Directory Links Get Discounted by Google

For quite some time, Google has suggested that a good way to increase your ranking in the Google index was to get yourself listed in a few reputable directories.  Of course, much like any other thing that Google admits might help, directories became the go to place to get yourself some nice links.  And an industry was born.

Now, Google has removed that suggestion from their webmaster help guide.  Does that mean the end of the directory industry?  I doubt it.  In fact, my guess would be that it doesn’t change much of anything.  Google probably hasn’t given much weight to most directories for quite some time and is finally letting us know about it.

Personally, I don’t use many directories when I start a new website.  I find the majority of them to be repositories for spam sites and don’t want to associate my sites with them.  Instead, there are plenty of other ways to go about getting links like blogroll exchanges, paid links (don’t pretend you don’t.), and a variety of other programs and strategies that can attain you plenty of quality links in a short amount of time.

Plenty of links will do you no good if you don’t have plenty of content too.  You’ll still get some traffic, but having the content can mean the difference between a visitor that shows up and a visitor that shows up and stays.  Which would you rather have?  If I were you (I’m not, but if I were), I would spend about 75% of my time on content and the rest on link and traffic building practices.

Microsoft and Yahoo from a SEO/PPC/OnlineTrepreneur Perspective

Much has been said about the potential merging of Microsoft and Yahoo.  The talk has been exceptionally heavy in the last month or so.  I’ve talked about it here once or twice and probably will again.  But most of the talk has been around the technology ramifications of the merger.  The changes that would occur in search market share and what it would mean for Google.  But what about us?  What about the online entrepreneur? 

We do SEO, PPC and various other things that could be affected by a merger of Microsoft and Yahoo.  What changes can we expect from this merger if it were to happen?  Here’s how I see it going down.

In the world of SEO, it narrows things down a bit.  Instead of everybody trying to do the SEO for all three of the search engines, they only have two major ones.  Of course, I’m of the camp that thinks that you follow a few tenets and don’t worry about what any one individual search engine wants, so that doesn’t change much for me. 

From a PPC perspective, things will (regardless) change.  Even without the merger, things are changing.  Yahoo maybe in talks to test out using Google for search advertising.  I’d be surprised if it didn’t happen as it would be a major blow to Microsoft and when was the last time Google passed that up.  And Yahoo is unlikely to pass it up just out of spite.  If, however, the merger were to go through, it would form a viable competitor to the Google advertising engine.  Suddenly, choosing between the two would become a little less obvious.  Some don’t choose now, but there are many that only use one of the engines. 

As an Online Entrepreneur, the merger could mean several things.  The most obvious is a healthy alternative to anything Google.  For those that would actively rebel against The Great Googely Moogely, a merger could be very good.  Another, less positive, way to think about the merger would be the elimination of choice.  Instead of three engines, we would only have two.  There are many that can’t stand either Google or Microsoft and actively try to use Yahoo and others whenever possible.  The merger would cause there to only be two large choices.  The rest would be table scraps and not push enough traffic to worry about.

In the end, I can’t say whether the merger will go through or not.  Yahoo doesn’t seem to be very receptive and also seems to be getting quite a bit of help in thwarting the “attack”.  Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn’t seem all that willing to give up.  And let’s face it; Microsoft usually doesn’t give up.  They’ve lost a couple of times, but rarely do they give up.

Let Sleeping MSFTs Lie

Google’s Sergey Brin seems to think that he needs to speak out against the MSFT/Yahoo! merger that may or may not happen in the near to distant future.

“The Internet has evolved from open standards, having a diversity of companies. And when you start to have companies that control the operating system, control the browsers, they really tie up the top Web sites, and can be used to manipulate stuff in various ways. I think that’s unnerving,” Brin said.

I had to chuckle a little when I read that. I agree with Brin, but that could just as easily describe Google as it does Microsoft. The only real difference is that Google doesn’t have a retail version of the GooglOS that they run in the Googleplex. They certainly control some browsers. Just as many as MS does with IE I’d wager. And as far as tyeing up the top web sites, take a close look at the Digital Point forums next time Google does an update of their PageRank. When you tie up 60%+ of the search engine traffic, that affects the top Web sites much more than a simple difference in browser engines. And lets not get started on manipulation that is possible.

All of this is a play on people’s fears of a Microsoft Monopoly. The problem with the logic is that a merger of MSFT and YHOO doesn’t create a monopoly. It eats into one. It creates a very valid competitor in the search venue. And after a few years of Google encroaching on Microsofts territory (see Google Docs), it scares Google to see the giant awakened.

You see, the old business folks know that if you find yourself toe to toe with a competitor and you don’t possess the tools to fight that competitor, you partner yourself with someone who does. Microsoft has been struggling to keep up with Google and other online innovators for quite some time. The problem is that Microsoft had been mostly content to leave Google in it’s place of power for search and go about their business struggling to move into that arena. Then Google started getting into Microsoft’s neighborhood with Google Docs and next thing you know, Microsoft is on the attack.

If you ask me, Google should have just let sleeping MSFTs lie.

Disclaimer: I own MSFT shares, but not enough to care…

Trash Management

There is always talk on sites like mine about how you have to actively manage your profile online.  You have to be in control of your brand.  But what happens when it isn’t your profile that has the problem.  What happens when the honest content that you create (albeit for monetary gain, but actual content) isn’t as high on the search engine rankings that you expected.

Garbage Recycle TruckIt’s time for a little trash management.  I don’t mean cleaning up of your content.  If it’s actual honest content, it’s probably pretty clean anyways.  But, what I do mean is to clean up the search engine results.

Take a close look at the results that are above you on the results page.  Many will be sites with actual honest content that the owner did better SEO on, or the page has simply been around longer.  But, some of the results will be downright spammy.  Sites like Squidoo, Google Groups, and Blogspot blogs are frequently used for the proliferation of spam links.  It’s fairly simple really, make a quick account, create a page or lens or blog, fill said page with keywords and affiliate links and viola!  You have your very own spam page.

Cleaning up these pages can be fairly simple as well.  You probably won’t get the job done on your own, but if you are consistent with it, the efforts of others will help you as well.  In all of the cases, the hosting organization will have a way to report the page as being of “less than admirable” quality.  i.e. Spammy.   Report it.

That’s it.  As you report the items, others will do so as well.  When enough reports come in, that site will get pulled.  Next time the search engine goes to crawl the site, it won’t be there.  It then gets pulled from the index and no longer shows up in the results.  Instantly, you’ve moved your listing up one spot on the results page.  If you’re already on the first page, one spot can mean a lot.

One suggestion here though.  Be honest about your reporting.  Don’t report a non-spammy site simply because they rank higher than you.  You wouldn’t want them to do that to you, so don’t do it to them.  Report the truly spammy sites.  The ones with the blocks of keywords that are gibberish to a human, but are golden keys to the search engines.

At the same time that you’re helping yourself out, you’re also helping the rest of the internet population by helping to weed out a few of the spammy sites and let the real content come through.

What non-standard ways do you have to increase your search engine rankings?