Hot At Sphinn: Hiring An SEM Consultant, Black Hat E-Commerce SEO & More

sphinn-logo“Variety” seems to be the primary keyword when it comes to the hot stories last week on our sister site, Sphinn. A story about Twitter tools was popular among Facebook users and a discussion about defining the “long tail” garnered several comments, but the biggest stories of the week involved black hat e-commerce SEO and a discussion about hiring consultants.

In our “Discussion of the Week,” we asked How to Hire an SEO/SEM Consultant?, and that was the most popular conversation of the week. But our favorite comment of the week came in a discussion about the NY Times outing JC Penney for violating Google’s guidelines. In that thread, Sphinn member crimsongirl voiced something that a lot of the industry was thinking:

How can I get the NY Times to do a story on my competitors? Actually, let’s hope this very big and public embarrassment for Google will spur them into doing something about paid links.

Here’s a look at all of the stories that were popular last week on Sphinn.

Most Comments

  • DOTW: How to Hire an SEO/SEM Consultant? – This "Discussion of the Week" is inspired by personal experience: Over the past 2-3 weeks, my IN box has been bombarded by small business owners realizing they need SEO/SEM help but not knowing where to start and, more specifically, how to find the right consultant/company to help with online marketing. So, what ONE TIP or piece of advice would you share with someone asking you "how do I find a good SEO/SEM consultant"? (Feel free to share more than one tip if you want, of course!)
  • Is Long Tail SEO Really SEO? – A rational and thought provoking disagreement to "Longtail Traffic Isn't SEO" – I’ve had many discussions with others in the SEO arena over the years regarding the value of long tail SEO. But until this weekend I’ve never had anyone in our industry tell me that long tail is NOT SEO.  So when I read that, I had a big WTF moment.  The ensuing discussion essentially got nowhere as far as anyone changing their minds.  For me, it’s because I believe there are various forms of long tail, but it’s all SEO nonetheless…
  • JC Penney has a bigger problem than paid links – Alan Bleiweiss explains why "getting only 7% of all traffic from organic search" counts as epic failure, and elaborates why that's not 70% without utilizing any link broker.
  • Forbes Busted For Selling Links by Google – JC Penny and now Forbes…AGAIN! I personally feel Google is outing a few big dogs to validate they actually are trying to fight SPAM more effectively and serve as a warning to small guys that no one is safe. To bad their alog cant handle this on its own.
  • Somewhere at MountainView … – … two GoogleGuys talk about way too much low-quality farmer garbage in search results. Fortunately for us mere mortals, a SEOBook spy eavesdropped their conversation. Enjoy his coverage about the birth of a Chrome extension gathering data on which particular sites techno dudes and valley geeks like and dislike.

Most Tweeted

  • Ecommerce SEO: Black Hat Tactics That Are Not Black Hat – Good one from Linda Bustos, who looks at "common ecommerce practices that are similar to black hat techniques but are are not against Google’s quality guidelines, provided you play by Google’s rules." Not sure everyone will agree with her tactical definitions, though!
  • Using Facebook Connect for Product Q and A – Linda Bustos takes a look at a new tool that lets shoppers ask questions to people who have already purchased products on your site. She suggests that Facebook Connect could help get over the friction of otherwise forcing people to login to engage on an e-commerce website.
  • Two Great Twitter Visualization Tools: Twiangulate & MentionMap – Today I've discovered two terrific Twitter visualization tools that I would like to share with you. Both can help you find very interesting people to follow on Twitter.
  • Turn Stolen Copy Lemons Into Link Lemonade – This stealing of content is what’s known as copyright theft, and it’s against the law. The minute you create original content, you become the copyright owner which means it’s yours and yours alone, even if you share, rent, or pass it out.  Here's how to combat content theft … and potentially gaining links as well!

