Is Big Foot Leaving Tracks on Your Website?

Charles Heflin (author of The Master Plan) has just published one of the best posts I have seen in a long time.

I spotted Bigfoot on your Website doing Social Marketing

This is a quick, clear, and excellent synopses of basic principles of correct search engine optimization – and what happens in the end when you try to trick the search engines.

Of course.  It makes total sense.

Google will let you get away with “cheating” for a while.  That’s how some people can get so easily drawn into it.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Google is improving its algorithms and is continuously creating even better ways of keeping spam or low quality sites out of its top rankings.  That’s what makes them the #1 search engine, as far as I can see.

What am I talking about?  Well essentially, there seem to be a million and a half methods of getting better rankings through this or that trick.  And they can be proven to “work” for others and even for yourself.  So you go happily on your way, applying this new trick and climbing the SEO ladder steadily as you go.  But if you haven’t used methods that Google approves of, it isn’t going to last forever.  One day, the new algorithm or what-have-you is out, and there you suddenly crash and burn.

Meanwhile, as Charles points out, all of the time and energy you spent trying to gain high rankings (with this or that dubious technique) could have been spent on creating real and valuable online assets that will outlast any algorithm change because they have what Google wants – usefulness, quality, and originality.

What can be deceiving at times is the number of “techniques” out there which don’t really seem like cheating.  And those who promote these SEO methods will assure you vehemently that it is all white-hat.  I think this is when you have to really stick to your integrity and ask yourself, “what would Google think of this method?”

I know, it can be hard to tell in some areas.  But then again, in other areas, it’s pretty obvious.  We’ve heard for ages that we should bookmark our sites pages all over the place.  But Google is getting on top of that one too.  If you see a site with a gazillion links from social bookmarking (or social networking) accounts, which are not linking to anyone else’s sites and which have no friends or other activity, what does that tell you?  Yeah, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?  You aren’t stupid.  And neither is Google.

What about a well-built and valuable site with original content that is being bookmarked all over the place by real people, because of its quality?

Of course you don’t get anywhere by just building a site and never promoting it.  That’s where valid article promoting, and real social network interaction come in.  I’m sure that time spent leaving useful and interesting comments on other people’s related blogs would be much more fun than any questionable SEO technique – and a lot more worthwhile in the long run.

When a person types a search term into the Search Engine, Google wants to show them the best sites for that term.  The sites with the best content and the best quality.  That is Google’s purpose.  Attempts to circumvent that purpose or shortcut the system will not win anything in the long run.  So why bother.  It’s a waste of valuable time which could be spent making money!

Charles Heflin has long been an Internet Marketing hero for me.  I own a copy of his eBook, The Master Plan, and it is one of the best investments I ever made.

He very adamently sticks to the use of honesty and integrity – not just for the sake of morals, but because this really is the best strategy in the long-run, for any business (online or off!)  Charles promotes the use of honest and real SEO techniques.  And helps us stay clear of misdirectors and misguidance.

This post he published today is one of his best yet.  Thank you Charles. 😀

Tags: Charles Heflin, The Master Plan, Social Networking, Social Bookmarking, SEO, Search Engine Optimization

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13 Responses to “Is Big Foot Leaving Tracks on Your Website?”

  1. Jerry Moore
    September 7, 2008 at 10:31 pm #

    Hi Anna, I am glad I happened across your site and thank you for posting this. You look very familiar, btw. I can tell you from recent experiences concerning my own websites that the manner in which Google deems pages as relevant is changing. There has been a paradigm shift in the type of traffic I receive from Google. Btw, I receive about 30% of my traffic from Google through organic search results, affiliates who have linked to my sites, and Google Adwords (personal and affiliate ads).

    IMO, Google is moving to some sort of universal quality rating similar to what they have in Adwords. And in Adwords they have already moved to more search friendly relevant results some time ago (came to be known as the Google Slap). Unfortunately, Google considers anything dealing with SEO as blackhat. There is no gray area. Link building included. It’s really crazy. I’ve read where there are even certain domains that have been penalized because domain privacy was used during registration. I know Google is all for being as transparent as possible and believes in freely sharing ALL information That seems a little extreme, imo, if it’s true. Thanks, Jerry

  2. Anna
    September 8, 2008 at 12:29 am #

    Hello Jerry. I’m always glad to see new visitors! Thank you for coming by.

    In regards to Google, I suppose some things depend on how you look at it. What is SEO? It is optimizing your sites for search engines. Well that would include making the sites high quality with original content. And that’s one thing we do know that Google is not opposed to. So I suppose it depends on what you call “SEO.”

    I also consider that commenting on other blogs is good for SEO. Google seems to like that too. (Unless it would be spam comments.)

