Archive for February, 2008

Flickr is NOT useless for SEO

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Many were enraged last week when Flickr added nofollow tags to comments and picture captions. Why people would be enraged is beyond me because even my dead pet octopus could have predicted that Flickr’s sad fate was rapidly approaching. And the more that SEO’s kept blogging about how great Flickr was as an SEO tool, the faster the digits on the time bomb moved.

So the days of parsing links onto high PageRank Flickr pages are over. Or are they? No. Let’s examine why in list form. Let’s examine how you can use the remaining scraps of link juice from Flickr in your SEO campaigns.

1.) Flickr has not added nofollow to discussion boards. For those of you who liked to scout out high PageRank pages and just drop your link as a comment to the photo, which could be accomplished easily if you owned a link-laundering website, you can still do this in the Flickr group discussion boards. Flickr has not yet added nofollow tags to those, and given the preponderance of discussions that revolve around people sharing photos, you can just as easily drop relevant external links in the discussion and reap link juice benefits.

2.) Flickr has not added nofollow to personal profile pages. If you have a personal profile page, you can place targeted anchor text on it, point links at it, and receive full SEO benefit as it gains PageRank.

3.) Flickr has not added nofollow to group pages. If you own a Flickr group, you can still put as many links as you wish on the main group page without fear of them being turned into nofollow.

Many Flickr personal profile and group pages gain toolbar PR just by having the link spread around in-house, so it’s not that hard to make those pages accumulate PR. Google seems to be very generous in that regard. There’s a lot of PR to be passed around through Flickr apparently.

So, the glory days of Flickr SEO may be over (unless Yahoo does the improbable and flips the switch back), but Rome didn’t burn to rubble in a day, so we might as well make the most of Flickr before it completely collapses.

StumbleUpon and SEO Comic Equal Traffic Spike

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

I personally like StumbleUpon. It is a good diversion, some would call it a time-waster, and I have discovered some amazing things through it. On the other hand, I don’t think it is a great method of marketing your site, but it does have its benefits, especially when you consider the minuscule amount of time your actually put into it…basically you click a button and you are done. Hard to complain about the work. No, the real work is creating something worth stumbling. I talked about the infusion of traffic and named then traffic spike “The StumbleUpon Shark” but something different happened this week.

You may have read about our new SEO Comic, Ranked Hard in a previous post (if not, check it out), well it has been stumbled and we saw the biggest spike we have ever received. Of course that was nice, but surprisingly it held serve the next day and increased even more the next day. Amazing.

The graph below shows our site’s total traffic from StumbleUpon. The top number of visitors from StumbleUpon reach 585. We will certainly keep watching over the next few days but it is good to see that StumbleUpon can provide traffic for more than just one fabulous day on occasion. Obviously the quality and possible niche of the content can be attributable to the staying power of the traffic. But it can be done.


Could Powerset threaten Google’s dominance?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

What if there was a search engine that actually understood natural English language search queries? Before you say, “What do you mean? Google understands English,” understand that I am being literal. What if there was a search engine that you could talk to like a person and actually have it spit back relevant results? What if you could type in a search query like “Who mocked Tony Blair yesterday?” and receive the exact result you were looking for.

Well, that’s the goal of the Silicon Valley start up, and they mean business. This isn’t just some company based out of a nineteen year-old’s garage. Some very powerful and influential people are behind the project, including the co-founder of Paypal, Peter Thiel, and Dr. Jay Tenenbaum, the founder of the first company to conduct a commercial Internet transaction, Enterprise Integration Technologies.

Powerset seems to understand that if it wants to challenge Google in search, it can’t try to beat it at its own game. It realizes that it must innovate by offering something different, just as Google realized. While the major search engine companies gave up on the idea of natural language search engines long ago, the people behind Powerset kept dreaming.

According to Powerset’s blog, Powerset is superior to the other engines because it can analyze a given query for its meaning and then look for sentences in its index that have a similar meaning. Powerset matches the structure and meaning of a given query with the structure and meaning of every sentence and document in the index. Then it returns results that match the exact intent of the searcher.

Therefore, if you did a Powerset search for “Who mocked Tony Blair?” Powerset would understand that you were looking only for results about who mocked Blair, not merely for passages that had the phrases “mocked” (and its synonyms) and “Blair” in them.

