I’m Asking for Your Assistance!

28 Sep

Well, my first entry at BlogEngage’s Best of the Guest Bloggers Contest is up, and a second one is in the hopper. I’m planning to do a series, and the one that scores the highest will end up being my entry. My first entry can be seen here, Doc Says: So You Want to be a Blogger?

The background on the contest can be seen on my other blog, Doc Sheldon’s SXO Clinic. I’ll let you read about it over there. What I want to do here is ask for your help.

The judging is based upon the quality of the post, the quantity and quality of comments, my response to those comments, the amount of social media promotion of the post, and the on-site voting for the post.

That’s where ya’ll come in (I hope). If you’ll go read the post, vote on it (if you think it’s any good) and leave a comment (please… not just, “great post!”… a comment with some substance.), and then share the post around the social media. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Delicious, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, FriendFeed, Technorati, etc…. any and all, you’ll be helping me tremendously!

It’s for a good cause, too. Me! Well, actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I need a new computer. This six year old Dell Dinosaur is rapidly giving up the ghost. And since I now make what I laughingly call a “living” on the internet, I need to get a new desktop, as this laptop is maxed out, and crashes on me several times per day. So, in a round about way, I guess I’m the “good cause”. Or at least, my sanity is!

I’d really appreciate any assistance ya’ll can give me on this, folks. Pass it on to your kin and neighbors, too. We’ll make it a party!

351 Cleveland Build-out Should be Fun

27 Sep

My brother-in-law bought himself a little project the other day, and has enlisted my help in restoring it. It’s a ’54 Ford F-100 stepside pick-up, which is really in pretty good condition. It’s been stored inside, has very little rust, and the body is intact.

A bonus… at some point, someone had dropped a 351 Cleveland into it, which will be my part. We still haven’t decided whether we’ll use that, or opt for a more economical small-block 302, and sell the 351. If so, I’ll probably go ahead and rebuild it anyway, just ’cause! I figure if he decides to sell the 351, we can get enough for it to pay for the 302 block and a good chunk of what he paid for the truck, too.

And then, I’ll get to build the 302, too! I’ve never done a small-block Ford V8, and the 302 offers a lot of options. If I can talk him into getting rid of the semi-automatic transmission that came with the truck, then I’ll grab a 4 spd. standard and beef it up a little. Should be a fun few weeks.

The even better part… I’ll be doin’ the part I like, while he’s stuck with all the welding, grinding and sanding on the chassis. We’ve already picked up a Mustang II chassis, and will be integrating that front end into the ’54, once I get the jig built.

And the very best part of all… we’ll be doing the job at his place, so HE can listen to HIS wife bellyache about the dirt, noise and clutter for the next few months, instead of ME having to put up with it.

Hoo-boy! I don’t think the poor guy has a CLUE about how much he’s gonna suffer for this! Been there, done that, and got the scars to prove it!

I intend to take a lot of before-during-after shots, and will be posting them now & then. Especially some choice pics of his wife raising hell about it.

Ah…. life is good!

My Wish-List

21 Sep

Everybody’s got a wish-list, I suppose. And I suspect that some of us put things on that list, fully aware that we haven’t got a snowman’s chance in Hell of it ever comin’ true.

Well, mine already came true… a couple of times. But not lately. And it’s still on my list, ’cause I want it again!

Line-art of Harley cycle

Unfortunately, the old grandmother I sleep with, doesn’t see it as a very good idea.  She’s convinced I’d end up as a long red streak on some mountain road.

Hell, no!

A coastal highway, maybe. But not a mountain road.

‘Sides, it’d only hurt for a little bit.

Damned Dog!

15 Sep

We went to a friend’s place for a party tonight, and when we got home, I found that my cowardly-stinkin’-run-&-hide-anywhere-he-can-when-he-hears-a-firecracker dog had tried to fit his 40 lb carcass into a crevasse that a field mouse would have enough sense to know he couldn’t fit, and managed to knock over a 200 lb propane tank.

The good news is, the tank’s landing was softened, so that it didn’t damage the concrete, or explode.

The bad news is, it was softened by the hood of my Celica GT!

The other bad news is that it wasn’t softened by my cowardly-stinkin’-run-&-hide-anywhere-he-can-when-he-hears-a-firecracker dog!

There’s just no justice in this world!

Which reminds me…

MVF7PRUW9TD8!

That’s for Technorati.

What Does the Future Hold for Us?

1 Sep

Search Engine Optimization has been around since the mid 1990s, and has gone through a lot of growing pains. Some were caused by the periodic shifts of priorities by the search engines, but most, I think, were our own fault, either individually or collectively.

