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Old 06-11-2004   #1
dannysullivan
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What Organic Search Support Services Would You Want?

I've been working on this series about paid inclusion. In the first part, I talk about problems that crawlers have with indexing pages. The second part talks about why I think Yahoo's paid inclusion program could have perhaps been better turned into things like express support for crawler issues.

I've long written that it would be nice for Google to provide some type of express support service, as well. Others have also long wished so such a thing. And over at High Rankings, a thread's kicked off a lively debate about whether Google should have a reinclusion program.

So...what type of services other than paid inclusion would you like to see Google, Yahoo or other search engines offer relating to free/organic listings? Give me some ideas, and I can bring them up when I revisit this issue later in my paid inclusion series. Plus, we can also generate a poll when there are enough suggestions.
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Old 06-11-2004   #2
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In my opinion, SEs should pay attention to webmaster or website owner by giving them the information when they are changing the algorithms or something which are affected to their site. Because they don't know what happen about their site when they dropped from the listing. Sometimes it is not their fault. I see many website which has a lot of quality content but they aren't ranked in Search engine.

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Old 06-11-2004   #3
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I think the SE's are far too secretive and certainly do not need to be so to protect the integrity of their algorithms.

For example it seems to be fairly accepted that Google does not index the content of Titles for images, even though these are preferred for Accessibility reasons. Fine that's up to them. However it would be helpful if such a position was clearly stated somewhere on their Help for Webmasters section of their website.

Instead there is only rumour and debate and needless wasted bandwidth as people try to second guess this foggy position.
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Old 06-11-2004   #4
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Express Spam Report

I'd love to see an "Express Spam Report". The submitter would pay a fee adequate for covering the search engine's processing cost, perhaps something on the order of $30. This would pay for a human editor to review the report in a reasonable period of time -- say a week -- and take appropriate action. There would of course be no guarantee that action would be taken, other than there would be a prompt and appropriate review.

We all know that the SEs wish to avoid manual processes, but this would at least compensate them for the associated expenses.
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Old 06-11-2004   #5
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express spam report = amazing idea!!!
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Old 06-11-2004   #6
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How about a public spam reporting forum? This way, when a person reports legitimate spam, others can contribute to the forum and give their 'amen' to that particular report.

When someone reports spam now, you can never know if it is being looked at or simply deleted. A public forum would allow people to "uncover" the spammers and if enough people respond to it as well, the search engines can manually do something about it. It may even cause companies to re-consider before they participate in spamming techniques because there is the fear that they will be publicly exposed.

I have even thought of starting such a forum myself but haven't thought out all the legalities yet of such a venture.
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Old 06-11-2004   #7
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I don't like the idea of a forum. I think there should be some cost and it should not be public otherwise it will just end up in bickering and bad pr for all people involved (at least in my extimation).
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Old 06-11-2004   #8
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What if the forum required 'paid membership'?

As for bad PR for all around, there are already such lists for email spammers.

Yes there are potential problems to a public forum, bickering, mud-throwing, lawsuits, etc. But the fact that spammers would be exposed and hopefully dealt with might make it worthwhile. I doubt the search engines would ever do it however for legal reasons but it is wishful thinking at any rate.

Even a paid service that is not public has its problems because those with a lot of money could continuously file complaints against their competitors for no other reason but to get the search engines (and possibly the public) to look at them with a jaundiced eye.

What I think would be really cool is a forum which requires membership and membership is limited to SEOs and SEMs that adhere to the SEs guidelines and as such are approved by the search engines to help them fight spam. If the SEO/SEM is found to be a spammer themselves, they are booted. If they contribute to false spam reports or mud throwing just because someone is beating them in the SERPs, they are out. Something along those lines.

A member would have to be a SEO or SEM in which their primary business is marketing web sites on search engines, the same way all the companies listed in the Marking Sherpa "Buyers' Guide to Search Engine Optimization Firms" had to pass these guidelines to be included.

This would allow SEOs and SEMs to lend a helping hand to search engines in combating spam.
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Old 06-11-2004   #9
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I don't like the idea of limiting who can enter. I mean one day I can promote all regular like, but that doesn't mean by night that I am not working for some huge porn site.

Also spam being public is already there. People complain and complaint sites regularly list on the first page for many seos or seo companies.

If a company begins to bombard the search engine with frivolous complaints then their spam reports can be ignored or rejected. Also the price scale could increase in a logarithmic manner after the third or fourth consecutive bogus spam report or if the percentage of bogus reports was really high... there are ways to regulate out excessive bugs reports.
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Old 07-17-2004   #10
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Search engines should offer support contracts with different annual, monthly, and per-incident plans. This will provide an essential service to thousands of SEO firms and site owners and an additional - and substantial - revenue stream for SEs.

It's sad to see all the brain power and resources that are currently being wasted on the guesswork in the dark.

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Old 07-17-2004   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Wallace
How about a public spam reporting forum? This way, when a person reports legitimate spam, others can contribute to the forum and give their 'amen' to that particular report.
We already have one of those, its called IHelpYou Like Doug or loath him, a spade is never alluded to as a digging implement over there, and that has lead to more than a few problems, I have no doubt. It also lead to some good things, like breaking the whole Traffic Power thing, way back in December.

If you are serious about really starting such a forum David, I recommend reading all 17 pages of this thread. The thread was so dramatic it lead to a name change of the forum it resided in from something (don't exactly remember) that included the word "Spam" to what is now called: "Best Practices".

