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Old 12-12-2005   #1
orion
 
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Exclamation Dec. 2005 Newsweek Article On SEO & Perception Of Industry

My great friend Rand Fishkin received some coverage by Newsweek in the article Hotwiring Your Search Engine

Congrats, Randfish. Well deserved.

In my view the article does not represent accurately what SEO is about.

Fortunately, Rand was quick to clarify and point the obvious to readers. Check his blog

How many incorrect perceptions written by Newsweek can you spot in that article?

At times it bothers me how many misconceptions about the search marketing industry are out there.

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Old 12-12-2005   #2
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Yes - good work Rand!!



Matt Cutts (who was also quoted in the article) has also blogged on it http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-article-in-newsweek/ with some quite revealing highlights....
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Old 12-12-2005   #3
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Originally Posted by Chris_D
Yes - good work Rand!!



Matt Cutts (who was also quoted in the article) has also blogged on it ****//***.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-article-in-newsweek with some quite revealing highlights....
Indeed. However, I disagree with Matt regarding that the reporter "did his homework."

The article has too many innaccuracies, as Rand just mentioned to me by email. Rand has listed a series of misconstructions at his blog.

The article is still perpetuating the fallacy that link citation equates to site popularity and high rankings.

Thanks God that Matt mentions this (and quote)

"The article also implies that avatarfinancial.com is ranking higher because Rand Fishkin bought some backlinks. We’ve already covered this territory. Rand, those paid links from the Harvard Crimson and elsewhere aren’t helping the site."

And then he goes and explain why the site ranked high.

At least the article covers that search engines and seos can co-exist.



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Last edited by orion : 12-12-2005 at 04:25 AM.
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Old 12-12-2005   #4
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Here are three interesting lines (emphasis added)

1. "...who performed an obscure procedure called a "search-engine optimization."

First, SEO is described as an obscure procedure. Second, it is described as a "procedure".


2. "Since the search engines measure links as an indication of popularity, Fishkin also peppered online bulletin boards and shoe-enthusiast Web sites with links to his client's site. It worked."

This one is just a compounded misconstruction of facts.

First that "search engines measure links as an indication of popularity".
Second that rand "peppered online bulletin boards and shoe-enthusiast...with links. This, simply untrue and explained/clarified by rand at his blog.

3. "It worked"

Not! See Matt post as to why rand was able to achieve better rankings.

Sorry but this interview was too superficial, too innaccurate.

More can be found by reading between lines.

As to "earl", he just bought unnecessary fire to himself. (see matt's blog)


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Last edited by orion : 12-12-2005 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 12-12-2005   #5
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I haven't read the article yet but it dosn't surprise me if it's not very accurate. When is any articles in general/broad medias that? Every time I see a journalist write about something I really know about I have to conclude that they didn't seem to grab much of the truth - and I bet it's the same for any topic (the ones I don't know anything about).

news are for fun - thats all
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Old 12-12-2005   #6
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Exclamation

And feel free to comment about this (emphasis added):

"High-priced and in some cases slyly unethical, SEOs try to manipulate the unpaid search results that help users navigate the Internet. Their goal is to boost their clients' (and in some cases their own) sites to the top of unpaid search-engine rankings-even if their true popularity doesn't warrant that elevated status."


1. "High-priced and slyly unethical", "...SEOs, try to manipulate..."

These were given without proper qualifiers. One wide brush to paint all with one color.

2. "even if their true popularity ...."

Here, the reporter don't seem to understand the difference or even to separate the scoring of documents upon a given query (rankings) from true popularity (whatever that means).


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Last edited by orion : 12-12-2005 at 05:47 AM.
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Old 12-12-2005   #7
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The only thing I don't agree on is the "high priced" part - we charge way to little in this industry!
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Old 12-12-2005   #8
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I've talked to reporters in the past re: SEO and from that experience, I concluded that it's almost impossible for a reporter to get all the facts straight. There are so many technicalities, loopholes and inconsistencies in SEO that, for any reporter to try to be 100% accurate, would require much more space than a single column allows. My view is that they take many complex facts and just try to dumb them down for the reader, so they can get through with the story. That's not a defense, just my personal observations.
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Old 12-12-2005   #9
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I see a lot of articles here in Denmrk that apparently have been triggered by only one thing: The goal to get as many headlines that include "Google" - it looks good and makes people click but the content is usually close to pure crap. Sometimes they even manage to get the "Google" name in the headlines to articles that have nothing whatsoever to do with Google.

