SEO - Dont Take a Sword to a Gun Fight - & - Vice Versa

Thread Title:
Talking About Search Engine Spam
Thread Description:

I just read a very interesting piece for SEW subscribers that Danny Sullivan pointed out on the SEW Blog - The article is based on the "black hat / white hat" session at the recent SES Chicago

Now, im dreadfully bored with the whole thing about hats and ethics, and have resolved not to get into it (we'll see how long that lasts..) this year but it's a damn good article and well worth a read - though you do have to be a paid ($100) member to get to it. Nestled in the middle is this little exchange between Danny and Yahoo's Tim Mayer, i think you'll like it...

Tim Mayer of Yahoo Talks About Search Spamming

I have added some notes in bold to let you know who is saying what :)

If you're being entirely organic and going after "viagra," it's like taking a sword to a gunfight. You just aren't going to rank.

Did I hear right? Was that Yahoo saying spam is OK depending on the industry? No. When I followed up with Tim, he emailed me:

Yahoo does not think that spamming is OK. We are aware that spam (or over optimization) is prevalent in highly competitive categories and realize that many webmasters in these high reward categories are willing to take more risks and use spamming techniques even though they know the search engines may label their sites as spam.

I think one of the key things I brought up in the session was when I talked about where the line was between optimization and over optimization (spam). I said this may vary by industry as in very non-competitive industries, where very little optimization takes place, the line will be very conservative and there will be little room for aggressive optimization techniques. In a very competitive industry like 'texas holdem poker' where optimization is the norm, heavier optimization may be tolerated.

I would also like your readers to know we are focused on providing great results to our users and we spend a lot of time and effort neutralizing spam techniques.

Overall, I wouldn't take the comment that everyone should go out an spam or get into "aggressive optimization techniques" yet. Certainly not if you're in non-competitive industry, otherwise you'll face what we can call the "sore thumb" problem -- that of standing out like one. Sore thumb optimization, STO, is to be avoided!

I love the quote about taking a sword to a gun fight, thanks for that Tim heh.. It's a damn good point though, there really are categories where almost anything goes and much goes without consequence on both Yahoo and Google - and having a whole ton of blog backlinks and a 5 word hyphenated url etc in squirrel taxidermy really does leave you standing with a big fat target on your back :-)

Horses for courses of course.


That's the most honest thing

That's the most honest thing I've seen a search engine rep say. Nomally, they'd just say "No, of course not, all things *are* equal."


you just outed my squirrel site

Over Optimization?

If optimum is perfect (or as good as possible), and optimization is movement toward perfection, what is "over optimization" -- an attempt to make something too perfect?

Squirrel Taxidermy? How do

Squirrel Taxidermy?

How do you come up with these things?

That query makes me think...

You really can get anything in the world on Ebay. Amazing.

Tim derserve credit

Tim has always been, in his many different jobs, a man of more vision and honest love and care for this industry than most - on and off the engines. He truely understand the nuances and honor hard working people. When he speaks up it's always worth listening to.

Sounds familiar

Tim seems to be saying something similar to what I said back in my Bh/Wh article a couple of months ago, and also at the SES conference session on the same topic.

Perhaps Yahoo is resigned to the fact that certain niches (the kind that sell the stuff we find in our spam email) are going to use techniques the search engines might normally not approve of, but that there's not much they can (or want?) to do about it.

As long as they keep it on their icky sites, does anyone really care?

Unfortunately (and I really don't want to get into the bh/wh thing again either) it IS a problem for the search engines and the searchers when bh techniques are used on perfectly legitimate sites that don't need it, imo. That's where the search engines have to pay attention to and not be afraid to penalize or ban the sites that are using it, regardless of whether they're a big brand or whatever.

The other parts of the BH/WH article in Danny's subscription area are also very good. I haven't had a chance to read it all yet, but he made some good points about the session. If you are a subscriber there, you definitely should read it.

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