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But remember link based results are very similar to Google bombing if you don't have any semantically related words in the content.... Reminds me the serps for miserable failure or more recently Dangerous Cult
I would do the two following search operator to figure this out.
Definitely not Google bombing. Google bombing is intended to make a site rank for semantically unrelated words or concepts. What I'm suggesting is using anchor text and semantically related words to make a site rank for related words and concepts.
Say for example you have a site about WWII but you don't want World War II as a phrase anywhere on the site. So you get some links from other sites with "Word War II" in anchor text.
Then it becomes all about the content and the concept of the site itself. So you have page titles like, "The German Invasion of Poland", The Bombing of Britain", The Attack on Pearl Harbor", The Battle of Midway", "The Truth About Iwo Jima", "The Russian Front", The Battle of Bastogne", etc. Then it becomes concept density and not keyphrase density.
A site as described above could rank for WW II and need not have the phrase mentioned on the site at all. Call it natural language ranking, semantic association, whatever. I call it "conversational optimization".
For example, in a conversation about Hitler (staying on the subject of WW II) between two people, the proper name, "Hitler" might not be mentioned at all, or rarely, yet the entire conversation could take place and anyone listening would know who the two people were talking about. If phrases like "beer hall putsch", "final solution", "Third Reich", "Germany's dictator", and "crystal nacht" pepper the conversation, discerning the subject of the conversation is easy even for our carbon-based processors. So what do you think computer algorithms can do with some simple relationship analysis?
What if your site's concept is related but not an exact match?
[edited by: Shaddows at 5:36 pm (utc) on Dec. 12, 2008]
I think the question is becoming "can off-page SEO match combined on-page and off-page SEO"
And the answer has to be no, unless the 'rival site' has no seo idea, or it's a tiny niche.
Even assuming the rival has zero SEO skills, and no off-page SEO, you'd still have to ask "can my off-page seo beat his content".
And I reckon, in most cases, that's still going to be a fairly firm 'no'.
And if he has any SEO idea, the answer has to be 'not a hope!'
It can result from strategies and tactics ranging from what people would call white hat, to black hat. Lots of ways to do it. Sometimes it even happens without the site owner knowing right away. ;-)
The most relevant question for most Webmasters, IMHO, is whether or not traffic from that keyword, if arriving on your site, is happy with the result. For the average Webmaster, if the result is relevant and a search engine rep looked at it and had no issue, there's not much else to think about.
whether or not traffic from that keyword, if arriving on your site, is happy with the result
A big part of having satisfied users is to create accurate expectations. That can be tricky if you're targeting a phrase that doesn't actually appear on the page.
Take care to craft a page <TITLE> and meta description that tell users exactly what they'll find if they click your link in the SERPs. Play it straight, describe your content realistically, and few users would have reason to be unhappy even if their exact search doesn't appear on your page.
In one example i <am aware of> is a site that was ranking in top 10 results of Google for <a significant keyword> and the amazing thing was that the landing page didn't have <that term> either in content or meta tags.
When i checked the backlinks i saw the off-page activites done heavily. Though unfortunately, at present it is not showing the results.
[edited by: caveman at 9:35 pm (utc) on Dec. 17, 2008]
[edit reason] Removed specifics per TOS; also edited for clarity. [/edit]
Simply because it is spamming (link scheming). It is tricking both the search engine and the Internet visitor (there is nothing more frustrating than getting to a web site which has nothing at all to do with the search).
As SEO professionals we should be optimizing web sites based on keyphrases relevant and naturally included within the content.
I don't know which planet most of you are on but SEO (2008 style) has much more to do with empowering the content using the on-site factors rather than relying on empowering the content externally (artificially enhancing mediocre content).
Perhaps you are all unaware of the difference between the search engine optimizer and the pitiful lot of link strategists who think they are performing SEO.
I'm intrigued with the concept of utilizing LSI as a workaround for trademark infringement issues.
I've used LSI keyword tools in the past and have determined that the recommendations were terms that would typically be used to describe the subject matter anyway and therefore provided little value. Perhaps others have discovered better tools.
Performing a search for the trademarked term and reverse engineering the content of the fist few results might help.
As long as the content is germane to the query, then usability should not be an issue.
If my product/service is interchangeable with "trademarked keyword" then I don't see an ethics issue. I'm interested in seeing other responses - perhaps I've missed an important point.
If my product/service is interchangeable with "trademarked keyword" then I don't see an ethics issue.
