I've been reading about it in loads of places, thinking about it almost all the time and chatting on the phone till BT scare me with the phone call charges,about this type of thing for a while now, but a discussion that led to the phone with some colleagues made me think it is worthy of a post here.
What can be automated and what can't in SEO?
which leads onto
What would you like to see automated that you do manually at present?
In all honesty I prefer the idea of what can't be automated as it sets a challenge to be beaten and I LOVE challenges.
I'll try to kick the discussion off with what can be automated succesfully.
I am NOT saying I do these things manually, in an automated fashion or know of anyone that does or does not have the knowledge, skill or codebase to undertake these tasks. This is merely a discussion document, hypothesising about what MIGHT be possible. ;)
Blog finding tools - Automated
Forum finding tools - Automated
Blog content addition tools - Automated
Forum content addition tools - Automated etc etc etc for other types of CMS
Page theme analysis - Automated
Proxy hunting - Automated
Multiple proxy usage without code or network changes - Automated
Search Engine Algorithm reversal - Automated (LMAO, do some of them need a tool?)
Site Building tools - Automated
Crap Content Building tools - Automated
Good Content Building tools - Semi Automated
Page Element extraction/analysis - Automated
Auto correcting grammar checker - 99% Automated
Crap Quality Link Building - Automated
NOT Automated - High Quality Link Building
That's a start from me, what do YOU think can be added to the list?
News: AOL Puts A Stake In The Ground
Looks like AOL wanna play with the big boys, actually, looks like AOL want to copy Yahoo with a media model Search strategy. John Battelle has the full details in the threadlink above.
After dropping the walled garden model last autumn AOL have announced their intentions to enter the Search fray fully - they're now playing with the big dogs and by the look of things, present a serious threat to Yahoo's search model as well as to a lesser extent, Googles.
As one might expect, AOL has joined Yahoo in taking what might be called the "media model" of search. The media model takes a person's query and salts the results with all manners of human edited results - mostly from content the service owns, or content that the service access from partners, or content from the web that the service edits together to create what has been called "smart search", "search shortcuts," "programmatic search," and the like.
AOL is taking this to the extreme. It is, after all, a major division of a gigantic content player, and up until now, that content was locked away behind the failing access business model. No longer. AOL Search is taking the media model of search to the maximum - they have 60 full time employees creating edited "snapshots" which respond to what AOL Search chief Gerry Campbell says are 20% of all queries. That's 2.5 million snapshots preloaded, so when you type in a popular query, you get an "answer, not just a list of results." I imagine that number will only continue to grow. Yahoo circa 1995, anyone? This time, however, AOL only has to pre-load queries which prove out to be worth the time - the log files will tell them which ones. As will the economy. "We won't have a smart box for a query like 'birds of the Maldives'" Campbell told me. " But that's why we have Google."
Check out the New Search Interface
Forresters Charlene Li has this powerpoint before and after snapshot - why these muppets cant use a simple jpg is beyond me - but dont it look grand? Don't it look Yahoo!
NTY's Alan Pogue has a short but interesting post about the Gmail strategy - Viral marketing is undoubtably a powerful thing, we see it more and more on the net these days from carefully planned campaigns like Gmail to simple word of mouth buzz ala del.icio.us. So, is the power of a slow, ever exanding ripple of buzz worth pursuing?
But it's gradually becoming clear that Google has a different master plan. It's doling out a handful of free accounts to existing members, letting them each invite another handful. The result: a slow, controlled, viral spread of Gmail accounts.
It may be that Google has no intention of announcing a big "Open for business" moment. Remember, Google has its own way of doing things (witness its "public auction" of stock shares when the company went public). It wouldn't surprise me if this slow, measured seeping out of Gmail accounts is precisely how Google intends to take this service public.
Over 8 Million Blogs Served...
PubSub are now monitoring over 8M blogs according to the threadlinked post at CEO Bob Wyman's site.
Over the weekend, the number of blogs we monitor at PubSub.com passed over 8 million. As of a moment ago, we were monitoring 8,049,578 blogs, of which we consider 4,591,573 to be "active." (Currrent numbers are always shown on our home page.) I believe that 8 million is the largest number of blogs being monitored by any of the various search engines, directories, etc. that provide coverage of the blogosphere.
