Tips and common mistakes people make with websites and search engines. As well as definitions and what search engines look at.

Wikipedia goes dark

Internet Protest against SOPA and IPA;

On January 18 2012, webmasters around the world protested by blacking out their website for the day.  This effort was organized to protest the SOPA and PIPA bill about to go before congress in the coming weeks.
These bills fundamentally begin to place a dictatorship style control over the internet in the United States.  There really isnt any other way else to put it.  The bills are design to place the federal government in charge of what can be seen, heard or read on the internet. With a simple phone call, from one of the many corporate sponsors of this bill, can bring down a website regardless of whether or not it is actually pirating works.  It’s purely the “shoot first ask questions later” business model.  From my experience there is little anyone can do about it after the perverdbial trigger has been pulled.  There is no due process built in and no checks and balances.  As much as the backers of this bill say that it won’t affect honest hard working webmasters and internet entrepreneurs, I beg to differ.  This bill seems to be written to be abuse our freedom of speech and eliminate net neutrality amongst ISPs and the government. The bill originally was written to pull a website through at the ISP level or DNS level.  This type of censorship tactics is shared by North Korea, China, Iran, Egypt, and many, many other free speech hating countries.  The only difference here this is to the benefit of corporate America and not a single dictator.  This portion of the bill has been removed, however the mere existence of this bill is offensive to people who believe in an open, neutral and free internet.

The idea of the government trying to regulate in any way, what I can see, read or listen to on the internet is insane. I applaud Google, Wikipedia, and the Pirate Bay for their bold gestures in participating in this protest.  Although their sites did not go dark they brought to the forefront an issue that many Americans have not been given the opportunity to understand.  This gesture has brought so much attention to this bill that American leaders have been bombarded with questions and pressure from the public to rethink their support of such a measure.  Just like the successful pressure put onto Bank of America for introducing a $5 fee to its customers, our elected officials chosen to back off this bill.  By the end of the day from the start of this protest, more than half of the sponsors of the bill have taken their names from it.  Even the author of this bill, Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, has now pulled it to have it reviewed.

I hope one day corporate America and our elected officials will learn regulating the internet only harms innovation and free speech.  Instead of fighting something corporate America doesn’t understand, they should learn from it and strive to evolve as a business.

SEO scams

SEO-ScamsSEO scams
Many small and even large businesses that depend on the internet for their revenue often fall prey to SEO scams and fly by night SEO optimizers. SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization, in the industry search engines are often referred to as SE’s.

There are many legitimate SEO experts out there the trouble is being able to tell the difference between a good SE person and a fake one. Unfortunately, if you know how to spot a fake or scammer you know a little bit about SEO already. So this is for those how are looking for a SE person and want to try and weed out the scammers as much as possible without having to spend years learning the trade.

Over the years I have come up with a few flags that help me know right away the good from the bad. Here are some of the things I look out for.
– “I can get you page one results in a few months” (few weeks)
– “Use my software to increase your page rank”
– “My service can you top page results in a banner”
– Adding hidden pages and hidden text links
– If they show you clients with very steep traffic increase or overnight success
– If they work and live outside of the Search Engine community
– No prior work history in the SE field
– If they say yes to everything you ask.

There is software and services that are legitimate and can get you good results for your website and I match my clients up with the right companies for these services. But let’s start looking at why these different red flags can help you identify scammers.

First is “I can get you page one results in a few months”, this is nearly impossible.  Almost all legitimate SEO work is done organically and that takes months if not years to truly get first page results for a given search word, term, or phrase.  Now there are some exceptions given the right situation but it is rare to be able to engineer it to happen.  To get results like that, the scammer uses things like link farms. These link farms are used to put links to your site and make it appear as if you are very popular.  Properly done this method can be very effective and can fool SE’s but the down side is if you discontinue the service all your links go away and you are left with a huge hole where your traffic used to be.   Now you are at the mercy of this service and if their sites ever get banned from SE’s you lose as well.  The best type of SEO is always organic.

Next I want to talk about is “My service can you top page results in a banner”, this service is really bad and I wouldn’t trust it for anything at all.  You could not pay me to use this service. This service usually involves a consumer installing an unwanted tool bar on their browser. This is a very unethical practice, often times the tool bar is very difficult to uninstall and bogs down the users system with third party notices and it is not uncommon for a virus or Trojan horse to get installed as well. Trust me you do not want to be a part of this. I have seen this in action and it never translates to good traffic or sales.

The next few points will be about the questions you should be asking them. You should find out what was the last trade show or SE event they attended. Find out if they are part of a community.  Ask them about message boards and forums they are a part of and what their handle is so you can look them up. Trust me, any person in this field will belong to a SE community or to the internet community in general. We do this to keep up with the latest trends and loop holes in the system, as well as whom not to do business with. And we all have online handles. Our online identity is how we make a name for ourselves and get business done. If they do not seem to be a part of the community then what makes them an expert in the industry and worth spending money on.  If they are just a sales person with no experience then how could they possibly know what you need?

