Monday, May 30, 2005

PR is back - Everything is OK again

Well, right on cue, the little green Page Rank indicator started to work again sometime late this afternoon. So that should put an end to current speculation about the death of Page Rank.

By the way, I used this opportunity to find and post a couple articles about PR and its relation to SEO. You can find them here:

Introducing PageRank - shattering the myth, by Dave Collins


TrustRank, by Aaron Wall.

Page Rank is Down and Everybody is Speculating

Google's Page Rank system has been non-operational now for about three days and the internet is abuzz with speculation about what it could mean. If you don't know what I mean, I am referring to the little green bar in the Google toolbar that supposedly ranks web pages according to their importance or "relevance" or some other mysterious criteria that only Google knows for sure.

In fact, much of the Page Rank system has been based on the quantity and quality of inbound links pointing at specific pages. This system was the inspiration for much that was novel about Google when it burst on the scene about seven years ago. But since then it has become the feature of Google that has been most open to abuse. Among other things, it has set the tone for many thousands of websites that are little more than "directories" of links. It has also been the source of much "link exchange" activity -- a counter-intuitive exercise that occupies so much of the time of those of us involved in web promotion.

The reaction to the current PR outage has been mixed. Some have predicted that Google is moving holus bolus to another system such as TrustRank. Others think it is just a Google glitch.

My own feeling is that this is too big to be a glitch. Google has a plan. They are making changes. They have clearly said that the evaluation of links is going to undergo change, and possibly this is a way of shocking the troops into realizing that the changes are coming sooner rather than later.

Whether this is a permanent change or not, it is clear that the free-for-all that has been happening on the linkage front is going to change. The significance of garbage links will inevitably be diminished (as it should be), and the ability of content-less sites to score big PR numbers by simply hooking up with other (possibly equally content-less) sites also will (and should be) diminished.

On the other hand, Page Rank serves a potentially useful purpose. There is something to be said for having an "objective" measure of the quality of websites. As it stands now, there is no way of knowing whether a particular site is of any value or not. Yese there is Alexa, but that is equally open to abuse. The fact that the current Page Rank system is flawed, is not sufficient reason to jettison the entire concept. Nor is it sufficient reason, in my estimation, to move completely towards a system like TrustRank that favours long established sites over newer, possibly better ones.

Friday, May 27, 2005

What's the Big Hurry?

Quite often I get asked what the magic solution is for getting better Google ranking. Sometimes the questions sound fairly naive, something like this:

"I have recently established site XYZ and would like to rank much higher in Google, Yahoo and MSN. Can you tell me how to do this without spending a lot of money? Also I would like to have significantly better rankings within 1 or 2 months."

No seasoned internet marketer would ever ask a question like this. Experienced marketers know that predicting search engine rankings is always a hit or miss affair. SEO practitioners who "guarantee" high search engine rankings are making misleading claims, intended only to sell their services.

Imagine how many sites within any competitive area are going after those "top 10" rankings. Many of your competitors have been around for a few years, so they have an established site with lots of valuable content, steady traffic, and thousands of sites linking into them. How can you expect just to throw up a site and within a month or two walk away with a "top 10" position?

This is only possible within a narrowly defined, highly specialized niche. Say for instance you are going to hold a Wazooski family reunion next year, and want to use the internet to promote it. Chances are a few well placed announcements scattered around 20 or 30 article sites, directories and blogs will generate enough search engine activity to get you good positioning in the search engines. Within a month or two you should get the number one spot for "Wazooski family reunion", within the top 10 for "Wazooski", and possibly even an honourable mention further down the list for "family reunion". Using a blog or two will often speed this process up considerably.

The reason is pretty obvious: there is not a lot of competition for "Wazooski family reunion". In fact you may be the only one competing for that term. All you really need to do is get your site or your announcements spidered and the chances are pretty good that you will get a high ranking almost immediately.

But try this with a more competitive term and you are talking a completely different game. Considering that most competitive terms have thousands of sites chasing after that illusive "top 10" ranking, you will be lucky to even get on the radar screen. And trying to do it within a month or two is almost completely unrealistic.


Many blog posts and RSS feeds get spidered daily. You can place a listing in our blog "Business Webs" which is syndicated on a growing number of sites. For more information see Business Webs advertising.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Importance of History to Google

The Google patent application submitted in March, 2005 has generated a good deal of debate among search engine optimization experts. The patent document contains many general suggestions about the direction Google wants to move their search criteria and ranking techniques in the near future.

The document points out two areas in particular in which "there remains a need to improve the quality of results generated by search engines." (0009) These two areas are

(a) artificially inflated rank due to spamming techniques, and
(b) stale documents that rank higher than fresh ones, and therefore "degrade the search results".

