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High Rankings Advisor: Links are All About Reputation - Issue No. 069

September 3, 2003


*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Reporting Competitors

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   JAZreturns ROI Tracker
---->   The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines

*Guest Article:
---->   Links Are All About Reputation

*Stuff You Might Like:

*Other SEO News:
---->   High Rankings Seminar

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Not Enough Advisor? Blame the Mice

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone.  How's it going?  Today I have a good question about
reporting "spam" sites, along with an interesting interview with
search engine marketer Mike Grehan.  There are also some additional
details regarding the High Rankings seminar in Tampa, so be sure to
read the entire issue.

On to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Reporting Competitors++

Hi Jill,

I hope you and your family are well.

I have just started checking out my competitors' listings in Google
and I have noticed that many companies are spamming Google by listing
all their locations at the top and bottom of their sites.

So here's the question. I was quite angry when I saw what was going
on, and was about to go and report them both to Google, but then I
thought -- do I want to start this war?

What do you think? We don't use any spammy methods ourselves, and for
my initial keywords I am fine -- but, well, I am totally undecided
about what to do!


Yours ever grateful,

Mitchell Read

~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Mitch,

I took a look at the sites in question, and they're not actually
hiding anything. Therefore, I doubt it's "technically" considered spam
by any search engine.  The sites looked dumb, as they just listed a
whole bunch of geographical locations, but they didn't try to hide
what they were doing.  It's doubtful that Google would remove the site
for doing this.  (They did have hidden links to some sites, which is
definitely spam, but that's a whole other story!)

Regarding whether you should report this as spam, or whether you
should report spam in general, that's really a personal preference.
Quite frankly, I don't believe in it.  I prefer to worry about my own
sites rather than worry about what competitors are doing.  I have no
control over other sites, but at least I can make sure that I optimize
my own sites to be the best they can be.

I have to laugh at those who think they will get a leg up in the
search engines if they report all their competitors' sites to Google.
Most of the time, the only thing that the competitors are doing
"wrong" is beating your site!  Sure, maybe they have an ugly site and
it doesn't seem like it should be beating yours, but too bad for you.
Don't whine about it; just keep making your site better and better.

Generally, most sites that you find doing things like you saw, or even
worse stuff, are ranking highly *despite* their tricks, not because of
them.  Eventually, the tricks won't work anymore and they'll be
scrambling to find new ways to optimize.  Meanwhile, those of us
who've been doing things the "right" way can sit back and enjoy the
long-term success that it brings!



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~~~Guest Article~~~

++Links Are All About Reputation++

Hot off the presses and straight from the DoubleTree San Jose pool
comes a lively interview with my friend and yours, Mike Grehan!  This
interview was conducted by our High Rankings reporter on the street
( the pool?) Scottie Claiborne.   Good stuff, as you would
imagine coming from those two.  Enjoy! - Jill

Links Are All About Reputation
An Interview with Mike Grehan
By Scottie Claiborne

Linking is a hot topic these days -- anyone with a Website and an
interest in search engine traffic knows that you have to get some good
incoming links in order to be found in the search engines. However,
most people are a little lost when it comes to landing them.

I recently caught up with SEO guru Mike Grehan at the SES conference
in San Jose, where he gave an informative session on link building. I
met with Mike later in the week to discuss his thoughts on links,
business, and PageRank.

SC: What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding among
webmasters/SEOs when it comes to link building?

MG: People look at links as if they are all the same, and often they
go for quantity over quality.  That's not the way to do it.

Link analysis has its roots in citation analysis and social network
analysis concepts. A couple of sharp scientists named Pinski and Narin
found that by using these predictive methods it could be possible to
determine the next winner of the Nobel prize. The guy who had the most
papers citing his work was the guy most likely to get the nod.

However, even in the world of science, an early type of spam reared
its ugly head. Pinski & Narin were aware that this type of analysis
could be skewed or distorted by using methods of manipulation, even to
the point of simply bribing someone to mention you in their paper. To
combat this, they recognized that the work of some authors/researchers
carried more weight than others, i.e., had more influence. Influence
weight made it harder to manipulate results, as the community
reputation of the author plays a large part in the calculation.

SC: How does this relate to link building?

MG: Just as in the scientific community, the influence weight plays an
important role on the Web.  The search engines are trying to determine
the most relevant results for their search queries, and to do this,
they analyze the linking structure of the community.

They "know" what specific pages are about and they assume that pages
that link together are somehow related.  They are essentially sharing
their reputation with each other. The more pages that point to a
specific page, the more importance or influence that page has in their

Think about it like this: I make blue widgets.  I sell them to Rolls
Royce.  I tell my customers, our blue widgets are the best -- we sell
to Rolls Royce.  At Rolls Royce, they tell their customers their cars
are the best because they only use our blue widgets.  Both businesses
are using the reputation of the other one to enhance their selling

That's what links can do.  A sound linking proposition enhances the
reputations of both businesses.

SC: How does a business go about obtaining these quality links?

MG: It's only hard to get links if you don't know why you need them.

