Recruitment in the Digital Space - Seminar

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The Australian Interactive Media Industry Association ( AIMIA )is organising a two hour seminar on the recruitment in the Digital Space.

The events is scheduled for the 20th June in Sydney.

The seminar will cover the following topics:
- The Landscape of Recruitment Today
- Recruiting: Who & What Should You Look For?
- The Skills Shortage: What's it all about?
- Retention: Special Case Study

The main sponsors and speakers are Sydney's specialists in online personal recruitment:
- LaVolta
- Michellake Consulting.

Prices start at $60 for AIMIA Members and $120 Non-Members.

The seminar should be quite interesting to understand how to get the best people for online media jobs.

Search Engine Bootcamp in New Zealand

Monday, 28 May 2007

The Search Engine Bootcamp seminars will be at the Auckland Hilton Hotel on June 21. It will be their first time in New Zealand.

The Next Sessions :

- Brisbane: 27th July 2007
- Sydney : 22nd November

Top 5 things to avoid in a good Link Building Strategy ?

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Google action toward the Found Agency gives a strong call to SEO firms. It is time now to review the practices and try to go to the next level ! I have seen many posts in blogs on how to improve your link building strategy. However it is not common to see what not to do ...

As described in the previous posts and as demonstrated by Google , the quality of a link building strategy will now have a stronger influence in a website ranking in Search Engines. All links are not weighted the same. Poor quality links from dodgy sources will have a tiny or even no influence on the search engine rankings. Therefore it is no use to collect thousands of poor quality links because the time spent to look for them and create them, won't justify any improvement.

Based on SEOMOZ's negative factors list, a proper link building strategy should not include any of the following factors! If you find out that your company or your website uses the following practices; it is time to react and try to improve that mess before Google finds out about it.

Here are the factors that might contribute to penalise your website and its ability to rank high in the search engines


1: Similar or Duplicate Content: Copying content from one site to another will deteriorate their value in Search engine and therefore reduce the potential of increasing search engines rankings.

2: External links to low quality/Spam sites: Linking to Spam and low quality sites will tell Google that you are not really trustworthy... Make sure you select the website for links exchanges

3: Overuse of targeted keywords. This factor apply to the link building strategy. Using 10 000 times the same anchor text will destroy all the work you have done building links. Make sure you vary your anchor texts.

4: Participation in Link Scheme or Actively selling links: Found Agency is a great example again with their web counter. The use of a footer 'seo by' in clients websites might one day fall into this category. Paid Links are still controversial but do not seem to be responsible for damaging website rankings.

5: Low quality inbounds links/Spam site: That is the perfect example illustrated by Found Agency... This factor seems to have a strong impact. Do the links 'seo by' in the footer of the clients fall in this category. At the moment it does not seem like it, but it will probalbly change soon.

Before reading all the posts on 'How to create a powerful link building strategy', make sure you are not doing the wrong things already.... Otherwise all your work will be useless....

Australian SEO companies=spammers ?

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

The Found Agency's drop in the Google ranking for using 'Black hat' practices is now bringing a more interesting question asked by The Age: Are most Australian SEO firms spammers?

An absolute 'Yes' would be a bit too exaggerated as there are Search engine optimization firms, which are actually using 'white hat practices'.

However an absolute 'No' will be even more exaggerated. A few Australia SEO companies are real spammers, but a lot of them are not far from becoming spammers. Found Agency was not a spammer a year ago (not for Google), but the recent changes in Google algorithm turned them into spammers. The same could happen really shortly to a lot of Australian SEO companies...
It is quite scary to see how many 'professional' SEO firms are using dodgy practices(grey practices) to promote themselves or even their clients. The scariest is that most of those people are speakers in SEO related events! I recently had a look at a couple of top ranked companies for the some popular terms such as 'search engine optimisation' or 'seo sydney' and I have been quite surprised!