But as I said, I don't think they really do this to piss of our indistri in particular - I think this is just what we have left in mordern journalism. Unfortunaletly.
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Old 12-12-2005   #10
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All in all though, Mikkel, I think you'd agree that it could have gone much worse. The general take that I think the public is walking away from the article with is that SEO is a legitimate business and a legitimate way to boost traffic, etc. It's just that there are operators on two sides - just like email spam or viruses or adware, etc.

Dr. Garcia - thanks for the mention!

p.s. I'm very confused as to why the title is "hotwiring your search engine". It sounds like they meant to have it say "hotwiring your search engine rankings", but left it out... Problem is, that title means something entirely different.
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Old 12-12-2005   #11
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Originally Posted by randfish
p.s. I'm very confused as to why the title is "hotwiring your search engine". It sounds like they meant to have it say "hotwiring your search engine rankings", but left it out... Problem is, that title means something entirely different.
This just amount to the above that Newsweek has ongoing editorial/copy issues in their hands.

About the common usage and semantics behind the term hotwiring


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Old 12-12-2005   #12
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On-topic analysis applied to Wikipedia's definition for

"hotwiring" reveals the following action descriptors used in the copy

bypassing
starting (as in relation to without)
detaching
crossing (as in relation to wires)
smashing
stealing (as in relation to cars


Last time I did a co-occurrence analysis to assess document-query targeting in Google the results revealed that an estimated 52% of the results for hotwiring are relevant to car hotwiring (or include both terms).


Thus, the probability that someone searching for hotwiring will find documents targeting car and hotwiring is high. Results may change over time and from databases.


Back to the Newsweek piece, the benefits of conducting co-occurrence analysis from written words is not just for SEOs. It can be applied to editorial/copy and "meme", as we can see. When used for both, write ups and searches in mind, you get double benefits "for the price of one", sort of speak.


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Old 12-12-2005   #13
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That's an ingenuous way to use co-occurrence! And one that wouldn't ordinarily come to mind. It's a sort of litmus test to see if your analogies or alliteration will be logical or nonsensical - very clever.
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Old 12-12-2005   #14
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Indeed, when you go beyond mere monkey crunching numbers and start understanding the underlying theory, co-occurrence indices and associated metrics, just start to make sense, for SEO, copy, and meme analysis. Even in the blogosphere many dynamic phenomena can be explained or at least studied in terms of this.

Here is another paper on SEO misconceptions. It appears the notions (or lack of them, I should say) are not unique to Newsweek.

Why I don't Believe in SEO Copywriting

This one is from DMNews.

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Last edited by orion : 12-12-2005 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 12-14-2005   #15
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Orion, could you clarify your point vis-a-vis the DMNews article?

Do you agree or disagree with it? Which points?
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Old 12-16-2005   #16
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Remember that Newsweek is not Business 2.0 and their average readers aren't the "tech-saviest". It takes a lot of layman lingo to help get point across.

Although I think they went a little heavy on the drama between white hat vs. black hat, I am still pleased that our industry is getting main-stream exposure...even if their facts weren't 100% on the mark.

Hopefully this will be a viral trend amongst the major news publications.
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Old 12-19-2005   #17
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For a mainstream article, I didn't think it was too bad. I've certainly seen worse from places much closer to our industry, such as Netimperative today:

http://www.netimperative.com/2005/12/15/DIG_2006

In the SEO report:
http://www.netimperative.com/2005/12...63/2%20SEO.pdf

Quote:
Not all firms will have the same goals when it comes to SEO. Some will seek to generate as much traffic as possible from all web users, while smaller, more specialized firms may seek a targeted audience by optimizing their sites for large numbers of highly specifickeywords.

There are 'ethical' and 'non-ethical' methods that you can use to optimise your site to search engines. Ethical methods of SEO involve following the search engines' guidelines as to what is and what isn't acceptable. This usually means creating content for the user rather than the search engines; to make that content easily accessible to their spiders; and to not try to 'play' their system.

Unethical methods include using invisible text to increase page visibility to a spider, abusing page tags, or placing unrelated but frequently searched words (such as 'sex') into the inserted text to boost traffic.
Whilst not totally wrong, it was slightly off the mark for me. I was surprised.
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