This screenshot from their private beta demonstrates the search in action. In this example, Powerset is only pulling results from Wikipedia.

Now, check out this screenshot of a Powerset search query for “Who proved Fermat’s last theorem?” If the vast majority of search results are as accurate as that one, then Google may have a real fight on its hands, even though the battle will clearly be an uphill one for Powerset.

If you wish to join in the private beta testing of Powerset, you can sign up here.

Presuming that Powerset lives up to the hype when it launches, what do you estimate the odds are that it can challenge Google?

Longterm Linkbait – Avoid Peaks & Valleys

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

I’ve been reading about the tactics and benefits of creating linkbait for a while now. I’ve come to the conclusion that linkbait is good, for the most part. Linkbait is good because you want to write something that other people feel is interesting enough to link to. Linkbait is also good because it supports the very backbone of the internet…linking. I think if you want to create something for the sole purpose of having people link to it, then go right ahead, nothing wrong with that. If it motivates you to write or build or create, then so much the better.

But here is where the line blurs, where the light moves to the dark, where angles fear to tread, so to speak. I don’t support the idea of creating poorly thought-out, duplicated information or junky linkbait. If you are going to create something for the sole purpose of increasing your link popularity then be sure it is worth linking to. This usually means it is something that you have put some time and thought into. It should be an investment of both. It isn’t natural to create a new linkbait page everyday. This is bordering on spam. One of my favorite blogs comes from the mind of Steve Pavlina and is chock full of great linkbait, but he writes what he does for the sake of creating interesting and creative ideas. The linkbait part is just a natural extension of his excellent writing.

LinkbaitTopical linkbaiting is falling out of favor recently, with users and search engines. Topical linkbaiting is the tactic of writing about something that is topical and hoping the buzz around it will have people linking to you. This is good marketing and shouldn’t be abandoned, but I wouldn’t rely on this for my search engine marketing strategy. Usually this type of linkbaiting looks like a series of peaks and valleys in your site’s analytics, which Google views as temporary popularity and not sustained popularity, thereby devaluing the links and the content. By all means, ride the current waves, but be sure you have a good stable of linkbait that provides a solid base of constant viewers and steady link building. Look to create helpful information that doesn’t have a shelf life – how-to articles and tips are good way to do this.

I suppose linkbaiting has been more on my mind as my SEO Company, Big Oak, creates a monster linkbait initiative. I hope it will be longstanding and provide increased readership and link popularity. I think you will find it follows my rules. It isn’t topical and I don’t believe it will only provide a one-time spike. It is a monthly comic, and probably too much thought and too much time has been put towards it, but I think you will agree that the quality of the product is there because of our care. So while you mull over your linkbait strategy, and you should have one, take a moment to read Ranked Hard, our SEO Comic. Oh, and if you want to link to it, who am I to stop you.

Ranked Hard Returns: SEO Comedy in Full Color

Monday, February 11th, 2008

You may have read our first attempt at an SEO comic called Ranked Hard which was posted here and used some SIMS magic to create the characters. It must have at least drawn interest because it has been the most popular (most read) post since it went on the blog. It was an honest, but not awe-inspiring attempt for a group of non-artists trying to run a SEO company.

This is just one panel of the comic, visit the Ranked Hard site to see more!

But, with the encouragement of few positive comments and so many visits from our blog readers, we decided to take the Ranked Hard comic to a higher level. That required hiring an real artist who could bring the characters to life in a way beyond our skill level. We were very luck to find Kelly Ishikawa and he has done a wonderful job helping us define the characters and establish their appearance. And because of this, I can now introduce you to the whole SEO staff of Ranked Hard!

We decided that the format of the comic would not fit this blog so we created a new site/blog for ‘Ranked Hard, and SEO Comic‘ and will be posting all comics, comments and thoughts related to Ranked Hard at It was simpler to do it this way and we are hopeful that the larger format will make the comic more enjoyable for everyone. Of course we want feedback and comments from our readers so please post those on the Ranked Hard site.

We will be publishing at least once a month, and there are two comics on the site now. We have ideas for future comics already in the works, but we are looking for any funny suggestions from other SEO enthusiasts, so send them in to for us to look at. If we do use your idea we will give you full credit and you can even write the story behind it if you wish.

Please visit: Ranked Hard

- Shell Harris

Big Oak SEO Blog

This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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