Initially, the web was a virtual Dodge City… no law, no order, every man for himself. Looking back, for those of you that remember the Web-Ring days, it was all about links, and there were no “rules” to follow. Then, the Marshal came to town, in the form of the search engines. They couldn’t set actual rules, per se, but they could penalize those that didn’t follow their guidelines, by either degrading a site’s position in the results pages, or by eliminating it altogether. To some, it may have seemed like living in Langtree, Texas, during the reign of the famous “Law West of the Pecos”, Judge Roy Bean.

(eclectic link for the easily distracted)

Jumping back from the late 19th century to the early 21st, however, it’s easy to realize that lawlessness and chaos aren’t conducive to growth. Some things, of course, will grow in spite of the chaos, such as was the case with the Old West, and has been the case with the internet. But eventually, those growing pains stop showing growth, and all that’s left is the pain.

The search engines need to serve up the best possible results in response to the users’ queries… that’s the cornerstone of their business plan. Fail in that, and ad sales decline quickly, users migrate to the competition to meet their needs, and even a behemoth corporation like Google can be brought to its knees in a remarkably short time.

The pseudo law that came in the wake of the rise of search engines was sorely needed, and the results have been nothing short of fantastic. The wealth of information now available at our fingertips makes the Industrial Revolution look like no more than a neighborhood block party.

Still, the initial efforts to aid in ranking sites, in order to improve the relevancy of results, brought with it a beast of many heads… the link. The search engines didn’t invent that – they just fed it, until it became unmanageable. Spamdexing crawled from beneath the bed, and became the boogeyman.

The Boogeyman under the bed

Having focused most of their developmental efforts on pagerank, which is driven only by backlink quality and quantity, the SEs were faced with the necessity of dedicating a HUGE amount of energy on containing that spam. Perhaps they would have been better advised to instead move away from links as a prime motivator for the SEO community. Easily said, but not so easily done, I imagine. A major shift like that would take time (and money, but then, they have plenty of that) to implement, to avoid drastic repercussions. A commodity – and don’t kid yourself, links have long since become a commodity – isn’t easily removed from an economy, without creating havoc.

Enter, 2010. By my guess, we’re at LEAST two years into a highly focused, and necessarily top-secret, plan, to make links all but obsolete. Remove the incentive, and spamdexing will largely evaporate. Sounds easy on paper, doesn’t it? Well, let’s look at a few recent and ongoing developments, and consider what they may mean to us.

  • Caffeine came out, which dramatically increased the speed at which pages were indexed. A necessary precursor to what some have called “real-time search”.
  • Mayday is simultaneously thrust upon us, supposedly having the most impact on long-tail keywords (there’s some subtlety here), but really, it’s still unknown what other intended effects were built into Mayday.
  • Major new pushes toward the semantic web, a concept proposed by Tim Berners-Lee as early as 2001, such as microformats, RDFa and Ctags.

So what might be the effects of all these? Let’s take a look at the last one, first, since it’s key to the success of what I think is planned.

First, I think it’s obvious that microformats and RDFa technology will allow the search engines to deliver more relevant search results. In addition, they put more information on each individual result right on the SERP, allowing the user to get a better preview of what he might find on a site.

Second, implementation of Ctags will create a deadly loop for the folks that would try to spam the search engines, in an effort to create relevancy where none exists. Go ahead and spam! You’ll only be spamming yourself!

As for the effects of Mayday… I know a lot of SEOs that have been testing, trying to determine what was done with this update. But most seem to agree that it’s essentially impossible to say, with any certainty. And I think we can all agree that Caffeine was a logical step, even by itself. But given the additional information to be parsed, as we provide more information, the speed achieved through Caffeine will be an integral part of any success of Google, in the days to come.

Links won’t go away. They’ve been there as long as the ‘net has existed, and they’ll be there for some time to come. But I think they’ll soon be a very minor contributor to the ranking algorithm. That means that much of the potential for spamming will disappear. We have the opportunity, finally, to unite behind a common purpose… provide the user with the most relevant results possible. The user, the search engines, the SEO and the site owner can all win!

If you see holes in my logic, or have a different take on these developments, please feel free to share your thoughts. This is my opinion, but it’s not cast in stone.

SEO Turned on Its Ear

21 Aug

Iago, whispering to Othello, “SEO is dead!”

Since the first search engine began to provide results for our on-line queries, there have been extensive efforts made to divine exactly how they determined what results to display, and in what order. Usually, someone who was thought to possess some golden information would utter a statement, and like lemmings, millions of wannabe SEOs would hoist their banners, and follow them… anywhere.

In all fairness, it’s easy to be wrong about some of what it takes to make a site rank high in the SERPs. By necessity, the search engines keep their formulas closely guarded secrets, in order to minimize unfair manipulation. Even the formula, called an algorithm, is suggestively mysterious (algorithm – alchemy… coincidence?). As a consequence, many people tend to cling to one or two aspects above all others, often to their own detriment. Even more often, to the detriment of their clients.

