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Making Money With Google Navigational Queries

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Today I want to briefly talk about how Google works out what navigational queries are, what a navigational query is, and how we can make money from it. It’s a pretty easy concept to get to grips with, but I like it because it’s a fast way to make some party money.

What is a “navigational query”?
When you perform a search on Google, it has to have some kind of stab at what the motivation behind your search is. Lets say you setup a company called “Beds and Mattresses” and you build yourself a cute little homepage. Now when a user performs a search for “beds and mattresses” Google has to work out whether you are generically searching for some beds and mattresses, or if you are specifically searching for that company.

If Google thinks you are searching specifically for that company/brand/website, then your search will be treated as a “navigational query”, which means that website will be given greater preference in the SERPs, and will rank well (normally #1) regardless of the site’s link popularity and authority.

A little bit of proof
If you haven’t noticed this before, the evidence is all around you! For instance, lets do a search for “property in france” – a query with over 30,000 monthly searches.

You can see that the propertyinfrance.co.uk website ranks #1 with a lower PR and way, way fewer links. As a note, propertyinfrance.co.uk also is not the oldest domain, with some the domains in that screenshot out-aging it by 5 years – so it’s not down to that.

To me, that’s kind of surprising, it’s a real estate search term with a decent amount of monthly traffic and there’s a lot of money in real estate traffic. Google doesn’t like doing corrections “by hand”, so I find it odd that these high volume & value terms are not algorithmically bias towards general search, rather than navigational queries. Cheers, Google.

Making money from navigation queries
Okay, so how can we make money from this? First, lets talk about revenue streams. It’s always important to think hard about the intent of your visitors when you’re trying to monetise your site. For instance, I would never run AdSense on this blog – my visitors come here for information and most of them are techy/SEO types. To me this says that Adsense would add no value to my visitors, most of them are aware of Adsense and so I’d get a pretty low CTR (á la Digg users). I don’t particularly like seeing Adsense on SEO blogs because it makes me suspicious of the motives of the author, it almost makes me feel like they are only writing to make a quick buck. I do however give (normally labelled) affiliate links to products or services that I’m currently using and think are decent, when they are relevant.

The point here is, it’s actually going to be easier using a specific CPA offer, rather than a shotgun Adsense approach and hoping somebody will click on one of the contextual ads. The Google Referrals programme, inside Adsense, allows you to browse through these ads and select a specific one for your page.

Google’s “Referrals 2.0″ is basically the CPA part of their Adsense programme – i.e. you get paid when the user performs an action rather than a click. Using Google Referrals 2.0, I set a site up in an hour and within 7 days was making $15 a day from it, with no SEO or extra promotion whatsoever. Here’s how I did it:

1) First off, I scanned through Google Referrals in my Adsense account, looking for a CPA offer. Ideally you want something where you get paid to get someone to perform a free action, as this is dead easy to do.

2) I used the standard keyword research tools to identify how competitive what I thought the “main” search term for this product/service was. I found one with a mere 300 searches per month.

3) Next I registered a domain with the URL exactly the same as this keyphrase.

4) I created a single landing page and made the title, the h1 the key phrase, as well as dotting it around the copy (which must be unique of course). Matching the URL, title, h1 is normally enough to trick Google into thinking the search is a navigational query.

5) I wrote the copy of the page, explaining the product, had a screenshot and put the ad in a nice fat outlined box in the middle of the page – it’s the only external route out of the page.

6) Google can be a bit stubborn when it comes to indexing a single page, so keep at it and build links as you usually would.

The Google Referral TOS is slightly different, allowing you to draw more attention to the advert, since the pay out is CPA, not CPC – read through it carefully and use this to your advantage. I’m achieving a 30% CTR with a pretty poor looking page, and I am converting 50% of these people to the free sign up offer and getting paid $15 a time.

