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NewsWeek Looks at Search Engine Optimization 147

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the good-the-bad-and-the-dishonest dept.
* * Beatles-Beatles writes to tell us that Newsweeks is taking a quick look at search engine optimization. From the article: "If search-engine rankings are supposed to represent a kind of democracy--a reflection of what Internet users collectively think is most useful--then search-engine optimizers like Fishkin are the Web's lobbyists. High-priced and in some cases slyly unethical, SEOs try to manipulate the unpaid search results that help users navigate the Internet. Their goal is to boost their clients' (and in some cases their own) sites to the top of unpaid search-engine rankings--even if their true popularity doesn't warrant that elevated status."
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NewsWeek Looks at Search Engine Optimization

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  • +1, Ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <{ten.00mrebu} {ta} {todhsals}> on Monday December 12, 2005 @02:30AM (#14236873) Homepage Journal
    At least he's posting about something with which he has experience.
    • by Virak (897071)
      It's nice to see I'm not the only one who got a good laugh out of seeing * * Beatles-Beatles post a story about search engine optimization.
    • +1 Funny (Score:5, Funny)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday December 12, 2005 @02:48AM (#14236910) Journal
      * * Beatles-Beatles is angry that Slashdot was keeping him from the front page of /.
      * * Beatles-Beatles and the two robots sit around the lighted table covered with small holographic monsters. Each side of the table has a small computer monitor embedded in it. * * Beatles-Beatles seems very pleased with himself as he rests his lanky fur-covered arms over his head.

      THREEPIO: Now be careful, Slashdot.

      Slashdot immediately reaches up and taps the computer with his stubby claw hand, causing one of the holographic creatures to walk to the new square. A sudden frown crosses * * Beatles-Beatles' face and he begins yelling gibberish at the tiny robot. Threepio intercedes on behalf of his small companion and begins to argue with the huge * * Beatles-Beatles.

      THREEPIO: He made a fair move. Screaming about it won't help you.

      HAN: (interrupting) Let him have it. It's not wise to upset * * Beatles-Beatles.

      C-3PO: But sir. Nobody worries about upsetting a Slashdotter.

      Han: That's cause a Slashdotter don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. * * Beatles-Beatles is known to do that.

      C-3PO: I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, Slashdot. Let * * Beatles-Beatles win.
      • Re:+1 Funny (Score:1, Funny)

        by claytonian (930545)
        The farce is strong with this one. I found the best way to get hits is to type "this is the _____ page about ______" into the page
      • That's cause a Slashdotter don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose

        I'm not much for arm-pulling. I find a bullet to the base of the brain quite effective though.

        Negotiating axes also come in handy...to make it clear my terms are quite reasonable.
    • Re:+1, Ironic (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:35AM (#14237029)
      Want more insight into the mind of a PageRank player? Here's his user page [slashdot.org]. Note how the few posts he's made have been completely devoid of useful content, yet he makes copious use of BOLD AND CAPS to overemphasize whatever buzzwords he writes. Also note how his sole journal entry consists of lifting a few minor details from a Time article, including a few choice links to the appropriate content.
      • Re:+1, Ironic (Score:5, Informative)

        by BillKaos (657870) on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:52AM (#14237065) Homepage
        The best info in that page is that 16 of 18 of his submissions were accepted by the same editor, ScuttleMonkey.

        It's clear what's happening here.
        • Re:+1, Ironic (Score:5, Informative)

          by BillKaos (657870) on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:56AM (#14237070) Homepage
          Sorry for replying to myself, but it's also worth noting that in the last history [slashdot.org], about 50+ comments talking about this guy went (presumably by someone with enough power) modded offtopic.

          Sometime is going on :)

          • Something is going on? I submit, I'd say, 3 stories a month, none of which actually get posted. While they may not represent relevant content to the editors, I haven't had a story accepted in 6 months.

            I'm not bitter, but our friend had THREE (the bolding is a joke) stories accepted on Nov 28 alone. Three in one day? Was there no one else submitting stories? (I did not, but still.) To assume that this man/woman does not get preferential treatment is quite base.
        • I wonder - is one of them a sock puppet of the other, or is ScuttleMonkey just getting kickbacks from the Beatles guy?

        • Re:+1, Ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ManxStef (469602) on Monday December 12, 2005 @08:24AM (#14237631) Homepage
          Yeah, it's been talked about before and it's blatantly obvious what's going on: this guy's abusing Slashdot's unholy Pagerank power to boost his crappy spyware-filled Beatles page and ScuttleMonkey's in on it, happily posting everything he submits. Wonder how much the kickback is? (Considering how much some pay for SEO, it's probably a tidy sum.)

