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LegitScript Standards and Off-Site Linking


Thursday July 26, 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

legitscript addiction certification

For those treatment centers that have been certified by LegitScript – congratulations!

For those that are still applying, listen up.

We’re finding that one of the most overlooked standards listed in their certification standards is #10.

It states:

Applicant must disclose all physical properties and corporate entities under its control and/or to which it refers participants. Any such properties or entities that provide addiction treatment services must also adhere to these standards. 

Digitally, this means that approved centers may not link to any other treatment centers who are not LegitScript certified from their website, as it is considered “referring.” This means centers can’t link to a.) centers that are sub or sister brands of a facility that haven’t also been certified and b.) any treatment center in the US who they have linked to for a variety of reasons who are not LegitScript Certified.

Why They Aren’t Allowing Outbound Links to Uncertified Centers 

This certification standard prevents a certified treatment center from running ads on behalf of or for an uncertified treatment center. For example, if treatment center A is certified and their friends at treatment center B are not, they could feasibly get a kickback by directing their Adwords traffic via linking to the uncertified center.

What this means for your website, PageRank and SEO? 

All centers who are or want to be certified can use this tool to see their outbound links. Centers who have applied or will apply to be certified should remove links to centers who are not LegitScript certified. You can see certified centers by using the website legitimacy search tool on their website.

When pruning links, you may lose some inbound links to your website, especially if they were reciprocal links. This may impact your PageRank, so be sure to create a new link building strategy to maintain the volume of quality inbound links. This strategy can include getting links from parallel industries, individual practitioners and online industry publications while also making sure you’ve taken advantage of all local and general citations.

Thoughts? 

What do you think of this standard? We think it is a smart standard hedging against any unscrupulous players trying to survive in the new – and hopefully improved – landscape of internet advertising in this industry. Feel free to reach out with any questions or tips on your outbound/inbound linking strategy.

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google penguin opus 1
Another famous penguin – OPUS (circa 1985)

There has been much written about GOOGLE’s Penguin update which was released on April 24, 2012. This is one of the latest algorithm updates that GOOGLE has been working on – to improve search results. But let’s try to remember: improvement, like beauty, is usually in the eye of the beholder. Indeed some businesses have seen their results improve, while others have witnessed a free fall.

The purpose of today’s post is to share with our readers and our clients some good resources to understand GOOGLE’s Penguin goals and take a little time to review your site. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. GOOGLE like every major player in search engines is making updates all of the time. Some updates gain more notoriety and some happen quietly. To appreciate how often GOOGLE updates their algorithms, take a peek at this algorithm change history.
  2. GOOGLE is known for naming their updates. This is a common practice in the IT world or any project driven business. It makes discussing or recalling the project, that much easier.
  3. GOOGLE does share their best practices guidelines. They encourage webmasters to read and understand their Quality Guidelines. However, if you have a website for the purposes of promoting your business, be proactive and read the guidelines, most of it is written for the non-technical person.
  4. A good rule to follow when creating and updating your site: “Say what you do and do what you say!” Create one great site, avoid duplicate content and mirrored sites. Or as GOOGLE says: “Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.”

As promised, below we will provide links to a few interesting articles about Penguin. You might also like to watch these videos of GOOGLE’s Matt Cutts discussing penalties and web spam.

Related article

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GOOGLE makes news every day. If you don’t see the headlines hot off the presses, you may catch them later via a TWITTER feed, a Nightly News program, a cable news program, a co-worker, a client, a FACEBOOK page, or even GOOGLE’s Official Blog. February 2011 was flush with GOOGLE news. News about algorithms, JCPenney and Overstock.com. Each bit of news is vital for you to understand how it relates to your  business efforts regarding search engine optimization and your search results.

Let’s start with algorithms…

Do you know what an algorithm is? According to Wikipedia: “In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Algorithms are used for calculation, data processing, and automated reasoning.” All you really need to know for this conversation is that GOOGLE uses many algorithms to deliver SEARCH results to those that use the GOOGLE search engine. Oh, and one more thing:  GOOGLE is constantly reviewing and tweaking their SEARCH algorithms.

Everyone dreams of being #1 out of 2 million+ results, or at least everyone dreams about being on page 1. Right?  I am not talking about being #1 for your business name, most businesses can accomplish that feat with a little time, good content and responsible search engine optimization. No, what I am talking about is being #1 or on page 1 for a really competitive, albeit generic, keyword or keyword phrase. The fact is there is a lot of competition for most businesses’ wares and services, unless of course you have a very specific niche with no competition.  I will not belabor this, but instead invite you to read GOOGLE’s entire announcement for their latest algorithm update, that really deals with what they call “content farms”.  Here is an important highlight:

“Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. Google depends on the high-quality content created by wonderful websites around the world, and we do have a responsibility to encourage a healthy web ecosystem. Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.”

What about GOOGLE and JCPenney?

We all know JCPenney, the store. Heck, I used to live in a town where the only “department store” was JCPenney. We didn’t have a Macy’s, SEARS, K-Mart, Walmart, Bloomingdales, Nordstroms…somehow we managed and what we couldn’t find in the store itself we purchased from the JCPenney catalog. Did you know it was founded in 1902? That is a lot of merchandising.  But this month the New York Times reported to GOOGLE that JCPenney’s website was violating GOOGLE’s “link scheme” policy. GOOGLE investigated the claim and after finding the claim to be true, then took action against JCPenney.

On Wednesday evening[in early February], Google began what it calls a “manual action” against Penney, essentially demotions specifically aimed at the company.
At 7 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, J. C. Penney was still the No. 1 result for ‘Samsonite carry on luggage.’
Two hours later, it was at No. 71.
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Penney was No. 1 in searches for ‘living room furniture.’
By 9 p.m., it had sunk to No. 68.
In other words, one moment Penney was the most visible online destination for living room furniture in the country.
The next it was essentially buried.
PENNEY reacted to this instant reversal of fortune by, among other things, firing its search engine consulting firm.”

And now about Overstock.com…

I have never bought anything from Overstock.com, but then I am not much of a shopper. How about you?  I see their television ads and I have visited their website a number of times when I was trying to find an obscure item.  This story also has to do with links, but particular link types and how GOOGLE’s algorithm considers .edu links.  The fact is GOOGLE views both .edu and .gov sites as trusted and authoritative. Now it seems that Overstock.com was “gaming the system” and GOOGLE took action.