There it is. It’s so simple, it’s so quick and it works. I love these 1 shot quick methods at getting a little extra cash. So 2 hours work should benefit me around $5,000 a year.

If you don’t have an Adsense account yet, here’s a massive affiliate link for you :)

Posted in Adsense, Affiliate Marketing, Google, Grey Hat, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, White Hat | 21 Comments »

Getting Started: Making Money Online

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

This is a jumbo post which I have contributed to Jon Waraas’ Blog so you’ll have to pop over there to read it. It’s a bit of a biggie (about 3,000 words).

I’ve also been working on that as well as the next part of Making Money With An Affiliate Empire series, so with a bit of luck that should be live by the end of the week..

I also have a special announcement later in the week, which you’ll like. That’s going to be first come, first served though :)

Posted in Adsense, Advertising, Affiliate Marketing, Black Hat, Blogging, Community Sites, Google, Grey Hat, Marketing Insights, Microsoft, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, Splogs, Viral Marketing, White Hat, Yahoo | 6 Comments »

Making Money With An Affiliate Network Empire [Part 1]

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

A quick note before we begin: I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of months now and I’ve re-written it several times. I tried to shorten it, so as not to bore the more advanced readers, however I decided in the end, to leave it at the original length – so everybody can benefit, regardless of your level of experience in affiliate marketing/seo etc. Generally, I write posts with just the “what you need to do” aspect in mind. For this guide though, I have included a lot of background information, because you will all need to do your own thing and by giving key bits of knowledge, I hope to give everybody what they need to make their own informed decisions and most of all make as much money as possible! With that in mind, enjoy part 1….

This is a commitment
Affiliate marketing is a huge area with a lot of players in it, as well as “super affiliates” who spend vast amounts of money on pay per click models to drive traffic to their sites. My personal approach with web projects has always been to keep my expenditure low, this keeps profits higher and guarantees that in the worst case scenario where I don’t succeed, my losses are minimal.

In the long-term, affiliate marketing has been my best earner, which is how you have to look at projects like this. If you’re going to make decent money on the web (save a lot of time) you’re going to have to invest time. For those of you who want a quicker route to making about $1,000, check out the guide to making money with a video blog. Lets hammer this home for the skim readers: The strategies outlined in these posts will take a serious investment of time, it is not a get rich quick scheme! Affiliates will provide you with the most stable revenue – but you will have to put the hours in!. If you want to make a living online, affiliates are something you want to get into in a big way. Now that’s clear…

A quick overview of the plan
Okay, so it would be nice to be able to open a massive affiliate store with all manner of popular products and having some good Google rankings, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy – but it is possible. I’m going to give you the bones on how to start building a large network of websites selling affiliate products, which ranks well in Google. I’ve had this post on backburner for a while and it wasn’t until I started writing it I saw just how detailed it was going to have to be to be of any good to you guys, so I’m breaking down into parts. I’m not sure how many parts there will be, I’ll just write the parts in stages, so you can action them, then publish another part in a month or so. Here’s a basic overview on what we’ll be doing:

1) How to find and select a niche
2) Keyword research – how to find gaps in search competitiveness
3) Building niche affiliate sites
4) Interlinking affiliate sites into larger network
5) Production of well ranking “super affiliate” site (that’s fully automated)

I certainly wouldn’t label myself an “expert” on affiliate marketing and there are a lot of other ways you can approach the challenges I’ll be writing about. I found a way that works well for me – using knowledge of search engines to get massive visibility and drive sales and I’d like to share this with you. From what I’ve read on affiliate forums – there’s a lot of other people having a harder time than me!

So lets get started with part 1……….