          I thought it might be an honest mistake at first, but it's just happened way too many times now to be a co-incidence. And Slashdot wonders why they're losing readers left, right & centre to Digg? DO YOUR JOBS PROPERLY AND SORT YOUR DAMN EDITORS OUT!
        • They could at least spread out the approvals a little. The fact that all of his approved submissions tend to come in clusters makes them all the more obvious.
    • "Cogito me cogitare, ergo cogito me esse (I think that I think, therefore I think that I am.)"
      - A. Bierce

      Care to back that attribution up? Clever phrase, but still...Ambrose Bierce? Really?

      Cheers,
      Matt

    • WOW, Beatles has such an awesome site I of course wanted to make a backup in case it ever goes down. Of course I want my backup to be have only the most recent data, so I keep my backups as fresh as possible. I also make backups of similar amazing sites strangers sometime send me links to via email...

      Maybe someone could help me out. Normally I let this run at night...

      site-backup-list.txt
      http://george-harrison.info/ [george-harrison.info]
      http://othersites.example.com/ [example.com]
      make-backup-sites.bat
      :repeat
      wget -r -l 999 --proxy=off -i
  • by ReformedExCon (897248) <reformed.excon@gmail.com> on Monday December 12, 2005 @02:37AM (#14236888)
    The problem with search engines is that sometimes when you are looking for something specific, you end up using the wrong terms and get results that are not what you are looking for. Take this article, for example. As a technically-inclined website, you'd expect that "Search Engine Optimization" would refer to techniques and algorithms used by search engines to index pages faster and search through the indices faster.

    Instead, it's about some company using link farms to boost website rankings. While this might be interesting to someone who was actually affected by page rankings, I doubt that anyone really cares about their page rank for anything other than vanity. In general, the websites you are looking for, given the right search terms, come up in the first few search results, so despite the efforts of companies such as this, their efforts simply can't overcome the value provided by serving real content.
    • PageRank is worth a lot more than vanity.

      For businesses, it gets you seen. Few people are going to try to look at anything beyond the first page or two of search results. Therefore, if you are #35 on the listings for a keyword vital to you, you're going to get a lot less traffic. If you are a business, and you have 5 competitors selling X, then whenever someone Googles X, your goal is to be the first website they see (aside from X.com or whatever the parent company is).

      For non business organizations, i
      • Interesting idea for a political party. You know what, though? You oughta have some content before you get troll for traffic.

        Just to throw a few pennies at you, any political organization that doesn't make some sort of room for business isn't really going to get terribly far. Business is a natural organizational tool for people, you know. I'm not saying replicate the current climate, obviously, but you can't be straight up opposed and successful at the same time. It's just not possible.

        The key thing to
        • As I said,

          A) I made it two days ago. I'm a college student, give me time over winter break.

          B) This was mostly to make the point in an ironic manner.

          I never said business people weren't people, I just said they aren't the only people.
        • Business people are people. A very small minority are good guys, most of them are asshole lying fucks. Oddly enough the more successful they are the more they are lying asshole fucks.

          I don't think it's possible for an honest man to get far in business. The honest ones never row past the mom and pop corner store stage. That's why I always try to shop at the small guys.

      • by billstewart (78916) on Monday December 12, 2005 @07:45AM (#14237546) Journal
        Most of the SEO business is dishonest, even though it's still hard work - it's figuring out what the search engines think looks interesting to humans so you can take your client's web pages, which aren't interesting to humans other than your client, lie to the robots about them, so the robots will lie to humans who want to find interesting web pages about various subjects.

        Zach is quite correct that it's about money - if you do a Google search for "rolex watches", for instance, the first five or so entries (other than the advertising section) appear to be legitimate, and the rest appear to be various sites put together by scammers who are trying to SEO themselves into the highest ranking by writing inane content and playing link games. (Fortunately, I don't want to buy such an ungeeky watch, but I do often want to find out technical information about various medicines, and that often gets swamped by SEO-spammer medicine stores. Bad enough that it's hard to find articles on how drug X interacts with drug Y, because even the legitimate sites will have indexes on their pages pointing to their articles about drugs A-Z, but if either drug is something that's heavily promoted for sale on the web, that increases the probability of your search drowning in spam.)

    • In general, the websites you are looking for, given the right search terms, come up in the first few search results,...

      I wish this were true. In fact, it might be true if there weren't so many people trying to game the search engines. However, the way it is now, if you don't take steps to keep your ranking in shape you'll find the gamers will have pushed you off into the back pages...

  • by SecureTheNet (915798) on Monday December 12, 2005 @02:39AM (#14236897) Homepage
    1. Add your domain name to your profile on slashdot
    2. Post useless crap to slashdot
    3. Enjoy increased traffic and pagerank
    4. Profit!

    No need for ???? here. The domain that beatles-beatles has on his profile has a pagerank of 5. I imagine a fair amount of that is from his slashdot posts.