The problems associated with a forum dedicated to naming names are too dramatic to overcome, most likely. The individual / organisation that took such a risk would be walking a very fine tight rope over a very deadly drop. Death threats are not uncommon for spam email crusaders, and similiar could be expected from hi industry, I would say.

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Old 07-19-2004   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectphp
We already have one of those, its called IHelpYou Like Doug or loath him, a spade is never alluded to as a digging implement over there, and that has lead to more than a few problems, I have no doubt. It also lead to some good things, like breaking the whole Traffic Power thing, way back in December.
I wouldn't credit IHY for 'breaking' the TP thing - SEF has had Traffic Power threads going on for well over a year.
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Old 07-21-2004   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elisabeth
I wouldn't credit IHY for 'breaking' the TP thing - SEF has had Traffic Power threads going on for well over a year.
So has IHY. Here is an example from May 2003 warning people against TP, but I believe there are older ones.
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Old 07-21-2004   #14
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Quote:
I wouldn't credit IHY for 'breaking' the TP thing - SEF has had Traffic Power threads going on for well over a year.
IMHO it does not truly matter who was first. What does matter is the IHY forum and SEF were not afraid to name names,while other fora sat idley by not willing to bring the problem to the surface. By not bringing it to the public eye, it could be infered by a reader the tacticts used by TP were condoned. I take it as not truly caring. It is a shame more fora do not have the fortitude to take a stance. Both IHY and SEF deserve credit, and we need not check the clocks to see that fact.
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Old 07-22-2004   #15
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So swinging back to my original post, other ideas on support services you'd like to see? I have a series of search engine visits next week, so I'd like to float a bunch of ideas.
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Old 07-22-2004   #16
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I would like to see the engines back off the following policy mention at a recent search conference (which i read through your search engine watch new letter):

"One question asked how spiders handled URL rewriting (such as you might do if you had a dynamic site).

The engines were in strong agreement on this question. They all stated that simple URLs were more attractive to crawlers and may even encourage spider to crawl deeper on sites. Other advice recommended getting rid of session IDs and don't have a cookie driven site. Both of these practices could keep your site from being indexed. "

--- this is horrible policy. how else can one manage state in the "stateless" environment of the web? no session ID's? -how should commerce be handled? no cookies? -how should personalization be handled?

we have been lucky enough to get very good indexing by switching all our static links to "search query strings" instead of direct UID linking, but we are not willing to additional overhead to simply re-create urls for the engines. ...worse, what if one discovers a problem with this ISAPI rewriting stuff and has to bail on the method. all the links that get indexed will all be bad... and another maintenance issue ensues and an entire optimization campaign starts over.

the biggest, best sites all use cookies and session ID's. the little, piddly "about us", "our company" and "our services" companies that litter the web are the only ones who can manage pure HTML sites due to the fact the sites have about 10 pages max. who really visits these types of pages?

and what about tracking? am i supposed to rely only on web server logs now? yikes. have you ever used web log analytical software. so unreliable and only gives you an "idea" of what's happening. 'referrer' is unreliable due to firewalls, norton software and anonymity ...plus, web logs just show traffic ...unless of course we, and all other big sites, want to spend a ton of money regenerating everything...

even if one does "re-architect", the engines would probably change their minds again. it almost seems like a conspiracy (which i know its not) ...but yikes, NO COOKIES? NO SESSION IDs? ....please ...no way.

this should be changed in ranking precedence.

thanks for listening
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Old 07-25-2004   #17
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Quote:
...other ideas on support services you'd like to see? I have a series of search engine visits next week, so I'd like to float a bunch of ideas.
I'm noticing a large silence in response to this question. It's a shame to waste the opportunity of Danny's access with the engines next week, but I've been hard put myself to come up with suggestions for paid organic support services that make sense.

In the world of competitive rankings, secret algos, and the FTC, most of ideas that come to my mind contain inherent conflicts and possibilities for abuse. They would make the playing field too uneven, in favor of those who can pay, or would ultimately result in easier skewing or manipulation of results.

So, though I'd very much like to have them, it's probably not realistic, nor perhaps even wise, eg, to request search query stats on a paying basis. I don't think Google or Yahoo will, or should, let it happen.

Similarly, it may be unrealistic to request certain kinds of support info, like feedback on why a site has been dropped, but perhaps not. What is Google going to say... these sites on related IPs seem to be targeting the same phrases and we're 'clustering' those results... but if you got some more inbounds...?

The areas in which the engines might be able realistically to provide support are in what I'd call the technical glitch area... eg, the reindexing of 301 redirects, glitches in serps where a click-counting page has usurped your url, etc. But ultimately this might become like the PFI model, inherently corrupt. The engines could get lax about cleaning up their own acts, and we might all find ourselves paying for a different kind of inclusion.

Regarding PFI... Pay For Freshness is a model some have proposed as a legitimate alternative. Here too, though, there are some inherent conflict of interest problems for the engines. Yahoo with SiteMatch, eg, is noticeably slower in adding new pages (to existing sites) than Google has been. Maybe if there were some defined freshness standards for the unpaid pages... but I'm not sure that could happen either.

It may be, and I'm thinking out loud here, that any sort of paid organic search support service is going to have its downside, and that we might not want to go there at all. I'm not pushing this as a position, but, in the course of thinking this through, that's the thought that keeps coming to mind.
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Old 07-29-2004   #18
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I would like to see 100% indexing

I think for bandwidth costs it is ok to pay them for it, but they should offer a complete crawl of your site in a specified time frame.
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Old 10-20-2004   #19
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I would like to see the SE's improve their guidelines at most as often as they change their algos.
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