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November 28, 2006

"nofollow" - Does it Really Work Like Google Claims?

I am not one to usually try to stir up debate or call the search engines out for misleading people, but I still can't figure out what a "nofollow" tag REALLY does. That being said, I know what it SUPPOSEDLY does, but there is data to contradict this claim. After reviewing an experiment I did, it seems that Yahoo and MSN are obeying the rules, but Google, who was first to encourage the use of this tag is not doing what people think it is.

For those of you who do not know what the "nofollow" tag does, here is a quote from Search Engine Watch:

"If Google sees nofollow as part of a link, it will:

    1. NOT follow through to that page.
    2. NOT count the link in calculating PageRank link popularity scores.
    3. NOT count the anchor text in determining what terms the page being linked to is relevant for."
Now, I did a little experiment that anyone can do (some may call it blackhat - but to me it is just research) to test whether these benefits of the nofollow tag actually work in each of the 3 major search engines.

What I did was go to the AskDaveTaylor.com blog and found an article to which I posted a comment. I chose this site due to its strong page rank and its level of trust in the search engines as seen by his many rankings - thanks Dave :-). The post that I left is under the name of "Mark Warranty Peterson," just a random name with a keyword in it and linked to the site "theautoclub.com". Now, since the comments are on this blog are treated with the rel="nofollow" tag, you would assume that none of the 3 rules of nofollow as outlined above would be disproven.

Ok, so here it is a few months later and the page that I left the post on has a PR5 and the SE algorithms have all had time to fully evaluate this page. So, I went in and did an exact search in Google, Yahoo and MSN for "Mark Warranty Peterson". Now, one would think that the only page that would show up in the results would be for the page in which the post was left. Well, the only search engine that lived up to this belief is the infamous Microsoft Live Search. Microsoft also did not include the page with the post in a backlink check to theautoclub.com

Yahoo's results showed the page of the post and one spammer page. A backlink check of the domain (theautoclub.com) in Yahoo did, however, include the page from the post that had the nofollow tag.

What did Google show? Hmm.....this is where I was VERY SURPRISED. The results show the page with the post on it, AND the page to which the nofollow link points! They did not show this page in a backlink check, but when does Google ever show many links there anyways. Now, the other interesting thing theautoclub.com is now ranked #74 for "Mark Warranty Peterson" (edit: now showing at #70 on page 7). Notice that this is a broad match for this term and not an exact match query and the site does not have the word Peterson anywhere in the whole site. I then decided to check the cache of the page after finding it at #74. What did Google have to say about the search query?

"These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: mark peterson"

Now, if I read correctly, according to a Google post, ''when Google sees the attribute (rel='nofollow') on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results." Well, this seems to be pretty good proof that this isn't true. I also have the server logs to show that Google has crawled through this link to the destination website in the link with the nofollow. That disproves that Google will "NOT follow through to that page."

Now, I am pretty sure that I am not the only person that has done this test and seen the results. This must explain why I haven't seen a decline in comment spam on my blogs as it looks like the "link condom" is broken...

So, can somebody help me out and explain exactly how Google REALLY treats the nofollow tag?

November 21, 2006

My Top 10 Reasons to be Thankful for my Job at an SEO Company

I am fairly new to the SEO game and being Thanksgiving week, I thought I would follow up my "Why I Love My Job in SEO" blog with my personal top ten reasons to be thankful for my job at an SEO Company.

10. I am thankful for being in an industry that is constantly changing, each day is new and different and I am continually learning.

9. I am thankful for tools like Web Position, Google Analytics and Digital Point for making my job easier.

8. I am thankful for blogs and forums, like SEOmoz and WebProWorld, where industry experts are eager to share their knowledge with newbies like me.

7. I am thankful for MasterLink’s own experts; Mike Shaffer for his technical expertise, and Scott Peterson for his design expertise.

6. I am thankful for Firefox and tabbed browsing! (And also some very useful extensions.)

5. I am thankful for Clif Thompson being hired on to join our team as PPC Specialist. (I am terrible with numbers!)

4. I am thankful for never having to deal with the Google sandbox. (Knock on wood.)

3. I am thankful for advanced searches, like "linkdomain:" for link building strategies. (Now if only Google would play nice with me.)