“The incident, according to Overstock, stemmed in part from its practice of encouraging websites of colleges and universities to post links to Overstock pages so that students and faculty could receive discounts on the shopping site. Overstock said it discontinued the program on Feb. 10, before hearing from Google, but said some university webmasters have been slow to remove the links.”

The bottom line to all of these incidents is that we’d all like to think there was some fairness in the wide world of the World Wide Web. If you own a business it is natural that you want to do well and you probably want to be able to sleep at night. Right?  

My thoughts about GOOGLE’s actions are: A few years ago, I saw a movie, “The Winslow Boy”, and in the closing scene a defense attorney states: “I wept today because right had been done.” When questioned by the defendant’s sister, “Not justice?” to this the attorney replied, “No, not justice. Right. Easy to do ‘justice’. Very hard to do ‘right’.” GOOGLE tries to do right.

My thoughts about businesses that attempt to game the systems:  Mark Twain said it best. “The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant encumbrance. How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!”

It would be great to hear from you. What do you think about GOOGLE’s attempt to level the playing field?

 

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This past weekend, October 14-16, I learned a little of how to be Webconsuls’ Chief Listening Officer (CLO). Yes, the C-Suite at many companies does now include a CLO and happily I attended Blog World Expo 2010 to learn how to listen, engage, and as @lizstrauss says “manage the present and create the future.” This is my second year participating in Blog World and I will tell you it was an entirely different experience in many ways.  Here are my “outtakes” from this year’s conference:

FOUNDATION
Familiarity can make conference attendance a little easier. The on-line registration process was simple. Blog World’s Blog allows potential attendees to get to know more about Blog World and the key players at Blog World. In addition to their blog, you can also stay current and engaged by “liking” them on Facebook and following them on Twitter @blogworld.airplane wing

I flew Southwest Airlines again this year direct non-stop from Tucson to Las Vegas. Last year I was a bit overwhelmed by their boarding process, but what a difference a year makes. I like Southwest!hotel room

This year the conference venue was the Mandalay Bay Resort and Conference Center. I cannot say enough good about Mandalay Bay. I hope to do another post just about this experience. It was great to be able to enjoy the conference and know your suite was just upstairs, a short walk and elevator ride away.

During the past several months I “met” Deb Ng, Blog World’s Conference Manager, Allison Boyer, a Blog World Blogger, and Rick Calvert, Blog World’s Founder via Twitter, Facebook and blogging. I set a goal to meet them in person.

Over the past year I have also met some very interesting people, like John McLachlan, so engaging them at Blog World was a major goal for me.

KEYNOTES and SESSIONS

Deb Ng did a fantastic job of putting together a diverse conference schedule. I hope this link stays live for a while so you can peruse what life is all about at Blog World. (Disclaimer: I took advantage of the Weekend Pass, so I was not in town for the October 14 events.)

Blog World sessions are designed by tracks. For example, if you are a TRAVEL blogger you can opt to attend only sessions that deal with the travel industry or if you are non-profit you attend sessions and learn from the social media experts on how to tweak your social media campaigns. But…you can mix and match.

I attended three of the Keynote addresses, but the most provocative was Friday morning’s State of Digital Communications in Politics with Mark Penn, Karen Hughes, Hugh Hewitt, and Reid Wilson. This keynote was moderated by Blog World’s founder, Rick Calvert. (I learned for the first time that Rick is a self-described “political junkie.”) For a few minutes Rick had to do some masterful moderating!

I chose sessions that had to do with SEO and monetization. The Social Media and Corporate America was very informative. Where else can you listen to expert strategists like Jeffrey Hayzlett (think KODAK), Frank Eliason (formerly of COMCAST, presently SVP of Social for Citi), Bonin Bough (PEPSICO) and Scott Monty (FORD Motor Company)? I think it was Mr. Hayzlett who cautioned us to remember “the customer owns the brand” and you better have a “Chief Listening Officer” in your C-Suite (no matter the size of your company).

I enjoyed meeting C.C. Chapman (I have been reading his blog for about six months) and learning from him on the panel “How to Hire a Social Media Agency.”

Liz Strauss, Carol Roth and Terry St. Marie (@starbucker) are very personable and they offered valuable strategies for building your on-line business, such as “Think BIG and value your time!”

blog worldFriday afternoon I attended the Monetization Super Panel (two hour session). Learning from successful bloggers like: Anita Campbell, Darren Rowse, John Chow and Jeremy Schoemaker was exciting. They talked about affiliate marketing, Commission Junction, and provided a road map of how one can monetize their blog. The next morning I ran into Darren Rowse walking through the lobby of Thehotel at Mandalay Bay. We had a nice conversation.

Socialization, Exhibitors and More

judy helfand

I did meet Deb Ng and Allison Boyer. This took a little time as there were over 4000 people attending the conference. You would be surprised how hard it can be to spot someone with PINK hair…hello Allison! I saw Rick Calvert a lot, but he was BUSY. I did not meet him personally, maybe next year.

I was able to meet and spend some good time with John McLachlan. You can see our photo here. We were able to attend some sessions together and had a nice dinner.

For the first time GOOGLE was an exhibitor, specifically BLOGGER.  This was wonderful as Webconsuls is a BLOGGER house, that is we use and recommend the BLOGGER platform. Imagine my surprise to meet Brett Wiltshire manning the BLOGGER/GOOGLE booth. Brett has been working on a question we posed about BLOGGER, so it was great to meet Brett in person. Also, I answered a BLOGGER survey and received a BLOGGER T-shirt.

hostessI have a friend MaryAnn Martinez; she is a news reporter for Fox5News in Las Vegas. MaryAnn called me Saturday afternoon to tell me she had passes to see Shakira. Shakira’s concert was Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Event Center(see photo below).  Can you beat that?  What a night!

Finally, while leaving Las Vegas, I had $7 in quarters that Dennis has given me prior to leaving Tucson. I played a slot machine at the Las Vegas airport and won $120. I put it in my pocket and waited for my flight home.

Ok, that is about it. I need to get back to work. If you were at BWE10, let me hear from you.

Hope to see you at Blog World Expo 2011.

blog world
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I remember the first time I encountered a “traffic circle“. It was 1988; I was 39 years old and living in New Hampshire. A business associate told me to meet him at a car dealership near the “rotary” in Portsmouth (or thereabout). But there was one problem with his directions. By “rotary” I thought he was referring to a ROTARY(as in the organization) office building. When I finally found him at the car dealership I told him I didn’t see the ROTARY to which he responded: “What are you talking about? You drove through the rotary!” Again I queried and finally he adequately described the nightmare that I had just been subjected to: A traffic circle!

