Archive forGeneral Web Publishing

Overture’s Keyword Tool Dying – What Are The Alternatives?

There have been some premature reports about the death of the Overture Keyword Suggestion tool. Apparently Yahoo has not killed this tool, it is just running very slowly due to it being overloaded.

YahooSarah has this to say in a DigitalPoint thread:

I wanted to confirm that YSM’s public keyword research tool (formerly known as the Overture’s Keyword Selector Tool- KST) continues to exist today and will continue to exist until we replace it with an improved product. Unfortunately, the responsiveness of this free tool is diminished due to the volume of hits it receives each day, therefore browsers may time out and error pages may appear but it doesn’t mean that this tool has been removed.

We do have plans to offer a new public keyword research tool, which would be hosted through Yahoo! and available to our API partners. We plan on making this new tool available later this year.

Many webmasters who relied on this tool as a free way of finding keyword suggestions, and they won’t be happy about this. Luckily Wordtracker quickly stepped up and have provided a free keyword suggestion tool of their own to use. With this tool, you enter keywords, and it comes back with the top 100 suggested keywords and the estimated daily search volume for those keywords.

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Hacker Targets SEO sites

A hacker has been targeting many SEO sites and has already successfully taken over many of them, including WolfHowl and Stuntdubl. I first noticed this on WolfHowl’s blog and I though it might be some sort of sneaky linkbait, but it seems to be legitimate. Here is the Hacker’s blog with his plan: (I won’t give him a link).

One of the tricks he was using was a WordPress security problem, which has since been fixed in version 2.0.7. If you use WordPress, I would recommend updating now. (Which I am about to do, hopefully this blog will survive the upgrade.)

There is a DigitalPoint thread on this topic.

Update: has now taken the hackers blog offline. Also, I successfully updated to WordPress 2.0.7

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Seven Deadly Sins of Website Promotion

Here is a list of things you can do if you want to annoy people, get blacklisted, or even arrested for your online marketing efforts. Webmasters often use these techniques thinking they are harmless, but there is a cost – these technique do cost people real time and money.

Imagine if you developed a robot that would go into a Starbucks every day and steal 4 packets of sugar. No big deal right? Who would miss, or even complain, about 4 packets of sugar? But now let’s pretend you had a thousand of these robots and sent them each into a Starbucks every hour. That’s 96,000 sugar packets a day or 35,040,000 packets of sugar a year. Starbucks is going to have something to say about that.

It’s the same with automated spamming techniques, a single piece of spam may not seem like a big deal – it’s just a little bandwidth, or CPU usage or disk space that’s used, but add it all up and you are doing some real damage. Even more damaging is the amount of time that people spend deleting and fighting spam.

Here are some of the common spam techniques, along with the reasons they work and how it causes damage.

1. Email Spam

This is the original spamming technique. Marketers send out mass, unsolicited emails.

Why it works

It’s a number game. If you send out 100 million emails, even if you get a .0001% response rate, you get ten thousand responses.

Why is this bad?

People spend countless hours deleting spam and setting up and configuring spam blocking systems. Spam counts for a huge percentage of all email and clutters mailboxes and wastes huge amount of disk space. I can’t even imagine all the CPU time consumed trying to filter all this junk.

2. Guest Book Spam

This is one of the original spammy SEO techniques. In the dark ages of the web, people would set up guest books where visitors could say “hi” and leave a little message. Spammers quickly found out that they could set up bots that create messages with links back to their own site.

Why it Works

Search engines use the number of backlinks to a site as one of the indicators of a good site. This technique abuses that indicator.

Why Is This Bad?

People spend a lot of time trying to clean up guest books. Disk space and bandwidth is also wasted with these spam messages.

3. Referrer Spam

These spammers send there bots to as many sites as they can, and set the referrer URL to the website address the spammer is trying to advertise. Some sites have publicly accessible web statistics, so these URLs end up on web pages.

