SEO + The Mark of the Beast

The "evils" of SEO, Google and many other things in web marketing are, yes, a sometimes tired topic... though popular nonetheless, as evidenced in the Result counts of queries like this and this. While I usually dismiss such lines of thinking to a degree, for being too linear, too sensationalist and too many other things... alas I just came across something a little concerning:

Behold - Forces of Darkness afoot!


Oh, come now. Quit pretending you're so surprised.

No Comments »

Horsing Around w/Trojans

NYC was great and continued into a good week. Alas it didn't take long for me to bog my evenings productivity once I got back, though:

I'm loving my new ThinkPad but am still getting used to the sensitivity of the keyboard and the little red clitoris eraser head in the middle of it. Between that and working paced ambitiously, foolishly I clicked on something I shouldn't have a few nights ago. I ended up infected with Trojan.Purity, Trojan.Vundo and a host of other annoyances.

I took several passes both in and out of Safe Mode, and with several tool scans. After working through Spybot S&D, Symantec AntiVirus, Spycatcher and a couple lightweight removal tools made specifically for the main afflictions, I was getting worried. AntiVirus was only partially quarantining items, and only finding them in normal system mode. Spycatcher was only finding a few but not able to delete all. Spybot was seeing almost none of the problems to even take a stab at fixing them. To my particular surprise Symantec's Vundo Remover was failing to find all of the problems, and their list of suggested registry deletions was a mile long for that problem in particular. I'd already cleaned Purity out that way by the time I knew I was also deeply hit by Vundo, but wasn't keen to get deep into that for that latter of the known problems. This was getting pretty frustrating. I've been a Symantec user since the very early years of Norton Disk Doctor and I've had colleagues and personal friends in and out of there and Veritas over the years. Even after they stopped supporting certain products on certain platforms, I've held some loyalty. Also, the small freeware removers some developers had posted were getting stuck in loops, concentrating on a couple .exe and .dll files that were either holding steadfast or continually coming back from the dead. Moreover, Microsoft's common malware removal tool looked so general that it wasn't even worth bothering with upon close inspection. This was starting to take hours.

At the end of it though, I made a pretty cool new discovery: Thanks to Prevx for kicking ass and finally taking all the pain away. You're my heroes this week after finding and successfully removing what eventually had become not 2, not 4, not 10, but a whopping 19 malignancies. I plan to sign up after my trial expires, and look forward to a week-end of cleanliness returned to my cherished new toy (Be warned however, that now of course that if/when a day comes that I come down with something you can't fix, I'll be kicking and screaming to you about it.).

No Comments »

Matt Cutts' April Fools Day

It appears Search Engine Land and others fell / are falling for this:

This was an April Fool's Day joke by Matt, not SEOs. It went live the evening of March 31st and was instantly flagged in the community. Dark SEO Team's subsequent public reply is was here... and because of it, among the dimmer bulbs out there the joke seemingly continues to go viral. So it's all almost funny... I suppose. 🙄

Anyone still confused about the differences between BH and all-out hacking should read this.

[Update, 02:17 PM PDT] ::

The touch has been removed... but not before it got cached, of course:

Dark SEO Replies to Matt's April Fool's 2007 Joke

No Comments »


In response to Google's discontinuation of support for their SOAP Search API, we have created the EvilAPI. The EvilAPI supports most of the same SOAP calls that Google's SOAP Search API supports -- it just doesn't use their deprecated API to get the data. Instead, it uses page scraping. Evil? Maybe. But not nearly as evil as providing a powerful development tool to people who are loyal to Google and then discontinuing it without any warning or regard to their users.

- EvilAPI

As for the title of the post, that's both my thought on this and a quote from the many, many entertaining insights on Gooliath in Uncyclopedia.


I know EvilAPI has been out since late last year, I've held onto my original Google Search API keys for a years now, but still I just love it when developers don't take stuff lying down.

No Comments »

"Wikki wikki wikki wikki!"...

"Shut up!"... "(wikki wikki wikki wikki)"...

First, props to anyone who remembers that song. Mark my words: breakdancing will be back someday.

Second, thanks to Jeannette in NYC for reminding me about this recent Wikipedia change. My POV:

Wikipedia is an awesome site, oozing with content and domain trust. Engines have always had a great appetite for it virtually since its inception, and hence for a while now, yes as a place to get links it's been coveted by SEOs and besieged by spammers.

