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A boring post on SEO hypocrisy

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Like some kind of super-hero (or super-villain?), I live something of a double life, blogging on both here (my personal blog) and working and blogging at a search marketing agency that I just gave an anchor text link to.

Yesterday, I posted an article highlighting some rather high-profile link selling that I don’t agree with.

I received a message (or actually a comment that I didn’t approve because it didn’t fit in with my evil propaganda regime) that I was a hypocrite. On the one hand, I blog here about blackhat SEO and on the other, I blog somewhere else and denounce link buying and say it’s improper practise.

I don’t feel this is the case, but I don’t like to duck or ignore questions, as I think it’s bad form – so I’m more than prepared to handle any questions here, on my personal blog, if you want to give me a good slagging off.

Why do you blog about blackhat on Digerati?

1) There’s already a billion white hat “best practise” SEO blogs, which is great – but I don’t see the point in me (personally at least) adding to this fray. There’s very few blogs that give detailed guides on blackhat topics or effective guides to make money online. Yes, I can guarantee you the “Get Rich With BlackHat SEOs” E-Book you bought is a pile of crap.

2) I find search engines really bloody interesting. I like understanding how they work – and sometimes the best way to do that is to try and turn some of the dials to 11 and see what impact it has on search results. A lot of effective white-hat knowledge and white-hat techniques can be derived from what might be deemed “blackhat experiments”. So, by knowing that “x tactic” or “x type of links” produces great results, you can work getting these types of links into your white-hat strategies. The devil is in the detail with SEO and experimentation can prove the key to success, knowing exactly what metrics can tip the balance in your favour.

This is almost a “reverse engineering” method of trying to fathom which techinques work well and which work great; and of course, you have to understand that correlation does not equal causation.

Pirates and Global Warming
It really doesn’t

So this method of collection, as Ryan will constantly remind me, is flawed.

Increasingly, there are more reliable ways to make these ranking correlations with data from people like MajesticSEO and SEOmoz’s Linkscape. (SEOmoz actually did this really cool post on PageRank correlation recently)

So in some ways, I’ve been doing less experiments and more analysis on existing data – perhaps the reason for less posts in the last 12 months. My goal here isn’t to be a blackhat SEO or a whitehat SEO; it’s to learn and become a great SEO – which is what everyone should be doing.

3) Blackhat SEO is fun, just stay away from cracking – that’s not SEO, that’s just you being a very naughty boy (or girl (: )

Information I give on this blog and advice I give to people that pay
There’s a big difference between these two. On this blog, I try and give people information about various SEO techniques that they may have not come across before – or tutorials on how to do neat/interesting things. If any of these things stray into techniques that search engines currently don’t like, I put them in a “blackhat SEO” category.

I think I’m being clear on this, if it’s filed under “blackhat SEO” and you do it, there is a risk of being slapped around by Google (or perhaps Bing or Yahoo). I’m not sure how much of a cross-over on readership there is, but most of the feedback I get on this blog is positive and I am helping individuals learn, experiment and sometimes (I have the e-mails to prove it!) make some money.

If you come to me, with a “real” business, a brand – and you have long-term ambitions to make money online, interact and engage your customers, I’m not going to advise you to do anything blackhat, because while it may be effective in the short term, the results you get are not compatible with traditional business models.

If you can make money, sitting at home with affiliates, tricking Google into ranking your website better – that’s fine: your overheads allow you to be flexible and rebuild from the ground up in short amount of time if the worse happens: I’ve written about lone SEOs vs Big Business in the SEO Guerilla Warfare post previously.

If you’re a business, you employ people, you work hard to be the best at what you do, you invest money in training, premises, stock and a reputation that puts value to a brand, getting banned in Google is really going to piss on your parade.

Why don’t you like paid links?
I’m well aware of the underground (and sometimes not) links trade on the web – and by links, I am specifically referring to the trade of links that are aimed to influence rankings. Most of the highly competitive niches are full of link buyers – I’ve got no problem with this.

While link buying does usually positively affect rankings, my specific grumble is that it that it is not scalable. Google has it’s hands tied somewhat, as banning well-known brands will lower result quality for the end user, so they tackle the problem by trying to devalue the links from those selling them. This means that you might be spending vast amounts of money on links that are providing you with no SEO value – a complete waste, apart from a trickle of referral traffic.

Why bring up this specific case?
That being said – I don’t mind people buying and selling links. If anything, it gives me the long-term advantage of not having the overheads and wastage. The problem is when people (whoever this may be, some SEOs, brokers etc) who try and pass link selling off as a non-blackhat strategy that carries no risk.

To be very clear, take words from Google:

Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as: Adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the a tag”

“Google works hard to ensure that it fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such excessive link exchanges and purchased links that pass PageRank”

I really don’t think that leaves too much to the imagination.

In summary:
The information on this blog isn’t the same information you’d receive from me in a professional capacity. Digerati is not an SEO agency, I don’t do work for clients, don’t try this at home work.

Posted in Digerati News | 17 Comments

Autostumble Source Code Released

Monday, February 1st, 2010

As long time readers will know, I released Autostumble back in April 2008 (wow, yes coming up two years ago). At the time, it absolutely wtfpwned StumbleUpon and our network delivered just under half a million vote swaps.

The program went through a few versions, having various features added on the way and multiple fixes as StumbleUpon desperately tried to keep its pants up. The final (version 4, which was fixed in such a hurry it came out the factory with “v3” still plastered on) was the last incarnation of the application.

Unfortunately, the time taken to monitor the network, answer support e-mails and keep the fixes coming was consuming more time than I ever intended. I worked with another dev to get an online version up, but that never got to a stable launch, so the whole thing basically gathered dust.

So three things:

1) I’ve released the Autostumble source code for download for anyone that wants to have a crack at reverse engineering it.

2) For those that can’t code There is actually a really nice copy of Autostumble which works, that is currently doing pretty well from what I can see. It also has a function to add reviews, which AutoStumble never had. So, if you still want to swap some stumbles, that’s the place to go.

3) I talked to the guy that runs it, and he has arranged this voucher code for old Autostumble users: AutoStumbleOld

Enter that code and you’ll get a pretty nice $20 off.

I’ve been working hard with the development team at the full-time SEO company I work at to develop some really nice apps for the SEO world, which shall be surfacing in Q2 of 2010. It’s really surprising what you can achieve when you have a team of full-time developers to help.

Anyway for now:

Coders can get Autostumble source code.

Marketers can get a working Autostumble type program.

This is all. [insert vague promising of posting more here].

Posted in Black Hat, Digerati News, Social Marketing | 6 Comments

Valentines Day Help

Friday, February 13th, 2009

If you’re a hopeless romantic, but hopelessly busy like me, I hope this helps you with your last minute valentine’s day preparations.


Download “valentine.pdf”

Fingers crossed.

Posted in Digerati News | 3 Comments

Twitter Requests

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

I’ve been on twitter for probably about a year, but only really started using it recently. I’ve had quite a few emails asking what my twitter account is. So, to save some time you can find me here.

Posted in Digerati News | 3 Comments

Lost Feedburner Subscribers?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Anyone else having problems with Feedburner? Overnight, I’ve (apparently) dropped from ~1200 subscribers to ~500. A quick Google search shows lots of people reporting the same problem.

Anyone know what’s going on – or had a similar experience?

Posted in Digerati News | 7 Comments