These two points reveal the primary purpose of the proposals made in the March/05 patent application. In general, that purpose is to improve the quality of search engine results. The specific measures proposed in the application are meant to address the two points previously mentioned: spam which skews results inappropriately, and document staleness which results in old documents being ranked higher than newer ones.

History is more important than ever

This means Google either already gives, or intends to give the "history" of documents more significance. And not just the date when the document is created, or most recently changed. They also propose tracking the pattern of the changes in content, changes in anchor text of links, changes in numbers and quality of inbound links, changes in quality and number of outbound links, changes in other pages within the same associated group of documents.

On top of that, they propose tracking user habits and patterns over time. How users got to the page in question, how long they stayed there, how many times the particular page was clicked on when it was presented in a search...a very impressive (bewildering?) array of factors.

In fact this is an ingenious attempt to solve the "spam" and "staleness" problems at the same time. The major assumption seems to be that up-to-date "relevant" content -- the kind the search engines are supposed to be giving us -- will be regularly updated, will be inter-connected by an ever-increasing (and regularly changing) group of inbound links. In other words, links will come and go, changes will happen gradually, and "spikes" in either traffic or increased link activity will be sure signs of spamming activity.


Whether all of these measures will ever be implemented or not is almost irrelevant. The future has been defined, and it is up to creators of websites and online marketers to make the most of it. The most important conclusions we can take from the patent application is that the history of our pages matters. More specifically,

-- Rapid and wholesale changes in content will be looked upon with suspicion
-- Rapid increases in numbers of inbound and outbound links will trigger red flags
-- Changes in anchor text that alter or remove its relationship to on-page content will be suspect
-- Lack of regular and steady (but not radical) changes will get your pages labelled "stale"
-- Links that were valuable last year (or month?) will not be as valuable this year (or month) because they are becoming "stale".

In other words, keep adding content, keep upgrading your pages, keep improving and adding new ones, continue to get new links, and freshen up your old ones if you can. But don't do any of it too quickly.

Think of this "history" component as a method of measuring change. It may seem unreasonably vague, but in the new world order, change has three speeds: Too Slow, Too Fast, and Just Right.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Business Card Displays Business Opportunity

Freecard business card displays present an interesting and exciting small business opportunity. The business card dispensers are placed in high traffic areas where potential customers of your advertisers are likely to see the business cards on display.

You (the Freecard "Associate") then sell business card slots to local merchants or services. There are 16 compartments in each display. When a prospective customer is interested in one of the products or services advertised, she just takes one of the full color business cards.

For more information, go to Freecard Business Card Display Opportunity

Give Google What it Wants

Recent developments on the Google front have gotten web marketers and SEO specialists talking even more than usual. What they're talking about is the changing Search Engine Optimization landscape. Some of the traditional assumptions about what gets good Google ranking have been challenged by things Google has said over the last few months -- especially by the filing of their most recent patent.

A number of sensible suggestions have emerged about good SEO practice. I will comment on a number of them in the next few posts.

1. Don't add links too quickly or all from one or two sources -- Google wants a "natural" linking pattern.

This is not a new suggestion, but Google seems to be prepared to penalize sites which engage in blatant link buying. Clearly this is targeted at services that sell links by the hundreds (or thousands). So one month a site has no links, and the next month it has 2,000 or 20,000 links from one or two "name" sites. Obviously these links have happened because of link buying.

I don't believe Google is trying to discourage all link buying, since, after all, links are just a form of advertising, and Google cannot discourage buying advertising without being blatantly inconsistent. Google itself is one of the primary sources of purchased web advertising.

What they are trying to do is safeguard the integrity of their search results by discouraging the practice of buying large chunks of links to dramatically influence Page Rank and Search Engine positioning. They want Page Rank and SE positioning to be a result of website quality and relevance. And virtually all SEO experts have maintained that quality and relevance come fairly gradually as a site grows and its content develops. So the "natural" development of links would be more or less in lock step with the development of content.

This means that link programs like our own Linknet Advertising packages are not the sort of thing Google is discouraging.

Why? Because...

1. No current Linknet package gives you more than 100 links at a time. We encourage you to add links from a variety of sources, Linknet being only one. We also encourage you to come back a month or two down the road and add some more links. In other words, add links gradually over the course of four or five months until you have a few thousand.

2. Virtually all Linknet packages include links from a wide range of websites. We have 30 or so sites of our own. All of them contain content-rich pages, and we try to put your links on content-rich pages that match the target site's content as closely as possible. We also work with a number of 3rd party partners where we place your links. Typically a package of 100 links from Linknet will be spread over about 60 different websites or blogs.

3. Linknet packages usually include posts on blogs like this one, and short articles on article sites like So, again, your links are "embedded" in content-rich articles or posts that cannot be construed as "spam" in any sense.

