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FALL 2014

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Distributor's Link Magazine Fall Issue 2014

30 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S

30 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Joe Dysart Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Thousand Oaks, California. A journalist for 20 years, his articles have appeared in more than 40 publications, including The New York Times and The Financial Times of London. During the past decade, his work has focused exclusively on ecommerce. Voice: (631) 256-6602; web: www.joedysart.com; email: joe@joedysart.com. IS SEO DEAD FOR BAD ACTORS, PRETTY MUCH While search engine optimization -- the art of optimizing a Web property for the highest possible search engine returns -- is not dead, the antics of those looking to game the system pretty much are. The reason: During the past few years, Google has gone out of its way to aggressively thwart practitioners of 'black hat' search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, to the point where their tricks and ruses have been mostly neutralized. Specifically, Google's updates to its search engine algorithm, with codenames like 'Panda,' 'Penguin' and 'Hummingbird' have made it very tough for the wily to artificially boost rankings of Web sites with thousands of bogus links, hundreds of pages of duplicate content or other false positives. Indeed, with so few technical tweaks still available for SEO, even some longtime 'white hat' SEO practitioners are throwing in the towel. "Google put their money where their mouth was with their Panda and Penguin updates," says Jill Whalen, a prominent SEO veteran who retired from the industry late last year. "At last, the only real way to do SEO was what I had been espousing all along," Whalen says. "When you create amazing Web sites and content for your users, the search engines will follow. Imagine that." Agrees Ryne Landers, senior SEO specialist, WrightIMC (www.wrightimc.com), an advertising agency: Above: Google's CEO Larry Page has made it his mission to crack down on black hat SEO. Below: Google's co-founder Sergey Brin. " I think SEO is pretty much dead as we know it. Google’s been tightening the noose around the neck of SEO" practitioners since early 2012." In practice, Google's new Web order now has savvy businesses being extremely careful in the way they flirt with the search engine. OId reliables like guest posting on another Web site's blog simply as a crass grab for exposure are considered taboo. And keyword stuffing alone (artificially stuffing text with the same keyword over and over) is enough to get your Web site banished to the bottom of Google's search results. "More and more channels are being restricted and removed from our grasp," Landers says, including boosts in rankings resulting from article marketing, commenting on other Web site's blogs and mass distribution of the same press release as just a few examples. Plus, Google is getting very picky about the kind of links it recognizes as authentic. Essentially, 'authentic' in Google's eyes means an honest-to-goodness link that is placed to your Web site from another Web site without your knowledge. Put another way: It's a link that you've earned because you're providing truly useful information on your site. Such links differ markedly from 'black hat' links, which are often created by for-hire 'link building farms,' which specialize in creating hundreds or thousands of bogus links to a Web sites. please turn to page 178

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