Writing to a Webmaster with a form mail that says "I've added your
link, will you add mine" is crap. If someone wanted to partner with
your business and sent you a template e-mail, would you take them

You've got to give that other business a reason to link to you. It's a
business proposition, not a link exchange.  Both sides must benefit
from the partnership. If you don't know what your site has to offer
another site or why your link is valuable, it's time for early

The best way to earn those links is through quality content.  When a
site links to you, they are staking their reputation on you. That's
something to think about when you consider linking to a free-for-all
site or a link farm.

SC: What do you think about buying links?

MG: If you can buy a quality link that relates to your site, buy it!
It's a business proposition like everything else.  That's certainly
one way to do it and a relatively easy one, if you have the

SC: Are themes, or links only from related sites, important?

MG: It's not about themes; it's about communities and reputation.
Linking creates virtual communities.

Links from the business community you exist in are going to have more
influence than unrelated links.  I say this because the search engines
are going to make some simple assumptions -- a link from page A to
page B is a recommendation by the author of page A. If page A and page
B are linked, they might be somehow related.

A network of links in from pages in the community that are truly
related is going to build a stronger reputation for that page than a
bunch of unrelated links.

SC: Some people try to increase their link popularity by setting up
multiple domains to link to their main site.  Does this help?

MG: Absolutely not. Those mini-networks are like spam islands if they
don't have quality links pointing into the satellites as well as the
mother ship. They are easily detected.

SC: What do you think about selecting sites as link partners based on
their Google PageRank?

MG:  I've done a lot of research on this. I know exactly what PR7
means: It means you have one more than six but one less than eight.
That's all it means.  Stop obsessing about PR; get on with business!

Scottie Claiborne

[Don't forget about Mike's Internet Marketing Master Class on October
1.  You can learn more or sign up here:
<> - Jill ]

____________Nitty-gritty Special Report__________________adv.

Want to learn how to write for high rankings in the search engines?

If you don't have the time or money to see Jill's Writing for the
Search Engines presentation at conferences or seminars, for
only $49 you can learn it all in her informative, quick-read report.

Download the Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines today!

~~~Other SEO News~~~

++High Rankings Seminar++

Marriott Tampa Airport, November 7th, 2003 -- be there!  You won't be

The details are being finalized for the High Rankings Search Engine
Marketing Seminar to beat all seminars!  The first half of the day
will be my search engine optimization basics class. During the second
half of the day, you will learn advanced techniques from a few of the
"High Rankings Forum" Moderators (who are search engine marketing
experts in their own right): Christine Churchill from KeyRelevance,
Scottie Claiborne from RightClickWebs and Karon Thackston from

They will be speaking on such topics as "Pay-per-click (PPC) Search
Engine Advertising," "Copywriting Your Way to Success" and "Measuring
Traffic and Conversions."

As if that weren't enough, we will also be reviewing some of our
participants' sites towards the tail end of the day.  All four of us
will take a look at specific sites, analyze them and give the owners
specific recommendations on how they can be better optimized for their
target audience and the search engines.

The registration form will be ready in the next few days or so. In the
meantime, you can view the agenda, pricing, and other goodies here:
</seminar>.  Once we're open for
registration, there will be links on that page to the appropriate
sign-up form.  Check back in a few days!

We're also accepting limited sponsorships for this event.  If you're
interested, please email me at and I'll
send you more info on how you can become involved.  All sponsors'
company info will appear on the seminar page, as well as in the
student workbook.

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

Yes, that's right.  Today's stuff you might like is "stuff you might
like"!  Confused?  hehehe

It's actually my new site <>.  That's
where I've got my "stuff" reviews all in one place.  I've been trying
to finish it up for the past few weeks, and haven't quite gotten there
yet, so you may find that parts of it are missing or broken.  (It's
what I was working on at the pool in San Jose when Mike G. was making
me laugh.)  However, it seemed that there was enough of it up to
finally announce it here.  I was going to just put another "recap of
past stuff" today, but this serves the same purpose.  My apologies to
those whose stuff is still missing from the site.  It will get

Hopefully, when you're in the need of one of the products or ebooks
that I've mentioned in the newsletter sometime in the past, you'll
remember to find it on the new Stuff site.  It should be a lot easier
than trying to dig through the old newsletters, if nothing else!

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

If this newsletter seems a bit light today, it's cuz it is!  Not only
am I spending two hours a day driving Jamie to and from her new
school, Timmy had a little mouse mishap this afternoon.  He had his
school's two mice for part of the summer, and it was time to bring
them back today before school starts tomorrow.  While cleaning up
their habitat one last time so they'd go back to school smelling
sweet, it slipped out of his hand and the glass broke on one side.
Don't worry; Mrs. Supa and Pondley (the smelly rodents) were not hurt,
as they were safely in their plastic ball taking a roll around the

But I did have to stop what I was doing, i.e., writing this
newsletter, to buy a new habitat.  We were smart enough to measure the
old one before we left in order to purchase one that would fit the old
top and tubes and stuff.  I was relieved to find out that the whole
thing was fairly cheap, and the pet store had the right one in stock.
Disaster averted, and the critters are now safe and sound at school
where they belong!

Catch you next week. - Jill
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