Natural Search Blog


The end for Google bombing?

Reports are coming in that “Google bombing” doesn’t really work any more. Specifically, the theory is that now at least one of the words in the hyperlink text has to appear on the page being linked to, for the Google bomb to still be effective. But if that’s the case, why is George W. Bush’s bio page on whitehouse.gov still #1 for “miserable failure” in Google? I scoured his page for the word “miserable” and the word “failure” and found neither one! ;-) Look here and you’ll see that Google couldn’t find the words either.

In any event, do bear in mind that focusing all your search optimization efforts on offpage factors and neglecting the onpage factors as well won’t bode well for your Google positions, I’m sure of that. And if you’ve hired an SEO firm that’s overly focused on the linkbuilding and not giving any attention to fixing your website’s search engine unfriendliness, you should probably reevaluate your decision.

Looking up historical PageRank scores

Ever wonder how your home page’s Google PageRank score has changed over the past couple years in comparison to your competitors? There’s a way to go back in time and check, assuming you’ve been listed in the Google Directory for a while. Just use the Wayback Machine and dig up archived versions of your category page in the Google Directory. For example, if your site is listed under Shopping: General Merchandise: Major Retailers, simply type into the Wayback Machine the URL “directory.google.com/ Top/Shopping/General_Merchandise/Major_Retailers/” (view the archives of this page here). This isn’t just useful for checking the actual PageRank scores. Since the sites listed on the Google Directory are sorted by PageRank score, you can also review your movement relative to the other sites in your category for smaller incremental PageRank changes. For example, did your site climb to the 5th position in that category even though your integer score didn’t change?

Don’t rely on the Internet Archive to capture these Google Directory pages with any sort of regularity. Going into the future, you should ideally be monitoring and recording the PageRank scores of you and your competitors on a regular basis.

Search Engine Optimization as an industry shouldn’t exist

Maybe I’m being a bit provocative here, but I don’t see SEO as a viable industry long-term.

Would you hire a company to produce a shoddy TV commercial for you just to turn around and hire a TV commercial optimization company to fix it?

If not, why would you be amenable to such a scenario with your web site? It just doesn’t make sense.

Search engine friendliness, as well as usability, should both be core competencies of the web developers. Don’t hire a web vendor that isn’t going to do a proper job of the website development from the get-go — including making the site “sing” for the search engines.

SEO isn’t a black art like Seth Godin opines. It’s scientific, measurable, and testable. And there’s a wealth of information online about SEO, freely available. There’s no excuse for a web design firm to deliver anything but a website that’s been optimized for search engines.

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Buying/selling/brokering PageRank – A slimy approach to SEO

As you may know, a key component to search engine optimization is links from important (i.e. highly PageRank endowed) web pages. I think buying links for PageRank is just plain slimy… the lazy man’s approach to SEO. Here’s one such hawker. Yuch!

Your Google listing is a reflection of your brand!

For years, Starbucks didn’t seem to have a clue… the Starbucks.com home page showed up in Google with the title “Cookies required.” It wasn’t even “Delicious, fresh-baked hot-out-of-the-oven cookies required!” Finally now they’ve corrected this to a ho-hum “Starbucks.com.”

These guys don’t exactly looked “clued in.” For an offline equivalent, I’d imagine a yellow pages ad announcing: “No time for a proper ad this year. Check next year’s book and hopefully we’ll be on the ball by then.”

Not nearly as bad, but still needing attention, is Home Depot’s home page search listing with the title “Thank you for visiting.”

The worst offender is Hotmail: for years their home page shows up in Google as “Sign-in Access Error.” Gee that really instills confidence, particularly when I’m searching Google for “free email” and Hotmail’s access error listing is juxtaposed next to Yahoo’s much more compelling listing, titled “Yahoo! Mail – The best web-based email!”

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Ongoing search engine submission? You’ve gotta be kidding!

I just heard about a supposedly-reputable competitor of ours in the search engine optimization space that’s charging clients recurring fees of many hundreds of dollars per month for “submission services” to major search engines. What a joke! That just goads me, that they would take unsuspecting clients for a ride like that. We haven’t submitted a single site to any major search engines since 2001 or earlier. A site with good links gets found by the spiders. Period. Frankly, resubmitting sites that are already indexed isn’t just unnecessary, it’s asking for trouble. And charging for it to boot? Well in my mind that’s unethical.

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