So there you have it. Traffic circle, rotary or roundabouts “a circular arrangement constructed at the intersection of two or more roads in order to facilitate the passage of vehicles from one road to another.”

Recently someone (a client) asked me why I read blogs and why do I comment on the blogs I read. The obvious answer to the first part of this question is that I read other blogs to learn about the SEO and SMO industry, hoping to share the knowledge I glean with our clients and co-workers. I comment on the blogs that I regularly read if I have something to add to the conversation or if I have a question about the subject matter. The by-product of this process is that I develop social media relationships and links with relevance and reputation.

Here’s how I visualize blog commenting as a virtual traffic circle:

  1. A blog post is written
  2. I am notified of the post via an email or RSS feed (it is ok to start into the circle)
  3. I read the post
  4. I write a comment and identify myself with a link to our domain address or blog address – “the intersection is constructed”
  5. Other readers or the blog writer read my comment and perhaps click on the link to our domain address or blog address
  6. New traffic comes to our site – a visitor who may read our blog or search for a service we offer
  7. New visitor leaves a comment (with a link to their site) or sends us an email

Virtual Traffic Circle: “a circular arrangement constructed at the intersection of two or more blogs/websites in order to facilitate the passage of web traffic from one business to another.”

Lately I have read a number of really interesting posts about blogs and blog commenting. Here are a few I would like to share with you. I hope you will take the time to read these posts. You will learn so much.

Drive Traffic to Your Site with a 6-Step Blog Comments Blueprint 

Blogs As Loss Leaders

Value Your Blog Real Estate

Are Blog Comments Dead?

One last thought:

If you are not accustomed to traffic circles (real ones), they can be intimidating. You need to learn about them, understand them, know when to merge, know how to exit to your destination. The same applies to blog commenting and virtual traffic circles, don’t you think? I would love to hear from you on this…merge into the traffic circle and comment!
Reading Time: 5 minutes
books
Judy’s new books to read! Trust Agents and Social Media 101

If you read this blog regularly then you already know that I have written on many occasions about my Twitter sentiments. To help you enjoy my evolution I will link to the related blogs at the end of this post. But today I thought I would take a few minutes and share with you what I gained from tweeting over the past 10 days or so, as I am sure you want to know what’s happening on Twitter. Am I right?

  • I follow Rick Klau. Rick is the manager of BLOGGER. Get it? By following Rick I knew real time when the Blogger migration tool had been released. “rklau FTP Migration tool launching tonight. Details on http://blogger-ftp.blogspot.com/ and in your dashboard later this evening.” I re-tweeted this message so that my Webconsuls’ team members would get the news real time, March 3, 2010, 4:52PM. Why is this important? Many of our customers have blogs and are impacted by this migration tool. We are now working behind the scenes to update their blogs.
  • I told you a while ago I follow Chris Brogan. Both Chris and Rick, and a few others that I follow, are at the SXSW Conference this week. Looks interesting. I would not really know anything about this if I hadn’t been following Chris and Rick. Let me know what you think.
  • The other day Chris Brogan tweeted @chrisbrogan Don’t forget to try the Video Marketing Quiz. Tweet your score, win a prize! #VMQ10. So I took the quiz. Guess what? I won a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate and now eyeview_inc is following me!
  • I think you know that Chris Brogan has written two books. I have been wanting to buy them, but have not gotten around to it. So I decided to take my $20 Amazon gift certificate and buy both books, get free shipping…I only had to chip in $11.30. I tweeted about it and Chris Brogan re-tweeted my tweet and so did EyeView_Inc. Books arrived Saturday, so I am ready to read. Trust Agents and Social Media 101.
  • Here is some other interesting news I picked up by following Rick Klau. On March 11th Blogger announced a new Blogger Template designer. The reviews so far have been very exciting. I am thinking of trying it to create a new personal blog. What do you think of that idea?

So you see, my tweeting has helped our clients, Webconsuls’ team, and me. The more I learn the more I can share.

JUST LIVING is not ENOUGH said THE BUTTERFLY, ONE MUST HAVE SUNSHINE, FREEDOM and a LITTLE FLOWER.”…Hans Christian Andersen.

You can enjoy our March 13th trip to the Tucson Botanical Garden where we met real butterflies and enjoyed some freedom!

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Webconsuls Newsletter, Winter 2009, 4th Quarter

With the holidays upon us, we wanted to take a few minutes to wish all of our clients a happy and healthy New Year. This newsletter will take you down memory lane as Webconsuls turns 10 years old, spotlighting those clients who have been with us for those 10 years, welcoming new clients and sharing some milestones.

Webconsuls turns 10!

Dick and Dennis actually met at an ARCO Business Seminar in June 1981; however, their careers took them on different paths. It was not until October 1999 when Dick and Dennis met again and decided to form Webconsuls.

Dennis likes to recall how Webconsuls came to be…he was recently interviewed by http://www.arcoalumni.com/ and here is their article:

ARCO Alumni Dennis Helfand and Dick Fay built entirely new careers post ARCO. Their focus is to help commercial clients “generate new and/or additional revenues through web presence marketing.” Says Helfand, “We transitioned from a ‘hobby’ to a serious business enterprise very quickly. Webconsuls currently has about 90 clients across the US and a few based in Asia and Europe”.

Having been Director of Public Affairs and Field Operations, at ARCO, Helfand took the 1985 Early Retirement Package at ARCO Alaska, “my wife and I bought a 120-bed country inn resort in New Hampshire’s White Mountains National Forest area, which we operated from 1986 until 1997. In the mid 1990’s, while at the inn, I became interested in learning about marketing the property via the Internet and pursued this activity with great interest. When we sold the inn, we were already realizing quite a bit of revenue from internet-generated leads.”

After relocating to Newport Beach, CA, a number of my former NH-based competitors (friends nonetheless) contacted me to market their facilities over the internet. This became a sort of hobby, earning a few dollars here and there in the process. Then two serendipitous events occurred.

  1. An inn owner and close friend had been trying to sell his property through Realtors. There were very few prospects and not a single serious buyer. I suggested selling his property over the Internet for a “marketing fee.” This was in 1998 and I believe it may have been one of the first commercial property sales via the Internet. Best of all, my web marketing fee amounted to just about one percent of the total sales price!

