22nd July 2008

Get your twitter links while you can

Earlier today Dave Naylor outed the little known twitter fact that you can get a non-nofollowed link by adding a web address in your “One Line Bio” of your profile.


For a resulting profile page like this:

It’s not going to last long as internet officer on-the-spot Matt Cutts has spotted it and taken action to stop the flow of link juice to people:

Since Matt is so interested in helping out twitter he may want to mention that some of their “capacity” issues may be due to Google crawling the non-canonical versions of URLs that exist throughout the site.

Notice the same page is indexed twice in Google. One as twitter/johnweb and as twitter/JohnWeb, same content, same spelling, just different cases used.

I guess we’ll see who twitter is more interested in pleasing, it’s users by reducing the server load with a simple url canonicalization fix or Google with their cure-all rel=”nofollow”, by which is fixed first.

posted in Google, Matt Cutts | 0 Comments

11th July 2008

GWHG Looses a valuable Googler

In case you missed it “Bergy” Berghausen announced that he is leaving Google and moving on to pursue a career path in the legal profession.

His goodbye is here:

Hi folks!

I am extremely grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend
monitoring this group–responding to questions, watching threads,
reading all the new “Introduce yourself” posts, and being consistently
amazed at the speed with which some of our users can type.  This has
become my home online and holds a very special place in my heart,
though with great regret I must announce that my time monitoring this
group in an official capacity has come to an end.

I have made a very tough decision to leave my position at Google to
follow my calling to join the legal profession, and today is my last
day on the job.  It’s been a wonderful time, and I would like to thank
all of you, especially beussery for his great attitude and Flash
expertise, webado for her untiring dedication and mod_rewrite
expertise, and Autocrat for his sense of humor and for his rocket-
speed ascent from being an occasional poster to the second most
frequent in a matter of a few weeks.

It’s been a lot of fun spending time with you here.  Also, this isn’t
exactly goodbye either, since I will definitely be stopping by without
my big blug [G] and contributing in my personal capacity when I’m not
reading about contracts or rules of evidence.  :-)

So, thanks for helping each other–keep on posting!

Good luck Bergy and thank you very much for your all of your help in webmastering issues!

posted in GWHG | 7 Comments

9th July 2008

Googlebot using Yahoo IP range for crawling?

Okay, the title may be jumping to conclusions but please help me understand this.

I noticed an odd referral today in my stats for this blog. It was for the search term [ip address], it seemed a bit strange so I checked it out.

The IP address belongs to Inktomi Corporation:

Every one of my single post pages contain a little plug-in that shows the user’s IP address, like:

So it would make sense that the IP address of the crawler would be added into the text of the page and returned for search results.

The ODD thing however was that this search referral was from Google, with the Yahoo! IP address.

The Google Search for [ip address]


Returns one of my pages at the 10th spot, and clicking on the cache of that page shows the Yahoo! address stored in the cache:

To be sure this isn’t normal behavior the following thumbnail is for a cache of another page showing the Google IP address

So the question I have is how does a Google cache get taken showing a Yahoo! IP address? I’m sure there is a logical explanation that I am just missing but I am hoping that somebody out there can explain it to me.

Added After Initial Posting

After I initially posted this I thought it would be a good idea to see if this one page was an anomaly or if other indexed pages showed the Yahoo! IP address, apparently the one I showed above is the only one. Note that the other two URLs shown are this post and the home page which were already updated in the index when I went back and checked.

posted in Google, search | 1 Comment

8th July 2008


I have been quite busy with other stuff and have been quite derelict in my duty as a blogger. Hope to find more time/inspiration/desire in the near future.

In the meantime….

  • Google, PLEASE fix the Webmaster tools so that the statistics regarding home page crawling, the cache links, and what Goooglebot sees are at least close to reality. I realize you’ve got limited resources with only a few hundred thousand computers and all but at least set aside some computing time to push fresh data weekly on a Monday at 1:00 pm or something. The GWHG is inundated with people who get the wrong impression of their sites performance based on this data. Considering that probably only a very small percentage of the confused masses actually find their way to the GWHG I would say that your tools are statistics are actually hurting more people than helping. At some point when a tool becomes harmful it really ceases being a tool. If resources are a problem then I suggest a disclaimer placed within the webmaster account stating that the statistics provided are not up to date and generally wrong and for amusement only. People respect the quality of Google’s index and expect a certain amount of quality with their other offerings, webmaster’s tools while innovative and well intended, are doing more to harm that reputation than help it.
  • There was a Sebastian siting. I wish he’d finish taking over the world or whatever he’s doing, I miss his presence.
  • You should consider joining Adam Lasnik’s Question of the Day room over at friendeed. While not search related at all it provides some good entertainment and insight It combines Adam’s elegant style as a writer with the preciseness of a programmer and his philosophic outlook on things,
  • While you are at it join me on friendfeed.
  • Or Plurk
  • Or Twitter
  • Or Facebook
  • John Mueller lasted a little over three days without posting on his vacation. He is incredible.
  • Barry can’t find the source of the spiders.
  • Speaking of spiders, and I was, example.com has a robots.txt that includes:
    • User-agent: *
      Disallow: /
    • Yet Google has indexed over 15,700 URLs for the site. A fine example of how robots.txt is a crawler directive and not to be used to limit indexing of content and how ineffective a 404 is at removing indexed content. (there is money to be made in that last statement, maybe I should write a post about that?)