    If you don't have the google toolbar, you can check a pages pagerank here: http://www.only999.com/google_page_rank.php [only999.com]
  • The bottom line... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cherita Chen (936355) on Monday December 12, 2005 @02:41AM (#14236899) Homepage
    The bottom line is this: If you mark your sites up so that they present the content in such a way as to accomidate most browsers, and be $html complient, you shouldn't have any problem getting seen. A good example is "Alt" tags. These are crucial for displaying your page in a text only browser such as links, e-links, lynx, etc...

    Jacking up your ratings by any other means may work in the short-term, but let's face it, if you come up first on a search engine and your site is not relevant, what good does it do you (except of course in the case of porn and warez)?

    • that you can manage to use a spell checker correctly on your web pages.
    • A good example is "Alt" tags. These are crucial for displaying your page in a text only browser such as links, e-links, lynx, etc...

      Unless, of course, someone is an artist who just wants his work [darkicon.com] to be seen and enjoyed by others (or a photographer, or a fledgling game designer [darkicon.com], etc.). Suddenly, text-only browsers don't seem so relevent -- a flowery description inside an Alt tag just ain't the same.

      Mind you, I'm not saying text-only browsers have no use (of course they do!), just that they have very lim
    • Argh. ALT tags are yet another Web thing that Microsoft hijacked into oblivion. Their one and only use was to provide ALTernate descriptive text in case an image didn't load. Then IE came along and every Windows-only dork uses them as long-winded desription tags, defeating the purpose!
  • by shanen (462549) on Monday December 12, 2005 @02:46AM (#14236908) Homepage Journal
    Trying to keep it brief, but:

    Point 1. If the search engines want to retain their value in returning valuable information, then they need to detect rank-promotion techniques and appropriately downrank them. Unfortunately, that will be an unending war.

    Point 2. The reason these marketing "people" keep at it is because the fundamental economic system has become broken. It used to be true that 'you got what you pay for', at least roughly. In particular, if you got much less than you paid for, it was pretty easy to determine that the reason was some sort of fraud. Nowadays, it has become very difficult to tell the difference between 'good' stuff that's worth more money and cheap [often Chinese] imitations of the most popular models. At the same time, a nice brand name will allow selling roughly equivalent goods for several times the price. All broken.

    The result? All values are becoming totally distorted, and they market presidential candidates and even wars in just the same reality-detached ways. Is the joke on the Chinese for continuing to accept the IOUs?

    • by aiken_d (127097) <brooks.tangentry@com> on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:27AM (#14237007) Homepage
      Ah, you "intrinsic value" people are so cute. So convinced that goods and services are somehow worth some abitrary values based on what they should be worth, as opposed to what people are willing to pay for them.

      If chinese Rolex knockoffs are achieving market parity with real Rolexes, it's because, for the people buying them, they're the same thing. Or, at least, the people buying them have decided they'd rather have 1,000 chinese "rolexes" over their lifetime than a single real thing.

      When you say the market is "broken," what you really mean is that the market is, well, the market. And that some (most) people disagree with your estimations of intrinsic value. In reality, the market can't be "broken" any more than the weather can be "broken" -- it's a complex system that may evolve in ways we don't like, but if people really didn't like it, they'd change their behavior and the market/weather would trend back to what people consider "normal."

      Might as well declare that sports, music, or academia is "broken." Large, complex systems tend to evolve. Deal with it. Or at least realize that your ideas of intrinsic value may not be shared by all 5 billion other people on the planet.

      -b
      • Oh, you "fuck the suckers" people are just so cute. It would be less amusing if you also weren't so preachy about right and wrong having any existence. Especially amusing to watch you self-proclaimed smart fools getting screwed precisely because you think you're so smart. Makes it much easier, actually.

        I regard you as hypocritical and stupid, but that's okay. Reality is terribly persistent, and I remain confident that there is such a thing as intrinsic value even beyond the ability to lie convincingly. I

        • I thought he had a pretty good point, even if he was a dick about it.

          jes sayin'.

          • If he has a good point, then he doesn't need to be "a dick about it", as you put it. I could apologize for responding in kind, but I actually prefer to provoke such losers on the hope that such a person will designate me as a "foe" for the convenience of the future ignoring. What actually tends to happen is that someone else designates me a a "friend" for reasons which generally escape me. I basically designate a "friend" for the journal tracking feature, and I don't make so many journal entries here.

            On t

        • Oh, you "anyone who has a good point must actually be stupid" people are so cute. Well, actually not.

          So I'm hypcritical and stupid? Please demonstrate. I will cheerfully admit either or both when you point out where exactly I've contradicted myself or indicated stupidity.

