Hot At Sphinn: Outing SEO Companies, Affiliate Marketing Explained & More

sphinn-logoOuting other SEO companies and consultants seems to be all the rage these days, particularly in the mass media where several major publications have reported on large companies that have violated Google’s guidelines. But this has been going on for years inside the SEO/SEM industry, and it was the hot topic last week on our sister site, Sphinn.

In our “Discussion of the Week,” we asked Do you support the “outing” of SEO companies that violate search engine guidelines? So far, that’s prompted more than four dozen replies — about double or triple what we normally see on a weekly discussion. Since it’s such a contentious issue, here are a couple comments that reflect both sides of the debate:

Pro – Sphinn member Alan Bleiweiss of Search Marketing Wisdom: “Speaking up about blatantly severe unfair competitive advantages is critical to an evolving industry. It’s a copout to claim “It’s not our job – it’s up to the search engines”, knowing full well that they too are part of the problem.”

Con – Sphinn member Marc Bitanga of ClickAgent Marketing: “If we all held ourselves to Google’s webmaster guidelines, even the whitest shade of SEO out there could be held accountable. I think we have all bent the rules from an SEO perspective at one time or another. So who are we to judge one another?”

Check out the entire discussion and feel free to add your two cents (or more) if you haven’t already.

Meanwhile, an infographic explaining how affiliate marketing works was a hot topic amongst Twitter users. See that and all of last week’s Sphinn activity below.

Most Comments

  • Discussion: Do you support the “outing” of SEO companies that violate search engine guidelines? – There’s been a lot of attention in recent months on (mostly) large companies that violate search engine guidelines (mostly Google’s), and it’s getting mainstream media attention now, too. But “outing” has been going on for years via industry blogs and articles, forums, etc. In our new “Discussion of the Week,” we want to know — do you support the outing of SEO companies/consultants that violate search engine guidelines? The floor is open for your comments!
  • Facebook Busted in Clumsy Smear Attempt on Google – The social network secretly hired a PR firm to plant negative stories about the search giant: “Here were two guys from one of the biggest PR agencies in the world, blustering around Silicon Valley like a pair of Keystone Kops.”
  • Microsoft to Announce Skype Acquisition – ATD reports they expect the announcement about the closed deal early Tuesday morning. According to a source, Skype will be integrated into MS Windows Live, and the deal seems to have close ties to Nokia’s approach to regain lost market shares in partnership with Microsoft.
  • Google Panda Update – Google’s Content Guidence and Jim’s Take. – Another Panda Round: Jim B. breaks down the recent comments from Google re: Panda as only Jim can!

Most Tweeted (not already listed above)

  • How Affiliate Marketing Works – A Step by Step Visual [INFOGRAPHIC] – A clear, step by step Infographic of how basic affiliate marketing works
  • How to Use Advanced Segments in Google Analytics to Isolate SEO Problems [Tutorial] – Nothing makes me happier than matter of fact tips on how to better implement analytics to impact SEO. A must-read if you’re not familiar with the idea of isolating things like non-branded traffic.
  • Some Websites Hit by Panda Can’t Buy Google AdWords Ads! – Aaron Wall discusses an incident where a site effected by the Panda update is not allowed to partake in Google Adwords program.
  • How Google Spies on Your Gmail Account (And How To Stop It) – Google is quietly mining your Gmail contacts database to figure out which competing social networks you belong to. When it discovers one, it “suggests” that you vacuum the outside account into your Google account so that Google can exploit the data within its own services.
  • Examining Facebook’s “Smear Campaign” Concerns About Google Social Circles – Danny Sullivan picks Facebook’s quasi dementi to pieces.

