All About Content

Talking to a Google Engineer

Posted by Melanie Phung on Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 11:21 pm

In a departure from my usual snarky self, I’m genuinely thrilled to say I had the opportunity today to talk to one of the Google engineers who works on organic search. It was an hour-long web/teleconference during which we talked about pretty basic SEO (most of which everyone on my team obviously already knew, but there were a couple of gems in there that surprised me), and then we actually walked through part of our e-commerce site evaluating certain pages and things that could be improved. Again, no huge surprises there. But it was great validation to have him praise all the things we’ve been fighting so hard for (and that we still should implement those things we haven’t gotten to yet).

The funniest part, however, was at the very end when I asked him to tell me about the minus 30 penalty, and he immediately said “there are things I cannot talk about” (read: I will neither deny nor confirm the existence of this alleged penalty).

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Category: Google

Where Blog Readers Go Next

Posted by Melanie Phung on Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Sally Falkow reports over at (a South African website) that MySpace is driving more traffic to other sites than MSN Live Search. And after visiting blogs users head off to these other types of sites:

  • Social networks (17%)
  • Entertainment sites (15%)
  • Email (11%)
  • Lifestyle sites (9.8%)
  • Search engines (6.2%)
  • News sites (6.1%)
  • Blogs (5.9%)
  • Photography sites (5.2%)
  • Portals (4.5%)
  • Shopping sites (4%)

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Category: Data

SEO Is Not Rocket Science

Posted by Melanie Phung on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Things that are true:

  1. SEO is not rocket science
  2. SEO is not brain surgery
  3. Brain surgery is not rocket science
  4. Apples are not oranges
  5. Oranges have no need for SEO, rocket science OR brain surgery
  6. SEO cannot guarantee profit
  7. Excellent, “100% White Hat SEO” is no guarantee of profit either
  8. Black Hat SEO works sometimes, sometimes it doesn’t
  9. Hats can be stylish, with the right outfit
  10. Stirring up idiotic controversy about how SEO is irrelevant compared to paid search (or vice versa) is sure to generate heated conversations, publicity that can last weeks if not more, and links to your site.



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Category: Contextual Ads,Industry Buzz,search marketing

And Another One Joins the Fray (

Posted by Melanie Phung on Monday, January 22, 2007 at 10:11 pm

A new pay per posting service is coming onto the scene. According to Blog Herald, raises a new question: at what point are you guaranteed to get a biased review no matter the blogger’s pledge of honesty? The thing that sets Sponsored Reviews apart from PayPerPost, ReviewMe and Blogsvertise is that the bloggers are the ones to set the price — apparently up to $10,000. At that price, who would criticize their sponsor?

Read the article and tell me what you think. In the meantime, I’m going to go sign up at and check it out.

Oh, and stay tuned for a follow-up to my comparison of the various paid blogging services — this time from an advertiser’s perspective.

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Category: Monetizing,Paid Content

I’ve Joined SEMPO

Posted by Melanie Phung on Monday, January 22, 2007 at 9:34 pm

For the first time in a long time, I’ve joined a professional association. A couple days ago I paid (with my company card of course) the membership fee for SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Association. In the past I’ve generally eschewed professional associations because you only get out of them what you put into them, and frankly I was never that interested in putting that much into them. But I noticed that they had a job board (that only members can post to) and I’ve been thinking lately that I need to belong to some professional groups. So I joined and posted my job on their site.

Now that I’m a member, I get to display this logo on my site (wheee):

Given that I’m an in-house SEO with little interest in freelancing on the side, the logo (which isn’t even an accreditation since SEMPO isn’t a standards-based organization) doesn’t mean anything to me.

But if SEMPO membership helps me directly or indirectly in building and improving my team, it’ll be well worth the money. I really do need to spend more energy on networking and meeting people in the industry. But even though I haven’t spent too much time perusing SEMPO’s membership list, I don’t get the sense that the big A-listers are members; it’s actually a very new and small organization. Oh well.

Even though membership seems sort of pricey as far as professional groups go, maybe I’ll get some good employee leads out of it. And that’s really all I’m looking for at this point.

Updated 1/24/2007:
Actually, SEMPO just announced that it is offering a Fundamentals of Search Marketing course that sounds like a promising resource. I might have both my writers, and any future staff, sign up for this. Would be a lot more useful to start here than to send noobs straight to SES or PubCon where it can be too overwhelming.

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Category: search marketing