Sign up to an affiliate network
Choosing an affiliate network, or several affiliate networks is going to be your first step. There is a massive choice of networks about, so it’s worth finding one with a decent amount of merchants and a good interface. I’m not going to get bogged down on this particular area, my favourite affiliate network at the moment is Webgains, but I’ve also used Trade Doubler and Affiliate Window with no problems. The only network I’ve ever had trouble with is Affiliate Future, who have (in my experience at least) been somewhat slow in updating feeds, leaving you to filter out the duds. Outside of affiliate networks, the original is very generous with its payouts, so if you’re thinking of selling anything Amazon stock, I’d definitely sign up there. As I said, I’m not going to go into gory detail about this at the moment because at this stage, it’s not overly important and it is something we will cover again when we come to building our “super affiliate” site.

Finding a niche market
Okay, this bit is important, so don’t rush it. Before you can start breaking into competitive areas you’re going to need to identify niche that fills a few criteria:

1) It has enough monthly searches to produce some sales
2) Not much competition for the core terms
3) It is something you can easily buy over the Internet
4) Preferably – expensive

Here’s a nice one for free: Pregnancy Clothing.

Why choose something like that?

Pregnancy clothing actually as a lot going for it:

  • The search term “pregnancy clothing” has a healthy amount of monthly searches
  • The top site for “pregnancy clothing” only has ~350 links – not hard to beat at all
  • Pregnant mums will spend a lot of time home, on the Internet
  • When you’re pregnant (I imagine) you don’t want to huff around the city!

I’ll probably use this as an example throughout this guide, you’re welcome to go for it if you want (although if all of you do, you’ll be competing with each other!), so try and find something else. It only took me about 45 minutes research to find that little gem and there’s a lot more out there! You just need to put the effort in!

At this point, it is worth having a look at a very basic overview of the buying process (apologies to those with qualifications in marketing for this gross simplification).

The Buying Cycle

Okay, this is the basic “process” that most people go through when deciding to make a purchase.

Awareness: This is the awareness of the solution to a problem or the possible fulfilment of a need. So, “I got a bun in the oven and I got really fat and none of my clothes fit anymore”. Is a need. Hopefully our young mother-to-be knows that there are clothes out there for ladies of her figure. If not, at some point when surfing though pregnancy forums or hormonally stumbling through Mothercare, she’ll make this discovery. Awareness is deeply ingrained in our sub-conscious, so if someone says “I need a burger, fast” a lot of people will instantly think “McDonalds”, even if the term “burger” must be taken loosely. It is the awareness of the solution and possible provider, which is connected to our final stage, loyalty. For our current affiliate project, we’ll leave awareness for now.

Research: The bread and butter, the real meat, whatever you want to call it. This is where the Internet comes into its own. No longer must you rely on journalists in magazines or the sales clerks in the store, with the Internet you can hear what actual consumers are saying about products, compare the prices of 50 different outlets and make your own views heard – all while trying to work out how to get Outlook to auto send and receive.

The research part of the cycle is what we are going to be focusing on. We want to draw people in from the search engines, give them everything they need to know about the product they are after, then kick them off to an affiliate so we can make our bucks. It is worthwhile having a look around at some other websites doing similar products and take note of what they provide in terms of item description, price comparison, images, delivery, specifications, advice and reviews. Make a list of this information for later as we will be basing our page design around it. We’ll come back to this later, but the thing to bare in mind is you are aiming to become a key resource for your chosen product or service.

Purchase: So, we’ve summed up all our options got our shortlist and made our final choice. Do I buy? There are a lot of factors that go into this critical purchase decision stage, some are out of your control, some are well within your control. This is the make or break for e-commerce sites. Most of the final decision will rest with the affiliate site you send your customer to, however there is a lot we can do in terms of wording, design and content to “prime” this customer to make the purchase immediately and from your site.