For those that dont know, pubsub provides a monitoring service - you stick in your keywords - maybe a product, company name or whatever then pick up the results on RSS and subscribe via your newsreader.
Why is this good? Think about it: You publish stuff on certain topics right? Being first to the news or first to interestng posts gives you a massive advantage over less savvy competition and even being among the first to report on something cool within your niche can generate a whole lotta link love :)
The Kanoodle boys are in town and gunning for Google
Tom Foremski of SilliconValleyWatcher has been talking to the exec team from Kanoodle and he's impressed. Quite frankly, so am I. I've never looked that closely at Kanoodle but from what i've gleaned from Toms post (and there's lots to glean..) there cotextual ad products do seem a cut above.
Kanoodle is a private company run by sharp and savvy Fifth Avenue media professionals with impressive pedigrees (Check out their exec bio page.) They say they understand what online publishers want, and they speak their language. “We know how they want to present ads and what types of controls they need. Also, we use humans, not servers, to establish a relationship with publishers and check out their sites to make sure we offer them the right types of ads,” said Mark Josephson, senior vp of marketing and business development.
Kanoodle are in direct competition with Adsense and hungry for the biz: Tom talks about the Kanoodle execs media background vs the fact that the top tier of Google does not contain a single high grade media type.
Will Kanoodle persuade publishers to “can” Google? It will, some, but Google isn’t standing still. How many publishers deflect from Adsense will depend, I guess, on how well Google’s engineers can build a giant media company.
My question to Threadwatchers is obvious: Do you use it and what do you think of it?
No, it's true, kinda - here's the coup: I get approached about once a week by folks wanting to buy adspace here. I politely refuse, it's never been on the agenda (though some talk of ads for non-members has been had in the past) So, i was contacted by company about to launch a new product and naturally, i turned them down. I thought about it a bit and then finally went back to them with an idea i HOPE you like, that would help me experiment with an idea for monetizing TW.
Here's the Deal - $150 worth of Kit - Free for TW Members
Before i explain what it is, be aware that no money has changed hands with me and this company. They wanted to buy space but what i've actually given them is an apportunity to GIVE you their product for free. The idea is that:
You will like it
We can do it again
At this stage it is simply an experiment.
CashKeywords - 26,000 Term High Bid Keyword Database
CashKeywords knock out reports on different keyword sectors - they have 3 different products all of which are explained on the Threadwatch Members Offer Page - Essentially it boils down to this though: You get to choose one report from the following options:
Mega Top Dollar Report - Over 26,000 bid results.
High Profit Reports - 10 categories available.
Mini High Profit Reports - 83 topics available.
Details are given on the member offer page of the differences between each available report. Follow the title link above for the rest of the post
nofollow, no love: Google admits they are losing to spammers
Christopher Baus raises an interesting question in the threadlink above when he predicts that within one year Google will be ignoring the nofollow attribute - and i agree.
I boldly predict that in one year Google will give up and ignore "nofollow" meta-data.
This will be used for reasons other than to eliminate comment spam as Scoble noted.
Search engines can't determine the difference between comments and links from a blog entry.
Search engine results will become worse, and not better as a result of the prejudices of linkers.
Spammers want positioning and visibility and not just page rank, and will continue to spam anyway.
Google won because they were able to harvest the rich data available in the link networks. Link data is Google's number one asset. Today they just admitted that asset isn't as valuable as it used to be. I hope all you Forrester researchers heard that. Plus the value in links isn't just in the page rank. Its in the clicking. Don't want people to visit a site, don't link it. Simple. If Scoble links something it is my experience that it WILL generate traffic regardless of the page rank. This is just admitting that the spammers are winning.
We've been talking about this alot at Threadwatch and the majority of users (the ones involved in the threads at least) seem to share the view that the nofollow will not do a damn thing, and may even be damaging to the web.
NoFollow - A Non-Solution to Comment Spam
How to Abuse the NoFollow Attribute
Yahoo, Google, MSN Announce Joint Effort to Kill Comment Spam
It's official(ish) - Google to Attempt to cull Comment Spam
So, is the new nofollow a sign of defeat? Is it a stop-gap measure untill something more effective can be put in place or just a knee-jerk reaction to appease bloggers?