2. I am thankful for Mark Barrera, my boss, teacher, mentor and friend. I have learned so much from him and he makes everyday of work fun.

1. I am thankful for MasterLink and Brenda Molloy for giving me a chance with a job in SEO when I had relatively no knowledge of SEO only 8 months ago.

November 16, 2006

Why I Love My Job in SEO

I have a crazy love for and collect two things, monkeys (not live ones, of course, though that would be kinda cool) and kaleidoscopes. Monkeys are just so fun, I smile every time I see one. I love kaleidoscopes because they are so beautiful to look at the ever-changing colors and patterns. You will never see the exact same design twice in a kaleidoscope and can never predict what pattern you will see at the next rotation.

So, what does this have to do with why I love my job in SEO? Well, it reminds me a lot of my two favorite things in several ways.

How does my job in SEO remind me of monkeys, besides the fact that Ask.com is using monkeys in their new commercials? Well, SEO is fun. Monkeys are fun. My job can also sometimes be quite tedious. Take yesterday for example; I spent the majority of my day doing link building for a client. Now, this reminds me of monkeys simply because I believe I could train a monkey to do link building for me. Search, copy, paste, repeat. (Now if only I did collect live monkeys, I'd be set!)

As for kaleidoscopes my job in SEO reminds me of them because it too is ever-changing. Yesterday, I was link building. Today I am blogging and writing articles and press releases for clients. Tomorrow, I may be doing some keyword research or on page optimization for another client. Another similarity between kaleidoscopes and SEO: the ever-changing SERPs and search engine algorithms. You may find your site ranking well for a particular term one day and fall back down the following day. Like a kaleidoscope you can never predict what results you will get.

My job in SEO, like monkeys, is fun even though sometimes it can include some tedious monkey-work. My job in SEO, like kaleidoscopes, is ever-changing; and that is a beautiful thing.

November 13, 2006

Hitwise Releases Top 10 Search Terms in 10 Categories

From ClickZ: Below, the top 10 search terms by search volume. Data are provided by Hitwise.

Top 10 Search Terms by Category, Four Weeks Ending October 28, 2006 (%)
IT and InternetAutomotive Manufacturers
Search TermSearch VolumeSearch TermSearch Volume
paypal.com1.09kelly blue book1.03
people search0.89used cars0.64
white pages0.77ebay motors0.62
pay pal0.52auto trader0.54
MoviesInternet Advertising
Search TermSearch VolumeSearch TermSearch Volume
imdb1.11free samples0.71
netflix1.02free stuff0.46
fandango0.33unclaimed money0.33
netflix.com0.28work from home0.31
saw 30.27ares0.26
harry potter0.21napster0.25
hollywood video0.21www.smcorp.com0.25
movie times0.17work at home0.24
Food and Beverage Brands and ManufacturersPharmaceutical and Medical Products
Search TermSearch VolumeSearch TermSearch Volume
pizza hut1.77lexapro0.95
betty crocker0.51xanax0.34
burger king0.48depression0.29
dominos pizza0.48merck0.28
Blogs and Personal Web SitesBroadcast Media
Search TermSearch VolumeSearch TermSearch Volume
yahoo 3600.48msnbc1.12
livejournal0.42fox news0.82
www.xanga.com0.40sara evans0.72
perez hilton0.28bbc0.43
3600.22abc news0.42
dailykos0.22bbc news0.34
Shopping Rewards and
Travel Destinations and Accommodations
Search TermSearch VolumeSearch TermSearch Volume
consumer reports0.22hotels0.56
halloween costumes0.14hotels.com0.50
coupons0.12holiday inn0.32
froogle0.09las vegas0.18
free stuff0.09best western0.17
mycokerewards.com0.08hampton inn0.16
free samples0.08motel 60.15
www.webkinz.com0.06disney world0.15
myrewardzone.com0.06days inn0.15
Hitwise logo
View: Top 10 Search Terms by Category, Four Weeks Ending September 30, 2006

Hitwise monitors how more than 25 million Internet users interact with over 500,000 Web sites across 160 industry categories. It collects Internet usage information through a combination of ISP data partnerships and opt-in panels. Data are collected in accordance with local and international privacy legislation and are audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.