Loyalty: Was your site useful? Was it designed well? Was it easy to find? Was the payment process easy? Again, this final stage is split between your site and the final affiliate site. In the first part of our project, we won’t be too worried about loyalty, because we will be grabbing all our traffic from search engines. Later however, when we build our ultra-automated-mega-all-knowing-all-selling affiliate site, loyalty will be one of our key focuses. Getting people to come back and back and back. $-)

Stop! Keyword Research Time!
I’ll just clear up some jargon before I move on:

Affiliate Network: Middle men so to speak, who put Merchants in touch with Affiliates and sort out all the nitty gritty payment issues and such.
Merchants: These are the actual guys who are selling the product/service. They decide their commission levels and product offerings and join the affiliate network in the hopes that affiliates will join their scheme.
Affiliates: Hey! It’s you! Affiliates are the “end sellers” who build and optimise their own sites and advertise merchant’s websites and products, in the hope of passing them a sale to earn commission.

Now that’s cleared up, you should be logged into your chosen affiliate network and browsing the list of merchants for inspiration. Most affiliate networks have them ordered in categories, so for your own sake pick something you have an interest in.

A typical merchant directory

A quick and easy way to decide whether a product is worth going after is to perform a little bit of keyword research. Have a think about a couple of main keyterms you would chase and run them through some keyword research tools.

This is a full list and brief summary of the keyword research tools I use:

Google based tools:

Google Keyword Tool
Provided free by Google AdWords. Shows basic search volumes and related terms.

Google Suggest
As you type, Google will offer suggestions. Good related keyword search.

Google Trends
Provides useful insights into broad search patterns across the world.

Google Zeitgeist
Weekly Google Search patterns and trends.

SEO Book Google Suggest Scrapper Tool
Scrapes Keyword Suggestions from Google Suggest.

Yahoo! based tools:

Overture/Yahoo! Keyword Suggestion Tool
Official Overture Keyword Selector Tool.

Yahoo! Buzz
Statistics of Top Searched Terms on Yahoo! by Category.

Overture SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool
Scrapes the Overture Suggestion Tool but includes much more useful information. You can also target by country.

DigitalPoint Keyword Suggestion Tool
Used Suggestion Tool and Wordtracker and compares the two results.

MSN based tools:

MS AdLabs Search Funnels
You can use the adCenter search funnel tool to help you visualize how people search by entering related keywords in certain sequences and analyze these search behaviours.

Other keyword research tools:

Trellian Free Keyword Discovery
Another good, free keyword tool. Also offers advanced features on subscription.

Free wordtracker Keyword Suggestion Tool
generates up to 100 free, related keywords and an estimate of their daily search volume.

Keyword Suggestions by CheckRankings.com
Shows number of searches, competitors and competing AdWords in Google. Also provides a free ranking monitoring tool.

Lycos Top 50
Top 50 keyword list from Lycos.

Nichebot Classic
A 3 in 1 keyword suggestion tool: keyword discovery, overture and wordtracker.

Find exactly which competitors there are in your niche.

GoLexa Search Tool
The Search Tool with Complete Page Analysis for each Result and much more.

Keyword Lizard
By Google AdWords Expert.

Ontology Finder
Related Keywords Lookup Tool by goRank.com.

It’s worth having a peak at most of those tools. Which tools I’m using will depend on if I think I’ll be targeting a specific country or if I want to check results for a specific search engine. Generally you’ll want to use 3 or 4 as a comparison, such as the Google Traffic Estimator, Overture and Keyword Discovery. You’ll find a lot of tools give a rather large variance in search frequency, so the best thing to do is enter a keyword that you know how many searches there are and how much traffic this delivers and just math it out.

So for example if overture says “pregnancy clothing” has 2,000 searches a month and Google says it’s 6,000 I’ll enter a keyword I know, and say okay this keyword I know gives me 10,000 visitors a month and Yahoo says there are 20,000 searches a month. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume “pregnancy clothing” will give me 1,000 visitors a month. (I did just make these figures up as an example of how you would work out traffic before anyone e-mails me!)

You can use a lot of common sense here, so don’t waste your time looking under the loans section for instance. We are specifically after low/medium traffic terms So anything between 200-5000 searches per month is perfect. Once you find something in about this range, we need to move onto step 2 of our selection, which is checking how competitive it is.

