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Getting robust
Whose relevancy is it?
starec




msg:52152
 11:51 am on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

After reading a lot about new penalties and semipenalties, and freshbots and deepbots, and dominic (and sabbatic?) and other terms I still find slightly confusing, I decided to share a bit my experience with robust google strategies. I realize this approach may not be good for everyone. It may even be completely wrong. But so far, it works fine for me.

Long time ago, I was hit by one of the very first google penalties. I know perfectly how it feels like when within 48 hours the referrals drop by 90%...

It was one of those "collateral damage" things, the site itself was clean. It got resolved within one month. (In those times, Googleguy did not have his sticky disabled :). But still, it was a very, very scary experience. I decided I will never allow such a thing to happen again.

I decided to go robust.

A robust website must withstand 80% of ANY algo changes of of any SE without loosing more than 10-20% of its referrals. To do this, I decided (instead of guessing what google engineers consider relevant this month) to build a truly relevant website.

Since the true, user relevancy is difficult to measure directly, Google uses 500+ parameters and 50+ PhDs to estimate it. A webmaster pursuing active strategies tries to estimate this Google's estimation of the relevancy function and optimize his website accordingly. A webmaster pursuing passive strategies tries to understand the objective relevancy function and optimize his website accordingly.

In other words, while an active webmaster follows the changes Google's PhDs make in their strive for relevancy, a passive webmaster strives for relevancy himself. If he does things right, Google's algo changes should eventually reward his truly relevant website and give it the position it deserves.

There is a clear analogy here with the active/passive investment strategies. A passive webmaster takes some position and keeps it, because his analysis of fundamentals tells him to do so. Only when the fundamentals change his position changes. The fundamentals in this case is the user relevancy, it is not the Google's current algo.

I radically changed the way I work more than a year ago.

1. I stopped reading update threads. I don't do any changes based on "this month, anchor texts are important" and "in this update, titles got more weight" etc.

2. I stopped searching for reciprocal links and I ignore reciprocal links requests. I add a link to a website if and only if it makes sense for my visitors.

3. When I see an interesting website with some traffic potential, I ask for a link without taking into account its PR and without offering reciprocity.

4. I add content that helps my visitors. I do not add content if it does not help the relevancy of the site.

5. I use anchor texts that help my visitors. I let other websites, linking to me, to put anchor text that helps their visitors.

All the time saved (in my case probably more than 50% of time previously allocated to reading update threads and to active SEO) I dedicate to making the site more useful, more relevant. I also actively work on alternative, non-SE related methods of traffic building the site (viral marketing being the most important one).

Results: Sales doubled in the last 12 months. No penalty-related insomnia. 50% increase of Google traffic in the last 12 months. And a robust, truly relevant website (well, not 100% relevant, but getting there).

Maybe by being more active I would have obtained better results. Maybe by being more active I would have been participating in the semipenalty thread by now...

 

brandboerge




msg:52182
 7:34 am on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

4. I add content that helps my visitors. I do not add content if it does not help the relevancy of the site.

Google has won at last!

your honest content site gets pushed to #100 by the spammers.

So - become a spammer yourself?

IMO, some SEO-techniques can be used to make your site more user-friendly - for instance, keyword research can inspire you to new, "real" content articles, and good titles are also helpful to the users etc.

percentages




msg:52183
 7:58 am on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

starec, what an excellent post! Everything you said about building a robust site should be followed IMHO.

But....the twin towers of the WTC were 100% robust from every form of natural disaster imaginable, but today they are not there!

Morgan




msg:52184
 8:28 am on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Alphawolf, I dropped to #13 for the one of the search terms you listed this month. But I was #5, and I feel like I did it legitimately. For '* * firm' I was #1, now #3.

I really have yet to see anywhere for myself or for clients that you can't get into the top areas over time, in a straightforward manner (inbound links, anchor text, content). Sure, I am down this month, but I can actually look at those few things and see why, and work to improve them.

When I see crummy listings at the top of keywords I'm ecstatic-- it's easy to go up against them. It usually ends up being more constructive than posting endless complaints like a lot of folks here like to.