If you consider that each Australian SEO firm is able to do a proper on-page optimisation ( not all of them are able to so!), then the most important factor that can influence their ranking is the number of links.
Australian SEO firms understood this. They loves their links (a bit too much), they became links addicts! They dont care, where the links are coming from, they just want links! I have seen many top ranked SEO companies having links from random websites thanks to Visitors Counters (we know who is this one), from optimised link farms or just some 'half-dodgy' links 'SEO by' from the footer of their clients websites.
All those links are from poor quality websites, which have nothing to do with the topic... It is scary! I have not seen many legitiamte links coming from search engine optimisation related content (except paid links).

Well this strategy is fair ( as long as it is work) but it won't make them stay very long at the top or even in the top 50 ranks of Google. To quote, Jeremy Bolt from Bruce Clay, and especailly the presentation he did at the CeBIT, a link building strategy needs real planning!
It needs to consider the long-term and by long term I mean the possible changes of the Google Algorithm.Some will say it is impossible to anticipate Google changes, which is true. However the guidelines they give can give long term directions.

Those facts just prove one thing and I am not gonna have any friends after this: The Australian Search engine optimisation industry is not up to date with the best SEO practices. Even worst many firms are flirting at the edge of spamming.
In that sense, I really agree with the anonymous speaker in The Age article quoted above. Most Aussie firms are still using practices that were used a couple of years ago. The industry is young, that is for sure, but many Australian Seo firms need to seriously lift up their game if they want to stay in the market.

Another useful thing for any person looking for a 'trusty and reliable' Search engine optimisation firm. Just check the links of the firm (In yahoo type: link:www.company.com.au) and see what you get. If you have a lot of links from sites that have nothing to do with SEO, you should maybe look for another one...

Found Agency: Online Crisis Management

Monday, 14 May 2007

The Found Agency story keeps on spreading out (moderately) in the blogs, forums and online press. I was surprised not to see any reactions from Found Agency itself, but things are changing and it seems that the Online Reputation Management machine is now running .
Indeed some kind of online PR is on!
Some articles with from CQ Extra:
Google the poodle, Found the great dane ?
Online PR from The Found Agency or simply a coincidence... I doubt it! This article is brilliantly written with a great style, and a way of turning bad news into a miracle. The journalist, Alex Ternowetsky, demonstrates without really proving anything, that the Found Agency guys are actually the smart people that can take Google down...

The best is this quote :

'And now the fate of the worldwide web depends upon whether Found Agency elects to view Google as a duplicitous and deadly king, or as a little wee poodle, placidly sniffing the flowers, waving her cute little behind in Found's face ...'

I doubt that the fate of the online web will depend on the Found Agency. Even if they are skilled professionals, they still made a fundamental mistake of playing against the rules of Google.
As Alex wrote in the article and I totally agree with him. Google is just a website, which cannot ban anyone from the Internet. However Google has the highest market share in the search engine market , which in other words mean ignoring Google is ignoring the market. Google's monopolistic position ( sounds like Microsoft and Window) gives them the ability to rule the game.. It is sad, but that is life and that the rule of business.

If Found Agency knew the rules and if they were smart, they would not have made those mistakes. Their approach was grey hat at a time it is now black hat and they have been penalised ! As professionals dealing with major clients, they cannot afford making those mistakes and using those practices. Being smart, would have been to anticipate the changes.
From a client perspective, would you be happy to learn that the company responsible for managing the search engine optimisation of your website has demonstrated that they don't know the rules... I would be pretty scared, and even if they did a great job in previous projects, I would have some doubts about their practices and what could happen to my website..

Anyway this article is a bit too much! However, it could well contribute to a great online crisis management. As suggested in some forums. Found Agency might be the winner of this game if they are smart. The buzz around them will probably generate a lot of articles about them and probably some links in search engine optimisation related contents. Promoting those contents through social marketing websites could generate a large amount of 'legitimate' links (this time) in relevant content, which could contribute to have a great impact on their way back to the top of the rankings... Lets check that in the next couple of weeks.

Found Agency : Sounds like the ENRON story

Friday, 11 May 2007

The drop of Found Agency ranking is creating a real buzz in the Sydney SEO industry, and sounds a little bit like the Enron story ( on a different scale and on different level of course). However there is another article about the story from the Australian:
Google penalises 'black hat' tactics

This media buzz seems to have created a 'wind of panic' in the Found Agency headquarters as they have published a statement on their website affirming that they have not been black listed by Google.... which sounds true as they are back in the ranking ( They were though for a day).

