November 2, 2006
Today, I received a very exciting letter from the contact form here. I mean, “exciting”. It starts off like this:
I visited your website today and noticed that you can benefit from more original content.
I can easily make your web site more successful by adding hundreds of web pages to your site with fresh, original content. It’s an easy formula for success: More web pages with great content attracts lots of visitors that generate profit for your website.
Forget about spending hours upon hours writing content for your website or paying hundreds of dollars for a professional writer.
My service can help.
Well thanks, Article Chief, for that enlightening information. I had no idea that my website was lacking in original content. I mean, here I thought that I’d been writing new and unique content for the last 10 months!
If this was actuall submitted by hand, I would say this is badly mistargeted marketing.
However, it’s equally likely that it was actually submitted automatically: so in reality, it’s untargeted marketing. Spam. As spam goes, it’s pretty legitimate: it’s well written, it’s got a name attached to it, and it’s provided contact information (email.) But, like most spam, it’s also entirely irrelevant to my needs. And, because it’s been so badly mistargeted, the end result is that I’m reading this blog post – providing negative information about Article Chief and their marketing practices which will now be available indefinitely online.
Providing a spam service requires spam marketing, I guess. If you are selling a service which nobody really wants, you just need to market widely in order to have a chance to sell anything. Frankly, you’d be better off coming up with a legitimate business model.
Article Chief offers webmasters 300 pages of content each month for $29 per month. I immediately note that the first and second paragraph specify “original content” – but when it comes to statements explicitly about what the service offers, the word “original” is no longer present. Suspicious, isn’t it? Rather than reselling hundreds articles every month, why not spend your time writing a few pages of truly original writing and sell your services as a professional copywriter? Instead of spending your effort on untargeted marketing efforts, work on building a professional reputation: truly market yourself and your services rather than preying on unsuspecting webmasters.
Thanks, Article Chief: but I’m afraid I won’t be requiring your services.
August 3, 2006
The title of this post is, for lack of a better phrase, a joke. Really, there is no catching up from a month away from search engine news. I’ve done my fair share of prioritizing and I’m still left with a mountain of extremely interesting writing to read and the firm knowledge that more will be published tomorrow. As I said, there is no catching up.
So, rather than attempting to catch up, I’m just going to jump directly into the present. I’m reading posts which I really want to read; but making no attempt to actually cover the entire month of news. It’s a lost cause!
So what’s interesting to me today? Well, in a bit of a change from my usual fare, I’m currently reading a very interesting post on I Hate Google.org. I Hate Google.org is a SEO news blog run by one of the more well-respected and well-known "black hat" SEO experts around – Dan Kramer. He’s an expert on the black-hat method of cloaking a website – and his Definitive Guide to Cloaking is well worth reading.
The article is thorough, and discusses in detail the many valuable uses for cloaking. Cloaking is not, by itself, an "evil" technique. It has applications which are ethically questionable when it comes to search engine marketing; but it also has applications which are useful and helpful. Google itself makes use of cloaking methods when it automatically re-directs a European user to the most appropriate edition of their index.
Dan provides a great quote about the ethics of cloaking:
Cloaking ethics are a hot topic on many webmaster discussion forums. On one hand you have arguments by so-called "white-hat" webmasters who say we have a responsibility to tell the truth about our websites to search engine spiders. On the other hand you have "black-hat" webmasters who say they are only trying to keep their competitors from seeing their optimized HTML. Search engines have made their stance clear as mud by forbidding cloaking and then allowing it in some cases.
The ethics question has become thoroughly muddled, I think, because of the black/white dichotomy it’s usually presented in. Cloaking is not wrong – what is wrong is delivering different content to a human visitor than to a search engine. Delivering different content to a German search engine than to an English human, on the other hand, should be just fine – as long as your German visitors are seeing the same thing the German search engine is. I think that the most important question is what you, as a site owner, are using cloaking to do – and I highly recommend reading through Dan’s article to understand more about what it is you’re doing, and where you could be putting your business at risk.
June 8, 2006
- a term used to describe a method of maliciously removing a page from the Google search results
I’ve posted before on malicious SEO techniques – or, I suppose, "anti-optimization", referring to a story related by Nick Lewis.
Recently, the subject has arisen once more after Rand Fishkin returned from SES London with a tale of horror. Well, more an interesting proposition of how such a thing could be accomplished, but you get the picture.
The basic story is this: if you link to a set of perfectly reasonable sites, who are then pointed at by spammy sites, you may receive a penalty by association – once the formerly respectable sites are damned, your own site may be sent in the handbasket alongsides. This can hypothetically happen in any number of ways – but the end result can be very unfortunate. It’s unclear whether this is actually true – I haven’t seen any confirmation.
Google’s Sitemaps team claims it’s not possible for inbound links to damage a site’s rankings, so perhaps this technique is not actually possible.
The point of the whole exercise however is to emphasize that ranking is never entirely the product of the quality of your own site. The better the actual quality of your site, the more secure you are – but there are many external factors which could have a dangerous effect. If you’ve suddenly lost your presence in Google, but can’t identify anything wrong with your site, perhaps you’ve been targeted by some kind of internet espionage.
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