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Do You Really Need Traffic from Search?
Jennifer Laycock is starting an interesting experiment where she’s out to prove a business can survive without Google. Actually she’s out to prove that a business can survive without any search traffic at all. In time the search engines will be allowed back in, but the idea is to show that search traffic while useful is not necessary to build a business and drive both traffic and sales.

Google’s Paid Link Reporting

Google added a new section to webmaster central today entitled “report paid links”. How anyone other than me or quite possibly my book keeper know whether a link is paid or not is very questionable, but let’s dig just a little deeper shall we.

You can get the full data on this page but I’ll reprint it here because some of you might be concerned about privacy issues as far as Google is conceded:

Google Shows Who’s Selling Cheap Quality Links
Google recently added the ability for you to report link buyers, which is probably nothing more than a mind control game and a complete waste of time. I recently saw what looked like obvious link buying by Discovery.com. Do you think Google would do anything about it if I reported them? Nope.

Google Cracks Down on Paid Links

First, let me preface this post by saying there is nothing wrong with buying paid links, regardless of what Google says or what you think Google says.  Paid links are called advertising.  “Free” links, which are never actually free, are called public relations.  This has been going on since someone in ancient Egypt first wrote a sandwich board reading “The End is near” and someone else asked, “How much to add ‘Reserve your burial plots today!’”

SMX: SEO, Meet SMM

Ready to get more out of social media? The leaders in social media marketing dish on how to get in on the action–everything from why to where to how.

SMX: Matt Cutts You & A

Renowned Google Matt Cutts sat down with Danny Sullivan and the SMX Advanced attendees for a Q&A session.

Here are some of the highlights–and since it’s Friday afternoon, here’s a bit of a twist for you. (Don’t worry, unless you really like these, I’ll be putting the rest of my notes up in a more straightforward format in a little while.)

Google Clarifies Paid Link Stance
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Google has updated its Webmaster Guidelines to include definitions of commonly used terms for shady practices and clearer language about the penalties associated with black and gray hat SEO tactics.

TechMeme: Anti-linking Engine

I’ve noticed this several times and thought I’d bring it up.

TechMeme seems to penalize bloggers who link to other bloggers. Most bloggers believe that a major part of how TechMeme decides which is the most important story is to count links. That isn’t true in following mine, and other people’s results.

I believe there’s a “linking penalty” on TechMeme. At least it seems that way after doing my own link counting.

Let’s say there’s three stories.

Google’s Recent Paid Link War
DaveN offers his recovery plan for a recent Google algorithm which has affected the rankings of many sites engaged in buying and selling links.

The Paid Link Reporting Debate
What’s good for the Goose isn’t Good for Google?

Is Your Copy Award-winning?

Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time know that I care a lot about copywriting. Good copy is crucial for getting your site found and for getting customers to buy. But most of us, in private moments, might admit that we don’t spend as much time crafting our copy as we should. Are you ready to put yours to the test?

Cutts (Finally) Answers Paid Link Questions
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Awash in good intentions, Google’s Matt Cutts paved a hellish road for himself by asking people to fill out a spam report for paid links. Matt followed up over the weekend (and while on vacation) with details that may have saved him some initial grief.

The Link-Building Battle: Directories Vs. Link Bait
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Directories are under fire, and a debate has ensued concerning just how badly they’ve been hit.  Yet despite an onslaught from social media sites and link bait, everyone seems to agree that directories still have some life in them.

The .TV Relaunch
The .TV relaunch was not very successful because the premium domain name prices are yearly recurring fees (which may increase beyond that price buy some unknown amount).

People who would create great content and later stumble into a business model are not likely to do so on a premium .tv name…which means most of those domain names won’t have high quality content on them. Those that do may see thin profit margins because they have no control over their domain names…as they make them more valuable the registrar can increase prices without mercy, and when the registrant can no longer afford the domain names the registry gets to keep or sell any brand value the registrant built up. 

Why Most Web2.0 Companies Fail
If you improve the value of another service based largely on their infrastructure or data, it usually doesn’t take much for them to roll your offering into their well known brand, and kill your market position.

Alexaholic was praised by Alexa for being innovative, right up until they sued when the creator failed to sell them the domain name. It took a year for Alexa to clone Alexaholic.

Lasnik: Stop Worrying About Page Rank

Sound familiar? Google’s search evangelist Adam Lasnik made a similar comment at SES New York, and it reappears during his interview with Eric Enge.

Interview with Adam Lasnik

Adam Lasnik and I spoke about paid links, duplicate content and more late last week. The paid links conversation was very interesting. One of the things that Adam made clear is that Google is not looking to detect 100% of paid links. Their focus is much more on the links that are being sold for the purpose of passing PageRank.

Getting Links Without Trying

Linkbaiting is a hot topic right now. However, one of the funniest definitions of creating linkbait was to “forget linkbait, think about the user first, and develop content for them.” Sounds noble enough, yet I find it extremely humorous. Mainly because of the language involved.

Easy Social News Links
Social news sites come to prominence largely over the controversies associated with people gaming them, and without people gaming them few would ever garner a critical mass. Marketers spamming a social news site is part of the growth cycle.

Googler Games Google; Cutts Goes Silent
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A week after Google’s Matt Cutts set the SEO world ablaze by asking webmasters to report cases of link-buying, his area of the Googleplex is decidedly silent – and so is the media relations department regarding a double-dipping Google executive’s association with a questionable made-for-AdSense company.

Paid Links Economy

Measuring the quality of an ad system

Many bloggers and other website owners around the world aren’t selling their content these days, they’re financing their site with advertising. Almost every ad system seems to be a compromise. You can measure this compromise across different parameters: is the ad relevant? Is it unobtrusive? Is it disclosed? Is the product or service advertised fair to users? Is the ad directly influencing search engine rankings? Is the ad creating a conflict of interest? Is the ad obfuscating the voice of the website owner?

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