posted in search | 2 Comments

19th June 2008

Google, please let us report paid links

In their ever vigilant zeal to be perplexing and clear as mud on the issue Google has many stances on the paid links situation.

Some official:

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.

Some not so official:

We’ll be concentrating primarily on the sellers, but if you send us a site that appears to be buying links that pass PageRank it’s trivial for us to look up all the backlinks for that site to find potential sellers and work from there.

Whether or not they are “concentrating” on link buyers or not, it appears through many threads on Google Webmasters Help Group that people are actually being penalized for buying links. The ones I’ve seen have been pretty obvious either through sponsored themes, automated link networks, or the most obvious sitewide footer links.

They do offer a method for buying links without getting in Google-hot-water with the much maligned and oft misapplied rel=”nofollow” link or through a robots.txt block:

Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:

  • Adding a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the <a> tag
  • Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

Which is a all well and good if you are running the site and have control over the links. But what if you are buying the links? What Google is failing to recognize is that sometimes people may actually buy links because they want the traffic. Gasp. It is possible that a permanent link purchased for a set price will in the long run cost less per click than… let’s say… an adwords ad.

I haven’t mentioned the negative SEO aspect yet, as I’m not convinced that it’s really a viable method, but it is often discussed. If Google is penalizing sites that buy links generally the next thought in the room is “Then I’ll just buy my competition a bunch of links and report them!”. First off I’m not 100% convinced they actually penalize the buying sites but rather just discount the links from the sites that sold them, which if the case you are just paying money for clicks to your competition. Not generally a good business practice. Second, I’m not sure they’ll react to all of the reports so you may in fact be buying them some links that will help them in the rankings PLUS the clicks, also not a sustainable plan. Either way there are a fair amount of webmasters out there worrying that someone else can buy links to their site and have it hurt them.

With all this in mind, the desire to buy links (that you cannot control the format of) for traffic and the logical concern that someone else could buy links to your site that may hurt you I propose that Google institutes a Report My Paid Links” or Disavow Links” feature in Webmaster Tools.

I envision this tool to allow a webmaster to list domains or pages that have linked to their verified domain that they do not want to count for or against them in ranking. It’s a way for a webmaster to say that they’ve purchased links for traffic in a local directory or perhaps a high profile school newspaper but don’t want to give the impression that those links were purchased for PageRank manipulation. It would have the added benefit of letting a webmaster feel more at ease if they see some spammy links pointing to their site that they may want to disavow. Oh, perhaps the old idea that there is almost nothing a competitor can do to harm you still applies and those links won’t actually hurt you, but it would be a good thing to help put them at ease.

So I say: Google, please let me report paid links! Let me tell you which links I bought for traffic. Let me tell you so that if somebody reports my site as a link buyer you can see that I already told you about them, increasing your trust in me rather than taking the chance that some human reviewer gets it wrong. Let me have those links on record in case the link I bought which was on a nofollow page is changed later by the webmaster without my knowledge.

Then again if you are only going to punish the sellers and not the buyers, then say so, so we can put all this “Google bowling” non-sense behind us. :)

posted in Google, Paid Links | 2 Comments

23rd May 2008

Really Minty Fresh Indexing

It took all of 13 minutes for Google to pick up my post before this about my death threat and send a visitor for mayhissolrestinpeace.  Very impressive.  Expecting my first referral from Yahoo! late next week. :-)

posted in Google | 1 Comment

23rd May 2008

Someone I call my friend, wants me dead

I received a disturbing bit of email the other day. Searching for it I found very little information so I thought I’d post it as I’m sure I’m not the only person that got it.

From: BLOOD BLOOD (mayhissolerestinpice3@gala.net)


I felt very sorry and bad for you, that your life is going to end like this if you don’t comply, i was paid to eliminate you and I have to do it within 10 days.