Hot On Sphinn: May 9 to May 15, 2011

  • The value of the anonymous stranger – In the 15 or so years I’ve used the Internet, it turns out these nameless and faceless people who roam the Internet aren’t all that bad after all. In fact, they’ve provided me with a lot more help than harm.
  • How journalists can make use of Facebook Pages – The Facebook News Feed is essentially a social newspaper. With it, you’re able to read and discover news shared by your friends, journalists, and media organizations you like. The personalized news stream includes everything from news about your friends’ lives to their reactions to a news article. It’s not only what is being shared, but who is sharing it that’s important.
  • ‘Google Doesn’t Laugh’: Saving Witty Headlines in the Age of SEO – If online searches are literal, what happens to headlines that involve word play? Copy editors fear they’re going the way of the classified ad.
  • Architecture Issues Caught Early That Saved Clients – Architecture issues can prevent any SEO program from succeeding. These examples (and solutions) shed light on common architecture problems.
  • How the Power of Free and Scarcity Influence Decision Making – The snippet from this post that really stands out is “decision architecture differs from traditional usability”.  If you are interested in CRO and Usability, then this article is for you.
  • Google Commercial Breaks Google’s Terms of Service – When I asked Google about whether the “Dear Sophie” ad is actually against the Google TOS, a representative explained why it was exempt as follows, “This story is about a father who opens a Gmail account and uses the web to communicate with his daughter from birth into the future. This story is not about a parent opening a Gmail account for his child to use; our system will block users identified as under 13 years of age from opening an account.”
  • Getting big links from big media sites, the fundamentals – In this post, I detail some of the fundamental tactics and knowledge from Public Relations about how big news rooms work, so you can significantly increase your ability to get those strong links from news websites.
  • Profit per Impression: A Better Metric for Ad Testing – An alternate way to split test in paid search described in depth.
  • Google Explains Why They Trust the Mainstream Media (Aaron pwns Amit) – From the page: Google’s Amit Singhal offered more “clarity” into Google’s approach with the Panda update. However I am not convinced that any clarity was actually added, and I think a lot of the questions they ask are to a degree even a bit wrong-headed.
  • Beyond Blog Posts – A Guide to Innovative Content Types – Producing great content is a high ROI activity. Too often however I see people focused on producing individual pieces of content aiming to get links and attention. Putting together a content strategy requires much more than a single piece of content – it requires a vision and strategy for how you’re going to publish your content, why type of content you will be publishing, how your audience will engage with it and so on and so forth.
  • Coldwell Banker on How Online Video and the iPad is Powering its Business – Make no mistake about it. As the cost of producing quality video goes down (to zero in some case, when it’s user generated) this medium will become a crucial weapon in the online marketing arsenal.
  • Facebook ‘shaping the way news is read’ – Social networking site Facebook is influencing what news gets read online as people use it to share and recommend content, new research shows.
    The study on the flow of traffic to the web’s 25 largest news destinations was released today by the Pew Research Centre’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
  • 15 Must See Interactive Youtube Ads –
    Many businesses are already experimenting with interactive video and some have got considerable success. That inspired me to pick out the best 15 “must-see” interactive Youtube ads. Some of them are produced with a huge budget, some of them for nothing at all.
  • Optimizing Page Speed – Actionable Tips For SEOs and Web Developers – A very smart, detailed amp; super-geeky article offering excellent advice on increasing page speed.
  • 8 ways to deal with negative comments in online communities – How do you respond to a negative comment in an online community,  on Facebook? Shut the Page down, ban the commenter, suck up to them? How about a bitchy tweet on Twitter? Fight with them? Ignore them? Promise to do better? Many social media guidelines have a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to addressing negative criticism in social networks, but assessing the situation and the potential positive vs negative outcomes of responses is a skill that comes from experience. PS:  Your marketing intern may not have that skill!

This is the latest in a weekly look at the stories that were “hot” on Sphinn in the past week. We’ll post these recaps every week.

Related Topics: Features: General | Sphinn


About The Author: Matt McGee is Search Engine Land’s Executive News Editor, responsible for overseeing our daily news coverage. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He blogs at Small Business Search Marketing and can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee. See more articles by Matt McGee

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