2.  The second fortuitous event was meeting my former Crude Supply Manager for lunch in 1998. I asked him about Dick Fay (W. Richard Fay) from ARCO Transportation Company. He said Dick recently retired and was looking to do something new and interesting.

The rest is history. Webconsuls.com was established in 1999. We formed an LLC and got serious very quickly. On-Line courses and technical publications gave us new skill sets and we gradually acquired outside specialists to assist us as our business grew. My wife Judy, a business analyst in the information technology field joined Webconsuls in November 2006.

We have seen our business thrive and look forward to continued growth and new experiences.

Clients come and go…
Over the past 10 years Webconsuls’ team has had the privilege to work with over 300 clients in a variety of industries. Each client is unique and that is what makes web design, SEO and SMO so interesting and vital. Judy recently looked back to see which clients started with Webconsuls in the Fall of 1999 and of those which ones are still our clients. Interestingly enough, there are four! They are New Hampshire Campground Association, Motorcars East, Newport Channel Inn and Edna Deeb Law.

Here are some interesting facts from Webconsuls first business quarter: 22 clients, nine California clients, nine New Hampshire clients, four Connecticut clients, 31 invoices!

New Clients round out our base…
We are happy to introduce you to our newest clients and we invite you to check out their websites.

Celebrate a New Life **

Creative Care

Green Clean OC **

Hardline 830 **

Law Office of Carilyn Ibsen **

Promises Foundation

Rockport Inn & Suites

Snap Out of It Now

Surfing Heritage Foundation **

We are also working on either new sites or redesigns for

Savoir Faire Language Institute

Forrest General Healthcare Foundation

Executive Maintenance

Wallace Physical Therapy

Law Office of Salvatore Ciulla

The Internet Grows and Evolves

Dick Fay remembers how when they first started in 2000 Webconsuls could make some small changes to a site and viola! the site would be on the first page of Alta Vista. The number of competitors to most sites was measured in the hundreds, pay per click was in its infancy with something called Overture, Google was an upstart, and no one had heard of Social Marketing. Potential clients were trying to decide if they “needed” a web site. Websites themselves were usually static and straightforward.

Now some clients face thousands or millions of competitors for key terms, Google has about 70% of the search engine marketplace, pay per click is huge and requires expert management to be successful. Clients are deciding when to redesign their web site to keep it up to date with the available technology. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and video are staples of many successful businesses whose owners work hand in hand with Webconsuls to grow their business.

Webconsuls Grows and Evolves

Webconsuls has also grown and evolved over the last 10 years. We have added a third partner, Judy Helfand. The entire team keeps up with the latest in Search Engine Optimization. We have added specialists in web design, pay per click, social media, and link building. We have redesigned our web site several times to reflect our growing business. We have added a blog and links to news feeds on Search Engine Marketing and Social Media. Check them out:

Search Engine Optimization

Social Media Optimization

You can also follow us on Twitter

Let us know if you have a twitter account and would like us to follow you.

Webconsuls’ Team News…

As most of you know Malik Moosa-Soomar, our web development specialist and designer, was married to Zaheen Allibhoy on April 11, 2009. Dennis, Judy, Dick and Fran were happy to attend their wedding celebration in Austin, TX. Speaking of weddings, Dick and Fran were married February 20, 2009. Keith Hansen, our pay-per-click specialist, and his wife, Diana, welcomed a baby boy, Layne, on April 26, 2009.

We are happy to welcome Alycia Kaczuwka as our new Social Media expert. Alycia is working with our clients focusing on brand-building using tools like blogs/RSS, Facebook, Twitter and social bookmarking. She brings her extensive background in audience development and website design to social tools to keep the SMO process in focus as an integrated part of a web-based marketing plan. In addition, Alycia has a comprehensive background in web analytics using Google Analytics and Omniture to measure campaign performance and return on investment.

Happy Holidays

This year rather than send a small gift to our clients we are making donations to the following:

Olive Crest Homes and Services for Abused Children
Since 1973, Olive Crest has transformed the lives of over 50,000 abused, neglected, and at-risk children and their families.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine
The vision of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Midcoast Maine is successful mentoring relationships for youth in Knox, Lincoln and Waldo Counties, contributing to better schools, stronger communities and brighter future.

The Promises Foundation Miriam’s House
The Promises Foundation is committed to restoring hope for families by creating a safe environment for mothers and their children to grow and develop the tools they require to live meaningful and self-sufficient lives.

Sincerely,

Dick, Dennis and Judy

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

It seems it is almost impossible to keep abreast of all the SMO and SEO news. You can scan the headlines on Google, Yahoo, your favorite newspaper or tech magazine and the amount of information is astounding. Just today I again realized I have an account with Google Reader which automatically sends me more information. I signed in and saw my Google Reader inbox had 851 items! I guess you now know I have been too busy for Google Reader. But this post is not about the Google Reader, it is about how to keep our Webconsuls’ clients abreast of internet marketing news. Turns out Webconsuls set up SMO and SEO news feeds for you and our clients over two years ago. So again I ask the proverbial question: Is anybody “listening” or in this case reading?

The experts keep talking about Twitter. I have a Twitter account, I follow and am followed; however, there are a few things about Twitter that annoy me. Today I will just mention two: (a) some people provide TMI (too much information) or should I say information that is redundant (since they have more than one account) and useless information; (b) it often takes two to three clicks to get to the meat of the message. Let me give you a real life example. Today I signed into my Twitter account around 6:30AM (MST). I read a Tweet that said: “6 Reasons to Embrace Social Media Today Web 2.0 Journal”. So I clicked on the link, but instead of being taken directly to the article I was taken to a TweetMeMe page that listed 65 Twitterers who had RT (retweeted) this article. I then click on the original link and I am taken to a blog post by Web 2.0 Journal. I read the article, it was interesting, but didn’t really provide too much new information, it was more one writer’s opinion. Just like my blog post today, is basically my opinion.

Here is my advice for today. If you want to go to one place and read the headlines for SMO, then I invite you to visit Webconsuls News Page. There you will find the current SMO headlines and you only have to click once!

P.S. If you want to find me on Twitter, click here.