Why it Works

Search engines that find these links from the publicly accessible web statistic pages may count them as a vote for the site being pointed at.

Why Is This Bad?

Bandwidth is wasted when the bots visit the site. A lot of time is spent by Webmasters trying to figure out who that particular link ended up in his referrer list.

4. Web Spam

Unscrupulous Webmasters create web sites that full of bogus content that attract search engine spiders, but are of no use to real use to real users.

Why it Works

Using automation, Webmasters can create thousands or millions of pages of content. This content gets displayed in search engine results for “long tail” key phrases where users are looking for very specific queries. Again it’s a numbers game, get enough of the long tail hits and you can get some good traffic. Contextual ads, such as AdSense, are put on the pages to monetize them.

Why Is This Bad?

Search engines indexes become polluted with content that is useless to users, making the entire web experience poorer for all users.

5. Splogs

Short for spam blogs, these are blogs full of automated junk are created.

Why it Works

Much like Web Spam, long tail keywords are a rich source of traffic, but blogs have the added benefit of being indexed quickly in many blog search engine as well as standard Web search engines.

Why Is This Bad?

Many splogs are created on free blog hosting services such as This wastes the resources of the blog host. It also pollutes blog and regular search engines with lousy content, degrading the overall user experience on the web.

6. Blog Comment Spam

Automated comments are posted to blogs containing a link back to the spammers web site.

Why it Works

Since search engines count links as a vote for a site, this boosts the site’s rankings. Lately the “nofollow” tag has been added to links, but this seems to have done little to stop the flow of comment spam.

Why Is This Bad?

Blog owners spend a lot of time deleting this unwanted junk. People also spend a lot of time trying to set up systems to thwart the spam. Lots of disk space CPU time are wasted on this spam.

7. Forum Spam

Automated programs register as users with forums and then create posts with links back to the spammers web page.

Why it Works

Since search engines count links as a vote for a site, this boosts the site’s rankings.

Why Is This Bad?

Forum owners spend a lot of time deleting this unwanted junk. People also spend a lot of time trying to set up systems to stop the spam. Lots of disk space CPU time are wasted on this spam.

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ShoeMoney on SEO

ShoeMoney had a post about who would hire Matt Cutts if he were looking for a job. The post itself was interesting, but there was one little nugget of information buried in the post that I thought was very interesting:

I mainly build content or service oriented sites for users not for search engines so the whole SEO value really is not that important to me.

That’s something to keep in mind every time you think: “How am I going to get traffic to my site?”

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PayPerPost Aquiring Performancing

Performancing, who runs an advertising network I personally use, and who I’ve mentioned before, is being aquired by PayPerPost, the blog advertising network who I have also mentioned. TechCrunch broke the news today.

Performancing has 28,000 users, most of who are bloggers. This fits in perfectly with PayPerPost’s business model. PayPerPost has been getting some competition from ReviewMe lately, and this should help give them a boost.

PayPerPost vs. ReviewMe

Comments off – A New SEO Social News Site

I have started a new SEO social news website – SEOyak. Users can submit and vote for stories that are of interest to the SEO community. This is in response to a few recent reports (from TopRankBlog and Search Engine Land) that Digg has been banning SEO websites.

This site is brand new and is a little rough around the edges, but have a look at it and contribute if you can. Feel free to email me at [tlainevool at seoyak dot com] with any comments.

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PayPerPost and LoudLaunch Require Full Disclosure

Two services which allow bloggers to be paid by advertisers for posting about products, PayPerPost and LoudLaunch, both announced recently that bloggers will be required to have full disclosure for paid posts. This follows an opinion issues by the FTC last week that they will look into deceptive word of mouth marketing campaigns on a case by case basis.

LoudLaunch also announced recently that they are beginning to accept applications from both bloggers and advertisers and the service will be launched on December 26.

A third get-paid-to-blog service, ReviewMe launched last month and has required full disclosure from the beginning.