Finding out how tough those search terms are
The more SEO you do, you’ll develop a good instinct as to what is going to be tough and what is going to be easy. One of my essential tools for having a quick glimpse at the competition is SEO Quake extension for Firefox. If you don’t have this, download it immediately!

Okay, I’m assuming you’ve installed SEO Quake now. Head over to Google and perform a search for your main keyword in the niche you are looking at. SEO Quake tools will be overlaid and provide you with a “Request Parameters” button (circled in green). Click that badboy.

SEO Quake gives you information such as:

  • Google PageRank
  • Pages indexed in Google
  • Links to that page according to Google
  • Last cached by Google date
  • Pages indexed in Yahoo!
  • Links to that page according to Yahoo!
  • Links to that domain according to Yahoo!
  • Pages indexed in MSN
  • Links to that page according to MSN
  • Alexa Rank
  • Archive.org Age Date
  • Server IP
  • and some links to whois and info on robots and such

In seconds, you’ve got a great idea of what you’re up against. One of the most important metrics here is the Yahoo! L & LD (links to page and links to domain). Factor this in with how old the domain is (the newer the better) and you’ll get a rough idea at how quickly they are getting new links. If you can find a site with less then 2,000 links to the domain, you could well be onto a winner. If you click on the Yahoo link number, Yahoo will kindly order their incoming links roughly in order of importance. Check through this list just to make sure they don’t have any super-linkers (relevant PR7+ linkers) or that they are part of a much larger network.

Take stock of your new enemy, look through their website and ask yourself some questions: How professional does their site look? Is it updated regularly? Are they supported by any offline promotion? Is their site out of date? Anything you can think of to try and gauge how serious they are. Later, when we go into our aggressive SEO phase we will be deconstructing our competitor’s site, making sure that everything they have going for them, we have going for us – plus a little extra on top of course.

I would like to continue here, however I donâ??t want anybody rushing this research stage, which is one of the most important parts of our project. You should look at doing the following:

  • Make a list of half a dozen niche areas
  • Investigate all possible search terms related to these niches
  • Go a little deeper and use Google Trends to see how they are affected by season and so forth
  • Make a list of all the information that you will need to provide your users on your selected product/service
  • Research and make notes on your competitors, what features their sites have and how well entrenched they are

  • In Part II we will be looking at taking this information and how to logically start building your seed niche sites which will be the foundations of your affiliate empire!

    What are you waiting for? Scram!

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Google, Paid Search, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, White Hat | 22 Comments »

Exploiting LSI to rank higher

Friday, April 27th, 2007

So your site is up and running and it’s the best thing since the invention of the VCR pause button, you’ve got SEO friendly site architecture, great content and some features your competition hasn’t. The only elusive element is that high-traffic phrase you’ve been trying to rank for. You’ve got loads of links with your keyword anchor text and it’s plastered on your site, so what the hell gives? Sound familiar?

Going a bit deeper into Google
I want to briefly go over something called Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), which although it sounds like an incredibly boring and somewhat silly acronym, is actually really important. “Semantic” is the study of “language meaning”, so what LSI really stands for is “examining the potential meanings and connections of a load of different words, then putting them into a giant interconnected hierarchy and ranking system that wouldn’t fit on even a really big bit of paper”, which is why I shall refer to it as LSI again from now on.

The bottom line here is that Google spiders billions of blogs, news sites, documents and web pages, then crunches all of this textual data and tries to work out which words are related to each other, which words are related to a certain subject and have a stab at trying to work out the context in which words are being used.

“I don’t believe you, Google’s not that clever”
Here’s a neat trick. Try doing a search for a keyword in your niche and put a tilde (~) in front of the keyword. This will scratch the surface of what the LSI part of Google’s algorithm is doing.

