Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How "Doing The Right Thing" Can Destroy Your Bottom Line!

Due to the highly volatile political scene that we are confronted with these days, marketers sometimes get their priorities confused.

It seems that as the country becomes more and more polarized between those in the "right camp" and those in the "left camp", many people get confused regarding "doing the right thing" politically. As people become highly agitated with anything that interfers with their views, they become blind to the fact that voicing those views in the wrong forum can not only disrupt their business, but destroy it.

From the time I was knee high to a grasshopper, I was taught not to share politics or religion in mixed company. The reason was very elementary. Most people have very strong feelings regarding their political or religious bent. When discussions begin with those who have opposing views, fireworks can be the outcome of the "discussion"

With the advent of the internet and proliferation of talk radio, people are becoming more educated regarding their political views as well as their "adversaries" political views. The outcome of this is that more and more people espouse their opinions in public forums than ever before in history. Afterall, we do have the freedom of speech, don't we?

Of course, the answer to that is yes. Does that mean you have to declare your beliefs during every facet of your life? I don't think so...I have seen small retail businesses go belly up due to the management "doing the right thing" and associating their political and/or religious beliefs to their business.

Today, I received a marketing letter in which the publisher began trumpeting his views about an issue that is very much in the forefront of controversy today. He of course, believed that he was "doing the right thing" by inviting all his customers to join in his "cause". It obviously did not occur to him that anyone could possibly have an opinion different than his. I for one had a diametrically opposed opinion of the issue from him. The end result was that even though I have spent close to a thousand dollars purchasing products from this person during the past year, I have now unsuscribed from his newsletter and blocked all emails from him. I wonder if he even considered that this could be the result of him "doing the right thing"? Was I right or wrong for reacting this way? I guess the answer to that is your choice to make...I already made mine.

As I have learned during the past 6 decades, there are very, very few thoughts that do not come with opposing views. (Are there any?) Consequently, I believe deeply that there is no right or wrong, only personal opinions.

Certainly, many believe that the proliferation of their political and/or religious views is more important than loss of earnings that they may realize if those views are integrated with their business. However, I wonder how many would believe that, if their business or career was destroyed due to their arrogant belief that they can spread their message far and wide with total impunity.

The point is that whether you wish to realize it or not, your political and/or religious beliefs that have nothing to do with your chosen profession can alienate anywhere from a few to a landside of customers, causing them to run for the exits. Online and offline marketers are not immune to the devastating results that can occur when they are "doing the right thing".

If one wants to become an activist for any cause, one may be wise to consider first if their activities will be associated with their business in any way. If it will, they may want to ask themselves whether or not they will be OK with it if that association destroys their business. If the answer to that question is no, they may want to find a different forum in which to excersise their freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech is a constitutional and godgiven right...Don't get confused when exercising it when you intertwine it with marketing your business...Use it the right place and right time. Sometimes, when you are marketing and exercising free speech together..."Doing the right thing" is not always "Doing the right thing"!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"Are You Deliberately Keeping Your Website Out Of The First Page Of Google?"

Search engines are very difficult to completely understand. There are no complete explanations of how their ranking algorithms work. But the very fact that the average person does not intuitively know how to crack the search engine algorithms leads to all sorts of questions; Usually variations of:

“How do I get my website to the top of the search engine results pile?”

Now if you have been following my newsletter, you will know that search engine optimization is not magic or something equally difficult to understand. Instead, I learnt it as a step-by-step process and that is how I have always considered it. Nothing too fancy; in fact, I could probably summarize it all in the following points:
An understanding of how search engines “think” .
Knowing what search engines “want” .
Learning proven optimization techniques .
Applying your knowledge time and time again (experience).

Of course, SEO is not explained by those four sentences, but what they do is that they give you a structure within which you can learn and carry out SEO on your business with exceptional results. In short:

Get it right, and do it better than your competition.

But what does this have to do with today's discussion?

Basically, when you have “followed” the SEO strategies to the letter, and are still not seeing your website rank anywhere near where it “should” be on a particular keyword, then you have one of the following problems:

Your website may have been sandboxed (specific only to Google).
Your website might be penalized or even removed from the index by a search engine for going against a stated guideline.
A search engine might “think” that you are spamming them.
In the first case, you will have to “wait it out” with Google, while consolidating on your positions in the other search engines by continuously building links and adding content. The second case will never happen if you follow the advice given in my lessons; if your website is penalized, compare what you have done with what I have told you, and you will probably find out that something has gone wrong.

