• clevergareth

    A guest post. Now you’re in trouble.

  • clevergareth

    A very good one, though.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    LOL. I was trying to come up with a witty response to that, but I’ve got nothing.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Thank you, I’m glad you liked it.

  • http://internetmarketingremarks.com Randy Pickard

    On a somewhat related note, only about a quarter of searches for our brand name end up clicking thru to our site. It’s not tragic for us that they are clicking on the Adwords links of our authorized retailers instead of on our site’s links, but is another example of how the search engines are manipulating user behavior for their own benefit

  • asefati

    I actually like this. It’s time for real marketers to stand out. There’s still lots of opportunity for search engine optimization without have intentions of gaming the system!

  • http://twitter.com/bluefluxseo Blueflux SEO

    Linking from one site to another should contain sone kind of relevance from one website or webpage to another should hold some kind if relevance between the two. To create something full of information and have it properly organised leaves of one logical option. An index, which is what Google have created. This is the fundemental foundation upon which everything else applied, otherwise you are left with a disorganised mountain of information. Have you ever spent hours trying to find what you were looking for, sifting through all kinds of stuff and not knowing which bit is accurate or recent enough to be relevant? Anything that steps outside of these guidelines can only be against those guidelines. This includes linking back and forth and begins to touch on negative seo. It’s too easy to write something and link to another website and try and increase pagerank, but it can also be really obvious that that is all it is. There’s a massive difference between something doing well because it’s good and something doing well just because you’ve been told it’s good. Googles’ intentions and their search engine have been abused over the years and nobody can deny it. I wasn’t very pleased to see some big companies taking top position for search queries in my home town just because they’d repeated the town and the search query in as many different ways as possible which by the way was a very painful read. My point? Stop trying so hard and do it properly, and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Good points. I am most interested in the opportunity to open a dialogue between Google and SEOs. I think we are very soon going to be facing some rather harsh legislation aimed at protecting copyright as I described. SEOs need Google as an ally in this fight – you can see from Greg Sterling’s article today that they are already buying up Washington: http://searchengineland.com/google-now-master-lobbying-background-maneuvering-189021

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Thank you for the insight!

  • http://localreachlabs.com/ Russell Hayes

    “The consumer is more likely to search for the business website than to
    click through to Yelp and follow the link they have there.”

    Do you have any 3rd party data that supports this statement?

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    “…a link to a site equals an endorsement of that site.”

    Except when it does NOT, which is quite often. The US government even disclaims all links on its Websites as endorsements.

    Links are NOT endorsements, unless specifically noted as such by the people publishing the links.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Between the patent Google opened on search queries and the announcement of “Google Instant”, Googlers have intimated that more than half of all search queries are refined within a browser session. http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220060224554%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20060224554&RS=DN/20060224554. Ergo people are more likely to refine a search than click on a result. I also have proprietary data from paid search impressions on travel aggregator websites that supports this claim, but if any aggregators want to chime in and support/deny this is true for their website, I’d be happy to hear it!

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    I agree with you, but in practice, Google does no sentiment tracking of links that we are aware of, and a link from a .gov site is a highly valuable link in their algorithm. They treat each link as an endorsement, which is perhaps what I should have said.

  • http://www.uncorkedventures.com/ Mark Aselstine

    “And while I would hope Google would put a bubble over a site like this one and protect it” I wonder if you really gave that statement any thought in regard to what it means to newer competitors in the space….should they always be smaller and rank lower simply because this company has been around a longer time? I bring it up because I’ve seen similar responses elsewhere and frankly, I have a hard time understanding the logic….shouldn’t everyone be playing by the same rules?

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Great question! I don’t think the site I mentioned should get any preferential treatment over other, newer sites. What I meant is that quality directories are an essential component of the web, and I think the rules should be more relaxed based on the type of site. But the same rules should apply to all sites in that vertical. I don’t agree with preferential treatment for big brands; just that the link rules applied to a blog like this one should be a bit different than the Yahoo Directory or DMOZ for example.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    What Google does with links is not the same as what everyone else does with links. So to say blankly that links are endorsements is completely wrong.

    Google only powers about 5-10% of Web search anyway. It’s not like their opinion matters that much.

  • http://www.verticalmeasures.com/ Arnie Kuenn

    Hey Jenny – very good, thoughtful post. I was just posting a link rant on twitter today. So frustrated with the whole process. I actually had reasonable hopes for disavow, Panda, Penguin, etc. But today I join the legions of frustrated SEOs.

    We just had a site get denied after submitting the re-inclusion request. The response back from Google was the usual one, but this time it included 3 link examples that floored us. ALL three are totally legit sites. No way do I want to contact these sites and tell them they are harming our client’s due to links from these nice pages. Every other time I could figure out why Google did not like the backlinks. Not this time. 100% natural links. Try to explain that to a client.

    So, yes, the SEO community needs to do some serious pushing back with Google. Not that they will listen, but at least they need to see some of this crap for themselves.

