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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Nefarious Black Hat Con Men (Continued, Ad Infinitum)

This is a must-read column by Danny Sullivan chronicling his exchange with a morally-challenged "Idiot Link Broker". The relentlessness of the sales pitch aside, you also have to ask - insofar as the sales rep began referring to Danny in the first person - did this idiot not even know who Danny Sullivan is? You're flogging a link scheme and explaining (and distorting) Google's guidelines to Danny like he is a three-year old. Will wonders never cease!?

One part of the story that really stands out for me is the issue of apparent credentials. This lying, cheating "company" is (like thousands by now) "Google AdWords Qualified." This relatively meaningless designation means that someone managed to study for and pass a test. It says zero about true marketing acumen, background, talent, track record, or depth.

The worst companies, from what I've seen, load up on thin credentials. If you're researching a digital marketing company's reputation, see if you can drill down to their *real* reputation. What are the people's names? What have they done? Have they spoken at trade events? Do real clients go to bat for them? How about a photo and evidence of blogging coherently, or some other evidence of depth? Have they been quoted in the press extensively? Do they belong to, or have solid ties with, an established, professional, national level trade association of one form or another (I don't count SEMPO)? Have they been written about? Do they write about others? Would they be willing to talk about a variety of industry trends and strategies with you, without constantly circling back to a high pressure sales pitch for a narrowly-conceived product?

And though I am loath to invoke it: are they the kind of person you'd care to sit down and have a beverage with?

All we can do is keep publishing warnings like Danny's column. That won't stop determined scammers from pursuing their tedious career paths.

P.S.: To Danny: if you send money, I will leave the above link live. For an extra fee, I will change the anchor text.

P.P.S.: To Matt Cutts: you get that I'm kidding right?

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Monday, October 01, 2007

Techmeme's New Blog Hotlist

This story is uncharacteristically popping up on a few blogs that don't even publish that often, so I think it must be significant.

Gabe Rivera's Techmeme is going to publish a new Top 100 Blogs leaderboard, and this is being interpreted as a direct shot at Technorati, which has tried to rank blogs by authority (links).

Looking at some of the top sites on the Technorati list does confirm that the ranking methodology is kind of stale. The point that you can easily buy, beg, borrow (maybe not steal) links means that there needs to be a more subtle way of ranking a blog's standing. I'm not sure if Techmeme's method is going to be a huge advance, but it's the man of the hour for now.

I'd read this changing of the guard back into the discussion of how useful link analysis (aka PageRank) is to an overall approach to ranking websites or content in general. Overall I think the PageRank concept has degraded with time, and the final phase of rampant link buying and Googlers scolding people for link buying (and link buyers scolding Google right back) is silly season. The fact that I overhear leading SEO firms saying privately and cynically that "80% of what we do is buy links, for huge sums," pretty much guarantees that SEO won't look like that in a year's time.

To anyone other than a short-term tactician, stuff like this "boost your Technorati rank bootcamp" article is just plumb irritating. Must monetize blog, must get d-listers to link to me, must come up with nouveau version of link farm... arggghhhh.... have fun!!!

But what happens when Gabe's the new sheriff in town and you can't splog your way to easy cash?

I'll keep going out there and building authority for the sites that matter to me, but "thin" link building tactics have seen better days. It's interesting that a site like Techmeme, and its attempt to gain market leadership over Technorati, does such a good job of hammering that point home.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




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