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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: Copyright Law and SEO - Issue No. 077

October 29, 2003

________________________________________________________

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Last Chance To Sign Up

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Are the Bad Guys Winning at Google?

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   Jill's High Rankings Tampa Seminar
---->   Nitty-gritty Special Report

*Guest Article:
---->   Copyright Law and SEO

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   Yahoo Shopping PPC

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Acquiring New Customers

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Beware of Marketers Bearing Browser Keywords

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   See You in NYC and Tampa
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey guys!  This is it...the last week before my Tampa search engine
marketing seminar.  There's still time to get in on the fun.  It's a
whole day of learning everything there is to know about search engine
marketing and search engine optimization.  Get more info and register
here: </77seminar>.

On to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Are the Bad Guys Winning at Google?++

Hello Jill,

First off, thank you for your informative and straightforward
newsletter.

I see Google in a different light than you.  [Last week you said] "As
long as Google is still around and still focused on relevancy..."

Google is more concerned with inbound links than relevancy and they
are ripe for misrepresentation if you have the money.  If you search
for "gas scooters" on Google you will see that the same company owns 9
of the top 10 spots.  The same company pays for their text links at a
very large, PageRank 6 site then interlinks all of the sites.  If this
sounds like sour grapes, it's because it is. You can't compete against
money and brute force if you are small.

Thanks again,

Mike

++Jill's Response++

When I first read Mike's email, I basically thought of it as just
another complaint from someone looking for a scapegoat because he
couldn't get high rankings himself.  However, I received several
similar emails from other subscribers over the past week.  They were
all concerned about their own Web sites' ability to be ranked highly
when there were companies dominating the search engine results pages
(SERPs) through apparently deceptive means.

So, are the bad guys really winning at Google?  Unfortunately, for
many keyword phrases, it appears that they are.

I looked at the results for the gas scooter phrase Mike mentioned and
yes indeed, I was aghast at the tricks being used on many of the top
sites.  I found every trick in the book, in fact.  After doing a bit
of digging, I even found some subtle clues that makes me think that I
know which "SEO firm" is helping them.

One of the things I found were high-PageRanked sites, cross-linked
with other high-PageRanked sites of the same genre, with numerous
keyword phrases in the hyperlinks.  Checking backlinks on these sites
was also interesting because I found pages that were cloaking, pages
that were stuffing image alt attribute tags and other things that I
thought were passť in Google.  Apparently they're not at all passť.

Surfing the sites with a Lynx browser was very revealing because
JavaScript doesn't work with Lynx, so I saw lots of stuff I wasn't
supposed to see.

The bigger question that I have to ask, however, is how does the
person looking for gas scooters feel about these results at Google?
Are they getting what they want? Are they happy with the results?  Are
they relevant to their query?

At first glance it appears that they are.

This may certainly be all that Google cares about.  I don't know --
I'm not Google.  Perhaps Google really does only care that the results
are relevant and the means used to place them there are of no
consequence.  We know that their first priority is the user.  As long
as they're happy, Google is happy.  I guess they are happy...?

The thing is, I've always kind of thought that they did care.  Maybe
I'm wrong.  Or maybe they're just a little bit mixed up right now.  Or
maybe there's just no way for Google to spot these techniques and we
should all just use them.  Okay, I wouldn't actually go that far!
Many of the techniques being used on these sites have been penalized
in the past.  I've seen that sort of cross-linking thing get sites
PR0'd (penalized) many times.  Perhaps Google's PR0 penalty
thingamabob is just broken?

Come to think of it, I remember that I wrote something similar
</issue051.htm#seo> way back in April of
this year regarding the SERP for the phrase "email marketing
consultant."  If it was just a bug, surely it would be fixed by now --
over 6 months later.  A quick check shows that nope, Google is still
full of sites using deceptive optimization techniques.

So what's up, Google?  Tell me it isn't so.  Tell me that you still
believe in good vs. evil and that the ends don't justify the means.
Cuz right now, you're telling me that it does, and that makes me sad.