Hot On Sphinn: February 14 to February 20, 2011

  • What’s the Matter with the Search Alliance? – An up-to-date post about the Yahoo-Bing Search Alliance and how it is/has affected clicks, costs and volume.
  • Using Regular Expressions to Group Keywords in Google Analytics – A useful post on how to group your keywords in order to analyze them in segments. >>> Earlier this week, SEER held a “Google Analytics 101″ training for our interns. Questions were asked about RegEx, and I ended up sending an email out to the team with my most commonly used Regular Expressions, as used for Keyword Analysis within Google Analytics. Below are the five Regular Expressions shared with the team:
  • Are Manual Solutions The Answer To Content Farms? – Dave Harry discusses various approaches to deal with mass produced Web content –as well as Web spam– from a geek's point of view. Obviously explicit feedback mechanisms don't work well, because they're spammable and active user participation is rare, also usually too biased to lead to results capable to satisfy the masses. Maybe Google's approach of factoring in implicit feedback, besides authority, could lead to better results eventually, simply because it scales well.
  • What It Takes To Be an Independent Search Marketer – A good post on whats involved in going, and staying, an independent search marketing consultant.
  • How To Tell If Your SEO Will Get You Banned – Whether you’re in the process of hiring an SEO or you have one you’re already working with – it’s important you know what’s being done to your site. If you’re not sure, here are some good questions to ask either yourself or the person applying their magic.
  • 8 Excellent WordPress SEO Plugins – A list of 8 top-notch SEO Plugins that will help you get maximum exposure for your WordPress blog.
  • A Tweet's Effect On Rankings – An Unexpected Case Study – A case study on tweets as a ranking and citation source.  >>>  Last Monday while I was checking the morning tweets, I noticed a ton of tweets about our Beginner's Guide to SEO. It didn't take long to realize that Smashing Magazine had tweeted about it and the retweets were seriously rolling in.
  • 10 Facebook Page Upgrades We “Like” – Highlights of the new Facebook Page upgrades. The changes open up new ways for administrators to manage and market their pages. Good stuff here!
  • How To Use Param1 and Param2 in AdCenter to Customize Paid Search Ads [Tutorial] – A step by step tutorial for how to use params in AdCenter to customize paid search ads. Params are unique to AdCenter and can help search marketers provide the most relevant ad text possible, while also driving users to custom landing pages.
  • Appsumo Reveals its A/B Testing Secret: Only 1 Out of 8 Tests Produce Results – A nice reminder that you are not alone in failing 7 out of 8 times as not not all split tests will be positive.  >>>  Only 1 out of 8 A/B tests have driven significant change reaches around 5,000 visitors a day. A/B testing has given us some dramatic gains such as increasing our email conversion over 5x and doubling our purchase conversion rate.
  • How does Google handle reviews and sentiment? – David Harry digs in yet again and examines how Google handles reviews (and sentiment.)
  • SEO Confessions of a Former “Dirty Little Secret” Keeper – Marty Weintraub shares how he used to game the search engines…back in the good ol' days :.)
  • The Next Generation of Ranking Signals – Rand Fishkin does some theorizing about the next chain in the evolution of search algorithm ranking signals.
  • Don’t Break The Cardinal Rule Of LinkBait – Debra's linkbait failed? How could that happen? Read her dissection of what went wrong in this interesting post at The Link Spiel.
  • JCPenney Responds to the New York Times and Google – Alan Bleiweiss shares an email response that he got from JCPenney's PR department. Hilarity ensues.
  • Product Out-of-Stock Checklist – Ever wonder what to do with an "Out-of-Stock" product on an ecommerce site?  If you own, manage or market one, then this post should help. >>> Both your business and your customer suffer when products are out of stock. How can you minimize the damage?
  • The Data and Details Behind “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search” – Everybody is talking about the NY Times piece regarding JCPenney's approach to SEO, but Doug took a little time to dig deeper into some of the shadier techniques that were employed.

This is the latest in a weekly look at the stories that were “hot” on Sphinn in the past week. We’ll post these recaps every week.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Sphinn


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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