However, like I said in the beginning, search engines are notoriously difficult to understand – and sometimes you can do everything right and still not be ranked correctly. Conspiracy theories apart, this is the part of the equation that search engines do not always get right. SEO experts usually term this as over-optimization , and like many SEO issues this one has a lot of debate on it in SEO forums about whether websites are actually penalized for over-optimization or simply banned for spam.

What exactly is over-optimization?

Over-optimization happens when your website is considered “too good” by Google – either in terms of a sudden volume of backlinks, or because of heavy on-page optimization. In other words, if Google considers that your website optimization is beyond acceptable limits , your website will be red-flagged and automatically restricted or penalized.

There is a fine line between over-optimization and spamming, and it is on this line that Google can appear to err. However, this is not a mistake by the search engine – in fact, Google calculates rankings by considering thousands and thousands of different factors – and a lot of importance is attached to average “trends” within the niche / keyword range that a website is optimizing for.

The bottom line is that over-optimization is non-spamming search engine optimization that is misread by Google as being beyond acceptable limits, thus leading to a penalty in search engine rankings.

What criteria does Google use?

To understand why Google can consider certain websites over-optimized, it is important to factor in the criteria that Google uses to rank websites.

When fully indexing a website, Google does not just look at the optimization of the target website; it also compares the website with all the other websites that belong to the same niche / category / keyword range. Through this comparison, Google can then figure out the following:

Is this website “way more” optimized than the current top ranking websites?
In the past, have over-optimized websites been discovered as spam websites?
What are the trends / acceptable limits for well-optimized websites in this niche/keyword range?
Since Google is automated, it cannot do what we do – look at the webpage and determine if the purpose is spam or delivering truly useful information. Instead, the search engine uses historical trends to predict what the acceptable limits of over-optimization are, and how likely over-optimized websites are to be found out as spam.

In other words, your website may be red flagged as being a potential spamming website even though your only fault might be that you were “perfect” in optimizing your website while your competition was left far behind.

Google takes both on-page and off-page optimization into account when checking for over-optimization / spam, and as such it watches out for over-optimization in all ranking factors – your backlinks and your tag optimization (meta tags, title tags, header tags) being most important.

A lot of what I am talking about becomes invalid if one tries any overt search engine spamming technique , such as stuffing your pages with keywords, white on white text (something I talked about in the first few lessons) or backlink spamming (building too many backlinks with the same anchor text in a short period of time.

But it is also possible that you have followed advice and still have your website penalized for over-optimization. The real question then is:

How can you avoid such penalties ?

Avoiding the trap of over-optimization

As I mentioned at the start of this lesson, search engine optimization can be boiled down to two simple steps:

Getting it right and…
Doing it better than everyone else .
In the context of over-optimization and avoiding unnecessary penalties, this rings especially true. If you optimize your website within search engine guidelines and according to proven optimization practices, you have it right. While putting too little time on SEO is a serious mistake, the search for perfection within SEO is a time-wasting and fruitless effort. Too much focus on getting the page structure “just right” can divert attention away from the more mundane but equally more important tasks – such as adding more content or monetizing the website.

The next step is to eschew perfection and find out what your competition has done. Suppose that you are optimizing your website for the term “landscaping”. Which of the following approaches would you realistically choose?

• Go full-throttle on your search engine optimization, spending as much time as necessary to get maximum value out of each word, link and page in your website, so that you can get the highest ranking possible.

• Analyze the top 10 webpages for the term “landscaping” and understand what optimization has been performed on them (natural or artificial). Calculate the number of backlinks, check for authority inbound links – and once you have figured out what your competition is doing, and do exactly the same – only a bit more .

The first approach might mean that you are guaranteed a top position on the search engines, but has two problems – you will waste a lot of time and resources in this search for perfection and more importantly, your website may be flagged for over-optimization. On the other hand, the second approach does just enough to beat the competition – without pushing you or your budget to the limit.

Over-optimization is a phenomenon that is particularly difficult to figure out – how does a SEO expert really determine whether his new website is in the sandbox, penalized for over-optimization or just doing badly in the search engines? While trying to find out the real cause for your poor rankings may satisfy curiosity, you would be better served by following the “second approach” above.

Search engine optimization is a long-term, low-intensity process. You keep building links and adding content, so that eventually your website not only escapes the infamous sandbox but it also starts to rank really well on the search engines. And as for over-optimization – as long you follow search engine guidelines and don't go too far above your competition, you will be fine.