    The way I look at it is, “does this SEO action add value to the Internet? Does it offer something valuable?” That is a bit broad and of course algorithms don’t always think exactly like people do.

    In a general sense, I think we are usually safe if we at least try to stick to those principles. But that doesn’t mean we never fill in the metadata of our sites or use appropriate H1 tags on our titles.

    Penalizing someone because they did a private registration? That seems a bit far-fetched! Some people just don’t want to give out their phone number and address, and understandably! What if some psycho doesn’t agree with your last post! 😆 Maybe there were other factors involved in that. Or maybe someone is “Google slapping” (dumb pun).

    Anyway thank you for stopping by. I have been working on tweaking the blog and I have plans for more posts and pages. So feel free to subscribe! 🙂 Hope to see you soon.

  3. Jerry Moore
    September 8, 2008 at 1:28 am #

    Hi again Anna. The domain privacy thing is just crazy I know. The person who told me has a pretty good inside track into things Google looks at within the quality score for Adwords. Not sure how it applies to organic search if at all.

    As far as SEO- in our business we need every edge we can get but Google hates it 🙂 My google adwords account rep is always telling me to not do anything to SEO pages for organic search other than properly formatting the code. I am always calling and trying to get info but they are so tight lipped, lol. They’ve told me a few “inside” things that have helped me though.

    Of course you and I know that when targeting keyphrases we’re going to do more than create content to try and rank higher in the search results. Ok, I’m going to check out the rest of your blog now. Talk soon, Jerry

  4. Davinator-Viral Marketing Strategies
    September 8, 2008 at 10:26 pm #

    Hmmm, well you know that post of Charles actually got me a little worried. I mean, in many ways, I might be nabbed and penalized for some of the things I’ve been doing.

    I really hope I’m not…I do keep a good mix of article marketing involved as well. But, I do use things like Jack’s submitters, and also software through FirePow that will automatically bookmark etc. I do use pseudo names for most of these accounts, but, it’s because I haven’t got time to build profiles on all of these networks. I mean, trying to drive traffic is a lot of work as it is. As if, I have time to build friends lists on all of these sites!

    I have main profiles at the sites I frequent like Facebook..Digg etc..but I don’t have time to put into all of them. Who would? 😯

    Cheers
    Davin

    Davinator-Viral Marketing Strategiess last blog post..Titles That Make A Blog Popular

  5. Anna
    September 9, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    Hi Davin. Yeah, I hear you. I realized a while ago that it gets a bit unreal to be involved in so many gazillion networks, and if you do manage, you wind up being superficially involved.

    I think in the long run it pays off much better to be involved in a few networks that are appropriate for your niche, and then really do them justice.

    Of course one might have a couple different accounts for different niches. Ie, if you are in the video-game niche and also in the organic foods niche, those don’t really mix so well. But I don’t think anyone really minds that.

    In any case, having a few profiles in the best networks for your niche would allow you to make friends and utilize their power more. Look at Friendfeed for example. I just signed up. I find it actually useful to get an email telling me what my friends Dugg or Tweated or bookmarked that day. It leads me to some good references and ideas. But if one person on my list is making a million posts a day and crowding out all the others, I don’t feel like keeping that person on the list. Which is better – backlinks or friends?

    In any case I think we all can get pulled in the wrong direction from time to time. I’m glad Charles is giving us the heads-up. And it makes a lot of sense that even if these tactics are working now, they probably won’t work forever. So we have the advantage of knowing now, so we can start to go in the right direction! 🙂

  6. alibiner
    September 9, 2008 at 4:30 pm #

    I am a Seo newbie.
    🙄

  7. Anna
    September 10, 2008 at 4:51 am #

    Really? That’s interesting … which membership? How do you get Google to check your site?

    Yeah I think its time for all of us to study up on this – at least those of us who can confront a bit of honest work! It tends to remind me of the story of the tortoise and the hare!

  8. Normal Joe @ Honest Internet Marketing
    September 10, 2008 at 4:43 am #

    Great post Anna, and I agree. Many SEO tricks are indeed blackhat, and I recently found out from one of my memberships, that you can actually have google look at your sites, and let you know if it’s in compliance! I thought that was cool…I don’t know if it was because it had adsense on it or what, but better safe than sorry if we are trying to build assets and not quick, flash in the pan profit generators.

    Normal Joes last blog post..The Real Way To Succeed Online

  9. Freddie
    October 2, 2008 at 7:25 am #

    Good stuff, Anna. I have been focused on building my site old fashion way. The blogs I read, including yours, are all talking out against these SEO tricks.

    Besides, I am not even savvy enough to know many of these tricks.

    I think you said it best that maybe we should just rely on our integrity to guide our decisions. Amen to that sister, business is about integrity, IMO. And I am not about to let a little more traffic cause me to compromise mine!