Alphawolf




msg:52185
 2:22 pm on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Morgan,

Alphawolf, I dropped to #13 for the one of the search terms you listed this month. But I was #5, and I feel like I did it legitimately. For '* * firm' I was #1, now #3.
I really have yet to see anywhere for myself or for clients that you can't get into the top areas over time, in a straightforward manner (inbound links, anchor text, content). Sure, I am down this month, but I can actually look at those few things and see why, and work to improve them.

Sure, for some SERP's it's a matter of time and luck. As a web design company if you happen to redesign multiple PR6+ sites and have ideal anchor text on each page...bingo. Pretty quick.

You think without all the page links from clients-just on the merit of your content you'd have the same rankings?

For our SERP's content has precious little to do with it.

The content is king deal is a good platform to base things on, but on page aspects only get you so far.

For some SERP's it's so easy...so ripe for the picking. For other categories it's not so easy....or something even time can over come.

There are ways around that- even perfectly legit ways, but will cost $$$ and time.

People tend to think of the 'net as being instant gratification, I suppose.

My only point is that having solid content is just an aspect...a starting point.

You can have the greatest content in the universe and you won't make it to top of Yahoogle for 'viagra'. Look at the # 2 listing. Check the backlinks. So much for guestbook spamming not working, huh?

I have no need for that SERP or others like it right now, but may in the near future.

Good content may be King for some SERP's, but is mearly a pawn in others.

YMMV

Regards,

AW

micahb37




msg:52186
 9:22 pm on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Micah: So, then the question becomes: Do you build pages that can index quickly and highly in SEs, utilizing various techniques (cloaking, etc.) which are tenative at best, or do you advocate building out a content rich page that might never be able to rank higher than a page that utilizes various SEO techniques?


AW: Both?

lol. Actually thats what I am doing. Taking the same keyword and doing a bit of "content delivery" techniques and content rich sites.

I do think there is a fine line where both are ok, and achievable. What seems to happen is that people fall on one side of the fence or the other, and cannot extract the postive of both efforts for implementation.

pleeker




msg:52187
 10:17 pm on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Excellent post, starec, very well said. I've always thought that if you reward your visitors with a relevant site and enjoyable experience, the SEs should (and will) reward you with good rankings. When you start focusing more on serving the SEs ahead of your users is when I think you risk trouble.

nell




msg:52188
 12:20 am on May 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

The largest, best stocked, lowest priced, 24hr/365 day Walmart would sell nothing if it were located in the middle of the jungle.

SkipIntro




msg:52189
 12:35 am on May 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

"The largest, best stocked, lowest priced, 24hr/365 day Walmart would sell nothing if it were located in the middle of the jungle."

But give that WalMart some time and a town will suddenly pop up out of nowhere...I know, I used to live in Missouri.

Of course, you can't compete on all levels with great content alone, but I would certainly rather have a site that addresses my needs (ranked #10) than any of the higher ranked sites that give me nothing in the way of content.

I believe there is much to be gained from getting people to your site, but possibly more to gain by actually keeping them there for longer than it takes to find their browser's "back" button.

The Subtle Knife




msg:52190
 2:38 pm on May 30, 2003 (gmt 0)


I struggle with this daily. I have a client who wants me to utilize all the cloaking techniques I know to get his pages indexed. Yet, I continually discuss cloaking as a non-long term solution. Rather, building a relevant site, with all the "standard" SEO stuff (title tags, keyword dense copy, etc.) will enjoy long-term benefit, similar to what starec advocates.

Yet, when you look at the top ten sites for most competitive (highly or moderately) many of the pages utilize some sort of "content delivery system."

So, then the question becomes: Do you build pages that can index quickly and highly in SEs, utilizing various techniques (cloaking, etc.) which are tenative at best, or do you advocate building out a content rich page that might never be able to rank higher than a page that utilizes various SEO techniques?

jesus christ I wish someone would tell me where all
the spammers hang out and where they learn stuff, as surely
it can't be from this forum.

Assuming your doing all the OBVIOUS good things.
It makes sense to have good content of course, but spammers I notice still get on top. There are clear ways to get on top, and not by waiting 12 months and getting tonnes of content.

I'd rather have a few good sites, and a few sites that use spamming techniques, as they clearly work like a treat.
So I think both methods make sense, as long as you split the sites, so the "legal" one never affects the other.

