February 26th, 2007

A Challenge To The Well-Intentioned SEO Industry

by

UDPATE #2: My last word on SEO, at least for a while, is here: What I Learned About SEO

UPDATE: I promised Aaron Wall, my favorite SEO who makes it impossible for me to stand by any negative stereotypes of SEO, that I would update this post if he added a good explanation in the comments, which of course he did:

Google’s algo currently places a lot of weight on core domain authority. Threadwatch has a lot of authority. And the relevancy algorithms may also add weighting on fresh documents (and weighting on old established trusted documents). Once the freshness boost drops off if it does not pick up many more links it will rank lower. Was it intentional ranking for that phrase? I didn’t intend it to, and I am not sure if Natasha did, but it’s ranking will probably fade over time, unless a big issue is made out of it and controversy causes more people to link at it.

I will take Aaron’s advice and not provide any further reason to link to it. Of course, another SEO, among those determined that I retain my lingering doubt about SEOs as a group, posted another post on Threadwatch with my name in the title and a link to the original Threadwatch post, which will surely rank for my name on Google. To whoever posted that — this why there are unfair bad stereotypes of SEOs! Fortunately, Aaron and others who showed up below show why such stereotypes are not fair, despite the concerted efforts of other SEOs to propogate them.

I’ll close this off by pointing to a change in my Google ranking that happened overnight. Hmmmm….go figure:

google-scott-karp2.jpg

I was going to title this post, “Why You Don’t Mess With The SEO Industry,” but I thought I would take a more open-handed approach. To all the well-meaning SEOs out there, can you explain how this SEO smack against me in one of your forums got to be the #2 Google result for my name?

google-scott-karp.jpg

My gut tells me that this is in fact what happens to you when you mess with the SEO industry — which leaves me feeling a bit like I’m dealing with the mafia.

But I’m hoping that I’m wrong. Can some SEO please explain to me, and to all the readers of this blog who are your prospective customers (very large customers in some cases), why I’m wrong

Or maybe an SEO would like to explain how I can make that NOT be the #2 result for my name.

UPDATE

Some will surely ask, why is Karp jumping to conclusions again. Didn’t he learn his lesson?

A few reasons. First, the Google results for my name have been stable for months, and all of sudden this SEO rag shows up as #2. Hard to believe that’s a coincidence. Second, Jason Calacanis, a far, far harsher critic of SEO, has complained of his Google results page being gamed. That’s all circumstantial evidence, of course. But add to it some lingering doubt about SEO, and before I know it I’m jumping to conclusions.

So, again, I plead to any SEO who can hear me, please help wipe away that lingering doubt.

Comments (34 Responses so far)

  1. see threadwatch slide a bit in the results for your name. However, this does highlight the increasing importance of online reputation management for companies and individuals whose name is important to them.” Aaron Wall followed up with some more detail on the same thoughts. “Google’s algo currently places a lot of weight on core domain authority. Threadwatch has a lot of authority. And the relevancy algorithms may also add weighting on fresh documents (and weighting on old established trusted documents). Once the

  2. SEO Clinic : Submit Your Site for SEO Advice, Search Engine Journal SEO Reputation How SEO Confronts Its PR Challenge In The Blogosphere, The Blog Herald What I’ve Learned About SEO, Publishing 2.0 A Challenge To The Well-Intentioned SEO Industry, Publishing 2.0 Dave Pasternack – Master Chef Extraordinaire, Greg Boser Only Hire SEOs Who Rank?, Marketing Pilgrim Shopping Search Pronto to Take Over Ask Shopping Soon?, ComparisonEngines.com

  3. SEO Clinic : Submit Your Site for SEO Advice, Search Engine Journal SEO Reputation How SEO Confronts Its PR Challenge In The Blogosphere, The Blog Herald What I’ve Learned About SEO, Publishing 2.0 A Challenge To The Well-Intentioned SEO Industry, Publishing 2.0 Dave Pasternack – Master Chef Extraordinaire, Greg Boser Only Hire SEOs Who Rank?, Marketing Pilgrim Shopping Search Pronto to Take Over Ask Shopping Soon?, ComparisonEngines.com

