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Four alternatives to NoFollow PageRank sculpting

Written by David Harry   
Tuesday, 23 June 2009 08:18

(the following is a guest post from David Leonhardt)

I really should preface this post with the caveat that I was never a fan of using the NoFollow attribute on links on my sites.  OK, when NoFollow first came out, I actually loaded one of my sites with NoFollow attributes.  Then logic got the better of me.

NoFollow is meant to go on user-generated links, in particular blog comment links, to inform the search engines that the link is not a vote of confidence, not a link the website owner is willing to vouch for.  If I place NoFollow links to some of my own pages, what does that tell the search engines?

  1. I won’t vouch for my own content?
  2. I don’t understand simple coding?
  3. I am trying to manipulate the search engines?

At best, the site comes off as low-trust; at worst, as worthy of a penalty for trying to manipulate search engine results in a sneaky way.

Despite this caveat, many websites engaged in what became known as “PageRank sculpting” -- carefully placing NoFollow attributes on some internal links (such as to pages like contact, about, terms, etc.) in order to squeeze more link juice to pages (such as product, pages, sales letters, landing pages, etc.).

For lazy bloggers

 

Listening to the Spam Assassins

Written by David Harry   
Friday, 19 June 2009 08:31

Well, given all the hub-bub over Matt and the magic NF tag, I shall simply direct you to a post here on ‘sculpting’ the day before the whole thang hit the fan. One should always relied on more statistical approaches to site architecture…nuff said.

As for me, I’ve noticed a few other things in between the dramas that are actually noteworthy... but that will have to wait for next week… For now, while this video (from Matt Cutts; spam assassin) has some of the usual stuff, I submit to you;

There’s gold in them thar’ hills!!

Next week, we’ll look at something that’s more interesting from all of this….

SEOs = Baaaad M’kay?

Another interesting area that I have been digging in since we last talked about search engines thinking of us as adversaries is web spam. I have started a comprehensive list of web spam approaches and resources - look for that soon as well.

One reasonably well known fella in this area is a gentleman by the name of Dr. Marc Najork (spam assassin at Microsoft Research).

Understanding Web Spam

When you have the time, listen to it entirely – know this my spunky optimizers, good intentions and all, you are the enemy to some search engineers…

 

Have a great weekend - ciao

 

SEOs are not Criminals

Written by David Harry   
Tuesday, 09 June 2009 12:48

They are the enemy

Hi there… my name is Dave, and I am an algoholic…

The other day someone asked me via instant messenger about some patents for an area one particular SEO was doing some research in. After suggesting a few patents and research papers and chatting, they asked, “don’t you get nasty emails from the search engines because you pick things apart?”

That’s a pretty interesting question because much of the time search optimizers tend to see themselves as facilitators. They don’t seem to understand the true nature of our relationship with search engines. We are not partners my friends, but we aren’t viewed as criminals either… we are in truth, the enemy. The oddity continued when 'Lisa the Outspoken' had her bubble burst to find SEOs weren't held in high regard (jeez Lis' ya coulda come to me...woulda' set ya straight). To say that we help change the search engines (in a positive way) is like saying weapons of mass destruction have evolved in a constructive manner due to the arms race.

If you believe we’re peas in a pod, it’s time for a little reality check methinks my friends….

Search Adversaries

Adversarial Information Retrieval

Maybe I’m jaded, but it’s always been my understanding that most in the IR world aren’t happy when people mess with their best intentions. Hell, I can even understand the lament. This is the whole point of AIR ( adversarial information retrieval ) - which is an entire school of thought for dealing with those that would manipulate the index. It’s seems more than a little obvious that search engine ‘optimizers’ wouldn’t be having too many nights at the pub with these folks.

It does make me wonder why the hell ‘ol Matt even bothers with us at all (keep your friends close and your enemies closer?). My dear SEO geeks and phreaks, don’t get deluded and start to believe you are driving some type of positive change and that the search engines welcome you into the fraternity of search evolution.

Breath of fresh AIR

 

 

PageRank Sculpting; its all old school baby

Written by David Harry   
Monday, 01 June 2009 07:49

Matt Cutts talks about internal linking

I was getting things together for our SEO newsletter today and came across a video from everyone’s favourite ‘breath of fresh AIR’, Matt Cutts. The topic at hand was about PR sculpting (or soiling - more on that soon). There were a few things in this brief snippet that I felt worth talking about…

The question at hand was;

“ What are your views on PageRank sculpting? Useful and recommended if implemented right, or unethical?”


(video here)

 

Right away he talks about it being your right to do as you please with your website, including controlling “how the PageRank flows around within your site”.  For those that are still unconvinced that PR truly does flow around a site, it should clear that up for ya.

He then mentions that it “is not the first thing that I would work on”. That he would work on “getting more links” and developing “higher quality content”. That is interesting on a few levels;

  1. While internal/external linking is important for your on-page SEO, one has to consider the ROI for any given SEO activity; no budget is infinite. All things NOT being equal, working on more links might be a better use of staff time.
  1. Part of any modern link building/SEO program is content (creation, syndication, placement) and one should be putting these aspects fairly high in the activity pecking order.
 

3 free tools to make sure your site is in good company

Written by David Harry   
Tuesday, 12 May 2009 07:07

1, 2, 3 - find bad neighbour and flee!

(The following is a guest post from Alex Chudnovsky from Majestic SEO)

The issue of bad neighbourhoods has been a frequent topic of discussions among SEOs for a very long time. It is widely considered that it is one of the ranking factors that can have substantial negative effect on your site. Google itself talks about bad neighbourhoods suggesting to avoid linking to them. More recently David posted about host level spam detection and how it can affect sites. The highest risk group is shared hosting that can have thousands of domains from different owners hosted on the same IP address: this makes it more likely that a heavily spammed website would be your neighbour, however even sites on dedicated IPs are not immune to this problem - the IP may have been used before by a known to search engines bad domain.

Intuitively it seems obvious that it is best to avoid risk of hosting your site in a place where bad domains may also be hosted, but how does one check for their presence? Traditionally reverse DNS tools were used for this purpose to show other domains hosted on the same IP. This approach has 2 serious drawbacks:

  1. Neighbouring domains are not prioritised by backlink counts so checking them all manually is time consuming
  2. Class-C subnet level is not covered

Now we'll look at how to use 3 free tools to check on your neighbours.

 
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