Terry Vogler

Author of this article is Brad Callen of

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Google and the Mysterious Case of the 1969 Pagejackers

Lost a lot of traffic from Google recently? Slipping in the SERPs? You've heard of the Google Bomb, Google Whacking, the Google Dance and Googlisms, but there's a new Google-word you might be interested in if you're losing your Google Juice. What is this new term? I call it 302 Googlejacking. The problem seems to have been around since at least August 2003, and is commonly known as the Google 302 Pagejacking issue. To be fair, it has affected other search engines as well.

If you're curious, there are some things you can check that will show whether or not you've been afflicted by what some people call a bug at Google. (Who knows, maybe it's just a 'feature' we don't understand. ;) Also included are some side notes on the 1969 cache bug/feature that might be related, Google Update Allegra, a poll on the big three and more. If you're into SEO, read on.

Googlejack Test

Type the following into the nearest Google searchbox:


Look through the results. If you see a Title and Description that are identical to your site with the URL for another site underneath it, you may have been pagejacked, or as I say it, Googlejacked.

Technical Details:

Two primary types of redirects are used on the web - 301's and 302's. A 301 redirect means 'moved permanently.' This is the type of redirect you should use most of the time if you care about search engines. The other type, a 302 redirect, basically means 'moved temporarily.' When someone redirects to your site using the 302 method, Google seems to be associating their website (i.e. their URL) with your page (i.e. your CONTENT.)

If you want to read more, please, visit the original source at kuro5hin.

Article By kpaul


Google Allegra

Word has it Google's dancin again and the latest Google update is dubbed Allegra. I don't follow how / why these updates are given their names but so far it's looking decent. I've received complaints that folks sites have disappeared and others have increased in the rankings but that's nothing out of the norm. As I dig into the changes I'll provide insight.

Some rumors include an emphasis on GeoLocation with regards to sites and this would fit into the Local tab being moved to the Google homepage but right now it's just speculation.

Here's another good article on the Google Allegra update . They think they've already found a spam trick that's gaining ground called 302 hijacking. Basically, you 302 a url to someone else's url and you begin to rank well for their keywords. I think this will get fixed next month but we'll see.

Posted by: Jason Dowdell 7:30 AM

Permanent Link: Google Allegra Update


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Google's Giant Sandbox

What is the Sandbox?

Before we get too far into an explanation as to what Google's sandbox is, it must be noted that not everyone even agrees that the sandbox exists. The sandbox is actually nothing more than a theory developed to explain what many different SEO experts have witnessed with their listings. Whether or not the sandbox really exists is actually irrelevant when we know that the effects of the sandbox exist.

Google's sandbox is a relatively new filter that appeared to be put in place back in March of 2004. This happened after the widely publicized updates of Austin and Florida, and the implementation of what is known as the Austin update. If you are not sure what those are, there is no need to worry as those updates are for the most part in the past. The sandbox filter seems to affect nearly all new websites placing them on an initial "probation" status. The effect of this is that new websites may get into Google's SERP's (search engine results pages) relatively quickly and may even perform well for a couple of weeks. When the filter is applied to the new website it is referred to as being put in the "sandbox". The new website still appears in the result pages, but it does not rank well regardless of how much original, well optimized content it has and regardless of how many quality inbound links it may have. The filter keeps new websites from having immediate success in the search engine result pages.

The sandbox filter seems to affect almost all new websites, with very few exceptions. It is important to note that the filter is not a punishment for anything a webmaster does with a new website. The filter is merely an initiation period for new websites.

The sandbox filter also affects competitive keyword driven sites more than sites that key in on less competitive keywords. If your website focuses on very competitive keywords, you are likely to remain in the sandbox for a longer period of time than if you focus on keywords that are relatively non-competitive.

Why Does the Sandbox Exist?

There is a lot of debate as to whether the sandbox filter is a good thing for Google to implement or not. Obviously webmasters who are trying to get their sites well positioned in Google do not like the sandbox filter as it prevents them from receiving the huge levels of traffïc that a top listing in Google can bring. The filter was not implemented at random, however, and there are some good reasons for the filter's existence.