Lets try a search for holidays

You can see Google has bolded the words Holidays and Flights. Google has worked out that the word “holidays” is related to the word “flights” (round of applause). You can continue going down this path, with a search for ~flights which will show you Google knows that the word “flights” is related to “fares” and so on.

You can imagine on the scale that Google retrieves data and the billions upon billions of pages it reads, it has quite enough data to make some fairly accurate calculations about the connections between words and specifically what other words it should be looking for when spidering a site on a specific subject.

Although it’s a hell of a lot more advanced than this, you can look at the co-occurrence of words, by seeing how many pages there are with keyword A, how many pages with keyword B and how many pages with both keyword A and B on.

So we can calculate the co-occurrence of the words “car” and “insurance” by doing: C / ((A+B)-C) [I'll let you do that]

What you’ll see is that the words “car” and “insurance” go together like carrots and peas, whereas;

“car” and “spoon” are not quite so happily married. If you interested in the real dirty maths behind co-occurrence I’d have a look at this.

How does knowing this boring stuff help me?
If you’re still pummelling links and optimising for your trophy term, Google is going to have your site for breakfast and you’ll be pooped out near the bottom of the SERPs. It is always worth bearing in mind that Google’s mission is to “deliver quality, relevant results” and this is one way they are trying to fish out people with bad link profiles and shaky content and it’s your job to stay one step ahead!

It is always best to build your rankings from “bottom up”, meaning you target all of the niche terms around your main trophy phrase, before you go charging in. Take the example that you’re building a travel advice website and you want to rank well for “travel advice”. Google knows what is related to travel such as hotels, resorts, tourism and culture content – step into the Googlebot’s shoes for a moment if you will:

Which site is more likely to hold more relevant information on the broad phrase “travel advice”

Site A: This site has 15,000 incoming links – 12,000 of which have the anchor text “travel advice”. They have a lot of mentions of the words “advice” and “travel”, with some mention of hotels and resorts – but not many links to verify this other content.

Site B: I already rank this site well for “best hotels in Europe” and “best travel insurance deals for Europe”, these pages have over 8000 incoming links, all with different travel related terms, so I can verify this is good content. This good content is related to the “travel advice” search, and the link profile looks more natural and they 7,000 incoming links for “travel advice”

Larger traffic keyterms tend to be a lot more generic in nature, so Google really has to kick in some AI and try and work out what the user is searching for – it does this by using data from the billions pages it has indexed. If you can get your head around how LSI is working, you can really lay a nice trap for Google and make it come to you, rather than you chasing it with hundreds of spammy links.

The sites I’ve had the best SEO success with are when I’ve started by aiming low, getting ranked for all the long tail terms I can pick up, then move onto the big boys after you’ve proved yourself to Google. You’ll find that grabbing these long-tail terms will also provide you with a higher quality of traffic, which some people tend to overlook when dashing after the big phrases.

So here’s a checklist:

  • Have a think about your niche and try some keyword research tools to get variations
  • Look at your competitors that are ranking well. What content do they have? What do they rank for?
  • Have a play in Google using the tilde (~) to see where the big connections are and follow these breadcrumbs
  • Try buying a few key phrases with AdWords and seeing how well they convert and accurately measuring what traffic they bring
  • Vary your link building to specific pages so Google can get a grip of your content.
  • Check for common mispellings (e.g. Google knows that “smileys” are the same as “smilies”)
  • Blow the dust off the thesaurus!

Posted in Google, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, White Hat | 14 Comments »

Google bombing and on page factors

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Google Bombs have interested me for a while now, since Google has tried to snub them out algorithmically. For those of you who have not heard of a “Google Bomb” before (where have you been?), Wikipedia defines a Google Bomb as:

(also referred to as a ‘link bomb’) is Internet slang for a certain kind of attempt to influence the ranking of a given page in results returned by the Google search engine, often with humorous or political intentions. Because of the way that Google’s algorithm works, a page will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page use consistent anchor text.

