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Archive for the ‘software’ Category

NoFollow “Neutered” Links On Wikipedia Are Now Pink!

Friday, May 9th, 2008

It was not all that long ago that I wrote how Wikipedia should be spanked for using the NoFollow attribute on all external links. 

NOFOLLOW BACKGROUND

Just by way of history, NoFollow is an attribute the search engines approved to help combat blog comment link spam.  The problem was that so many bloggers were too lazy to moderate comments, that tons of spammy links were being created in blog comments around the world and this was skewing search engine results.  NoFollow neuters any link it is applied to, so bloggers were encouraged to place it on any links they could not vouch for. 

So many blogging programs made NoFollow the default setting for external links.  For instance, this blog uses WordPress, and I had to apply the DoFollow plugin to un-neuter comment links.  Most bloggers have no clue about this and unwittingly act as agents of Web neutering.

However, the opposite problem has since happened, that billions of legitimate links have the NoFollow attribute applied to them, since most bloggers are not even aware of the NoFollow attribute.  And then Wikipedia, one of the top authorities who weighs its external links more carefully than anyone, applied the NoFollow attribute to all external links.  Arguably, by removing the most carefully scrutinized links on the Internet from the search engine algorithms, Wikipedia has skewed the search results as much as any spammy blackhat SEO tactic ever could.

And I still say they should be spanked.  :)

FIREFOX PLUGIN

Now you can easily see NoFollow links, whether created by laziness, unawareness or nastiness.  This is very helpful when deciding the SEO value of any participation on the Web.  Needless to say, SEO is a factor in much of what I do online, so these tips can come in handy. In fact there are two ways, one of which worked on my computer and one of which did not.  Both require FireFox, which is a very handy browser for SEO work.

The first way is by a handy little hack, which has worked for a lot of people, but for some reason it does not like me.  The hack is good because it can be manually controlled in all sorts of way (except, obviously, by me).  TDavid explains the Firefox NoFollow highlight hack quite well here.  Cheerfully, he seems to be even less of a fan of Wikipedia’s NoFollow chop-chop than I am!

The other way, which worked well on my computer, is a plugin called SearchStatus, which, among other handy tools, makes all NoFollow links show up pink in my FireFox browser window.  Here is a screenshot to show you just an example.  This is from a page from — you guessed it! — Wikipedia.  Click the image for a larger view.  See how pink it is?

Wikipedia, consider yourself spanked!

 


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SEO Software – just say NO!

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Over at my favorite SEO forum, High Rankings, somebody asked for recommendations about SEO software.  The consensus response was, “Yes, don’t do it.”

But that response deserves a little more explanation, some of which was also posted at the forum.  There are two reasons why SEO software should be avoided.

Avoid SEO software for link-building.  What doe Google and company look for in links?  They are looking for recommendations.  They seek a sign that a web page is considered a good reference on a certain topic.  They are looking for natural links, not contrived ones meant to alter their results. 

What does automation do?  It creates patterns – patterns that are not natural, but contrived. What is the one strength that computers have that mere mortals like you and me and Paulina Rubio do not have?  The ability to sort through almost infinite data in almost no time at all and recognize patterns. Using SEO software is like posting a neon sign that reads, “Yoohoo! We’re trying to mess with your results.”

Think your SEO software can fool the Google algorithm?  Hmmm.

Avoid SEO software, because this is a sport.  I know a lot of web folks are techies who are used to the scientific principle that if you take certain steps, you will get certain results.  Repeat the same steps, get the same results.  SEO is not like this.  If a thousand people all repeat the same steps, there will not be 1000 websites in Google’s top 10 for “Paulina Rubio lyrics”.  There will still be just 10 results.

In any competition, the goal is not to duplicate what everybody else is doing.  The goal is to do more than everyone else.  To do better than everyone else.  And, if possible, to do what nobody else though of. It’s OK to study the competition.  It’s OK to study others who are not competitors.  It’s OK to take the best of what each of them is doing, but then you have to go out and do the very best you can.  No me-too software program will do that for you.

All that being said, I do use some software for SEO purposes. 

I use Internet Explorer to view websites (Yes, IE is software.)

I use Roboform to prefill forms for directory and article submissions.  But note that I manually edit important things like “title” and “description”.  Roboform just saves me from having to misspell my own name hundreds of times a day.

I use Keyword Discovery to help research the best search terms for my clients (It’s a web-based application, but it counts as software).

And of course, I use Word to compose articles and news releases, to edit source code and to do plenty of additional tasks.

And let’s not forget WordPress, which I use to blog about SEO.  :-)

So software, yes.  Software to automate SEO, no.

 


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