The Found Agency reaction is quite interesting and their efforts to get back on track to avoid losing the face are paying, as they are back on the 36 position for search engine optimisation... Proxy SEO to manage the crisis? grey hat strategy this time ? Who knows ?


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CeBIT Australia - SEO Presentation

The annual CeBIT Australia event took place in Darling Harbour on the 2nd of May 2007. Even if the focus was highly technological. There were still a couple of good presentations on PPC and SEO.

A good one, was from Jeremy Bolt from Bruce Clay Australasia. Jeremy clearly defined some of the best practices (White hat) on the market in terms of SEO and especially link building

The importance of planning the link building strategy focusing on quality websites with relevant content instead of acquiring a lot of links from poor sources. The bad effect of link buying ( I am more cautious on this affirmation. He also emphasized the importance of link distribution among sources and the growth rate, which is often under-estimated. Building 10 000 links of poor quality in 2 days will be good for a couple of months, but if nothing happen then all the efforts will be gone.

The following quote from Jeremy really illustrates it:

Link Spam and you eat for the day.... Link Plan and you eat for your life !

Good on ya Jeremy !

Marketing recruits to be trained as SEO consultants

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

It is a bit old, but can still provide useful information.

08/09/2006(13:20)

New marketing and IT positions for up to $350,000 per year are opening up in Australia to meet companies' demand for high rankings on Google, according to national newspaper the Australian.

Those with marketing talent and technological skills are being recruited and trained as search engine optimisation (SEO) consultants to improve companies' positions in search engines results and minimise any negative references to them.

Search engines use software called "bots" to document and catalogue content, so it takes a certain skill to redesign the websites so that the company attracts the attention of bots to give them a higher ranking and this is where the SEO consultants come in.

Zak Asani, director of Sydney SEO firm Found Agency, told the paper: "We had one individual pay $100,000 plus because there was a (press release) about him on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission website that ranked No.2 when you searched for his name.'

SEO consultants and "link monkeys" are needed to rewrite web page content and generate additional links to clients' sites, preferably obtaining links from respected government and education sites.

A Cape Town company, Purple Cow Communications, advertising a vacancy for such a position described this "highly skilled" role as a Pay Per Click Analyst.

Original article from job serve

A Snapshot of the Australian SEO Market

Monday, 7 May 2007

From The Australian, April 19, 2007

THEY'RE the new online gurus, search engine specialists able to earn $500,000, including bonuses, in the fast-growing internet marketing sector.
With paid search marketing forecast to grow to almost $1billion within three years, the increasing cost of buying keywords has sparked a boom in search engine optimisation, the art of manipulating the formula that search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN use to rank websites in their so-called natural, free or organic search results.

SEO specialists such as Chris Dimmock, chief executive of Cogentis, founding moderator of global forum Search Engine Watch and one of the first Australians to receive the Google stamp of approval for search marketing, are at the forefront of the newest revolution.

"It's a bit of an arms race," Dimmock says. "If content's king, links are queen."

The likes of Dimmock optimise a site by ensuring search engine spiders, or the programs that trawl the web indexing sites, can find enough triggers on a site relating to particular words, brands and topics to rank it highly against those terms.

The accepted ways to optimise a site include enriching the content to include more keywords relevant to a business, structuring the information architecture so it is accessible by search engines, and encouraging other relevant sites to link to it.

"There's a lot of link-baiting," Dimmock says. "Making good (controversial) content that people want to link to. It's about creative ways of getting people to link to your site."

The holy grail of SEO is to appear in the first three to five results on the first page of the search links generated when someone types a relevant keyword into a search engine, and people who can achieve this are among the most expensive internet marketing talent around.

Tim Macdonald, a former journalist who began dabbling in SEO at Fairfax Digital, co-founded search marketing firm the Found Agency three years ago.

It is known for managing to get the top local ranking when the term "search engine optimisation" is typed into Google.

Macdonald says people who know the tricks of the trade start at salaries of about $120,000. "The best ones - and there are a handful - earn $200,000, with bonuses," he adds. "One guy I know received $500,000 on bonus. If they're really good, the value (to the client) is there."