P.P.S. As always, let me know what you think.
Reading Time: 8 minutes

The last few weeks your Webconsuls’ team has been busy and our blog has been quiet. I don’t know about you, but it is amazing what you can learn in a month’s time. Here are this month’s five most interesting bits of information that I learned and I want to share with you:

1. Did you know that Gmail has a send limit? About a week ago we received a call from our client saying that she was sending out an email broadcast to her customers asking them to participate in a fundraiser for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami. All of a sudden she noticed that she could not send any email or receive any email. She called us and here is what I learned:

“In an effort to fight spam and prevent abuse, Google will temporarily disable your account if you send a message to more than 500 recipients or if you send a large number of undeliverable messages. If you use a POP or IMAP client (Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail, e.g.), you may only send a message to 100 people at a time. Your account should be re-enabled within 24 hours.” (Go here to learn more and keep in mind that many email services have a send limit, this is why some clients like to stay in contact with their clients by a newsletter service like or similar to Constant Contact.)

2. Twitter 2.0 seems to be just around the corner. Rather than have me rehash what someone else has discussed so eloquently, I will point you to the article. “Are We Ready for Twitter 2.0?”

3. Blogger does provide great on-line support. The other day I was on their site and I saw a section called “Recommended Articles and Discussion.” One of the discussions was entitled “Too Many Good Bloggers are Giving Up” . Now, this caught my eye!!! So I clicked on it and enjoyed the conversation. If you have a blog and you have given up or you are thinking about giving up, I invite you to read the posts and join in the discussion. You might just refresh yourself enough to keep on BLOGGING!

4. During the past few weeks our team has been discussing the nature of our Webconsuls’ blog. The questions raised are these: Should it be more technical? Or, do our readers want to learn more about the team as people and read anecdotal stories, as well? I will tell you that the team was split on this, but today I read an interesting article on an SEO/SMO newsletter. The article had to do with Social Networking pitfalls the 4th pitfall to avoid was this: “It’s not about sell, sell, sell! If all you’re doing when you visit the various sites and post your updates is pitch your latest program, product or service then it’s no wonder you’re not seeing results. Share information with your network, whether that’s your own information or you’re passing along information from clients and colleagues. The more you share, the greater your results will be. Whichever social networking arena you’re active in (and it may be more than one) remember the “social” in social networking – it’s to build relationships, make new contacts, and socialize. Inform your network, not sell to them.” I think based on this guidance and our own practical experience from being part of Social Networking sites, new clients may come to you naturally.

5. Finally, as this Columbus Day Weekend gets underway, I know that our New England innkeeper, hotelier, restaurateur, livery, and entertainment clients will be busy beyond belief as the autumn brides and mountains blush and foliage season peaks; but won’t they be surprised to learn that Tucson, AZ has its own foliage season! And yes, Mt Lemmon is 2869 ft taller than Mt. Washington!

 

 

This week’s photos are from my days in New Hampshire. The one of the children is of Aaron and Dan enjoying a “Tom Sawyer” moment with children who were guests at the inn. Aaron and Dan were “teaching” them how to rake the autumn leaves and make Leaf People!

“Teach Us to Delight in the Simple Things”…Rudyard Kipling

Let me know what you think of Judy’s “bytes”…see you next week.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Is Bing a decision engine, a surname, a candy bar, a slag heap? Over the past couple of months I have been reading a lot about Microsoft’s new search engine BING.com. We are all familiar with Microsoft, right? We know about Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search. And now we have Microsoft’s latest reincarnation, BING, and more importantly BING is being referred to as a decision engine as opposed to a search engine. I suppose MS is for all intents and purposes now a matchmaker! Not only is MS finding you mates to choose from they are determined to help you make the decision.

A few of observations about BING:
  • On the serious side: I want our clients to know that the Webconsuls’ Team will be following and studying the impact of BING from an SEO standpoint. That is what we are tasked to do. There are a number of questions to be asked and answered, but we must do this responsibly. And on that front, Webconsuls will keep our clients informed.
  • BING is quite lovely to look at. Everyday the home page photo changes and these photos are dramatic. Google’s basic home page is pretty blank, but works. Yahoo, which by the way is still my default home page has a lot of information and I have grown accustom to reading the news’ headlines, clicking on finance, travel, etc, I have never had a Yahoo account or email account.
  • There are a number of sites that you can visit that will allow you to compare search results for BING to GOOGLE. And there is another site that lets you compare search results from GOOGLE, BING, and YAHOO. This site’s search results are returned in a “blind” state and the fun feature about this site is that you can vote for which search results best suits your search query. You might be surprised which search engine’s results you really like.

My final thought today has to do with the choice of the name “BING”. I will say that writing this blog always gives me an opportunity to learn new things and today is no exception. Why “BING”? I understand that originally Microsoft was going to call their new search (decision) engine KUMO. They actually registered both trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. KUMO is a Japanese word that means spider or cloud. Hmmmm, well I guess we can all get the “spider” connection to the world wide web and in the IT world “cloud” is a metaphor for the internet, so I guess it could have cleverly worked. So I come back to question: why “BING”? I am going to assume, although I know that can be a mistake, that someone at Microsoft looked up the meaning(s) of the word “BING”.

BING Toy Company founded in 1863, famous for the manufacturing of toy trains
Bing is apparently a fairly common surname, and let’s not forget Chandler Bing of Friends
BING Candy Bar, made in Iowa
BING cherries, all with pits
Bing is another name for a slag heap which is a collection of the tailings or by-products of mining (DATA Mining comes to mind?)
Bing is the name of a soft drink produced in England
Bing is the name of Chinese flat bread
Bing is also a phrase used by prison inmates to describe solitary confinement

Ok, maybe they didn’t do a lot of name research, maybe they just liked the sound of “BING”. Maybe they like saying “Bing and Decide“. Whatever….I invite you to go to their Discover Bing informational site and learn all about it.

Webconsuls will continue to study BING and keep you informed. Let me know what you think.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Google has created another AdWords tool for finding keywords to put in a PPC account, creating more competition, bidders, which therefore raises the price in addition to other factors.  This time the tool proposes that it finds relevant keywords by ‘matching (keywords) to specific pages of your website with your ad and search share’.  To translate, it is trying to provide keywords not currently in the account that are best for the account as determined by looking at the whole picture- website, ads and budget.

Of course past PPC blogs on ‘helpful’ tools created by the big search engine giants have made my tone a bit cynical.  These tools are created at best based off user demand, but always tailored to and quietly aimed at revenue.  This is not to say that there isn’t utility and useful qualities of a tool like this one, but it is important to read between the lines.

I used the tool for the first time on a current account I manage, and found some keywords I didn’t currently use; but nothing major or shocking.  Having said that, that is the way it should be.  This should be a comment that I am doing my job as a Pay Per Click administrator.  On the other hand, this tool may be helpful for business owners who are attempting to run the marketing themselves and have to balance the business with the marketing.