If you would like further information about Linknet link opportunities, visit the Linknet website.

By the way, we have just developed a package that gives you links on PR2, PR3, and PR4 pages. They are available in batches of 10, will remain in place for one year, and are very reasonably priced. Get more information

Mr Bill Knows Florida Refinance

Advertisement - from

Getting a loan has never been this easy, just ask Mr. Bill Knows. In just minutes, complete and submit our online application and MrBillKnows florida refinancing finds the lowest rate and most aggressive programs available to you.

Mr Bill Knows

Mr Bill Knows Florida refinance. has Developed strong relationships with the top lending institutions in America to find the best Programs to custom-fit your needs.

So Mr. Bill Knows Florida mortgages.

With it’s 1 easy application, 1 credit pull and the best lending program is right around the corner! was started out of frustration and confusion. William Knowles, President and Chief Executive Officer of, has always believed in getting more for his money.

This is why Mr. Bill Knows home refinance in Florida.

When Bill he went to refinance his home in 2002, he attempted to seek out the best deals on home loans. He ended up spending hours on hold with dozens of companies, and the rate information he did gain was confusing as well as time consuming. He decided to go on the internet, where lenders competed for his refinancing business after submitting an on-line application.

This sounded like a great idea, until he started receiving calls from numerous lenders all claiming to have the best program for him. So, he decided to go with the company quoting the lowest rate and closing costs.

Bad idea, he was soon on his way to finding out that not only was his interest rate and closing cost extremely higher than quoted, he realized that they had pulled his credit over 10 times making his credit worse then he had started out with.

That's why Mr Bill Knows how to get credit information with just one credit pull.

Back then he had no choice but to close due to his personal finances. He wished there was a one-stop online shop where they would compare rates and custom-tailor a program to fit his specific needs.

It was this dissatisfaction that drove William to create, the premier, free online service for consumers who need help in deciding the best company to compare the lowest rates and closing cost, without all the frustration and confusion. -- Mr. Bill Knows -- has become an expert resource for saving money by empowering consumers to spend less on recurring monthly expenses in order to free up cash for the things they really want out of life. It all began as an answer to his own refinancing problems in January of 2002. Now has grown into the online authority for all Americans to lower their cost of daily living. To date, the privately held Tampa, Florida company has helped over 200,000 consumers save more than $124 million on their recurring monthly expenses.

Check out Mr Bill Knows and apply for a Florida refinance loan today.

Monday, May 09, 2005

We Guarantee our Data Recovery

Advertisement - from

Need Data Recovery? Don't Panic -- We Can Help Rescue Your Data!

All Brands, All Media -- No Strings Attached


Hard Drive Recovery - IDE/ATAPI, SCSI, SATA, USB, and FireWire internal & portable hard drives. Manufacturers such as Western Digital, Maxtor, Seagate, Quantum, IBM, Hitachi, and more...

Server Recovery - NAS, SAN, DAS, RAID Arrays

Too big to ship? Need emergency service? Choose 24x7 Critical Response Service and we'll come to you!

Removable Media Recovery - CDs & DVDs, floppy disks, Zip, Jaz, Orb, flash media, USB keychain drives, CompactFlash/SmartMedia - Manufacturers such as Imation, Syquest, Castlewood, and more...

Tape Backup Recovery - DLT/DLTape, LTO Ultrium, DAT/DDS, Travan, QIC, Ditto

We can recover data from all brands (including Western Digital, Maxtor, IBM, Hitachi, Seagate, Lacie, and others) and from any media (including desktop & laptop hard drives, CDs & DVDs, removable media, servers & RAID arrays, and tape drives).

Many companies claim to provide low-cost, guaranteed service, but when the bill comes? Clean room & evaluation fees, shipping charges, and more can really add up: not with Iomega.

Every Priority Service case starts with a free evaluation that includes:

- Initial visual inspection of the media,
- In-lab diagnostic work by one of our technicians,
- No clean room fees,
- No diagnostic fees, and
- No charge for labor.

Following the free evalution, you'll receive a no obligation, no surprises quote: if you aren't satisfied with our offer, we'll send your media back at no charge -- period. We'll even tell you if the problem can be fixed using a free Do-It-Yourself file recovery program.

Plus, every Priority Service case is backed with our satisfaction guarantee: if you aren't happy with the recovery, you don't pay a cent.

For more information visit Iomega Data Recovery.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Blog helps Bloggers make money

Problogger is a blog by Darren Rowse dedicated to expounding on tips and techniques to make blogs more effective sources of revenue. Subject areas include blog design, search engine optimization of blogs, blog promotion (getting your blog more exposure), blog advertising, affiliate programs, using Adsense effectively, writing content in order to generate traffic and revenue.