    Freddies last blog post..Monday’s Motivational Moment: Urgency

  10. Mac Bull
    August 31, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    Hello Anna,

    A very nice article on SEO. Thank you.
    I am not the first to say the following, but perhaps some “blackhat” tactics are worth using for certain situations.

    Let me clarify that…

    If I am running a Halloween website for the month of October only and then I am gone,
    then I would be smart to use all the sneaky tricks to maximize sales for that month. Then I dissapear from the net. It maybe is a rare case, but it does exist. You used to see this a lot in direct mail before the internet. Some company would have some high-end silk shirts made in Taiwan or somewhere. Then they get a mailing list from a list broker and begin mailing. They hopefully sell out the “limited supply” of the product they had made and then they disappear. Later they form up again with other members on a new project and do it all over again. Now you see this on the Internet as well. So if that is the operation you are running then I think it is fair game to use these “blackhat” tactics. By the time Google lays down the law you and your business are gone-so it doesn’t matter.

    However, if long term is your goal then you would be foolish to use these “blackhat” tactics.
    But that is a given and for obvious reasons.

    Just wanted to share the other side of the coin there. Let me know your thoughts.

    Good luck to you and your endeavors,
    Mac Bull

  11. Anna
    September 3, 2009 at 12:33 am #

    Hi Mac, thanks for your comment.

    Well, first of all, there is a point of ethics and doing one’s part to keep the Integrity of the Internet itself intact. Black hat or sneaky tactics are generally have some element of dishonesty or trickery involved – that’s why they are black hat. So, even if one makes some money for the short term, one has to also look at the overall picture and how this effects the Internet as a communications medium – as a whole.

    Secondly, you talk about using black-hat techniques for a brief campaign and then disappearing. Have you done this successfully? I ask because I have never known or heard of short-term internet projects being successful, as compared to a long-term solid project where one builds and develops a valuable online asset that will be there for years to come, is valuable and useful to its visitors, and will stand up to search engine algorithm changes because of its solid quality.

    I would personally never want to spend time on an online project which was going to be removed or deleted after a certain time. If I wanted to work on projects which pay only now and do not create any long-term business value, or long term residual income, I could just work on a regular offline job or project.

    Another point for people to remember is that things sometimes have repercussions you don’t expect. For example, maybe I have website A and website B hosted on one account. Website B is black-hat so it gets black-listed. Website A, being on the same server, is also affected by that black-listing. Even if I delete Website B, I have harmed Website A’s reputation.

    This is just one of many many ways I could think of that these tactics could backfire – in the end, I would rather not have to worry about this kind of thing. I far prefer the simplicity of honest and solid, good content.

  12. Mac Bull
    September 3, 2009 at 1:32 am #

    Hello Anna,

    Thank you for your very informative reply to my comment. The thing is I am actually 100% in agreement with you, but I have heard some SEO experts talk about these short term companies that pop-up, do their thing and then leave. So they go the sneaky “blackhat” route. From what I hear some of these companies are now showing up on E-Lance and other job search sites. People are requesting copywriters and SEO experts to “blackhat” my website to stardom please. Not so pleasant really.

    Yes, if long term is the goal then playing by the rules and avoiding the rather unethical “blackhat” tactics is definitely the way to go. This is the way I do it. But because I keep hearing about these requests for “blackhat” tactics, and the distribution of “blackhat” software, tools and e-books all over the net I just was putting the other shoe out there to see what people thought. You responded as I imagined. Good for you.

    I like your site and the wonderful information you provide.
    Please keep up the great work.

    Good luck to you and your endeavors,
    Mac Bull

  13. Anna
    September 3, 2009 at 3:26 am #

    Hi Mac. I understand where you are coming from. Well, you are right, it definitely does seem to be a waste of time. And besides, we want to be proud of what we do, right? We are involved in something called LIFE and there is a bit more to it than making a quick buck.

    I can only imagine one of these spammers (even if “successfully” earning money) at a family reunion when Auntie Mabel asks what they do for a living. “Oh, well, I make shady porn sites, drive lots of traffic to them with comment robots, and rake in lots of cash, and then when Google de-indexes my site I delete it and start over!”

    I suppose the upside of this is that while all these unpleasantries go about their business chasing each other around in circles, we have less competition while we steady build up valuable assets.

    This came to my attention recently – one of my sites has been slowly climbing, and is nearly on page #1 for a particular competitive keyword. I got some spam comments with links in the text, using this same keyword.

    Of course I deleted them. But at the same time I had to wonder – do these people REALLY ACTUALLY think they are going to rank on page 1 for a keyword with 31,000,000 results, by using blog comment spam? They must think Google is really stupid!

    Thanks for your input on this blog – I hope to see you around again 🙂

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