          As for stupid, you've indicated a belief in intrinsic value, but given nothing to back up *why* you believe in it. Because it "should" exist? If so, who should set the values? In the absence of a market, is an apple worth more or less
          • Okay, if that isn't adequate, I now call you a worthless motherfucking piece of shit. Your only purpose in my life is to provide a red dot as a "foe". Now go away before I have to remember more of the military jargon.
        • Perhaps I'm jumping to the conclusion, but I think you should designate me as a "foe" and we can merrily ignore each other forever. I really have much better things to do with my time.

          Let me just check what you are saying in your post...

          "Curse... Generalise... Insult... Self-righteousness. And now I've run out of cohesive arguments, I'd like no replies and to take my ball away because I'm not winning".

          Come back when you've got a cohesive argument with regards to intrinsic value beyond "I remain confid

        • Now, the funny thing is that I think I agree with you on the whole intrinsic value thing, but your attitude and point blank refusal to discuss the issue in a mature, reasonable fashion really is making it hard to side with you.

          Any chance you could lay of the expletives for a minute, calm down and actually argue your case, rather than just calling people names when they disagree with you?
          • When I was much younger I used to spend a lot of time in discussions with various sorts of extremists and fanatics. Actually, I still believe that the truth is most often found somewhere between the extremes, and I do make some effort to know where the extreme positions are.

            However, I have concluded that it is essentially always a waste of time to have discussions with extremists. There are two reasons for having a discussion. One is to seek clarification of the position. However, I am quite fluent in Eng

      • Ah, you "intrinsic value" people are so cute. So convinced that goods and services are somehow worth some abitrary values based on what they should be worth, as opposed to what people are willing to pay for them.

        He said nothing about "intrinsic value". If anything he was talking about the increasing disconnect there is between the cost of producing an item and the cost to the consumer. Whether or not we have efficient, low margin, commodity markets in other words.

        If chinese Rolex knockoffs are achie

        • What's becoming apparent, as the world's population increases and becomes increasingly interconnected, and individual products become increasingly complex with things like DRM, spyware and rootkits, for each individual it becomes harder to be fully informed about each purchase. This can lead to an increasing disconnect between buying/selling price the GP mentioned and reduced market efficiency.

          On the other hand, there's a lot of information on the internet now that allows people to be informed. I've bough

      • > If chinese Rolex knockoffs are achieving market parity with real Rolexes, it's because, for the people buying them, they're the same thing. Or, at least, the people buying them have decided they'd rather have 1,000 chinese "rolexes" over their lifetime than a single real thing.

        If indeed that's the reason, then that's fine, of course, but your analysis goes out the window if there is deception. If consumers were promised a genuine Rolex for a low price, and got a fake, then that's fraud, and it damages
    • It's become difficult to tell the difference between the "good" stuff and the cheap "imitations" because a lot of it is the same product, made in the same factories by the same people. When you buy certain premium brands, you are often paying for a name sticker and a sense that you are not going to buy a dud.

      Look around the web, and you can often find out which products are the same.

      • I think that's actually a relatively unusual case because the factory owners would prefer to sell all of it at the maximum price possible. I'm thinking of the simple improvement of technology. For example, a genuine handmade ceramic cup might sell for $40, and that value is partly based on its uniqueness and the reputation of the artist. However, if someone takes one such cup and gears a factory around that design, they can produce thousands of almost identical cups for $1. A real expert would be able to de
  • Oops (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aiken_d (127097) <brooks.tangentry@com> on Monday December 12, 2005 @02:48AM (#14236911) Homepage
    Having worked both in the tech press and the SEO-needy internet world, I can say that the article is interesting, but based on a fundamentally flawed premise.

    Search engine rankings are not, and should not be, based on popularity. When you type "britney spears naked" into a search engine, you don't care about how many people have clicked on the resulting links. You're looking for *relevance*, which is entirely separate from popularity.

    TFA is interesting, but that flawed presence really hurts it. SEO's don't try to convince SE's that a site is more popular (well, there's backlinks, but that's a whole different story). Instead, they try to convince SE's that a site is more relevant. The use of backlinks, etc, is entirely secondary to that purpose.

    Me, I'm all for Google and other SE's efforts to negate the effects of SEO by detecting and penalizing SEO behavior (gateway pages, bogus backlinks, etc). SE's may be wrong about what a surfer wants, but intentionally trying to *make* them wrong us abusive to surfers and ultimately makes SE's less useful.

    After all, if I have the biggest and best widgets site and try to trick SE's to linking to me for searches on "wodgets," it's only reasonable to expect that people who make "wodgets" will try to SEO "widgets". Customers end up not being able to find what they want, and SE traffic is devalued for everyone.

    Cheers
    -b
    • Re:Oops (Score:3, Interesting)

      by oldwolf13 (321189)
      SE's have to go even further I think... as I find pages that are "somewhat relevant" are becoming quite obnoxious these days...