Such things as links, pagerank, keywords, sitemaps, URL structure, QDF, pagerank sculpting, meta tags, keyword density, load speed… very few SEOs can agree on the importance of even most of them, much less all. At any given time, someone can be found espousing the theory that one or more has no value, or is soon to disappear entirely.

Oooh... Oooh... Oooh...

For instance, in October of 2005, Steve Gilmore published Links are Dead, Doc, followed shortly thereafter, by W.G. Moore’s Are Reciprocal Links Dead? Both were preceded in their dire pronouncements, by Jeremy Zawodny, who blogged PageRank is Dead in May of 2003. Danny Sullivan, in June of 2009, published PageRank Sculpting is Dead! Long Live PageRank Sculpting! Then, in January of 2010, Paddy Moogan guest-blogged on Richard Baxter’s SEOGadget, SEO is Dead – Long Live SEO. Some preached death, some not. But all gave light to the issue.

As you can see, there’s a great deal of death in the SEO community… or at least, predictions of death. If we wait patiently, someone will probably soon predict that the internet itself has met its demise. Given the dearth of information as to what the Google alchemists consider most important, none of this should be surprising. Then, consider the new factors that seem to pop up just when we think we’ve got things nearly figured out… is it any wonder that we begin authoring hopeful obituaries?

Premature?

At this point, not to be outdone, I’ll make my prediction. First, however, I must admit that while I came to this conclusion on my own, I am not the first to give voice to it. For one, my Sensei at SEO Dojo, David Harry (@theGypsy), recently wrote a guest-blog on WordStream,  entitled, The Evolution of Ranking Signals: Google is Getting Past the Link.

Stole my thunder, well and proper, did he! Good on ya, David! Everyone really needs to read David’s piece… it’s spot on!

So – my not-so-original prediction is that links will have a diminishing role in determining the ranking of a page. Many others are saying it, as well, in varying degrees, such as Eric Enge, Nichola Stott and Kieran Flanagan to just name a few of the most recent voices.

Why do I believe this? First, the multi-headed link-beast is Google’s own creation. Oh, I know that Google didn’t create links, per se. But they DID feed the beast till it became unmanageable, thus providing the single greatest tool ever, for gaming their own system. Manipulation of rankings hit a new high (low?), owing to the sale, barter, hacking and spamming of links. I have to believe there were a few palm-to-forehead slaps around the conference tables at the GooglePlex, when they realized what they had spawned.

So it stands to reason that some thought must have been given to the process of taming the critter, and replacing it with a more manageable, more capable creature. Which is where I think we find ourselves now.

Google has been focusing much of its collective talent on behavioral, temporal and semantic analysis. As these all come together, links will no longer be necessary, in order to serve up the best response to a user’s search query. Entirely new algorithms can be developed, giving far less weight to backlinks. I’m not saying that I think links will go away completely… they’re bound to still be rolled into the equation. I’m simply saying that they’ll no longer be playing the lead – they’ll be reduced to a bit part.

As links take on less importance in the ranking of pages, the efforts to link-spam will diminish too. The crap-hat SEOs will always go where they can get the biggest benefit with the least effort. In my opinion, with links no longer providing the biggest bang for the buck, there’ll be a lot of scrambling to find a replacement activity. Well, guess what, folks? Link-spamming may well be the only aspect of SEO that actually DOES die! And it appears that its stand-in will be virtually un-spammable!

As the search engines polish their application of personalized search, tempered with temporal data, RDFa technology and CTags, the crap-hatters will find that the only spamming they can do will be against themselves. Query results will be greatly improved, link-spam will be reduced, and the user experience will be enhanced.

Don’t think for a moment that this means SEO will be dying. On the contrary, it will grow in depth and intricacy. Which means, I sincerely hope, that the crap-hat SEOs… those scumbags that give decent SEOs a bad name… will be dramatically reduced in number.

They needn’t worry, though… I hear McDonald’s is hiring.

Judge Bean’s Benefit Dinner for Rachel Hunnicutt-Knight

16 Aug

Benefit Dinner for Rachel Hunnicutt-Knight

There’s another Benefit Dinner for Rachel Hunnicutt-Knight, Saturday, August 28th, at Judge Bean’s, in  Keller, TX.

Ya’ll really need to get out of the house once in a while, and it wouldn’t hurt you a bit to enjoy a great dinner, some live music, and maybe come away a winner from the raffle. Most of all, it would really help others to help Rachel, if you’d grab your significant other, a handful of friends, or just a stranger off the street, and join us there! It’s a mighty worthy cause, and everyone that pitches in, is gonna be a winner, one way or the other!

If you can’t make it, at least stop by Rachel’s website, and leave an encouraging word. Hitting the PayPal button while there would be tremendously appreciated by Rachel, and all her friends and family — there’s a LOT of us.

And we’re waiting for you to show up!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 365 other followers