SEO On Purpose

On 04/11/2011, in Uncategorized, by admin

There is one aspect of SEO – and website development as a whole – that I can’t preach enough: know what your goals are before you start.

I’ve seen a lot of pitches recently where someone will point out all of the keywords a site doesn’t rank for. But when they do this, they have no underlying knowledge of the campaign. They are talking on what they think is right without ever asking the Client’s needs. If someone pitching your business does this, it should send a red flag up immediately. A search expert is your partner.

If you have a current SEO plan, you should know what it’s purpose is. If you don’t, create a purpose. If you have a website, you should know what it’s purpose is. How else to you measure & improve performance?


Great SEO Expectations

On 04/03/2011, in Uncategorized, by admin

One of the biggest struggles of any marketer is setting expectations. This can be with the client, boss, internal teams, vendors, etc. Without preset expectations, we form our own and are bound for disappointment.
This is especially true for Search Engine Marketing. It’s still sort of a “wild west” and most people think they know how it works. And they are probably wrong. Most don’t understand the work involved with rankings.

Oh, and there’s one more thing: It’s out of our control. We can only follow practices that are known to make a difference.

With that said, any SEO or marketer should set expectations up front as quickly as possible, you will run into this painfully familiar situation:


Introducing Google’s +1

On 03/30/2011, in Uncategorized, by admin

Today Google dropped a new product that the world desperately needs: A new social platform in which you tell your friends what you like.

Introducing Google’s +1

I say it in a snarky, sarcastic way, but it is definitely something you need to look into for your website.

While the actual application of it is still in it’s infancy, you can register your URL for +1.

I’m learning more about it from a Social/SEO/PPC perspective, and I’ll be sure to keep my readers updated as I know more.


So Long,

On 03/21/2011, in Uncategorized, by admin

It doesn’t seem that long ago that SEOs preached the benefit of including keywords you want to rank for in your URL. It’s not surprising that when people rush to do this, Google switches gears.  It’s not a malicious gear-switch; it’s simply a playground for spammers & domain squatters.

Google recently dropped information that tells us that keywords in the top level domain have essentially “had the knobs turned down” on their role in the algorithm.  This doesn’t include Yahoo/Bing, but honestly, who does?

So what does this mean for  Well, probably not much.  It’s doubtful you will drop because of your URL choice.  However, it is likely that some sites you previously outranked will start to rise to the top pushing you down.

So watch your rankings.  If you see a slip without any change on your part, there’s work to be done.  Start building links, updating old copy & creating content.



In the nerdy world of SEO, there is always a seedy underbelly known as Black Hat SEO. Black Hat SEO is essentially manipulating the search results by tricking the search engines.  Black hats weave in and out of SEO circles, but rarely reveal their true identities.  It’s widely accepted as being an unacceptable practice, but is it really all that bad? Let’s dive a little deeper.

There have been two big black hat stories in the world of SEO recently: JC Penney &  JC Penney allegedly bought thousands of shady backlinks during Christmas time to rank #1 for incredibly generic terms that would rarely be associated with JCP.  And it worked. It worked really, really well. For a short amount of time, and now Google has punished their rankings.  But was this JCP gaming the system or a competitor putting out a hit on them by hiring a shady black hat company to get JCP punished?  Who knows…

Secondly, talked a bunch of college sites into writing a blurb about getting a 10% discount on and linking to them.  This is actually a pretty solid strategy – links from .edu sites carry more weight than .com or .org.  However, I think it was their execution that ended up getting them punished.  The content sounded overly optimized. It reeked of spam.

And that’s where the grey area lies.  JCP was stupid in their strategy. No doubt about it. But wasn’t.  Black hat SEO relies on finding something that works to get rankings & exploiting it.  Is it cheating?  Maybe.  But is it cheating if you realize a quarterback always throws to his left on the third down, so you put extra coverage on that side?  Was it cheating when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar perfected the sky hook that couldn’t be blocked?  Is it cheating to put Jennifer Aniston on the cover of People magazine multiple times because her covers boost sales?

If you find a weakness & exploit it for success, is that cheating or smart business?

Google punishes black hat tactics for one simple reason: it is dishonest to the algorithm that is designed to provide highly relevant results.  Manipulating a poor site as being “highly relevant” is bad for user experience, and bad for Google.  And you can get smacked down a few pages in the results that could take months to recover or you could disappear entirely and never recover.  That’s the risk.

Personally, I’m a white hat man.  But I see how tempting black hat can be. And if it gets results and happy clients (who are aware of the risk), there could easily be shades of grey in my hat.


Comment Spam

On 01/26/2011, in Uncategorized, by admin

The SEO Rockstars at had a post today about how blog comment spam is handled. It’s well known that links to your website increase your ranking.  And blog comments are a quick and easy way to get links to your site.  The problem is that bots can upload these comments and even circumvent some standard captchas.

The search engines recognized this and have taken some measures in partnering with top blog platforms, such as WordPress and MovableType, to establish a standard.  In a nutshell:

Links in blog comments will not help your ranking. How? One simple tag: rel=nofollow, meaning there is no link juice passed into the engines.

So if this is a tactic that has been recommended to you, you need to take a step back and reevaluate your SEO consultant choice.  If it’s an internal team, they need a little education on what works and what doesn’t.

For more info, join the conversation in Google’s Webmaster Help.


Happy New Year

On 01/02/2011, in Uncategorized, by admin

Happy New Year from all of us at Activated By Robots. Expect far more posts in 2011. We’ll be publishing a schedule of topics in the next few days. Stay tuned for relevant, helpful SEO help & advice and opinions on recent news in search.


This weekend a story came out in the New York Times about a specific retailer (I won’t mention the company’s name) and their atrocious, and even abusive, customer service.  It turns out that this was part of his SEO strategy. Bad reviews = mentions of and links to his site = increased rankings. And on top of this, a and mentions are solid gold.

This strategy put a magnifying glass over a problem with Google’s algorithm: Sentiment. Sure, he has thousands of links to his site. Google views these as “votes” for the site and lifts it’s rankings. But the reality is that these are negative links, and should do the opposite of what they really do.

So how does Google respond?  With a brainstorming session, finding a solution, testing it and implementing it.  All within 72 hours of this manipulation coming to light.  From a giant as big as Google, they are as nimble as an elephant.  There is a change in the algorithm that addresses sentiment.  If the general concensus is that your site sucks, then Google will respond accordingly.

Beyond the nimbleness of this change, at the very core, Google stays true to their mantra. They want to deliver the best, most relevant results possible. A very public hole in the equation proved to be the perfect catalyst to improve the experience for everyone.

So, does your business suck? Below are some inbound link tools you can use to see who is linking to you and what they are saying:



On 11/10/2010, in Uncategorized, by admin has officially thrown in the towel for crawling & indexing websites. They announced today that they will no longer be providing search services, but will focus on their social media service offering. NEEDS LINK AND/OR CITATION

Ask has long struggled to keep their head above the search waters. Even a full blown campaign from advertising darlings Crispin Porter + Bogusky couldn’t put a dent in the Google behemoth.

Farewell I’m sorry to say, but I don’t think you’ll be missed.


Google Places: A Must for SMBs

On 10/30/2010, in Uncategorized, by admin

Google recently rolled out a much needed update to Google Local, and it is an absolute must for all local business owners.

Google Places allows a business owner to add an incredible amount of detail to their business listing.  This includes editable address, phone number, hours, pictures, categories, tags, specials, coupons and much more.  Previously, Google primarily gathered this information from the website itself, Yellow Pages listings, etc.  While some editing was previously available, this takes it to an entire new level.

So check out today and build up your business’s information now!

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