That they've now made all their external links forced-NOFOLLOW is no shocker. Things had gotten to the point where, to counter the vigilance of their Link Nazis failed writers proudly unsupervised Deletionists splendid editors, spammers and non-spammers alike were sicking cron jobs on Wikipedia in order to make links stick (links that automagically reappear every hour/night if/when removed have a way of wearing out humans eventually... Mercilessly fresh!). :mrgreen:

However while I expect this will deter some, it won't deter the more experienced who have made a habit of trying to learn the various dialects of Googlespeak. Several seasoned SEOs believe the NOFOLLOW standard is misunderstood, being as much a social engineering move as a technical one. In other words, Google wants the world to dismiss such links as useless for natural ranking, but behind the scenes clicks on them still count towards getting good relevancy credit under certain circumstances... like when they come from users with Google Toolbar installed for example. That the West Coast G is quietly watching and applying all kinds of data via such means is 99.99% certain, as they'd be foolish not to. I recall all the way back to SES '05: Rand's eloquent take on it was "Evil, evil, evil!" 👿 and he wasn't the first to have taken that stance.

Formally Yahoo sells advertisers behavioral targeting options. Google offers users Personalized Search options, and doesn't sell advertisers behavioral targeting tools... yet. If/when they do make an official play for that turf though, what would be their competitive advantage against Yahoo's version; what would inform their product to give it an edge? Yahoo's been gathering scary gobs of data about what you, me, and everyone else on the Web does for longer than Google has. A crux of Google's brilliant strategy: Yahoo tried to be the Web's premier destination site, the cool club to hang at. Not Google, though. On their domain it's "get in, get out," but pay attention to the Web at large and it becomes obvious they're everywhere pimping ads... (BTW if anyone has any estimates on how many Adsense ads are out there for every YPN ad, please do forward). As for MSN, well they've tried to be just about everything over the years. It's part of why they're still way behind the search game.

Google gathers all kinds of data about people in many ways, for different reasons. Aside from if/when using their Toolbar, any time we're logged into Google accounts and/or have their cookies on our machines, our actions help inform their business (tiny bit by bit, cumulatively). Consider those ads popping into our Gmail - ever eerily at least somewhat on-topic for whatever a viewed thread is - to be a hint of things to come. They may not be collecting personally identifiable information but certainly the CTR they have to measure there could serve more than just setting CPCs for advertisers. Those Blogger accounts all now "upgraded" to Google accounts? Yep. Google Analytics? Fine for White Hat if one (and/or one's clients) can entrust data with Google without flinching, but a potentially fatal misstep for n00b Black Hats.

Sidebar: The idea of constantly aggregating, analyzing and leveraging data is a cornerstone for Google. They live and breathe it, culturally, strategically and tactically applying it to many parts of their operation... just like all the rest of us in the search business, and more power to them for it after all. It's not like they don't make kick-ass stuff technologically, despite how many of us have love/hate relationships with what being Googley seems to be sometimes. (For example, one hiring trick they've seemingly long used has been to consciously keep want ads posted for up to years after respective positions have been actually already filled. Enabled via auto-responders, self-running online interviews etc., the ruse is one of the ways they try to be always pinpointing who and where the world's top talent is. Their files are always getting updated in this way, in case of growth and/or departures etc.)

These details should be noted regardless of whatever Google formally offers advertisers in the coming months/years or not. Among other things, they've refined the art of making the complex look and feel simple while sprinkling in a few mindfucks along the way because they can. This is why in working with them simplicity is often a good way to look back upon their actions, through assumptions at the least, or even healthy paranoia perhaps (depending on the nature of one's projects). There are even certain Firefox extensions for SEO work that are preferred over others which have been found to leave unwanted footprints.

Despite whatever technical truths of the moment lie behind NDAs at the 'plex, Wikipedia's NOFOLLOW defense will probably quiet things down initially at least. It will not however, become a definitive silencer.

As of now are all outbound links from the english Wikipedia Site using the NOFOLLOW attribute, no exceptions. No matter where you place it, Article Page, Talk Page, User Page, Project Page, whatever. No Link will get any credit at the major search engines.
- Search Engine Journal

Meh. It was Google as opposed to a neutral entity that invented NOFOLLOW, and their market share depends on their index staying more relevant than the other guys any way it can, so reading between their lines means there's more to it than that. Bots ignoring links is one thing, credit and how to get it is another, and I doubt the two are in such a cleanly monogamous relationship. Normally, under certain conditions inbound NOFOLLOW links probably still help relevancy scoring... and even if not they sure as hell don't hurt traffic anyway!

It's the Flava, Life Sava!
Don't Believe the Hype!

No Comments »


Based out of Northern California, is a bl.og dedicated to the advocacy and study of high-impact, data driven marketing disciplines and related concerns: Analytics and Data Mining, Marketing Automation, Integrated Advertising (targeting, retargeting), Demand Generation and Lead Nurturing, Social Media / Social Engineering (Crowd-hacking) and the new PR, Privacy, Security, CRM, SEO / SEM, CRO, ROI... more TLAs (three letter acronyms) than any sane person's daily lexicon should include.

About the Preacher