Search engine optimization (SEO)

Discussion of techniques in search engine optimization (SEO). Related subjects include:

March 28, 2010

A new attitude toward online reputation?

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch stirred the post today with a post titled Reputation Is Dead: It’s Time To Overlook Our Indiscretions. The premise is:

If anything, Arrington understated the case, by focusing on two kinds of disclosure:

That overlooks two other threats:

I.e., Arrington was even more correct than he seemed to realize.

Fred Wilson responded by suggesting that the key issue is making sure that enough good things are said about you to more than compensate for the bad ones. I emphatically agree with that too, as per my 2008 online reputation dictum:

The internet WILL tell stories about you, true or otherwise. Make sure your own version is out there too.

Where Wilson fell down a bit is in suggesting that you should get so many good things said about you they should completely crowd the bad ones off the top page of search engine results. First, this is difficult. Second and more important, if somebody is checking you out for a job or whatever, there’s a good chance they’ll click through to the second page of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). But otherwise his thoughts are spot-on.

To paraphrase Andy Warhol, everybody is a celebrity for 15 minutes, or to an audience of 15 other people. And for many of us, you can tack a few 0s onto those figures. So there’s no reason to expect any more privacy than celebrities have — but there’s also no reason to expect any less tolerance for our failings than is shown to them.

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March 12, 2009

Infobionics attempts something sleazy

Infobionics is attempting low-rent, sleazy search engine optimization.  Below is the text of an email I recently received on their behalf: Read more

March 7, 2009

Yet more NoFollow whining

Andy Beal has a blog post up to the effect that NoFollow is a bad thing. (Edit: Andy points out in the comment thread that his opposition to NoFollow isn’t as absolute as I was suggesting.) Other SEO types are promoting this is if it were some kind of important cause. I think that’s nuts, and NoFollow is a huge spam-reducer.

The weakness of Andy’s argument is illustrated by the one and only scenario he posits in support of his crusade:

The result is that a blog post added to a brand new site may well have just broken the story about the capture of Bin Laden (we wish!)–and a link to said post may have been Tweeted and re-tweeted–but Google won’t discover or index that post until it finds a “followed” link. Likely from a trusted site in Google’s index and likely hours, if not days, after it was first shared on Twitter.

Helloooo — if I post something here, it is indexed at least in Google blog search immediately. (As in, within a minute or so.) Ping, crawl, pop — there it is. The only remotely valid version of Andy’s complaint is that It might take some hours for Google’s main index to update — but even there there’s a News listing at the top. This simply is not a problem.

Now, I think it would be personally great for me if all the links to my sites from Wikipedia and Twitter and the comment threads of major blogs pointed back with “link juice.” On the other hand, even with NoFollow out there, my sites come up high in Google’s rankings for all sorts of keywords, driving a lot of their readership. I imagine the same is true for most other sites containing fairly unique content that people find interesting enough to link to.

So other than making it harder to engage in deceptive SEO, I fail to see what problems NoFollow is causing.

July 9, 2008

Has JLove taken the dishonest pages down?

On June 19, I wrote of a very dishonest gambit by a dating service called JLove. Specifically, JLove generated pages for many (First_Name, Last_Name) combos, falsely claiming that people — me included — were members of its site. The story was picked up by Slashdot and by some other blogs. Numerous aggrieved victims found the post and contacted me directly, and in some cases contacted the company as well.

Today, one JLove victim emailed me to say JLove had taken down the offending pages. That looks to indeed be accurate! (At least for now.) If you click on, you no longer see what I described in a prior post; rather, you are redirected to the generic

Those pages seem to already be completely gone from Google, as well as Microsoft’s Yahoo, however, still has them. To see that, search on each engine for curt monash. Yahoo’s cache, at least for now, will also show you what the original page looked like. Read more

July 9, 2008

Fun with the Google External Keyword Tool

Google announced a major upgrade to the Google (External) Keyword Tool — it now gives actual numbers of searches, instead of vague logarithmic green bars. This now makes it very cool for figuring out what people actually search for. Estimated average monthly search volumes include: Read more

June 19, 2008

Some basics of honest SEO everybody should follow

While I hate dishonest SEO, the honest form serves a valuable purpose. And so I prepared a basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tip list that virtually every enterprise should follow. To wit: Read more

June 19, 2008

JLove — a classic example of online dishonesty

Edit:  As of July 9, the offending JLove pages seem to have been removed.

The online dating service industry has a penchant for deceptive ads, as is evidenced by the large number of scantily-clad women in the small town of Acton, MA who are alleged to desire sex with me, not a single one of whom I’ve ever seen in a checkout line at our supermarket.

But I just discovered a new twist, courtesy of a scammy dating service called JLove. Read more

May 29, 2008

Google is idiosyncratic about what it displays

I was testing the new blog theme installed on Software Memories, specifically to see whether the title and description in the search engine results reflected the metatag title and description I’d just put in, which are

History of the software industry, its companies and its personalities


History of the software industry by Curt Monash, who’s been in the middle of it since 1981


Well, the answer turns out to be a resounding “Yes and no.” Read more

May 8, 2008

Google seems to have rehabilitated us

As previously noted, we were de-indexed by Google, due to the injection of a whole lot of spammy hidden links. We’re back now, after about two weeks, even on the blog (this one) where there was no official de-indexing notice and hence no way to apply for re-consideration. And thus we once again have high rankings for search terms such as Netezza, DATAllegro, Clarabridge, and Attivio.

We’re designing a new blog theme — the current one is just an emergency stopgap — that will (among myriad more important virtues) be more SEO-friendly. I’ll be curious to see whether that makes much actual difference from a search ranking standpoint.

April 25, 2008

Drive-by Google de-listing

As previously noted, we got hit with some hidden text, probably by SQL injection, and that lead to a Google de-listing. Of the three blogs affected by the attack, I got a de-indexing notice for one (DBMS2); another was de-listed without a notice (Text Technologies); and a third seems to have waltzed through still indexed (Software Memories). I also received a de-indexing notice for another site I have nothing to do with and indeed had never heard of before. Go figure …

We’ve now upgraded to WordPress 2.5, which should close the vulnerability. (Thank you Melissa Bradshaw!) Fearing our old, buggy theme would degrade further, we upgraded to a new one, Biru, designed by Bob. There are some teething-pain stability issues, but if they don’t cause a reversion in the next day, I’ll apply to Google for re-inclusion. (Uh, does anybody have some boundaries around how long that’s likely to take?)

All these hours of aggravation because some criminal wanted a bit of SEO advantage …

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