      Try searching for specs or anything on older laptops (besides auctions/where to buy batteries/memory). You end up seeing page after page of ads. Even looking for reviews... sometimes you just find ads for memory with a link to add your own review... it's driving me crazy!

      Same thing with stereo components, car audio...etc.

      • Re:Oops (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MikeBabcock (65886)
        This is actually a good argument for using directories like dmoz [dmoz.org] or class-specific search engines that are weeded regularly.
  • by this great guy (922511) on Monday December 12, 2005 @02:49AM (#14236914)

    Before everyone jumps directly to the conclusion that SEOs are evil, let me tell you this. As the article states, there are 2 kinds of SEOs:

    • White hat SEOs, who help people redesign their websites to use robots.txt files, META tags, etc.
    • Black hat SEOs, who spam the Web with thousands of links, and generally abuse the technology.

    Only the second kind is evil. Other SEOs out there actually do good things and truly make the Web a better place.

    • Sadly, most, if not all of the SEOs are actually both. I mean think about it. They are trying to figure out how to cheat the system. Do you really think that they will object to adding a few links?
      • Sadly, most, if not all of the SEOs are actually both.

        I don't think all SEO specialists employ both ethical and unethical techniques. You've made an awfully broad generalization, and I can understand why, but I used to do a lot of SEO work, and I've come to a different conclusion.

        They are trying to figure out how to cheat the system.

        There's an awful lot you can do without resorting to "cheating the system," that can have a very positive long-term effect for your search engine position. The basics:

    • by billstewart (78916) on Monday December 12, 2005 @07:28AM (#14237498) Journal
      It's possible to make money as a white hat SEO, doing a couple of things
      • Showing your client how to use META tags for their keywords, and similar labelling so search engines can find the right information about your site, which should take about an hour's billable work, and that's not why you go into the SEO business.
      • Actually doing the work for them, which may take a bit longer, and may be an ongoing business relationship if they change content often enough.
      • Teaching them how to write interesting useful content so their website's worth visiting - that's like being an editor and writing coach and advertising consultant, and that's actual value you're providing if they're interested. You could actually make money doing this, and if calling yourself an SEO is how you hook your client, well, then call yourself that, but that's not really what you're doing.

      But the SEOs who do most of the promotion about the SEO business are really the black-hats, building link farms and similer techniques to lie to the robots, making them think your boring pages are interesting to humans, so the robots will lie to the humans who want to find interesting pages. It's dishonest, and it screws up the value of search engines for the users, and good luck to Google in finding them and stopping them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've found that to accurately measure the efficiency, bias, and efficacy of a search engine that it is best to rate them via the RTPI (Results to Pr0n Index) which is the number of results given before one of the links is a legitimate or stealth link to pr0n. Er... maybe I'm the only one who uses this.
  • Democracy (Score:5, Informative)

    by nephridium (928664) on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:00AM (#14236940)
    This is why people like Socrates opposed democracy - lobbyists (i.e. people good at manipulating other people) can sway many of the less educated populace, which in ancient Greece (and actually all through history to this day) was the majority of citizens. And the worst part is that those lobbyists/demagogues/politicians etc. don't need to be very knowledgable themselves, they just need to be charismatic and very convincing. Socrates (and his disciple Plato) saw this as a huge danger for society (which would prove true often enough in history, take Hitler's rise to power as the most prominent example).

    The only way to counter this effect is to have a larger base (i.e. at least more the 50%) of educated and critical thinking people in a society. And maybe for the first time in history we might have the chance to get closer to this goal.

    • Not possible (Score:1, Insightful)

      by robogun (466062)
      The only way to counter this effect is to have a larger base (i.e. at least more the 50%) of educated and critical thinking people in a society. And maybe for the first time in history we might have the chance to get closer to this goal.

      You're chasing a ghost. It's not possible by definition. For instance, you can say on TV "We have a crisis in this country. Almost half - half, I say - of the population has less than average intelligence. We need to fix it. Now!"No matter what is done, this cannot be chang

      • Grandparent stated: educated and critical thinking people in a society. These are not by definition people above average If you have a "stupid" population, then less than 50% is educated and critical thingking. In a smart population more than 50% (or even 80%) is not a problem.

        Compare: More than 50% of the people have less than averege wealth (the superrich raise the average). This does not mean most of the population is poor.

      • I was speaking in absolute terms here: you can get more than 50% to cast their votes on an educated basis. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, the conventional mass media doesn't really help with that. They are too much focused on getting maximum profit with the least amount of effort and - since they are the mass media - they easily convince the people to pay it. There seems to be a trend to dumb down people.