  4. By: sweepthelegnate – 26th Feb 2007 It seems this thread is ranking for Scott Karp’s name. He wants to know why SEOs and the google gods hate him. http://publishing2.com/2007/02/26/a-challenge-to-the-well-intentioned-seo-industry/

  5. [IMG] Scott Karp / Publishing 2.0 A Challenge To The Well-Intentioned SEO Industry —  UPDATE: I promised Aaron Wall, my favorite SEO who makes it impossible for me to stand by any negative stereotypes of SEO, that I would update this post if he added a good explanation in the comments, which of course he did: Google’s algo

  6. [IMG handgun]Scott Karp is getting all bent up over the fact that my friend Natasha Robinson linked to him from Threadwatch.org with the title Scott Karp, Get a Clue About SEO Before You Go Bad Mouthing it. Thing is, he should. She does know about this stuff, and he clearly doesn’t.

  7. Scott Karp is getting all bent up

  8. but I thought I would take a more open-handed approach. To all the well-meaning SEOs out there, can you explain how this SEO smack against me in one of your forums got to be the #2 Google result for my name…… Link Permalink | Email It | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) Next Page >>

  9. SEO Clinic : Submit Your Site for SEO Advice, Search Engine Journal SEO Reputation How SEO Confronts Its PR Challenge In The Blogosphere, The Blog Herald What I’ve Learned About SEO, Publishing 2.0 A Challenge To The Well-Intentioned SEO Industry, Publishing 2.0 Dave Pasternack – Master Chef Extraordinaire, Greg Boser Only Hire SEOs Who Rank?, Marketing Pilgrim Shopping Search Pronto to Take Over Ask Shopping Soon?, ComparisonEngines.com

  10. SEO Clinic : Submit Your Site for SEO Advice, Search Engine Journal SEO Reputation How SEO Confronts Its PR Challenge In The Blogosphere, The Blog Herald What I’ve Learned About SEO, Publishing 2.0 A Challenge To The Well-Intentioned SEO Industry, Publishing 2.0 Dave Pasternack – Master Chef Extraordinaire, Greg Boser Only Hire SEOs Who Rank?, Marketing Pilgrim Shopping Search Pronto to Take Over Ask Shopping Soon?, ComparisonEngines.com

  11. Actually, it could happen when “you mess with” anyone not just the SEO industry. It happened because threadwatch has some decent authority in Google. It has your name in the title element. Some people linked to it. And to some extent it’s “recent news” about you. In time, you’ll probably see threadwatch slide a bit in the results for your name. However, this does highlight the increasing importance of online reputation management for companies and individuals whose name is important to them.

  12. Threadwatch.org appear to be a larger site than yours. FWIW, Alexaholic link. To move the result down the serps you need to get more of your articles quotes on large sites.

  13. Mark, not to validate Alexa, but if that’s the case, why isn’t GigaOm, for example, which has linked to me many times, the #2 result? It’s not even on the first page of results. The whole thing makes no sense! Which is why so many people distrust Google and SEO. It’s all a black box.

  14. Nathan, so let me get this straight. You’re saying this ranks high in part because it’s more recent? Everything else on the first couple of pages is weeks or months old. Again, makes NO SENSE. And again I’ll raise the example of GigaOm, which has a PR of 8 vs. Threadwatch’s 6 (I know PR isn’t everything, but it does mean something). Where are those posts? And, regarding my name in the title of post, that might lead me to think that Natasha did it that way with Google search results for my name in mind. That would lead me to conclude the “messing” with some people is in fact much worse than messing with others. But, again, I’m waiting to be proven wrong.

  15. Namebombing is a quite common technique where bloggers, webmasters, or viral marketers go after ranking for the name of another person. Sometimes that is intentional, while often people rank well accidentally based on using descriptive page titles.

    I once titled a page “the Daniel Brandt toolbar” to give attribution to Daniel for creating a tool. Then he sent me a hate message about how I was cashing in on his name and created a hate article about me. So I changed his article title to include web spammer in it as well. He and I both rank for each other’s names and probably will for a long time due to the authority of our domains. Is that the best solution? No, but it is not uncommon for people to disagree and for people to try to knock you down.