  • http://digitaleditions.dlook.com.au Corri

    Great article Jenny. We too are receiving a high number of link removal requests, mostly emanating from “dodgy” SEO companies – generally the one’s who initiated link building in the first place.

    We face the dilemma right now of follow or no follow. We maintained a “do” follow rule throughout our site – mainly because our site predated any concerns over what a search engine thought of a hyperlink.

  • Chris Koszo

    You, Jenny, win some major Internet points for being thought provoking, this is my post of the week!

  • http://lizardwebs.net/ Eric Erickson

    Great article, Jenny. Nice points on a lot of the things I have been thinking lately, but haven’t managed to put together into a cohesive piece yet. When Google appeared in the late 90’s, I welcomed them as a helpful big brother in finding things on the internet. These days, I’m feeling like they’re becoming Big Brother more in the Orwellian sense…

  • nickdavison

    I think the core of the problem is that we, as internet users and authors allow Google to leverage their search dominance and dictate how we use the web. We should push for Google to acknowledge that they are not the only search engine and have no right to dictate how people use the web, or market their websites within other engines.

    Personally I would like to see a HTML tag, eg that you could include in a guest posts source to tell Google not to index the content. Google pushing for SEO’s to nofollow links is just a way for them to have their cake and eat it, and why should Google’s rules mean that a link is ignored by other engines? I think Google would be forced to revise their stance on outbound links once their index started to grow stale and inferior.

    I am sure that if you were to compare Adwords turnover with a time line of Google’s “spam war” you would see a direct correlation. The motivation is simple, eliminating spend on SEO means more budget is available for PPC.

  • https://www.polemicdigital.com/ Barry Adams

    Great points, Jenny. Unfortunately I fear Google isn’t at all interested in any form of dialogue with the SEO/marketing industry. Google despises SEO in all its forms, and at most will engage to such an extent that they can influence standard SEO practices to become more beneficial for Google itself. Beyond that, it’s all about profit-maximisation – making the web a better place is in no way on Google’s long term objectives list.

  • Ben

    It’s frustrating that people fear linking so much. News articles won’t even link to sources or what they are talking about, but rather give an internal link to another article. It forces me to search for the source, which is maybe what Google wants.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    haha, excellent point. We live in a Google-centric industry so sometimes I forget to specify that “Google Says”… thanks for calling me on it.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Arnie, thanks for the comment. Yours is the 5th or 6th example I’ve heard of bad “sample links”. Clearly this is an issue that should be investigated. The question is, who’s loud enough? My shout from the mountaintops has generated a deafening sound of crickets by the Google team.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Good question, and I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Thank you so much Chris! What a great compliment. :)

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Feels more like the plot of Animal Farm to me.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. While I’m not sure I agree with the many who say that tighter SEO restrictions mean more spend on PPC, I do think the tag idea is an interesting one. After all, Greg Boser blocks google from his site with robots.txt, and he’s still at the top of the rankings for his name.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    I understand your feelings, but I refuse to believe that we are beyond hope in this struggle. Google could have easily wiped SEOs out long ago, and they didn’t – the truth is that a lot of us provide Google a service; we help make sites more relevant, which in turn helps their results. That’s what I meant when I said it’s a symbiotic relationship… like the clownfish and the anemone.

  • lostinbago

    right off the bat I don’t understand the technical lingo, permissions, and restrictions.
    so simpleton that I admittedly am, I think capitalism and corporations are messing up what was once a great source of information. Favoritism based on paying for placement in searches, copyrights(rarely if ever affecting the true creator but the corporate purchaser or said rights.)Massive advertising and company spam is making it increasingly irritating. Free it all up and if someone doesn’t want to be on it, let them stay off. Music; most independent artists wouldn’t mind that much if their music was shared because it gives them greater exposure-it is the label and the companies who are generally screwing the artists anyway who are making the biggest beef because they can’t make millions off of something they had nothing to do with creating. Same goes for movies-if it’s good, most people would pay to see it on big screen or on cable tv. I’m an old fart and getting crotchety but I think greed has gotten hold and infected our entire society from the internet to medicine to music etc.
    Major case in point is with today’s Big Pharma claiming they have to charge outlandish prices 2-10 times other countries; I compare to Jonas Salk who did years of research and when he found a cure for the good of mankind, he gave the polio vaccine to the world without patent or copyright.
    Or Sony who owns Copyrights on Elvis, Michael Jackson, Beatles and other sundry groups no longer in existence but still they extort millions to fill their bulging coffers.
    Sigh, signed just an old curmudgeon.

  • http://www.verticalmeasures.com/ Arnie Kuenn

    We are contacting G directly to see if someone can tell us why these 3 links are bad. Let’s see if we get a response.

  • http://betanews.com/author/nate/ Nate M

    Very good post!
    On my top 800 Alexa site, I’ve put by default “nofollow” on all external links.