The tool can be found in the Campaign Management tab, ‘tools’ sub-tab left-hand column.  Use of the tool is simple- put the web address in the search field and in another box type the essence of the topic to be explored.  The parameters included in the results are keyword suggestions, monthly searches, competition as a bar graph, suggested bid and ad share.

Use this tool in addition to the Keyword Tool, but in both beware of general and expensive keywords that will not return a positive ROI.

Do you need help with Google AdWords or any PPC tools like this one?  Let us know at Webconsuls.com.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have recently come into contact with  a Phishing scheme where an owner of a Yahoo Search Marketing sponsored search account was emailed falsely as Yahoo.  The account owner then logged into this fake page giving the phishing thieves access to that account.  The thief then hijacks the account using someone else’s money to pay for advertising until the fraud is captured and stopped by Yahoo themselves.  Whats more is that the thieves even leave the previous advertising campaign active and running so that the owner will not notice any difference until logging in to the account itself.

Similar fraudulent tactics have been widely publicized with eBay.  Again, this is not Yahoo or eBay’s doing and that parent company does give all stolen funds back to the rightful owner.  But the best case scenario is a major headache and time wasted researching the issue and dollars lost/refunded.
In conclusion, do not ever log-in to any account of any type using a hyper-link from an email.  Always go to your normal log in page to enter in private information.  I promise you will not notice a difference in the fake and real log in pages- these guys are pro’s.  Save the irritation and time.  It can happen to anyone not paying attention.
Here is Yahoo’s company line on the matter- http://www.ysmblog.com/blog/2008/12/12/no-phishing-here/
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Over the course of any week I receive a number of SEO/Webmaster newsletter emails. I try to read through them for hints, myths, SEO/SMO news in general. This past week one of these newsletters had a link to a video in which Sally Falkow was discussing Internet marketing. I don’t know Sally Falkow but I found what she had to say very intriguing. She sited an old mantra “Tell, don’t sell”, which I believe applies to blogs, in that blogs should tell a good story.

Now you are probably wondering where I am going with this idea. After all it is Saturday morning and you no doubt, if you are reading this at all, are thinking to yourself with a sigh, “doesn’t Judy always tell a story in her blog post?”

It is very easy for the Webconsuls’ team to suggest to a client that the client should have a blog, but most clients go into panic mode because they don’t trust themselves to be able to write. What our clients sometimes forget is that every business has a story to tell and all they have to do is relate the story for their guests, customers, or clients to read. Just tell a good story.

Finding your niche in storytelling can take some time. Let me give you an example. In June 2007 Webconsuls built a blog for Alice and Len Schiller, owners/innkeepers of The Inn at Stockbridge. Darin McClure coached Alice on how to do blog posts and she did a nice job. She frequently would write about events and attractions in the Berkshires. All very interesting, but might have served the local attractions more than the inn.

On December 29, 2008, Alice came up with a clever idea and she posted it: “The Inn at Stockbridge blog is going to put a new spin on things. Alice Schiller feels that she is fortunate enough to have owned and run the inn for over fourteen years. Over the years we have had a great variety of guests visit us and each one has a wonderful story to share. We are now going to share their stories. Guests who visit the Inn come from all walks of life, are a varied age group and have met in a myriad of ways and have wonderful tidbits to share with you the readers of this blog. We are fortunate enough to have them share their experiences at the Inn as well as their stories with you.”

Wonderful…the stories have begun, complete with photos, so interesting to read and the best part is Alice and Len are involving their guests (read customers). As a former innkeeper I know that relating stories about your guests is a great marketing tool. People love to be part of something and future guests secretly hope that they will also be featured at some later date.

You may recall, on September 20, 2008, I wrote a blog post called “The benefit of being a ‘blogger-in-chief’?” In that blog I talked about how I wrote a newsletter for our inn, Cranmore Mountain Lodge. This was the old fashion way of staying in touch with our customers. Just this past week I came across a copy of the last issue of Inn-Ovations that I wrote in the Fall of 1997. You might enjoy reading the front page. Click on the image and it will get bigger!

Today I hope you will check the Inn at Stockbridge’s blog. Read the stories about their guests. Leave a comment. And if you want to preview the inn, here is a video that tells the Inn’s story in another way.

I have a feeling Sally Falkow has not come up with something unique. Storytelling is as old as mankind ~ it is the fabric that keeps our cultures, our families, our nations moving through time.

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Webconsuls’ SMO team works hard to keep our clients and us up to date on all of the latest “gadgets” that seem to offer some benefit either for our website marketing or general business tools. I will admit that I am not always the first one to try out or sign up for the latest and greatest, but I do try to glean from my co-workers their reviews of these new tools. So today I want to talk about Yammer. To Yammer or not to Yammer, that is the question.

I first learned about Yammer on November 5, 2008. I received an email from Lisa inviting me to join the Webconsuls.com network. This email arrived at 7:53AM, then at 8:56AM I received an additional invitation from Malik Moosa. On November 5 I had a very good reason for not responding to these invitations, as I was flying from Tucson to Albany, NY, and the laptop was not accessible for most of the day. Five weeks went by. I was busy with many client’s projects and I waited to see if any other team member would invite me to join webconsuls.com yammer network.

December 8, 2008, the wait was over. I received another invitation from Dick Fay. Now this impressed me. Dick is not only my co-worker he is also one of my business partners, and I decided that Dick’s invitation offered some validity to yammer.com. So, I signed up!

It was easy to do, I followed the steps and what do you know there I was part of the TEAM. On the home page you can easily see “posts” or “updates” from your team or group members. But what startled me was that, aside from the automatic post showing that Dick Fay had joined the “network”, all other updates were from Darin, our SMO director. Hmmmm! What does this mean? Where were Lisa’s updates and Malik’s updates? I didn’t understand.

If, as the Yammer.com “about us” page says: “Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: ‘What are you working on?’ As employees answer that question, a feed is created in one central location enabling co-workers to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information. Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced.”; then why is only Darin posting updates? And for that matter, is anyone listening?

confederacy of dunces

I am reminded of a winter day in 1989, when I was the co-owner and innkeeper of Cranmore Mountain Lodge. Our chef at the time was a colorful fellow named John Littlefield. (Picture Ignatius J. Reilly, the main character in the Pulitzer Prize winning fiction novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole.) John was a superb chef, but let’s just say he had some idiosyncrasies and someday when I write my expose about innkeeping I will devote an entire chapter to John.

