdʒiziu] in Brazil, is a style of restaurant service in Brazilian restaurants. One pays a fixed price (prix fixe) and the waiters bring an offering of food to each customer at several times throughout the meal, until the customers signify that they have had enough. In churrascarias, servers come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of meat, most commonly local cuts of beef, pork, or chicken. There are other rodízio style restaurants, for example serving pasta or pizza rodizio (where various pizzas are brought on trays). Its common, also, rodízio style sushi restaurants in Brazil.”
I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
The one thing the Wikipedia didn’t mention is that it’s customary for the waiters to place a coaster in front of you as you sit down. They put it green side up which tells the servers to keep bringing you unlimited food. When you’re about to pop, you flip it over to the red side which let’s them know you’re finished. They’ll never create an atmosphere of guilt if you leave it green, they have the attitude of your grandmother where they get great joy watching you eat and are always happy to give you one more serving. That’s one thing I really miss from living in Brazil. There restaurants are world-class. I consider them better than American restaurants. Their eagerness to serve you is much better than the typical wait staff of even expensive restaurants in the states.
We had a great conversation and Brad Fallon insisted on picking up the check. I’m sure the wine cost as much as the food. Oo la la…thanks Brad! It was a treat I’ll never forget.
When we arrived back at his home, we went into the living room and as we were sitting down he asked us if we wanted a drink. I gladly accepted as I really wanted to let my hair down and get into a juicy conversation about life and business. Brad opted for an American light beer. I think he grabbed something like a Coors Light or a Bud Light. All I remember is that it was American and light. As I reflect, I think Brad was health conscious and I was flavor conscious. I had zero interest in a light beer, so I boldly asked if he had any Whiskey. He pointed towards the cabinet and said to help myself. I did. It was free pour for the rest of the evening for me. There wasn’t a shy bone in my body.
To my delight, Brad and John hit it off. When I could see that Brad liked John’s entrepreneurial stories, I remember, I kept telling John, oh oh, tell him about the time…John can tell a story like it’s an adventure and he shared gripping tales of how he saved his business from a sure demise over and over. They were accounts filled with humor and sheer guts. They were his solutions to ‘no way out’ situations. I must confess, his true stories keep you on the edge of your seat. John is the master of recreating an event as if you were there. He knows exactly how to pull you in and make you feel like you’re watching a good movie.
Brad asked me questions about my business and it was obvious he was disappointed that I did so much of the work myself. I could tell he thought I could delegate or automate a lot more of the work.
After hammering Brad with a bunch of personal questions, I could tell he was getting restless with my line of questioning. In fact, I’m sure I was irritating. I tend to push things until people open up, but that wasn’t Brad’s style. I like to force things until I can see where a person’s boundaries are, you know, where someone begins and ends. I became the odd man out at times.
We stayed up till 4 a.m. then realized we had a seminar to do in the morning which was fast approaching, so John and I headed back to our hotel.
We rolled in late the next morning and people from around the world had gathered in the same rooms we had spent time in a Brad’s house the night before. He had catered the event so everyone had food and drinks in front of them. Brad had food delivered all day.
Brad gave me a great introduction, then I went wild in front of a white board for an hour or more. The Internet marketers had great questions and to my delight Brad had scooted up close and sat on the edge of his seat. He was very interested in my SEO techniques. It felt great to see he was so into it.
Then, he invited my friend John to tell his story as an example of how to overcome the odds in business and got a hearty round of applause at the end. I was proud of him. He was inspiring and he had an audience that really appreciated his risk taking style.
That’s it, we hung out at the end of the day as we had dinner with the savvy attendee, then we headed back to South Carolina to our respective homes.
One thing I hope you get out of my post is that you can start in obscurity struggling online to crack the code on how to become an expert in online marketing and one day for all the dedication you’ve done in private, it can one day be rewarded in public. It’s like you have to go through a dark tunnel, but take heart, there is light at the end of it when you emerge. Try not to be like me when you surf the net and every guru has a course that sells for a boatload of money and they all look shiny. Have discretion and be skeptical. I dropped $40,000 one year on Internet marketing courses, but the only one that changed my life was a $300 course from Brad called Stomping the Search Engines.