In Australia, SEO practitioners say it is a $20 million industry, but the growth is outpacing even the $250 million paid search sector, which grew 80 per cent last year.

Dimmock, who optimised Australia's biggest portal, ninemsn, and also works on Myhome.com. au and Reader's Digest, claims to have increased relevant traffic to sites by up to 400 per cent.

"Most SEO that we do is about new client acquisition: reaching people who don't know about you," he says.

24/7 Real Media bills itself as the biggest SEO agency in Australia, with about 53 clients, says managing director Robbie Hills.

"It's a cost to a company to increase traffic that's going to

do something at the website," Hills says. "You can develop an SEO strategy that will attract the type of visitors you want (such as to make a purchase)," he says.

If small to medium-sized businesses reliant on search engine traffic to generate leads have been quick to cotton on to SEO, large retailers and brands are among the worst.

When the words "running shoes" were typed into Google for this story, no shoe brands appeared among the top natural search results. Asics scraped on to the bottom of the first page. Nike, one of the world's biggest brands, was nowhere to be seen until Nike was typed into the browser.

The Nike Australia website, it turns out, commits one of the cardinal sins of SEO: it is built in JavaScript, a computer language that is not easily accessible by the spiders, or programs that search engines use to trawl the web and index sites.

A 2005 British survey from Net Imperative found more than 80per cent of the top publicly listed companies had websites with accessibility issues; Dimmock estimates the ratio is similar today in Australia. "Using pictures of words, rather than html-coded words: that's a fatal mistake made by most of the major retailers," Dimmock says.

According to Macdonald, who is due to complete the sale of the Found Agency to the Photon group later this year for an estimated $3 million, SEO has doubled in size over the past year and has a long way to go. "Only about 15 per cent of searches in the paid search category are currently being commercialised, so there's a huge amount of growth in that," he says. "More people click on the natural search results than paid search."

A site in the top natural search position will usually attract three to four times more clicks than a sponsored link. "People trust Google's algorithms to choose the most relevant results," Macdonald says.

The Found Agency works on travel industry websites Travel. com.au and Lastminute.com.au, which previously ranked poorly on search engines because a lot of their content could not be accessed by spiders. It's understood the sites have seen a 57 per cent rise in their international flight bookings after being optimised.

Jamie Silver, a former LookSmart employee and co-founder of Melbourne-headquartered digital agency Clear Light Digital, says the search engines publish guidelines on how to optimise sites but do not always make it clear which techniques contravene their rules.

SEO experts need to know many of the other tricks used by so-called "black hats", such as hiding white text on a white background to boost a ranking, serving different content to a search engine spider than to a consumer, and planting links to your site in abandoned blogs. Silver says these practices are "a risk": search engines will delist companies found to be flouting their rules. "There's a split in the world of SEO between the world of black hat and white hat," Silver says.

"Black hat is very much about doing things to trick and fool the search engines to achieve an artificially high ranking. (Search engines) operate on broad principles: you should be optimising the site for the user experience rather than to improve your Google ranking.

Read the story from The Australian website

The Found Agency : Black Listed by Google

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Lots of people have made hypothesis on what will be the next changes in the Google algorithm and how it will affect websites rankings.

A great example of this change is the massive drop of the australian search engine optimisation agency: The Found Agency.

Prior to those changes they use to rank first in Google Australia for the following keywords:
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Search Engine Marketing

Now they rank 48

The Found Agency has used a black hat link building strategy, which consisted in sponsoring a free web counter. For many years the counters have been added to various websites, mostly personal pages including gambling websites, porn websites and even refugee camps websites.
Having the counter for free, required to create a link to www.foundagency.com.au including an optimised anchor link such as search engine optimisation...
Thanks to this strategy they collected a vast number of links, which increased their PR and search engine ranking

However Google changes have totally turned the rules upside down. It seems that the weight of factors has totally changed. Poor quality links have less influence, worth than that a bad neighbouring can penalise your website...

feedback from the founders of Found Agency

More information on The Found Agency black hat practices from:
Oz Search Spam Cop



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