As to Mike and the others who have to compete in this space, all I can
say is keep at it.  You can keep making your sites better and better.
You can continue to build up high-quality backlinks to your site.  I
took a quick look at Mike's site, and Google is not showing any
backlinks.  He does have links, but they're not yet considered
high-enough quality to count for much.  I didn't notice any
high-quality directory links pointing to Mike's site, which might make
a difference.  Keep at it.  Build up a great resource site all about
your gas scooters.  Invite others to write articles about their
gas-scootering experiences, and whatever else you can think of.

We have no control over Google's rankings.  If they choose to let
deceptive sites win, eventually the overall quality of Google will
deteriorate.  I'm sure they don't want that to happen.  They have a
very tough job having to fight spammers every single day.  The thing
is, when they err on the side of penalizing too many sites, then
everyone is up in arms because they got caught up in spam filters by
mistake.

I'm confident that eventually Google will find a happy middle ground
and someday be able to automatically tell the difference between sites
that got there because they are truly the most relevant, and sites
that deceptively appear to be the most relevant.  Could be a long wait
though.

If you believe that another site is abusing Google's quality
guidelines, feel free to report it to them here:
<http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html>.  Don't expect any
miracles, however.

__________________________________________________

High Rankings Seminar in Tampa with Jill and the Gang
Learn search engine marketing from the ground up!
__________________________________________________

Looking for a complete overview of search engine optimization?
Join Jill and her merry band of search engine marketing experts in
sunny Tampa, Florida on Nov. 7 for a full day of learning and fun!

Learn SEO copywriting, Titles and Meta tags, search engine no-nos,
choosing keywords, link pop., PPC, measuring success and more!