Lastly and the one I absolutely hate the most is people that say yes or agree to everything you ask them. This is the biggest tip off.  If you know you are asking questions that are not that easy to answer or are issues you have had for years.  And all you get is yes without needing to clarify. They are lying to you.  Not everything is as easy as they would like you to think.  Every consultant, sales person, or account rep that gives me nothing but yes answers has always been a waste of time and money. With every situation there are always limitations of some kind.  They might be able to deliver what you ask but it often comes at a price. Sometime the schedule is sacrificed or quality most often the budget becomes the sacrifice.  Even when a contract is signed it’s not uncommon to hear that the situation has changed and more money is needed regardless what the contract says.   I often have to say no to my clients because the request is sometimes unreasonable to the budget I am given or it may not be my field of expertise.

I hope this helps you find the right person for your SEO needs. Always remember;

“It’s all about the R.O.I”

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is a big topic these days around people in the internet field. It’s not just the idea that a ISP can possibly control how much bandwidth you use at home or if you are a business and you post videos concerning your products or services. But it’s also the broader concept of freedom of speech and the access to legitimate information. Purists believe in absolutely no restrictions and let the chips fall where they may. No secrets and no limitations. I am closer to a realist; there should be reasonably priced internet access, with self-regulation of the internet.
Within the Net Neutrality argument between carriers/government and users (you and I), is a list of network neutrality levels. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

At its simplest, network neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.[12] Net neutrality advocates have established different definitions of network neutrality:

Absolute non-discrimination

Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu: “Network neutrality is best defined as a network design principle. The idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally.”[2]

Limited discrimination without QoS tiering

United States lawmakers have introduced bills that would allow quality of service discrimination as long as no special fee is charged for higher-quality service.[13]

Limited discrimination and tiering

This approach allows higher fees for QoS as long as there is no exclusivity in service contracts. According to Tim Berners-Lee: “If I pay to connect to the Net with a given quality of service, and you pay to connect to the net with the same or higher quality of service, then you and I can communicate across the net, with that quality of service.”[1] “[We] each pay to connect to the Net, but no one can pay for exclusive access to me.”[14]

First come first served

According to Imprint Magazine, University of Michigan Law School professor Susan P. Crawford “believes that a neutral Internet must forward packets on a first-come, first served basis, without regard for quality-of-service considerations.”[15]

On December 21 2010 the FCC ruled that ISP’s could not block or discriminate against any lawful internet traffic or charge fees for delivery of content to and from the network and it cannot impose restrictions on competitors using VOIP, video or other telephony technology on their network. There is much more to this ruling on paper but that’s the jest of it.
What I found compelling is the use of the words lawful and legitimate. Just in case you are curious here is the FCC paper work (FCC). I my opinion this leaves the doors open for interpretation for the ISP or FCC to declare what is legal and legitimate. Who is to say from the FCC or ISP that my website that organizes a protest that is against the government or company is harmful to society and needs to be shut down because it is viewed as illegal or illegitimate. Sound familiar? It should, since many countries have gone to the far extreme with this concept. You know who they are. To many this FCC ruling is the start of such practice.
The ruling sounds as if it protects us but leaves loop holes that can damage our freedoms in the long run. Such rulings have the potential to stifle business and suppress ingenuity.

Meta Tags

Meta tags or otherwise known as meta elements are found in the source code of all webpages.  Meta information is usually title, description, keywords and structure of the web page.  For instance you will normally find the css information and page properties in the meta information as well. 

Meta information can guide search engines to the relevant information on a website to be scanned and index. However, meta elements have lost most of its importance to optimization since search engines use many sources of information to determine your relevance to a search query.. 

Example of a meta information from a popular website:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd”><html><!– #BeginTemplate “/Templates/English Sub.dwt” –><!– DW6 –>

<head>

<link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”http://lacomputerfair.com/favicon.ico”>

<link rel=”icon” href=”http://lacomputerfair.com/favicon.ico”>

<!– #BeginEditable “doctitle” –>

<title>LA Computer Fair The Largest Computer Show in California</title>

<!– #EndEditable –>

<META content=”computer show, computer fair, show, fair, expo, computer expo, Computer Products, Wholesale Prices, Computers, Printers, Monitors, Multimedia, Modems, Memory, Games, Educational, Software, Furniture, Books, used computers los angeles, laptops los angeles, computer parts los angeles, computer accessories los angeles, computers wholesale,

 pc fair, computers la, computer equipment los angeles, computers los angeles”>

<META content=”A Huge Inventory of Computer Products at Low, Wholesale Prices! Computers, Printers, Monitors, Multimedia, Modems, Memory, Thousands of Games, Educational Software, Furniture, Books, and much more. When you attend Computer Fair you may not find a lifetime guarantee, but you won’t be concerned about free shipping, and you will get the same warranty as online shopping or mail order companies, and you get immediate delivery.”>

As you can see its the web page for the LA Computer Fair.  You will see the basics of the site built into the tags like template information, keywords and discription.  But the most important thing about is the titling and matching the text in the page matching the information in your tags.  As keywords and discriptions are not as important to Search Engines as they used be they are still scanned and compared to your visible information in the page.