Both the Google and Msn engines have their good and bad points, but the major plus for Google is that they already have a huge userbase searching regulary on their engine and the majority of those searchers are happy with the results. To best compare the two engines and their current state of play I've split each of them into positives / negatives. Follow the title link above for the full post
Late last night bloggers all over the world started what im sure will be a very short-lived networked jump for joy as Google, MSN, Yahoo and Six Apart announced a joint effort to cull comment spam. This post looks at why this initiative will fail. Follow the title link above for more.
As GoogleGuy pointed out on an earlier Threadwatch post many other blog vendors and hosts are taking up the new nofollow attribute which is designed with the purpose of denying PageRank and link benefits to spammers:
Steve Jenson - Blogger
Matt Mullenweg - WordPress
Stewart Butterfield - Flickr
Anthony Batt - Buzznet
David Czarnecki - blojsom
Rael Dornfest - Blosxom
sounds like MSN Spaces is signing on too.
Self Congratulation and Back Slapping wont Stop Comment Spam
The collective jump for joy i mentioned above was taken up by many bloggers who, through no fault of their own, clearly do not have a complete grasp on the situation and what it involves - or the economics of blog spamming.
Among the more notable entries were the following:
Jay Allen - MT Blacklist - Cavalier Attitude
like the posters at Webmasterworld and Nick W from Threadwatch.org who seems to be posting negatively everywhere I've looked and even has a thread on a way to abuse the nofollow link type for those who lie awake at night sweating about PageRank. What-evah.
So, rcjordan posted one of the obvious ways in which the new nofollow implementation could be abused by webmasters: To cheat reciprocol partners out of PR.
What other mess might this almost certainly ineffectual effort to cull comment spam be open to? Here are some thoughts off the top of my head:
Cheating recips out of PR - rcjordan
Cheating directory submissions
PR funneling - this could be used to really skew websites as webmasters try to funel PR to certain pages an deny outgoing links PR - in fact, it could skew the web as it stands according to google if it got out of hand...
Anyone care to add some more or comment on the above?
A Defense Against Comment Spam
Jeremy Zawodny is (i think) the first to announce the unilateral Search Engine initiative to cull comment spam.
'm pleased to announce that Yahoo! Search is one of several organizations in support of a technique that should help combat weblog comment spam. Others involved are: Google/Blogger, MSN Search, Six Apart (TypePad, MovableType, LiveJournal), and WordPress.
By adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to hyperlinks, webmasters and weblog owners can tell search engines that the links are effectively untrusted.
We think this is a good first step toward significantly reducing the spam burden on bloggers and weblog hosting companies. It's great to see so many players on board. In the coming weeks you can expect to see the changes reflected in our web index.
Six Apart - Google and MSN Onboard
Jeremy points to this announcement at six apart, the company behind TypePad and MovableType and also these 2 posts from Google and MSN
Google's Announcement - as yet unpublished
MSN's Announcement - as yet unpublished
Jeremey, are you being a bad boy and breaking the news before the agreed time? hehe...
Over the past couple of months i've noticed a steadily increasing interest in Search amongst bloggers. This isn't so surprising when you think about as the recent Pew Study showed a 58% increase in blog readership in 2004 and that 7% of American adults that use the net had created a blog. This post looks at the growing blog scene and what potential avenues exist for SEO's within it. Follow the title link above for the full post.
Rich Media's The New Paid Search
Mediapost are predicting that rich media ads will out strip paid search in terms of growth this year based on a eMarketer report due out later today:
"Paid search advertising took the lion's share of online ad spending in 2004, but eMarketer forecasts rich media advertising will grow more quickly than paid search in 2005," wrote eMarketer Senior Analyst Ben Macklin in the report. "The barriers to rich media advertising, such as bandwidth constraints and ad format limitations, are falling," he wrote.
In fact, eMarketer predicted that U.S. spending on rich media advertising, including interstitials, would leap to around $1.02 billion in 2005, up from $796 million last year. eMarketer forecast that all online ad spending in the United States would reach $11.3 billion in 2005, up from an estimated $9.4 billion last year.