        Because of this in the long run the only thing which can make democracy work isn't 'rallying the

      • While that's generally true, you're missing something - we don't need more than half the population to be of above average intellect or education*, we just need more than half the population to be above some baseline level. Anyone above the level knows enough about the relevant topics that they can make an informed decision; anyone below the level doesn't and can't. Get enough people above the level and the fact that half of them are below average doesn't matter, because the average is more than good enough
        • Interest in any given subject guarantees neither intelligence nor expertise in it or any other.

          No, but interest in the particular subjects covered on /. probably does correlate with high intelligence. Geekdom is a subculture that disproportionately attracts intelligent people.

          Unfortunately, returning to the original point, this does not necessarily mean that geeks' political opinions are worth anything. Another common characteristic of the geek is that we tend to make completely invalid assumptions abou

    • Let's say that some idiot comes to power by convincing the stupid masses that if they didn't vote for them the evil dark people will explode nuclear bombs in their back yard and the homosexuals will destroy their marriage. Would this idiot then try to make the schools better and make sure kids can tell the difference between shit or shinola, or would he try to undermine science classes?
    • The problem with your idea is conflict of interest. People will not try to achieve the best for society, but the best for _them_, and an educated and critical thinking person will make the _wrong_ choice for society if it benefits _him_. That is human nature.
      That is the reason why fools are allowed to vote, so they can defend their best interest, instead of trusting the choices of "smarter" people.
      I rather make my own choices than allowing other people's agenda on the loop, even if that person is smarter th
      • Egoism may be the simplest solution, but it is not always the best solution. This is actually quite an interesting topic. If you like to know more about altruism and why it often enough is superiour to plain egoism check the Wikipedia pages on it, more specifically I found the Prisoner's dilemma [wikipedia.org] to be quite a good article on it from a game-theory perspective.

        Humans are, after all, social creatures (yes - even the Slashdotter in his mom's basement - would he be posting on Slashdot otherwise?). yes, selfish

  • Quote: "even if their true popularity doesn't warrant that elevated status". What about the true popularity of politicians? Wouldn't it be better to compare search engine optimizers with the spin doctors in politics instead of the lobbyists?
  • by KNicolson (147698) on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:02AM (#14236945) Homepage
    rule #1a is if you cannot get your article submitted once (or even twice...) include lots [whatjapanthinks.com] of gratuitous links [whatjapanthinks.com] to your website [whatjapanthinks.com] in any posts you might make here [whatjapanthinks.com].

    I suppose repeating [whatjapanthinks.com] the same tactic [whatjapanthinks.com] in a second post would move me into the unethical [whatjapanthinks.com] category?

  • by hagrin (896731) on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:02AM (#14236948) Homepage Journal
    Matt Cutts offered his take on this article here [mattcutts.com] where he talks about how Google can diagnose a lot of these black hat activities automtaically without any human intervention.

    Personally, the "better mouse trap" addage definitely fits here. Black hat SEOs won't ever be stopped because of the way the web works currently. What I am wondering is when will domains that have a really early create date but are inactive are going to be realized for their SEO potential down the road. Older domains are definitely moving to the top of the list since the last Google update.
  • covered recently (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is the same company that was recently covered on slashdot [slashdot.org] with their beginner's guide to SEO. [seomoz.org]

    They also have a great search engine ranking factors list [seomoz.org]that contains a large list of the factors that influence rankings in the major SEs.
  • Sounds like Newsweek is actually on top of things for once (oh, and only a year-or-so late). Of course being a /.er, I didn't RTFA. (and I'm staying out of the Beatles Beatles war!)
  • The Irony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by schestowitz (843559)
    Ironically, the the site which hosts this article rel="nofollow"s all the links at the top. What would they do that for if not for SEO purposes?
  • by windowpain (211052) on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:40AM (#14237042) Journal
    Has anyone else noticed that Newsweek breaks your Back button? If you click your Back button immediately upon entering the site you can get back to your previous site. Otherwise four(!) pages show up in your Back button's history. WTF? Do they do this to try to keep you nailed to their site or is it some kind of Ajax (or whatever) side-effect? Either way it's annoying.

    On a related point, isn't it time browsers were fixed so that when clicking the Back button would bring you to a page that redirected you to the current page, the browser has enough sense to bypass the redirecting page?
  • by randfish (937044) on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:41AM (#14237047) Homepage
    Wow... Two mentions in a single week on the site. I feel humbled - thanks /.

    When Brad (Stone) originally wrote the piece, it was to be featured in Wired magazine. However, Chris Anderson, the magazine's editor, didn't like the piece in its final form, so Brad sold it to Newsweek. Brad and I spent about 4 hours together here in Seattle for the initial interview and another 5-10 in emails and phone calls.

    I think he's done a good job of trying to encapsulate the industry from an outside perspective, but there's certainly more to be said and several inaccuracies (I pointed out several here [seomoz.org]).