So basically, get a bunch of people to link to a specific page, with specific anchor text and it will rank for that term. Google doesn’t particularly like this and is quoted saying:

We don’t condone the practice of Google bombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we’re also reluctant to alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up. Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don’t affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.

Back at the start of this year, Matt Cutts (Google Chief Anti-Spam Warrior) announced they will be algorithmically reducing the impact of Google Bombing. This spiked my interest and I had several discussions (heated) with some SEO friends as to how Google could reliably pick out a Google Bomb. Successful Google Bombs are normally organised, generally by bloggers who will group together and it has a kind of “chain mail” effect of each blogger telling people in their sphere to play ball and link. As you can imagine, the effect on the links is approaching exponential as 1 blogger tells 10 friends, then those 10 people tell their 10 friends and so on.

So the hallmarks of a Google Bomb:

  • Rapid link growth (almost exponential)
  • All links pointing to one specific page
  • All links share exact same anchor text

However, there are several problems. What happens if:

  • Having your site on Digg/Reddit etc can result in massive link growth?
  • You release a great bit of content so everyone is linking to a specific page?
  • You release a product that automatically links back (such as Acrobat or MyBlogLog Widget) with specific link text?

Or any other of hundreds of different variables that could make your site appear to have been Google Bombed?

I started studying various Google Bombed sites and I came over a factor which had been previously overlooked: Because of the nature of Google Bombs and their intent (joke/political/abusive) the anchor text used to link to the site, rarely has any relevance to the content.

Example time! Probably the most famous example of a Google Bomb is when the search term “miserable failure” (or just “failure” for that matter) brought up the official George Bush biography on the Whitehouse site. After Google had made their algorithm adjustments, this killed the ranking for this iconic term. Searching for “miserable failure” would no longer bring up the Whitehouse site.

About one month later, I saw a few comments on blogs that the Google Bomb was actually working again. When I checked it out, my friend pointed out that although it was still the biography ranking, it was a different page than before. When you examine the new page, I found something that confirmed my suspicion. The new page that was ranked for “failure” actually had the word “failure” in the page content a couple of times. This proved to me that one of the main elements in deciding if something is acting like a Google Bomb is comparing the external anchor text links to the on-page content.

Google quickly patched over this and the site no longer ranks again. I’m left somewhat suspicious now, because any search you do for “George Bush Biography”, if you add the word “failure” in there, it won’t show the real biography anywhere near the first page. This would leave me to believe one of two things, either:

A) One a Google Bomb and it’s anchor text has been identified, any links pointing to the page with that anchor-text will either stop passing weight, or perhaps carry negative weight.


B) Google, to save face have manually adjusted the results for the Whitehouse site. (Although they claim they would never do such a thing).

So what has this got to do with your sites?
One of the most common SEO mistakes I see is when people try to get their root domain (index page) ranking for a whole set of unrelated keyterms. Lets say you had a skateboarding website that sells skateboards, skateboard trucks, skateboard wheels and skateboard decks. A lot of people will now think, “brilliant, these are my sectors, so I’ll build links to my website” and they will go on their merry way and try and get people to link to their site with “skateboard wheels”, “skateboard trucks” and all other variations of keyterms.

This will confuse the poor Googlebot…

What happens if you build all your links to root page

Poor old Googlebot can read your page content, but then gets confused when other websites are essentially telling it the content is actually somewhere else. The result will be, your index page will rank poorly for most keyterms and your internal pages will have no PageRank and will drop into the supplemental results.

What happens when you build links correctly

When Googlebot can see your content and it is backed up by relevant links, you’ll get more pages in the index, less keyword cannibalization and your site will be stronger positioned to rank well for a variety of keyterms.

I found the parallel between these problems of link building and Google Bombing interesting and to me it highlights the importance of being specific and trying to make things as easy for the bots (and at the end of the day – the user!) as possible

Posted in Google, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, White Hat | 6 Comments »