Register now! </77seminar>
__________________________________________________


~~~Guest Article~~~

++Copyright Law and SEO++

Ian McAnerin, one of our High Rankings Forum moderators, writes
today's article.  Ian is a former lawyer, and the founder of McAnerin
Networks Inc., a Canadian-based search engine optimization company. He
posts some great stuff on the forum, and is generally our expert when
it comes to anything to do with Internet law and ethics.

Copyright Law and SEO
By Ian McAnerin

What Is Copyright?

Copyright literally means "the right to copy." This "copying" can be
in the form of translated or derivative versions, reproductions,
public or private distributions, displays, or broadcasts.

As SEOs, we encounter copyright issues all the time. One of the most
important things we bring to a client - unique, effective,
keyword-rich content - is the very thing copyright law serves to
protect. A computer can't just spit copy out. It is this creative
element that helps to make a site stand out well in the search engine
rankings. Google isn't interested in indexing the same content over
and over again, and it removes duplicate computer-generated "landing
pages" whenever it finds them in its results.

By offering fresh, informative content you help your clients' websites
achieve high rankings without the costs of pay-per-click, banner ads,
etc. This translates into more money in your clients' pockets for the
same (and often better) results and traffic. Naturally this content is
worth a lot to you and your client.

Unfortunately, there are many people in the world who do not respect
the basic principles of fairness. Rather than coming up with their own
content, they simply steal yours. Even worse, once they have stolen
your content, it's no longer "unique" and therefore not as likely to
be ranked highly in the search engines.  In some cases, such as when
the infringer's site has more link popularity, your site might drop
out of the results altogether.

In the past, copyright violators had to go through some effort and
expense in order to do their deed. Today a perfect digital image of an
original picture, literary work or sound recording can be copied and
transmitted to millions of people almost instantly. The ease of this
transmission, along with its high quality, has created a whole new
generation of people who seem to feel that anything that can be found
on the Internet is or should be free for the taking.

How Do I Copyright My Work?

Easy -- do something creative and original and commit it to some form
of recording. An oral speech is not copyrightable, but as soon as it's
recorded or written down, that recording is automatically copyrighted.
There is no need to register something in order to obtain copyright
protection.

You can't copyright ideas, equations, thoughts, names, data, or things
that should instead be patented, trademarked, or registered as an
industrial design.

You can copyright web copy, articles, musical recordings, video
recordings, photos, designs, computer programs and most artwork.

How Do You Prove Your Work Is Your Own?

One way is to register it. This is a method by which you make a copy
of your work and register it with a third party who can provide proof
that you had this information as of a specific time. For example, you
could burn your website to a CD, and register that.

There are several reasons to register your copyrighted material --
first, you have proof on file. Second, registration creates an
automatic assumption in the courts that your copyright is valid and
that all your statements in the application for it are true. Third, in
the US you are then able to take advantage of several statutory
advantages that are not available otherwise.

If you don't register it, your options are more limited, but they are
still available. Some people use the Wayback Machine
<http://www.archive.org> to show an approximate publication time, but
if your site is new or not indexed this may not help you. You can also
point to file dates and so forth, but on the Internet, as you can
imagine, these things are easy to forge.

Some Popular Misconceptions

In the old days, if you didn't have a copyright symbol and date on
your copyrighted work you were in trouble. This is no longer the case
in most countries. The format is usually:

Copyright (c) 2003 Your Name. All Rights Reserved.

It's really hard for an infringer to stand up in court and say he
didn't know it was copyrighted when this notice is at the bottom of
the pages he stole the content from. In order to receive protection
under the Berne Convention, you were originally required to use the
(c) symbol, but most countries have changed that requirement. I would
strongly recommend using it though.

Remember that if you become aware of a copyright infringement and
choose not to enforce your rights, you may find yourself prevented
("estopped") from complaining the next time. Always defend your
rights. Even if it's minor, at the very least tell the infringer that
they must request your permission in writing.

Fair Use and other Defenses

There are times when you can legitimately use someone's copyrighted
materials. Since this is also one of the defenses infringers use, it's
important to know what fair use is, and isn't.

Fair use (also called fair dealing in Canada) basically covers the
ability to make copies of a work for "legitimate" purposes. This
includes the ability for you to print off a copy of a web page at home
for personal research purposes, and for public review, criticism or
news reporting.

It does not cover the copying of all or substantially all of a work
for public display. In short, if you rip off an article or artwork
from someone else's website, and then make some minor formatting
changes and perhaps alter a byline and a bit of text, and then post it
as your own, you are clearly and obviously infringing copyright.

There is a very fine distinction between fair use and infringement,
and there is no specific amount or percentage that is "safe." Quoting
a few lines is safe, quoting the whole article is not. In Canada, fair
dealing for criticism, news or review requires a full citation to the
original author. This is not required in the US, but I would recommend
it anyway.

Ian McAnerin
McAnerin Networks Inc.
http://www.mcanerin.com/


_____________Nitty-gritty Special Report_________________

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!
</nittyhra77>
__________________________________________________


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Yahoo Shopping PPC++

I had a neat demo today with the good people of Yahoo, where I learned
all about their new paid-inclusion/PPC shopping feeds.  If you've ever
bought anything online, you may have used Yahoo Shopping's awesome
comparison shopping tools before.  For many years, I've found them to
be invaluable when I want to make a major purchase such as a video
camera, a new TV and that sort of thing.  They're sporting a new look,
which you can see here: <http://shopping.yahoo.com/>. It's very nice!

In the past, they only listed major retailers who could afford to be
listed in that section, but recently they've changed things so that
any site that sells products can submit to them.

If your or your clients' sites fit the bill, you should definitely
look into getting listed there.  They are spidering sites on their
own, so you may find that you're already listed.  However, if you want
full control over how your products are represented, it may make sense
to sign up for this new program.

It sounds very similar to how Froogle works, except that Froogle is
completely free at the moment.  (See the guest article I published
about Froogle here: </issue065.htm#guest>.)

You can learn more about the costs per click for the various
categories, and also how to sign up here:
<https://productsubmit.adcentral.yahoo.com/>.  If you test it out,
send me an email to let me know how your return on investment works
out.


~~~High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week~~~

++Acquiring New Customers++

Interesting thread this week on the forum which provides lots of great
information on ways you can gain new customers for your business:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=155>.


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Beware of Marketers Bearing Browser Keywords++

</soundadvice>


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for today!  I'm going to have to skip next week's newsletter
because I'll be in New York City on Wednesday speaking at the AdTech
conference <http://www.ad-tech.com/>.  From there I head out to sunny
Tampa for the seminar on Friday
</77seminar>.  I'm looking forward to
seeing my seminar speakers and helpers -- Scottie, Chris, Karon and
Lee -- again, and also to meeting those of you that will be there.
Look for us in the hotel bar/lounge/pub on Thursday night and stop by
to say hi.  Although we had a few bites, we didn't succeed in talking
anyone into sponsoring a cocktail reception, so we'll just meet there
informally.

See you in NYC and/or Tampa! - Jill

 
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