    Google’s algo currently places a lot of weight on core domain authority. Threadwatch has a lot of authority. And the relevancy algorithms may also add weighting on fresh documents (and weighting on old established trusted documents). Once the freshness boost drops off if it does not pick up many more links it will rank better. Was it intentional ranking for that phrase? I didn’t intend it to, and I am not sure if Natasha did, but it’s ranking will probably fade over time, unless a big issue is made out of it and controversy causes more people to link at it.

    Anyone can do this though. Not just SEOs…many political bloggers do this. Many people who are challenging the views of others do this. If your titled was “Natasha Robinson – What was the Point?” you would probably rank well for her name too.

  16. Once the freshness boost drops off if it does not pick up many more links it will rank worse…was what I meant to say.

  17. I think the reasons have been quite well stated by Nathan, but lets dig a little deeper.

    The TW thread has 66 outside links coming into the URL in question.

    https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.threadwatch.org%2Fnode%2F12224&bwm=i&bwmo=d

    If you look at the sites that those those links come from, they have some status of their own. If you compare the TW URL to the site beloe the TW URL (BlogHerald) you will see that it has 10 incoming links to the URL from outside the domain

    https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?ei=UTF-8&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.blogherald.com%2Fauthor%2Fscottkarp%2F&bwm=i&bwmo=d

    If we compare these two to the number one result (this domain) we will see it has just shy of 10K links coming in.

    https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch?ei=UTF-8&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.publishing2.com&bwm=i&bwmo=d

    SEO for a minor phrase (And with all due respect Scott, your name is a minor phrase) isn’t rocket science (my god I agree with Did It) and is simply Google’s algo working at what it does and believes is correct and proper.

    Knowing how this would play out, with the benefit of hindsight is what SEO and reputation management is about – May I suggest listening to a show on Web Master Radio and then maybe giving me a call.

    http://media.webmasterradio.fm/episodes/audio/2007/SP020507.mp3

  18. And, regarding my name in the title of post, that might lead me to think that Natasha did it that way with Google search results for my name in mind. That would lead me to conclude the “messing” with some people is in fact much worse than messing with others

    I’m absolutely sure Natasha wasn’t being malicious but I think you’ll find SEO’s do everything ‘with Google in mind’. Like other professionals with their skills, it becomes subconscious after a few years. We live, breathe and sleep search engines. For example I’ve always found SEO professionals to be amazing effective at finding information online, probably because of our feeling for the ‘right’ keywords.

    To that extent ‘messing’ with the SEO industry can be dangerous. They are more likely to write relevant and well themed links and material – we do this for clients every day. You won’t often see an SEO link with the keywords, ‘click here’.

    As Aaron says (and he is a v. authoritative SEO) this link will probably drop down the rankings in time. However there is a new thread now on TW so expect to see that shortly ;)

  19. I will revise the link on tribbleagency to also point here…

  20. Ok Scott.. I hope I helped.

    http://www.tribbleagency.com/?p=154

  21. [...] people,  I left Scott’s last name out of this blog post on purpose because the intention of this is not to rank for his [...]

  22. Scott, seriously… I could write a post with the headline “Scott Karp is a Cool Guy” on Copyblogger, and if a few people linked to it, it would rank in the top 10 results for your name in Google.

    It’s not SEO specifically… it’s the 200,000 + links coming into my domain that gives copyblogger.com authority (benefit of the doubt) with Google. Most “SEO” is about attracting incoming links and building site authority. There’s not much hidden behind the screen at this point.

    BTW, if you *do* want me to write a post about what a great guy you are, I will. Just let me know. :)

  23. Scott,

    The fact that you even considered that I wrote that with Google’s search in mind says alot more about your character than mine; and I won’t bother defending myself, because I think none is necessary. As I offered previously, please feel free to email me if you have any questions about SEO. As you have said in both this post and your previous post, you would like people to offer you well meaning advice, here’s my advice to you: Why not simply ask an SEO what is going on before posting something that you surely know will incite a riot?

    BTW: There is no SEO Mafia. And I don’t think SEOs who are busy working would care enough to rank for your name.