Someone you call your friend wants you dead by all means, and the person have spent a lot of money on this, the person came to us and told us that he wants you dead and he provided us your names, photograph and other necessary information we needed about you. If you are in doubt with this I will send you your name and where you are residing in my next mail.

Meanwhile, I have sent my boys to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation, but I ordered them to stop for a while and not to strike immediately because I just felt something good and sympathetic about you. I decided to contact you first and know why somebody will want you dead by all means. Right now my men are monitoring you, their eyes are on you, and even the place you think is safer for you to hide might not be.

Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? It is up to you. Get back to me now if you are ready to enter deal with me, I mean life trade, who knows, and I might just spear your life, $8,000 is all you need to spend. You will first of all pay $3,000 then I will send the tape of the person that want you dead to you and when the tape gets to you, you will pay the remaining $5,000. If you are not ready for my help, then I will have no choice but to carry on the assignment after all I have already being paid before now.

Warning: do not think of contacting the police or even tell anyone because I will extend it to any member of your family since you are aware that somebody want you dead, and the person knows some members of your family as well.

For your own good I will advise you not to go out once is 7pm until I make out time to see you and give you the tape of my discussion with the person who want you dead then you can use it to take any legal action. Good luck as I await your reply to this e-mail contact: mayhissolrestinpeace@gmail.com


With such a threat like that I had to respond. So I did to the gmail given in the letter and to the address who sent the letter, mayhissolerestinpice3@gala.net.

I want to put this behind me as soon as possible I will meet you at walmart with the money.

About 19 hours later I got this response:

From: ASSASSIN ASSASSIN (mayhissolrestinpeace1@gmail.com)
Subject: Attention John Honeck, [with the comma]

Attention John Honeck,

you only have three days to send this money because time is not on my side I am now in the state together with my boys so you don’t need to delay this payment for any reason I don’t just want to west your life with reason but if you can not comply then bye. I will locate you where ever you are it will only take me 24 hours to get you.

You can send this money direct to my local boys in Benin via western union money transfer.

Receivers name. IGWAZE SAMUEL.
Country. Benin. [map]
City. Cotonou.
Address Cotonou Benin republic.
Question. What is my name?
Answer. Boys.

You should send the money via western union money transfer amount 3000 any delay that you apply on this will be on your own risk. And I will guarantee you that as soon as you send this money the person that sends me to this job will be on danger because I don’t want to west you but any delay on sending this money will affect your life and your family because that is my job. As soon as you send the money I will send you the tape of my conversation with this person that sends me for this job.

Bye bye.

William yahman.

From the generally nice closing of “bye bye” I guess my would be killer is warming up to me, hopefully we can strike a deal. I’m not sure if anyone is actually reading my emails so I replied this time with:

I have washed the elephant with cheese, please see how it glows.

I am awaing William Yahman’s response to that. I’ll have to let you know if they do in fact come for me.  Google was unable to calculate driving directions for me to make a personal visit.  Bummer.

More updates to come…

posted in Personal | 33 Comments

20th May 2008

Twitter: Epic Fail

Twitter Fail Boat

posted in SEO, web 2.0 | 0 Comments

20th May 2008

New Googler Spotted

I’ve spotted a new Googler (new to me) helping out in GWHG. Everyone welcome blue G Chark to the fray. The list of Google Help(ers) has been updated as well.

From Chark’s introduction:

I’m Char, another Googler from Search Quality here to help out in the
Webmaster Help Group.

My foray into webmastering began with a personal photo gallery site I
created years ago, which looks like it is perpetually stuck in the
nineties. To redeem myself, I helped my last company bring its website
out of the nineties. Currently, I co-author a personal blog and am
working on setting up a personal website to host my own music fluff
(domain name TBD).

In addition to creating music fluff, I also like listening to all
sorts of music, trying different kinds of food, wandering around in
general, and learning about people.

I look forward to getting to know many of you and being involved in
this already very active and supportive community=). Thank you for
having me.

posted in GWHG | 0 Comments

29th April 2008

Google friendly URL structure

From Google’s own Webmaster Help Center:

A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers). For example, if you’re searching for information about aviation, a URL like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation will help you decide whether to click that link. A URL like http://www.example.com/index.php?id_sezione=360&sid=3a5ebc944f41daa6f849f730f1, is much less appealing to users.