Still, eMarketer expects paid search to show continued strength, with $4.69 billion going to paid search in 2005, compared to $3.93 billion in 2004.
And in the context of the report took a look at the four major "portals" and assessed their outlook for the following year as follows:
Yahoo! - Excellent
Google - Very good
MSN - Very good
AOL - Uncertain
Yahoo come out on tops due to growth, aquisitions and content with AOL trailing in at the back - maybe it's time to take old shep out back and put him out of his misery?
Dogpile Search Engine Builds On Its IntelliFind Technology With New Features
As the kind lady who IM'd me this report said "I'd forgotten Dogpile even existed!" heh...
Well, I cant say that im particularly inclined to report on what dogpile does but this is kinda interesting:
IntelliFind is a sophisticated query analysis system designed to improve the relevancy of Dogpile results by assessing the likely intent behind every query and searching only the content sources that are likely to return highly relevant results. IntelliFind launched in November 2004 and was the result of a year-long development effort.
With this launch, IntelliFind now supports the integration of yellow pages content on Web search results pages when relevant to a user's query. The feature is currently in beta. Whenever IntelliFind identifies that the likely intent behind a query is to find information on a local business, Dogpile now returns yellow pages listings in a box at the top of the results set. With this new functionality, Dogpile is able to better respond to the growing number of users who turn to search engines to find information on nearby businesses.
Another new feature, Web Site Match, helps users navigate the Web more efficiently by matching every query against a database of the most popular Web sites and suggesting exact matches at the top of the results set. The Web Site Match feature was developed in response to the growing number of navigational queries - queries entered at a search engine by a user intending to reach a specific Web site. To save users time and frustration, Web site Match employs a listing of common misspellings to guide users to their destination even if their query is misspelled.
Sounds cool huh? Anyone wanna take it for a spin and tell us what they think?
Losing Referrer Info
Interesting thread over at SEW started by Black_Knight
Referral tracking is becoming an ever harder game with the growing obsession about (and misidentification of) spyware. A growing number of applications and plug-ins strip referrer info from HTTP headers sent by browsers, making the HTTP referrer less accurate by the day.
We might all decide that we'd use a refID=somevalue; query string parameter, which the engines can then look at to see if they'd teach the spider to automatically strip out that one variable, or perhaps even change the value - refID=Google; or refID=Yahoo for instance.
So gents we all know it is now happening, the large forums are growing to the point that people have stopped posting the secrets. The seo's who have been around for a while are now all mates, they get together in different places in the world, drink lots, go to seedy bars and bounce ideas of each other. Some people get invites to lots, some to a few, the mass get no invites. If you work for an se, a media company, or people even think you may talk to se's you don't get invited.
So are these people "terrorists" or freedom fighters?
The Mobile Dilemma
In December we talked about Targeting Small Screens and took a look at Douglas Bowmans ecellent essay on The Status Quo of Mobile Browsers. As a follow up to that, those interested in targeting mobile should take a look at this post by Steven from a browser vendors perspective. Sorry, i couldn't find any details on him but have asked in the comments on the post.
Among other things he lists some of the common problems associated with web content on mobiles:
There are, however, some problems that plague us, and probably all of our competitors:
bandwidth is awful - even on so-called 3G networks, the browsing experience is reminiscent of dial-up.
screen is small - 480x640 pixel VGA screens are on the horizon, but currently the high-end is 240x320 pixel QVGA screens.
screen orientation is “wrong” - most cell phones and PDAs have “portrait” screens that are taller than they are wide, while most desktop computers have “landscape” screens.
poor user input devices
low power CPU, too little RAM
legacy WAP sites
And a small ray of hope for the future:
The small screen is a huge problem for everybody, and nobody really has a solution that is enviable. This means that we generally don’t have space for sidebars and wide navigation bars, which happen to be two web design mainstays. The “wrong” orientation makes the problem even worse. However, there is hope on this front. As VGA screens become mainstream over the next few years, a rotated display will have 640px across, which should be within reason for web developers to just adapt their desktop-oriented design rather than throw everything away.