But back to my story. I was in the laundry room with my youngest son Daniel

aaron & dan
Aaron & Dan 1989

(he had just turned five years old). The laundry room had a doorway to the country kitchen and John was in the kitchen busying himself and talking. Daniel watched John for a few minutes and then turned to me and in a soft voice inquired: “Momma, who is John talking to?” To which I responded: “He is talking to himself.” Daniel considered my answer and then in turn responded: “But who is listening?” I didn’t have an answer, except a knowing smile.

Now almost 20 years later, I find myself asking the same question when it comes to all of the new-age technology. I know that people read blogs, I know that the Internet and SMO can be very powerful on so many levels. But I also know that I can write this blog every Saturday and I don’t really have any idea who is listening. So should I Yammer?

I would like to invite all of my readers to learn more about yammer.com, but at the same time I worry about even the name of “yammer.” According to Websters’, yammer means to utter repeated cries of distress or sorrow, to utter consistent complaints, to talk persistently or volubly and often loudly. So why would Yammer.com founders choose such a name? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am going to give it a try, but I am going to use it strictly for business questions. I am going to try to solicit input from my team members about business questions regarding SEO, SMO, web design, etc. I will let you know how this works out. In the meantime, here is a video that gives you a pretty good overview of YAMMER. And if you are looking for a good read, try A Confederacy of Dunces, you will laugh yourself silly.

Reading Time: 7 minutes
Australia

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Dennis and I went to see the new Baz Luhrmann film Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Having read many reviews of this film, some great and some mixed, I figured we might as well venture out on Black Friday and see this epic film. What better way to spend two and three-quarter hours when a movie includes wonderful scenery of Australia, World War II history, an expose of the “stolen generation”, not to mention I could enjoy watching Hugh Jackman (People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2008) and Dennis could similarly enjoy watching the beautiful and talented Nicole Kidman. As we purchased our tickets, I noticed the theatre was giving away free Australia movie posters. What a treat! Not exactly like receiving a movie “program book” that I frequently received back in the 60’s and 70’s. Yes, I said “program book.”
These were souvenir books, some over 30 pages in length, that were part of your ticket price, typically produced for those major films like Dr. Zhivago (1965) and Hawaii (1966). And, yes, I still have some of these treasures, and remember that these movies often included an “intermission!” But, back to Australia…it is 1939.
doctor zhivago
There is much to say about this movie and I really hope you will see it for yourself. What struck me the most is how Luhrmann managed to weave the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz, into his storytelling. And of course, there is the beautiful Oz song, “Over the Rainbow”. As I watched Australia I thought to myself, what is it about “Over the Rainbow” that somehow reaches your inner soul and magically soothes you. We all know that Australia is not the first movie that has incorporated “Over the Rainbow”, as I can name at least six other films, and it undoubtedly won’t be the last…so still the question remains. Why do people love the song “Over the Rainbow”?

Consider the following: “Over the Rainbow” was written in 1939; lyrics by Edgar Yipsel(Yip)Harburg; music by Harold Arlen; original performing artist was Judy Garland; won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (1939) and was voted by the American Film Institute as the Best Movie Song of all time. According to SongFacts.com, Yip Harburg’s “lyrics have a political significance. Harburg was expressing hope for America under President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” program, which was designed to get America out of the Great Depression in the early ’30s.” Hmmmm…

I suppose you are wondering what my blog post about Over the Rainbow, Australia and the magic of music has to do with Webconsuls’ primary services, SEO and SMO. Well, here is the connection. A few months ago, one of our clients, Whiteside Manor, Riverside, CA, asked us to create a video for their website. We had wonderful photos, but we needed just the right music. Dan contacted his friend, Paul Meredith, and asked Paul to record a version of “Over the Rainbow.” You can view the finished product here:

So today:
1. Let me know your thoughts about “Over the Rainbow” and Australia.
2. See if you can name one or more of the other movie soundtracks which include “Over the Rainbow”.
3. Let me know if you need Webconsuls to produce a video for your website

….’Somewhere over the rainbow… skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.’

Dare to dream…

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Have you ever been to Rockport, MA? I have not, even though I lived in New England for 12 years. Amazing, isn’t it? For 12 years I lived in New Hampshire, but my life as an innkeeper didn’t allow for much leisure time to visit all of the beautiful spots that New England has to offer. But this summer I was able to get to know Rockport, MA and more particularly The Seaward Inn because innkeeper, Nancy Cameron-Gilsey (a Certified Social Worker!), requested that I help her update her website. You see Nancy has been a Webconsuls’ client since November 2000; in fact The Seaward Inn is one of our oldest clients, both literally and figuratively. On May 7, 2009, The Seaward Inn will open for their 65th Season! This being Saturday morning I invite you to learn a little more about The Seaward and Rockport, MA.

It was 1945, well before Nancy’s birth, when Nancy’s parents first purchased the large home situated on five acres in Rockport, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. World War II had ended and Roger and Anne Cameron opened their home to summer guests. Rockport is a small town about 25 miles north of Boston and it sits on the tip of the Cape Ann Peninsula. Rockport is picturesque; in fact, Walt Disney Productions has listed Rockport Harbor as one of the ten most scenic places in the United States. Rockport is just a short drive from Gloucester, MA, which you will remember from the movie and book, The Perfect Storm (2000). And, yes, the cast and crew stayed at The Seaward during the filming of this fabulous movie. But I digress…back to the website update.

Nancy’s site is not large, about 15 pages. It was designed many years ago, prior to Webconsuls being retained to do the search engine optimization(SEO) for the site. The site update started with a simple inquiry from Nancy about how to incorporate new photos and how to upgrade the information found on her “Area Attractions” page. I told Nancy I would review the site and then my research began in earnest. Since I love history, I found myself reading everything I could find about Rockport, Dogtown, Motif #1, and then I had long conversations with Nancy about all the famous guests that she and her family have welcomed to the inn. It was all so interesting.
As the weeks progressed, Nancy and I stayed in touch. She sent me the new photos, shared the history of the inn, and introduced me to her long time employee…Rose Marie Leal. Then one day Nancy and Rose told me about their latest adventure at The Seaward…their “Sunday Morning Live” series. Their Sunday Buffet by the Sea features live musical entertainment and it is open to the public. With this bit of information Rose and I went into high gear and a video was born, with the help of our Support Technician, Dan. You can enjoy the video here featuring images of The Seaward and the music of The Barbara & Al Boudreau Jazz Trio.