This can be found on Google’s UN-friendly URL:


I think Nelson captured it best when he said:

Nelson HA HA


posted in Google | 1 Comment

25th April 2008

Spam Monkeys

Google has penalized some sites for buying links and others for selling links. Personal blogs with no revenue stream have their rankings stripped while large brands carry on selling and buying links.


From the Navy Safety Center:

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, all of the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result, and all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon the monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be attacked.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

Why not? Because as far as they know, that’s the way it’s always been done around there.

They don’t have to punish all the link buyers, not even the big ones, just get enough people talking about it and the rest will follow. If I were looking for monkeys I’d find the most vocal ones perhaps those involved in online forums, social media, and discussion groups. You wouldn’t want to waste your time going after trusted newspapers that sell links for $195 a year, specially when they offer:

Your search engine rankings will also improve by receiving a link on our sites!

While you’ll be less dependent on people having to search for your site, your search engine rankings will be improved for those that do.

“PageRank interprets a link from Page A (our sites) to Page B (your site) as a vote for Page B by Page A. PageRank then assesses a page’s importance by the number of votes it receives. PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value.” – Google Support site

“The best way to ensure that Google finds your site is to have pages on other relevant sites to link to yours.” – Google Support site

~Hat tip to Wingnut for the Monkey Quote, the link seller outing was my own doing.

posted in Google, Paid Links | 0 Comments

2nd April 2008

Audio and Transcripts of Google Webmaster Chat

I promise no more RickRolling, and apologize to the 100+ people yesterday that were redirected…this is real.

The Google Webmaster Chat was a huge success as reported in many prominent places such as Search Engine Roundtable.

The online chat involved several multi-media avenues in which to communicate between the many Googlers who participated in the meeting and the 200+ webmasters.

  1. A free-for-all chat room type interface, the transcript of which can be read here. [PDF]
  2. A question and answer section where webmasters posted questions and Googlers answered, the transcript is located here. [PDF]
  3. Webmasters called in, or were called, to listen into the presentation by a dozen or so Googlers in conference call with Googlers in Mountain View, Kirkland, and Zurich. The audio recording of that section was saved in this Brasil SEO site.

My Portuguese skills are little rusty don’t exist, but according to the Google Translation it appears as the author is recommending you download the files, which I did. To help save his bandwidth I’ve mirrored the files here, be sure to link to the original source in your own discussion.

Audio Chat Part 1 (mp3)

Audio Chat Part 2 (mp3)

Audio Chat Part 3 (mp3)

Note: The much debated PageRank sculpting discussion starts right at the beginning of part 3.

A transcribed version of the audio portion can be found here.

posted in GWHG, Google | 3 Comments

26th March 2008

Finally a penalty with some teeth for selling links

This just in from DaveN that he has an example and a confirmation from Google that they’ve actually done more than a visible PageRank reduction for a link seller.

It all started when Dave posted about a friend’s site that was no longer showing for it’s money keywords, in his words:

…because I know where they used to rank for t-shirt printing

The assumption was that they’ve done nothing spammy to deserve the penalty.

Matt Cutts stopped by to add:

“what do you do when you know you haven’t do anything wrong, but Google still gives you a penalty”

e-examine your assumptions? E.g. http://web.archive.org/web/20070817163057/http://www.indigoclothing.com/blog/ is a link that shows when they were selling links. Later versions of their site were selling even more links, e.g. “sexy underwear” links.

Google has been very clear about how we feel about selling/buying links. If indigoclothing.com has dropped their text link ads and remove the links that they sold, they could do a reconsideration request. According to the data I looked at, the site has never done a reconsideration request.

So now we can get on with the business of actually earning links now that Google is actually going to start reducing the rankings of sites selling links. The visible PageRank reduction caused quite a stir, but in the end all I kept reading about it was that peoples rankings and traffic didn’t change. Sort of a non-penalty.

A quick check of the web’s most notorious link seller shows them still indexed and still ranking. Google must be going after the small time TLA sites first before tackling the worst offenders. Google still recommends buying links from Yahoo! in their guidelines, but those are slow to update as the help for the Reconsideration Request still says it’s for deindexed sites:

If your site is not included in Google’s search results, and you believe that it does not violate our webmaster guidelines, you can ask Google to reconsider your site for inclusion in the index.

This is clearly not the case as shown by this very example.

posted in Paid Links, reconsideration request | 0 Comments

25th March 2008

New to Sphinn?

Don’t even bother submitting without a popular avatar or at least submitting an A-list site, it isn’t going hot.

Hot Topic’s Screenshot

posted in Personal | 0 Comments

19th March 2008

Suggestion for Google Webmaster Tools


posted in Google | 1 Comment

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