As I finish this post, I’m looking across the room at that stack of products just sitting there and I shake my head.
Is .com the best domain name extension for the highest Google ranking? The answer is yes from my experience.
Here’s how I did an my casual empirical study mixed with a little of my own anecdotal evidence. Every time I publish a blog with a .com extension, it shows up on page one within a month or two if there are only 100,000 or less competing broad match sites in the search results. Often, a new .com site works its way to the first position on page one of a Google search if the exact keywords are in the domain name. I’m amazed that since the beginning of 2008, I’ve been enjoying this phenomenon. It sure does make optimizing my sites a lot easier. Usually, I don’t have to build more than about 5 appropriate back links to get in the top position on a Google for local businesses in a city of 500,000 or less.
What about the other domain name extensions like: .net, .org, .info, .biz, .me, .mobi, .tv, .us and .ws? To test it, I published multiple blogs at the same time with all of the same domain name, meta tags, h1 titles and descriptions and the only two that were hot in the summer of 2009 were .com and .org. The others showed up on page 50 or deeper. I know that this isn’t a scientific test, but I have been witnessing this trend for at least 2 years. So, my preference would be .com, .org and then .net. The others, well good luck, you’ll need to get familiar with additional search engine optimization strategies if you use .info, .biz, .me, .mobi, .tv, .us or .ws. I do buy and use them, but I try to avoid them if possible because they are more of a challenge to rank well.
To galvanize my point, I have several blank websites at the number one spot on Google with nothing but an h1 tag and the meta tags. So, content isn’t as important as some preach even though SEO gurus often say, “Content is king”. I believe with the current Google algorithm, content is not king. Links absolutely beat content with Google. Great content does not get you to the top of the search engines, SEO does.
Brad Fallon of SEO Research, one of my most admired SEO experts, said on his famous “Stomping the Search Engines” SEO course, that it didn’t make any difference to Google which domain extension you used. “Stomping the Search Engines” is over 5 years old and I believe that it does make a difference today what your domain name extension you secure. I’ll bet Brad has seen a shift as well. I’d love to hear his latest thoughts on this as I respect his opinion on search.
On a similar issue, as I mentioned above, it is prudent to secure a domain name with your primary keyword phrase. That will give it a boost as well. So many go for branding, but I go with keywords in domain name whenever possible. If I have to go with branding on the main site domain name, then I’ll simultaneously promote a blog or another site with the primary keywords in the domain name, then point the traffic to the main branded website.
Most know that getting some age on your domain name and website helps in your rankings as well. If you purchased a domain name and you’re leaving it as a generic parked page at GoDaddy, then publish it with meta tags and at least an h1 title tag to start getting some age on the site. When you are ready to create the rest of your site, you’ll climb to the top even faster. I used to leave everything on Cash Parking at GoDaddy, but those sites have become a mere fraction of what they used to bring in revenue, so now I say, publish early and publish often, forget Cash Parked pages unless you are making a bundle.
Ranking of Domain Name Extensions:
The .co domain name extension came on in the last year and was marketed as the new .com. I tested it and it’s a dog. They were trying to sell it for a $30 premium, but don’t fall for the hype.
2011 is coming to an end, I’ve been finding the top 3 domain name extensions remain to only ones with an SEO boost. A domain name reseller tried to tell me that the new .co is the new .com, but after testing, it’s just a sales ploy because it kind of sounds like .com; it did not fare any better than .biz. The price was a whopping $28 with no added benefits. If you are grabbing all your domain name extensions to protect and control your name online, then I recommend buying it. I own all mine for that purpose.
What have your experiences been with domain name extensions and Google ranking? Please share them with us.
As of July of 2011. The .com, .org and the .net varieties remain the best top level domain name extensions for seo. I have seen no notable boost for all the others. GoDaddy.com sales people were pushing the .co extension as the new .com; however, after testing, it became clear it was a dog and simply a sales ploy to take advantage of the naivety of the public. Unfortunately, they were selling it off at a premium price (around $20 or $30 a year as I recall); sad, indeed.