Sometime I think this forum is sponsored and a brain washing plan by google... Google guy could just be a plant, so they can keep up to date with SEO thinking.

Why else should a guy from google hang around here - I know if I worked for google, I'd be too busy with parties to be wasting time in forums.

If we all took the advice mentioned in the start of this thread, we'd all have sites with tonnes of highly relevant content. So then, if google identifies 100 good sites with good content, which one is no.1? see the problem?

Where do all the spammers learn there tricks from?

annej




msg:52191
 3:05 pm on May 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

starec, Your post inspired me to look into viral marketing. It looks like a great thing to expand into instead of trying to guess what Google is doing. I wouldn't be comfortable using some of the methods but some ideas like encouraging people to forward my newsletters to friends who might be interested I had never thought of doing. Even offering greeting cards might be neat as my topic is the history of a popular hobby with great pictures. I already share my articles with other sites when they ask but I could do something more with that.

What are some good sites on viral marketing? I imagine we could all benifit putting our focus on something like that while taking a break from watching Google.

micahb37, What makes content pages work is that people find them on more specific and less competitive search terms. So even though your homepage may be lost in the serps content pages have a good chance of being found.

scottiecla




msg:52192
 3:25 pm on May 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

You can have the greatest content in the universe and you won't make it to top of Yahoogle for 'viagra'.

Makes you wonder what the "greatest content" for viagra would be...

Seriously, if you are targeting viagra, phenteramine, any number of "enlargement" therapies, financial services, or weight loss, you are setting yourself up to play in the spammer circles. Comes with the territory.

For most people who are optimizing for real businesses, there isn't the need for all that extra work. Focusing your efforts on building a useful, interesting content site that is easily navigable by humans and spiders should be enough to place your site in the top of the SERP's for relevant keyphrases. A much better use of your time and resources than juggling 5 sites and trying to "keep out of trouble".

The Subtle Knife




msg:52193
 6:14 pm on May 30, 2003 (gmt 0)

so, no-one knows where the spammers hang out then?

Wouldn't mind some useful tips..

slashroot




msg:52194
 6:41 pm on May 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Starec,

Excellent post. Made me crawl out of my lurker mode...

I dont think SEO and building a content-rich site are at odds with each other. A content-rich site, when SEO, can do well in SERP ranking without having to resort to any borderline or blatantly illegal spamming techniques.

Case in point: I had build a recent-events related content portal few months ago, without paying much attantion to SEO. People liked the site, published extensively there, and provided many links from their own sites without even my requesting it. The site ranked well, but no where near the top 20 though. Then I discovered this wonderful forum, applied some of the basic SEO methods and Bingo! It is now being ranked fairly well, not at the very top but it ain't bad.

I dont think content alone is the answer if you are looking for quick ramp up to the top 10. If my customers are looking for instant gratification, I tell them advertising dollars is the answer, not shady spamming techniques.

However, for any site that has a long term, well thought out business plan, there should be no need to try to get to the top overnight through shady techniques. I believe that good user-centric content, basic SEO, and the TIME are the three critical components to ensuring consistent placement resulting in long term sucess. It is also a cure for the monthly relapses of those Dominic Blues...

Kirby




msg:52195
 10:32 pm on May 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

"so, no-one knows where the spammers hang out then?"

Maybe the bank?

The Subtle Knife




msg:52196
 6:06 pm on Jun 6, 2003 (gmt 0)


"so, no-one knows where the spammers hang out then?"

Maybe the bank?

Well, apart from the bank, seriously, they seem to know what they are doing, and just getting on with it.

Where do they hang out?

Porn Master places? (I think I've just answered my own question... Thanks guys, can rely on you lot for good info as usual )

webwhiz




msg:52197
 6:39 pm on Jun 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well, apart from the bank, seriously, they seem to know what they are doing, and just getting on with it.

Where do they hang out?

The spammers obviously hang out here. Just read the cloaking forum.

Just because there are non-spamming people posting in this thread doesn't mean the spammers aren't here. I'm sure they'll be happy to answer your spammy questions in the appropriate threads if you're really interested.

The average person could learn a lot more by reading threads like this one rather than learning how to achieve short-term success through spamming.

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