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Web Widgets – A Great Way to Get Links

One of my favorite sessions at PubCon was Viral and WOMM Marketing Management. All the speakers were good, but I found Lawrence Coburn’s talk about web widgets particularly interesting. A widget is a small piece of code that can be placed onto a website that will provide some kind of functionality to the users of a site. Some example of popular widgets is the embedded YouTube player that you see on countless blogs, or StatCounter. For some more examples of widgets see Steve Rubel’s blog post.

One reason web widgets are good for publishers is because they are a great way to build links. The HTML for the widget almost always includes a link back to the site of the widget creator. This can be a very powerful source of links., for example, has over 50 million backlinks, according to Yahoo. This is because whenever someone uses a counter widget from, they get a backlink. is the number one result for “web tracker”, “hit counter” and “web stats” on Google.

One great piece of advice that Lawrence gave during his talk was rotating the text of the link back to your site. Having identical text in your links doesn’t look very natural to search engines, so rotating the text that is displayed can help with rankings. It also allows you to target different keyword phrases. Another good idea is to provide links to different pages of your site, not just the home page. Again this is something that looks more natural to the search engines.

Web Widget Resources

Lawrence has a blog about widgets called Sexy Widgets.

One interesting service is, MuseStorm, which provides tools for building widgets. However, as far as I can tell, a widget built with MuseStorm do not contain links back to your site. Update: It appears that publishers can have links back to their own sites using MuseStorm.

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FTC on Deceptive Word of Mouth Marketing

The FTC had been asked to look into the practice of “buzz marketing” by the anti-advertising group Commercial Alert. In response, the FTC issued a staff opinion (pdf) yesterday that could effect how business is done online. The practice in question is paying a consumer of a product to make claims about that product. While the FTC didn’t think there was any need to add any new guidelines, they feel that word of mouth marketing could not use deceptive practices and each complaint could be handled on a case-by-case basis. Basically, it boils down to people endorsing a product without consumers being told up front that they have been paid to promote the product.

This has some real consequences for doing business on line. Services like PayPerPost, which pay bloggers to write about products without requiring a disclosure, will need to change their practices. Even if an individual blogger writes about a service and includes an affiliate link, I could imagine this could be considered a “deceptive” practice. Jason Calacanis has also recently been looking into claims that some PR firms are paying top Diggers to vote stories up. I could see this falling under this general area as well.

It has always been my policy on this blog that if I have any type of paid review or affiliate link, I will clearly mark it as such. Obviously going forward, this will be a good practice for everyone. Full disclosure has always helped earned the trust of readers, and now it may also keep you out of trouble with the FTC.

I first read about this at CopyBlogger.
Read more: Washington Post Article, Word of Mouth Marketing Association press release

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Can You Build Links Too Quickly?

In webmaster forums people often caution others not to build links too quickly. The search engines do not like unnatural linking patterns and quickly adding links to a site can be a sign of an unnatural pattern. If you go out one day and buy 100,000 links from every page two large websites, that is probably pretty unnatural and the search engines wouldn’t really like it very much. But is building links quickly always a bad thing?

There are ways to build links quickly without being penalized for them. A good example of the is the launch ofReviewMe. ReviewMe has built up a lot of links since their launch less than a month ago. Yahoo now shows 19,502 links to To show that ReviewMe is not in the Google sandbox, I did a search for ‘paid reviews’ on Google, and ReviewMe comes up as the fifth site in the SERPS. So it seems like they manages to build links quickly and properly. How did they manage to do this?

They managed to get very natural looking links by eating their own dog food and paying lots and lots of bloggers to write posts about them. This resulted in links from within the content of pages from a large variety of sites. The strategy seems to work. This is similar to what happens when stories go to the front page of Digg. Many people see the link and link to it from their own blogs and websites.

So, if you are getting links naturally, don’t worry about getting too many too quickly. Google realizes that links do spread quickly on the Internet.

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