As the SEO community figured out the basic elements of Google's ranking algorithm, inbound links, original content rich with keywords, and the proper use of anchor text, search engine spammers began to take advantage of these elements, setting up websites that were in clear violation of Google's policies with the knowledge that eventually those websites would be banned. This, however, did not matter. If a search engine spammer got a website to rank well in Google for even one month, the profïts justified the cost of building the site in the first place. All that needed to be done in the future was to rebuild the sp@m websites with different domains and slightly different content. The idea for spammers was a simple one - capitalize on Google's traffïc for as long as possible (before being banned), then do it all over again with a new website. The method was extremely effective and easy to implement.

What made this all the more easy to accomplish was Google's extremely fast indexing. While other search engines would take several months to index a new website, Google could index a website in as little as one month (sites are currently being indexed within a few days). Search engine spammers were living large off of Google's generosity.

To solve this problem, Google determined that it would compromise by continuing to index websites quickly, attempting to get as much new, fresh content out to the general public as possible, but new websites would not be trusted as implicitly as they had been in the past. Instead, all new websites would be put on probation. As time passed, and a website continued to pass any sp@m filters, it would begin to perform well in the rankings. Eventually, the site would be allowed to "leave" the sandbox and join the rest of the established websites.

How Does This Affect My Website?

If you have a new website, there is a good chance that you will be placed in the sandbox. This should be expected, but it should not change the way you build your website or market it. You should use the sandbox filter to your advantage.

Google still ranks websites in much the same way that it did in the past. Websites are judged on the quality of their inbound links and the quality of their content. Google will continue to change how they evaluate inbound links and content, but the basic elements of ranking will remain the same.

While your website is in the sandbox, you should use the time to build your traffïc using regular traffïc building methods such as writing articles, building a strong community of visitors, and partnering with websites that offer some synergy to your visitors. During this probationary time, you have an excellent opportunïty to build all the elements that cause websites to perform well in the search engines. When your site finally does leave the sandbox, it should be very well positioned within Google.

Is My Website in the Sandbox?

When webmasters learn about the sandbox filter, their first question is always whether or not their websites have been placed in it. Determining whether or not you are in the sandbox is relatively easy.

First, being placed in the sandbox is different than having your website banned. If you do a search for your domain in Google and it returns zero results for your website (and you had been previously listed in Google), there is a chance that you have been banned. One of the best ways to determine if you have been banned is to look at your log files to see if Google is visiting your website. Banned websites typically do not receive Google visits, regardless of who is linking to them.

If you have not been banned, but do not rank well with Google, you should look at the quality of your content and the quality of your inbound links. You should also see if you rank well for non-competitive keywords. Remember how the filter affects competitive keywords more than less competitive keywords? Well, you can use this to determine if you have been sandboxed. Finally, if you rank well in all the other major search engines, but do not show up at all in Google's rankings, you have probably been sandboxed.

Is There A Way to Get Out of the Sandbox?

The quick answer to this is yes, there is a way out of the sandbox, but you will not like the answer. The answer is to simply wait. The sandbox filter is not a permanent filter and is only intended to reduce search engine sp@m. It is not intended to hold people back from succeeding. So eventually, if you continue to build your site as it should be built, you will leave the sandbox and join the other established websites.

Again, if your website has been placed in the sandbox you should use this time to your advantage. It is a great opportunïty to build your traffïc sources outside of the search engines. If you have a website that does well in the search engines, you may be tempted to ignore other proven methods of traffïc building such as building a community, or building strong inbound links through partnerships. However, if you establish traffïc sources outside of search engines, when you finally leave the sandbox, you will see a welcome increase in your traffïc levels.


Google has been going to great lengths to reduce search engine sp@m. Some have faulted Google for this, claiming that legitïmate sites are being affected as well as the sp@m websites. While this is probably the case, as an owner of a website, you need to place yourself in Google's position and ask yourself what it is really looking for in a website. Google is looking for websites that offer quality content and still relies on the natural voting system that was first used to establish pagerank. Google may change the way it qualifies content or inbound links, but the basic elements of a quality website will always remain the same.

No website owner in his right mind "likes" Google's sandbox. However, a smart website owner will use the sandbox as an opportunïty to build a website that Google simply cannot reject.

About The AuthorMark Daoust is the owner of This article originally appeared at


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

MSN Search Official Launch

Without fireworks, with a simple few lines communicate on their Blog, Microsoft guys have officially announced the launch of their neww MSN search engine, which, consequentially, is not in beta anymore. As forecasted earlier last month on this blog, this happens in February, just a few weeks after their beta rump-up announcement.