The Problogger site includes interviews, case studies, blog tools, and income streams. This is a very active and much read blog.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Selling Local Services on the Web

Say you want to open a store to sell widgets, and pretend you have a choice. You can either open a bricks and mortar retail store on Main Street, or you can open a web store and ship widgets from your garage.

Some of the differences seem obvious. At first blush, it would seem that your bricks and mortar store would probably cater to a local market with walk-in traffic, whereas your web store would focus on a broader, non-local market.

In turn, this would have an influence on how you define your service. Perhaps your physical store would focus on low prices and speedy installation, whereas your cyber-store would carve out a relatively narrow niche catering to a specialty market.

What this clearly suggests is that you do NOT try to reach local markets online. You use more traditional marketing strategies. This gets us thinking in terms of these two alternative models:

Bricks and Mortar Store
Local Market
Products have local appeal
Delivery is either manageable because customers pick up goods, or because they are close enough to deliver goods to

Online Store
Non-local market
Products tend to be more specialized
catering to a "niche" market spread out geographically.
Goods are either digital or can be delivered economically "at a distance".

Clearly, a web store selling to a non-local market will have to address various shipping issues. For instance, selling fast food to a non-local market looks like a non-starter. You can't ship pizzas more than about 15 or 20 minutes from their point of origin. Or trying to sell bulky or very fragile items "at a distance" would result in excessive cost and/or damage.

You need a product that will ship without too much trouble or cost, and one that doesn't have to be shipped inside a restrictive time frame (like pizzas or fried chicken). The ultimate is the digital item that can be downloaded. But things like books, CDs, bottles of pills, clothing, jewelry, computer parts, electronic components, etc., etc. all qualify as well.

Online Stores and Local Markets

Might it be possible to have an online store catering primarily to a local market? In other words, can we reach local markets online?

I think we have trouble with this concept because of promotional or marketing considerations. We assume that either there are not enough local prospects to build a viable business, or promotional efforts can't be adequately focused on a local market without the use of other very expensive advertising media (traditional media).

But why is this? Why couldn't we open a pizza restaurant, or chain of pizza restaurants and build our marketing and communication systems (promotion, order taking, payment taking) and reach our local markets online. In other words, instead of people looking up phone numbers in the "yellow pages", they would go to a local online source (search engine, online mall or community directory) find their restaurant of choice, order via email or web-based forms, make their payment online, etc.

In fact, this model doesn't even require online ordering. In my world, a store would be reaching its local markets online as long as it has a web site that generates leads and inquiries, and that serves as the focal point for its product information. Take your pizza restaurant, for instance. Imagine that it generates its leads from a search engine, online mall or directory, and it has no yellow pages ad(s) at all. People look up the website, find what they want, and then call a local number to place their order. That would clearly be an online store — a store reaching local markets online.

The local web store model

With the current state of the web, the online pizza restaurant is an unlikely candidate for success. The fact is, there are very few reliable, up-to-date online directories you can trust — especially at the local level. This is compounded by the tendency for web businesses to pop up as experiments and quickly fade away. Yesterday's community web directory is full of businesses that no longer exist.

In the world of traditional media, this problem is overcome by the relatively steep entry costs, and the relatively long lead times — you don't buy a yellow pages ad unless you have something worth selling, have a few dollars to invest in it, and are likely to be around in six months when it eventually gets printed in the book. None of these things apply to websites -- you can have a website up almost over night for almost no cost at all.

Local services which might work online

But there may be other services which have a better chance of online success — services which don't require instant "findability", which would not require up-to-the-minute directories or listings, but rather could survive off of something more "traditional" like good search engine ranking.

Let's say, for instance, you are interested in finding a real estate agent in your local community, or a dentist, or a swimming pool maintenance company. Being able to find local suppliers like this online would be a tremendous advantage. You do a search for "Dentists Cambridge", and up pops a list of websites for dentists in Cambridge.

Of course the yellow pages people want you to think they will continue to be the definitive source for this kind of information. That's why we have "". But in fact they have a built-in reason NOT to supply information of this sort online — because it cuts into their lucrative printed book advertising. As with so many older technologies, you cannot rely on the providers of those older technologies to provide you with more efficient, less costly alternatives, because that would cut into their real business.

In fact they usually put up these services to slow down the development of alternatives and keep their old businesses alive longer. The less efficient the alternatives are, the better they do with their "must have" print ads, and clunky old environmentally unfriendly 20 pound books.


Online business ideas that do not conform to the web-store-catering-to-non-local-market model seem likely to have serious problems. But for some types of business, the model of the "local web store" may already be feasible. It depends on many things, including the development of comprehensive and up-to-date locally-oriented business directories.

Once we have better online search and online local directory services, and once web use among both local consumers and local businesses reaches a specific critical mass, the range of local businesses able to use the web profitably will increase greatly.