    SEO is more and more about influencing relevance via popularity - building links and building content that will generate links and recognition. I'm sure no one konws this better than Slashdotters. The industry has a long way to go to build public trust, but it's definitely a goal of mine and I believe the article should help.
  • The problem with SEO nowdays is that is has become an all out war for rankings, in which some people have no ethics. I have recently seen people registering the .net, .biz, .us, .co.uk, .info and .name all to put pages with no real content, just optimised for spiders to take the search traffic for a dot com. That shouldn't be how it is, google should put a lot more emphasis on the quality of the site and how good it's content is before relevant keywords as they are easily abused.
  • by alex_guy_CA (748887) <.moc.tdlefneohcs. .ta. .xela.> on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:49AM (#14237060) Homepage
    If you are in the market for SEO, the nice thing is, you shouldn't have to look to far on Google. If they can't get themselves to the top 5...
  • by Tim C (15259) on Monday December 12, 2005 @03:52AM (#14237067)
    Ok, so it's probably not him, but I did get a rather nasty surprise when I clicked the submitter's name. Yes, it opened george-harrison.info, but almost immediately my browser was redirected to http://www.winfixer.com/pages/scanner/index.php?ai d=gb_ed2&lid=in&ex=1&p=&ax=1 [winfixer.com], which was most insistent that my PC had errors due to spyware and that I should download and install their product.

    Good job I browse using Firefox...

    Funny thing is, it's not doing it to me now (despite a Firefox restart, killing the site's cookie, etc) and I don't see anything in the page that could have caused it to happen (unless it's a random chance thing, or a once-a-day thing based on IP address, etc). Still, people using less secure browsers might want to be careful of clicking on the guy's username.
    • Firefox on mac, nothing pops up. There is probably a web bug in there though, the status bar loads from at least three different sites. I don't have the energy to run it through sockspy.
      • Yeah; like I said, it did it once but then I couldn't get it to do it again. There have been lots of reports of his username link going to different sites, though, so I can only assume that it's something to do with that.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday December 12, 2005 @08:14AM (#14237606) Journal
      At the risk of pumping up his rankings by clicking into his site....

      I use Ad Muncher and it (very neatly) seperates the site's links/src's/etc for you into searchable categories.
      /plug

      Here's some of the sketchier SRC's that showed up
      (anything like Wwxzz means AM killed the script)

      http://www.softwarewings.com/cgi-bin/li vecounter.cgi?cntr=Active&nm=harrison&pg=default&l oc=",escape(document.location),"&ref=",escape(            Wwxzz),"
      http://www.exitblaze.com/exit.js
      http:/ /www.softwarewings.com/cgi-bin/livecounter.cgi?cnt r=Active&nm=harrison&pg=default
      http://georeport. geobytes.com/~27559.1/Clear?
      http://georeport.geo bytes.com/~27559.1/Clear?ref="+sReferrerUrl+"
      htt p://stats.keeca.com/images/stats.gif
      http://map.g eoup.com/~43072/geoup?template=harrison

      I'm not going to list all the stat counters that showed up in the scripts... trust me, there's even more of them.

      Oh, and * * Beatles-Bealtes, if you're reading this: you should probably remove http://www.exitblaze.com/exit.js from your site as they now redirect to hxxp://www.trafficology.com/

      Don't ever say I never helped you
    • Because redirects and popups obliterate other browsers?

      Look, I don't like sites that offer "anti-spyware" with misleading popups either, but just because you get redirected to one of those sites doesn't mean your machine is getting exploited.

      And BTW, I'd recommend getting a new machine wit NX support (A64 is good). It prevents IE being exploited on this bug, it'll just crash like Firefox does on this exploit although you'll get a more informative error message than you would with Firefox (unless you had NX)
  • I was hoping for a nice technical article for once, that would illustrate how to make your own search engine and how to make it fast on indexing and searching through millions of pages.

    Of course, I was wrong.
  • I've been working with seo for a while. Not all seo companies give good reports on quality of their work. Therefore I've created an independent service which measures actual searchengine positions, and keeps track of it over time. Check it out if interested: http://www.seoreporter.com/ [seoreporter.com] In general I would recommend non-biased search engine position reports if you consider buying seo services.
  • by shaneh0 (624603) on Monday December 12, 2005 @04:32AM (#14237135)
    We have a number of websites, and a couple of "crown jewels" aka "profit centers." We were getting absolutely RAPED on adwords, but they were also driving ALL of the traffic that was actually BUYING from us.

    So after months of trial-and-error with Google we decided it might be time to hire someone. The first thing we decided is to approach every prospective company with two simultaneous requests, from seperate subsidiaries. One RFQ for our "high profile" site that we needed a quote on, and another RFQ for a seperate website without an Alexa ranking.

    Time after time, the quote was 2, 3, 4, even once 10x higher for the site with an alexa ranking in the top 250,000.

    These people are scum.