I look forward to visiting The Seaward Inn, touring Rockport, meeting Nancy and Rose in person. I am glad I had the chance to work on this project with them; it was a labor of love for them and became one for me. Having been an innkeeper and knowing what this life is like, I know that every decision you make is for your guests and Nancy and Rose work very hard to make every visitor feel welcomed. So, if you have never been to Rockport, why not put it on your short list? Remember, The Seaward is only open from May through October every year.
Tomorrow The Seaward Inn will close out their 2008 season, winter will come and go, and just as sure as the daffodils and crocus will bloom next spring, Nancy will be ready to welcome guests for their 65th season. I am sure her parents would be very proud.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

W3C Validation Most people don’t understand the importance of having a website that is W3C Validated. Having your website validated can increase your listings on SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Its a great tool for SEO, it allows search engines to read through your website without coming across any errors.

W3C Validation is also important when it comes to software for people with disabilities. A W3C validated website allows those with disabilities such as the hearing impaired or vision impaired to browse through your website with ease. Allowing their software to read what images you have posted or maybe a description of a video you may have on a website so the hearing impaired can still follow the video.

Is your website validated? http://validator.w3.org/

Contact us today to see how Webconsuls can validate and optimize your website.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Internet today offers several avenues for exposure beyond traditional Search Engine Optimization. Working in concert with a firm that has expertise in these avenues can increase visibility, search engine rankings, and business. These avenues are often considered part of Social Marketing.

One is to use the Internet to publish articles. You write the article and your web development company publishes it on a myriad of Internet sites. Well written and interesting articles can not only get wide circulation, but enhance your reputation as well.

A second way is to use blogs. The web development company would set up the blog and you regularly add content. Done correctly, the blog pages that you add would get wide and fast circulation.

You might consider adding video content to your site. Relatively inexpensive equipment is available to take acceptable videos. You may already have suitable equipment. Well done videos are interesting content which can be publicized them on the Internet. There is also much less competition for videos. For one client’s main keyword there were over 750,000 pages indexed by Google, and less that 175 videos.

Webconsuls, LLC We are a web site development company with expertise and experience in designing and building web sites, in Search Engine Optimization, and in Social Marketing.

Webconsuls > SEO

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Google’s ever changing algorithm, that mysterious secret combination of characteristics to convince the search engines that your site is in fact the best and most appropriate resource for the inquiry typed into Google’s search.

In previous years search engine optimization experts would anguish over data and statistics trying to discern what keyword density was optimal, dashes or hyphens, strong or bold tags. These were the questions of the day. The algorithm would change as various techniques were exploited.

From the Site:
Why Google's Link Based Search Algorithms are Here to Stay

Let us look at just one small competitive niche for example. Say "Dallas Mortgage" for instance. This industry is fiercely competitive and right now there are several dozen mortgage brokers that are actually in Dallas trying to do a decent job of SEO to be ranked for this one (relatively small) niche. Now add to this the fact that Dallas is a major market and many companies in Houston, Austin, San Antone, etc that can underwrite a loan anywhere in the state are focusing on SEO for this one term as well. Lastly add the literally thousands of affiliate marketers that are working to build leads for companies like LowerMyBills.com, Ditech, etc who are also making mirror sites that optimize for this term and this one very small niche is persued by thousands of people.

To accomplish this goal some of these people are doing pure white hat (and getting owned by the way), some are doing varying levels of Gray to Black hat methods and some (affiliates mostly) are doing pure spam. To get a rank for this term you have to play by the Google rules and you must get links for it. Here is a news flash, no one is likely to give out links for "Dallas Mortgage" in the idealistic "democratic" way that Google suggests we get links. So to rank for this term you either directly create, negotiate, request, buy or beg links from quality sites.

Now to my idealist White Hat SEO brethren the solution is simple, just pull this link component out of the equation and judge sites on their content, what could be wrong with that? To anyone with an ability to think forward even a little bit the problem is like a oncoming train! Just go back to the fact that on site SEO is simple to accomplish, easy to learn and simplistic to teach. It only requires knowing and following standards, some very basic math and some skill with keyword research. So what scream the idealists!

Well what this means is all those thousands of people chasing "Dallas Mortgage" now will each create content with specific key word densities, proper tags, etc. Some will "win" for the moment and the loosers will just copy there techniques and try to do 1% better. Very soon the precise formula is determined and all the sites are using it and in a statistical tie with each other. Now also understand that with the exception of perhaps some of the "made for adSense" sites most of these sites will actually lead the visitor to a source for a Dallas Mortgage, they are not all junk as many would claim. Does this stalemate sound familiar? It should if you have been around a decade or more as it is very much how some of the first engines worked.

So what happened next? We needed a "tie breaker" some way to take two sites that both were quality from a code stand point, both had real sources of "dallas mortgage" information and both had a 2.5% (or whatever was in en vogue at the time) key word density for the term. What, short of a subjective and therefore flawed human review, was left for the search engines to use. Nothing but the infamous link. Why?

Beacause even though you can build your own links, even though you can buy them, even though you can build an entire series of sites just to pass link power around, some number of links will still be 100% beyond the control of the actual site owners. Right now we only have two choices in this. Human review or links as a component and humans can be bribed, wrong, bias, etc. Links at least use math and my friends, "math doesn't lie".

Do I think we have swung to far and links now have to much influence? Yes I do, I think it should be impossible for any page to rank for any term that is clearly not present on it at all. Yet Google "click here" and you find Adobe and if you Googled Miserable Failure in the past you found George Bush and Michale Moore (thanks to bloggers Google Bombing). Eventually Google had to hand job out those results for Bush and Moore because there were so many links nothing else would have made them go away.

I would have loved Google to simply have tinkered with things so that a word must be on a page. Sure keep the link portion but if I look for failure on Google I ain't looking for Bush or Moore (regardless of your opinion of either). What this leads us to though is a simple understanding, links are not going to stop pushing rankings for a very long time. Google may move to put more weight back into content, which I would welcome but links will be a driving force for a long time to come. I for one don't think removing them all together would create some sort of democratic internet eutopia, that others seem to believe it would.

What do you think? Is there to much weight on links? Would it be good if Google put more weight on content? Do you like things they way they are now? Or do you think I am wrong and TinPig is right and that Google should just stop using links to rank sites at all, if so how do we then break the 100 "ties" for a first page ranking?