Site A contains the "trademarked keyword"; site B does not. The searcher searches for "trademarked keyword", and is given Site B in preference to site A.
That may not be an ethical issue for you, but it may be for the searcher, and it certainly is for Google.
On a more practical point, unless site A has no SEO clue, there is no 'ethical' way that site B can conceivably come out on top in the serps.
What you do is, of course, up to you - but be under no illusions that this is a matter of
1. Depriving site A of a visitor
2. Diverting the visitor from an expressed choice of site
3. Distorting the serps, potentially damaging users' faith in the SE.
Whether these points are important is a matter of personal choice ;)
no 'ethical' way that site B can conceivably come out on top in the serps
Sweeping generalizations are a logical fallacy.
Site B wouldn't need to come out "on top" to gain useful exposure.
The ethics of tactics that might nudge his site into the top ten for an absent keyword would depend a great deal on what the target phrase happened to be.
However, the efficiency of such tactics would be open to question no matter what the target phrase.
Depriving site A of a visitor
Not necessarily. Many searchers check out more than one site.
Diverting the visitor from an expressed choice of site
Again, not necessarily.
Distorting the serps, potentially damaging users' faith in the SE.
Again, not necessarily. A great deal would depend on relevance. In this case Site B thinks that users would find his products to be strongly relevant. That might be realistic or it might be wishful thinking.
Quadrille, it's worth noting that your list of concerns would also apply to AdWords.
In my opinion the ethical essential for Site B would be to write a crystal clear <TITLE> and meta description so users who saw his link in an unexpected SERP would have an accurate idea what to expect if they clicked. Beyond that, ethical questions would depend on the details.
The idea of ranking for an absent keyword is theoretically possible, and superficially attractive, but Site B needs to look at the idea with hard practical eyes.
-- What else would have to be given up in order to achieve that?
-- How productive would it be, really? No wishful thinking allowed!
-- What else could be achieved if the same promotional energy were harnessed in more conventional ways?
-- What could go wrong?
Beware of unintended side effects. It would not be a step forward for Site B to gain the ability to rank for for "Acme Company" if in the process he messed up his ability to rank for "blue widgets".
Who are the stakeholders in this ethics question?
2. Search Engine
3. Web Site B
Do you include Web Site A (competitor) as a stakeholder?
It seems to me that it would boil down to intent. If the searcher were interested in obtaining the best product or service and is not brand loyal, then discovering alternatives may be a desired result. The search engine may benefit by providing useful results. Clearly Site A does not benefit.
On the other hand, if the searcher's intent is to specifically find the trademarked product/service then their needs are clearly not met and the search engine suffers as well.
There's plenty of evidence to support the contention that while (in some niches) people may visit a number of sites, those at the top fare best.
If anyone seriously believes site B, without one mention of the keyword can ethically vie with site A in the serps, then I'd like to see a mention of how this might be achieved. Even allowing - as I did - that site A may be SEO-clueless. I've met people who argue that content is not King (and I still disagree); I have yet to meet an honest SEO who can produce results with zero content, though I concede in a tiny niche (#*$! #*$!?), it is just conceivable. And in third-tier SEs, anything is possible.
Sometimes it is quite safe to generalize, and I stand by my generalization (subject to the given caveats).
[added] the censor has auto-removed my reference to the artificial widget-term invented for a silly SEO competition![/added]
[edited by: Quadrille at 8:11 pm (utc) on Dec. 28, 2008]
If anyone seriously believes site B, without one mention of the keyword can ethically vie with site A in the serps
You're making assumptions that go much further than the original question.
Site B doesn't have to vie with Site A and it's not realistic to present the issue in those terms.
To achieve [hopefully useful] visibility it only has to vie with the sites in positions 2-10.
who can produce results with zero content
No one has said that so don't create straw men (another logical fallacy).
Content that doesn't directly mention a certain word or phrase is not at all the same as "zero content".
In practice, in all but the tiniest niches, there is not one site A, but scores, hundreds, thousands. And not all, bar a miracle, will be SEO dumb.
And you reckon that honest SEO can make site B - with zero mention of the keyword - get into contention?
You've just turned over 10 years of SEO :)
And you criticise me for generalizing? ;)
there is not one site A, but scores, hundreds, thousands
Nope. A trademarked name would apply to a very limited number of sites, in many niches only one. Everyone else would only be talking about it.
And you reckon that honest SEO can make site B - with zero mention of the keyword - get into contention?
Yep. I'd question whether it would be a productive use of promotional energy, but I would not question that it could be achieved.