    So we decied that hey, we're no slouches. If **these people** can learn this trade, than we can too. So we did. And now we're number 1 organically on the our first and third most important phrases and number 3 on our second and fifth most important. We're still working on that "number 4." But we did this without SPENDING A DIME. And, I admit, we had a little help from Jagger. Especially Jagger 3. All my love to Matt Cutts and his family this glorius season.

    The moral of the story: Caveot Emptor. These people don't know anything that isn't readily available if you're willing to spend the time. It's not trivial but if you're worrying about SEO then you've probably mastered things more difficult then this.

    And, a tip: Most of these SEO guys have a copy of "Boiler Room" for home and an extra one for the office. Once you call them and make contact, play a little coy. Make him think his usual pitch will work on you. See, he's going to want to prove that he's got this encyclopedic knowledge that justifies his $15,000 quote. If you just shut up and let him talk, he'll explain everything to you. Every phone call-- and this can be many. These sales guys will talk to you as long as you let them-- can yeild real nuggets of useful knowledge. And it's all totally free. Just ask a lot of open-ended questions and prepare to wade thru some BS.

    Shane
    • What is this "Jagger" you speak of? Google appears to return results for an IP like "66.102.9.104", which... points back to google, so I don't get it.
    • So after months of trial-and-error with Google we decided it might be time to hire someone. The first thing we decided is to approach every prospective company with two simultaneous requests, from seperate subsidiaries. One RFQ for our "high profile" site that we needed a quote on, and another RFQ for a seperate website without an Alexa ranking.
      So basically, you lied to the sales guy to get pricing. Hopefully your customers at Custom Silicon Bracelets don't approach you on pretense to get pricing intelli
  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Monday December 12, 2005 @08:02AM (#14237580) Homepage Journal
    I maintain (content wise) several web sites.

    And for some strange reasons it is indeed necessary to optimize them, or they don't show up in the first page at google.
    Example: www.jiyukan.de or www.aikido-karlsruhe.de. Same site, seconod is forwarded to first. When you google "Aikido Karlsruhe" the site did not show up on the first page of search results for ages. Until an expert figured how to optimize it.

    The anoying thing is:

    a) the other search results never had anything to do with "priacticing Aikido in the town Karlsruhe" nor did they have anything to do with martial arts or Karlsruhe but where jsut random search results.

    b) If you don't change the content of the page every few weeks it drops from the first page of search results? Why? The teachers are fix, the training times are fix, every information on that page does not change. But we are artificially forced to change it, or people googling for it won't find it.

    This fucking site is about one of the 5 only Aikido dojos in the town Karlsruhe and around. As long as no other side has both terms "Aikido" and "Karlsruhe" close together in their content they should not show up at all.

    Anyway, as long as ranking gets more and more complex there is a business in boosting/manipulating rankings.

    angel'o'sphere
    • Until an expert figured how to optimize it.

      What did your expert do, or find out, that brought this level of optimization? Anything magical? Or did they just fill out the proper headers of your pages?

      • There is a web site in germany updated by a geek who gives hints how to optimize the site. All that special stuff I don't know, but I guess you might find english ranking improvement hints as well somewhere.

        One thing is indeed to add a few meta tags, however google claims they wont evaluate meta tags.

        The second thing is instead of making a clear and easy to read web site, we put a bit redundancy on it. So the likely search terms show up on several pages and not only the top page.

        The next thing is to have mo
  • An unoptimized site is the equivalent of Spanglish [wikipedia.org]. Yes, it's written in a way the audience can understand, but it isn't written with proper Spanish grammar. So, going through a site and making all the verbs and nouns agree and removing all of the slang is really all optimization is:

    -make it valid HTML
    -add your metatags
    -link to other valid sources of similar data
    -get them to link to you
    -add yourself to http://dmoz.org/ [dmoz.org]

    While, yes, I admit that the skill is in getting the site to be standards compliant

  • Where candidates win elections by paying operatives to secretly affect the casting and counting of votes.

    It is the present state of American politics, but it's not democracy.

    And it's tragic that anyone could ever confuse the two.


    Election results by Diebooooooold.
  • Feel free to use as you like. Anyone who has a site to host this on please do so and submit it to as many greasemonkey sites as you can find.

    // ==UserScript==
    // @name Slashdot - Remove ScuttleMonkey / **Beatles Articles
    // @namespace http://www.cs.uni-magdeburg.de/~vlaube/Projekte/G reaseMonkey/
    // @description Removes these obviously sponsored stores from the main page
    // @include http://slashdot.org/*
    // @include http://.slashdot.org/*
    // ==/UserScript==
    ( function() {
    var xpath="//div[@class='article']/di

  • .. just remove every single page from their records that is just a list of links. A hell of a lot of times I've gone looking for something only to get a page linking to another page linking to another page and so forth.

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