  24. Natasha,

    Oh, come on, that’s like being a firearms expert and saying I didn’t know the gun was loaded. I see it as a matter of online ettiquete. It’s one thing to write a post openly disagreeing with someone. But doing so in such a way where you knowingly rank that post in someone’s search reputation is, regardless of intentions, an escalation. Which is why I reacted so differently to your comments here than I did to your post on Threadwatch. The substance was exactly the same — a very valid observation that I was factually incorrect incorrect in my post. But the tone was different. Just as there’s a difference between saying, with all due respect, Natasha, I disagree, and saying, Natasha, you’re a total idiot, you’re so wrong it hurts. Disagree is disagreeing, but how you say it makes a big difference.

    That all said, YES, your advice (and that of many others), to start talking to SEOs by phone and stop inciting riots in public is VERY sound, and I intend to pursue that route. See my most recent post.

  25. But doing so in such a way where you knowingly rank that post in someone’s search reputation is, regardless of intentions, an escalation.

    Wait, so let me get this straight, you still believe that I wrote that post simply to rank for your name?! Wow, that’s incredible.

  26. No, Natasha, not at all. I believe the principal intent of your post was the same as your comments here, i.e. to correct the public record. But your actual intent is, in fact, irrelevant. What I’m saying is that the Google consequences of your post makes it come across differently, even if that wasn’t your intent. For example, in our present dialogue, I mights say, Natasha, why do you have to be such a complete moron? Or I might put a big flashing gif on my blog that says “Natasha is a Moron.” My intent may to be simply to further disagree with you, but you would naturally interpret my actions to be an escalation, i.e. making it personal. Since my intent is not to make it personal, I would never address you disresepctfully like that or put flashing gifs on my blog. But the reality is that you chose a route that not only publicly disagreed with me, but also had the consequence, even if unintended, of putting a post in my Google results that says “Scott Karp Get a Clue.” You could have publicly disagreed with me without doing that, so I don’t think wondering about your intent is necessarily a poor reflection of my character, any more than your wondering about my intent if I called you a moron would be a poor reflection on yours. (To be clear, I’m NOT calling you a moron, but I do think this issue is important.)

  27. But the reality is that you chose a route that not only publicly disagreed with me, but also had the consequence, even if unintended,

    So didn’t your post titled “What Gives SEO’s a Bad Name” not do the exact same thing for the SEO industry… even if unintentional?

  28. Hi Scott
    I updated a sentence in the part you quoted.

    Once the freshness boost drops off if it does not pick up many more links it will rank worse.

    I accidentally wrote better (where worse belongs) in the first post…must have been tired when I did that. Sorry on that.

  29. Natasha,

    Sort of, but with a few important, if nuanced, distinctions. First, my post is not going to rank on any Google search results page, so it’s confined to my current readers, and will quickly fade into history. Second, I have a way of correcting the outcome — at Aaron’s prompting, I posted a bold correction to the post, which through RSS was again pushed out to my readers. So if I decide I was too confrontational in the title, I can admit my mistake and take it back. In my most recent post, I have further admitted that mistake and promised not to do it again. Your post, on the other hand, will forever live in my Google search results.

    Aaron,

    No worries, I will update the post.

  30. As the person that posted this to threadwatch last night, I have some thoughts I posted here:
    Insert Name Here: Online Reputation Management

  31. Careful there Scott, some Internet marketers do actually derive a living from Google and know exactly how it works (a far more important part of online publishing than the blogosphere).

    It’s basically a computer so taking it out on the only community that understand’s it isn’t very Publishing 2.0 (or smart).

    “people distrust Google and SEO” your quote Scott.

    Try telling that to my clients (I can pass on some details if you would like to confirm for yourself).

    Why do so many people use Google? Does the end user really distrust Google, or is that something you made up?

    Scott, get out there and start studing, who know’s you might enjoy it.

    Knowledge is power, adapt or die.

  32. [...] A Challenge To The Well-Intentioned SEO Industry, Publishing 2.0 [...]

  33. Scott,

    Don’t despair. This isn’t “magic” that made your name appear on someone else’s blog and rank in Google. Perhaps if you asked a few of your blogging buddies to link with the term “Scott Karp”, you could probably restore your rankings.

  34. [...] was the first one to respond to his post and I tried to give some basic information on why the result was ranking for his name. [...]

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