    It’s safer that way, In an era when you can get -90% from google with no explanation or a way to communicate about the problem, next day you prepare for layoffs.

    Looking with a critical eye, Google moves seems suicidal on the long term.

    So, the must be another (bigger) “danger” and I think that the danger is that the immense progression of spam auto generated/scraped content and links pose a great thread to de SERP “AI”.
    In the end the links endorsement = Human Intelligence, for which Google has no replacement yet…

    Another problem is that big sites get more and more links => more trust and this make kind of impossible for newcomers with good content/services to rank on the first/second page…

    Also, this “silenzio stampa” is very suspicious.
    I feel like something is broken in the Plex and they try desperately to patch the beast.

  • sharithurow

    Hi Jenny (now one of my favorite Links writers…you share space with Eric Ward and Garrett French…not a bad group!)

    So, here’s the thing. Google started out as a search engine for scholars. I’m a scholar. I understand what scholars must do in order to maintain status in their publish-or-perish industry.

    When scholars cite others, each citation is genuine citation. Some other scholar did research and made some findings. Other scholars and people (in general) can repeat the research…it’s the scientific method. The citation is a genuine recognition of another scholar’s work.

    What Google “staff” (for lack of a better term) noticed is that certain scholarly research was cited frequently. I experienced that first-hand, long before Google was invented.

    My Master’s Degree is in Asian Studies/Japanese. When I wrote my master’s thesis and started my dissertation, there were many, many books and journal articles that were in almost every article or book I cited.

    So I get the entire citation part. In SEO-speak, we call those links.

    One of my first reactions to Google’s citation analysis? Most people are not scholars. Most people do not think or act like a scholar. Don’t extrapolate standard scholar behavior for non-scholars. It won’t work…that is my opinion.

    I also understand scholar egos. Man oh man oh man…I have a big ego, too. I admit it. I’m not afraid to debate SEO and link building with any scholar. I’m not afraid to debate information architecture (IA) with anyone who pooh-poohs information architecture. (Hint: If you don’t think you need an information architect? Then you are probably the exact person/company/organization that needs one.)

    I get what Google did wrong (assume that scholars and non-scholars act alike). I see many things Google does well. Either way, Google has profited and dominates the web search industry.

    What I won’t do is back down to flavor-of-the-month or flavor-of-the-day people who are just popularity chasers. All yak-yak-yak, no substance.

    Link building was part of SEO before Google was invented. It’s not going to go away…that’s my opinion. People want validation of what you say about yourself and your products/services/information. Link building is a part of validation.

    Okay, long reply. So my 4 cents…okay 5 cents. [grin]

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Hi Shari, thanks for the comment! At the risk of making your ego bigger, I love your work on IA and appreciate the compliment. You are right that link building pre-dates Google, and even webrings, which was the example I gave. Validation is important in all things, and Authorship will continue to be a driving force in Google’s efforts in my opinion. Your points on scholarly articles and citation are a great addition to the discussion.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz


  • sharithurow

    I have a challenge Google hasn’t solved: what if the author cannot verify his or her authorship? What if the author is Shakespeare or a Nobel Prize-winning author? Or the work is from a group of Nobel-Prize winning authors? Should the person who cites these actual, true authors receive more “value” from Google?

    Honestly, do most experts care about authorship? They’re too busy doing their own research, I’ve observed.

    I understand authorship but do not fully condone it. Authorship doesn’t have value if true experts are unwilling to participate…or cannot participate.

    I’m happy to say I’m an SEO, even in front of people who have me stereotyped. But look around. If someone at Google says that picking your nose affects rankings, look at the nose pickers. Those might not be the best SEOs on the planet.

    That was 2 cents. [grin]

  • http://www.searchmarketing.com/ tobryant

    Today at least I am not sure I would save our mutual friend
    the link. (Hypothetically) If I reach out and grab my co-workers arm we are ‘linked’.
    It’s a forced, link with any number of meanings – similar to two sites sharing an href. However, if my co-worker and I share the same common vocabulary about
    our ideas then we are linked in a way that is more meaningful but harder to calculate.
    So if I’m Google I’d develop an algorithm
    to determine the real and truly meaningful relationship between entities base
    on the co-occurrence of common vocabulary. I’d call it something clever like ‘Hummingbird’.
    But my new algorithm would struggle, mired in the left over messy gloople of
    physical href links. I’d send my friend
    Panda and Penguin to clean up the mess. Why would I be so aggressive? In Chinese
    a single word can have 3 to 7 meanings depending on intent. Therefore Baidu is already more
    sensitive than Google when it comes to discerning real relationships base on a
    co-occurrence of a common shared vocabulary. Baidu has the infrastructure to
    support it. Baidu already ranks SERPs based on something more substantial than
    one href pointing to another and Google can see the train coming. So I say lets
    join hands and kick the ‘link’ to the curb and get on our own high speed rail
    to the future of search.