Advanced Linking Strategy Tactic

If the cliché is correct in the SEO world that “content is king,” then backlinks would be queen. While a discussion on the importance of backlinks and what they mean to search engine rankings is out of the scope of this entry, I need to give importance to this post and will say that in general backlinks are highly valuable to a site because they give a site credibility in the eyes of the search engines, and often times search engines will take the link text as describing what the page its linking to is about.

Now that we understand why we need backlinks to our site, let’s take a deeper look into how we can go about finding them; apart from the prehistoric method of just searching the engines for keywords and submitting to sites that get returned.

We will be working with operators on the MSN search engine. While you may be familiar with search operators like site:, which returns a list of all the pages indexed for a given domain, and InURL:, which will show a list of pages that contain a certain string in their URL, you may not be familiar with some advanced operators that may be combined to produce some highly targeted results that can be incredibly valuable to SEOs.

Traditionally, checking backlinks consisted of navigating to your search engine of choice and typing link:mysite.com. This returned a list of all the pages that linked to your site. Simple enough. While this does provide some useful information it simply isn’t enough. The limitation of this method is that it only returns results for whatever page you search for; strange, because the limitation is that it’s doing exactly what we told it to. But if you think about it, how long would it take to type in link:mysite.com for every page on your site? Now you begin to see the limitations of this search operator.

Enter linkdomain:. This search operator was introduced by MSN to return pages that link to any page within a domain, not just a single page that you submit. Now you can easily see who’s linking to products in your catalog, or which of your blog entries people reference most often.

While this can provide valuable information, the real power of the linkdomain: operator comes when it get used in combination with itself. Take the following for example:

(linkdomain:sitea.com linkdomain:siteb.com linkdomain:sitec.com) (-linkdomain:sited.com)

This search string will return any pages that link to sitea.com, siteb.com and sitec.com, but not sited.com. For SEOs with clients that have fierce competition this search tactic can be a lifesaver, because it allows you to check for sites that link to your competition but not to you. Remember above we noted briefly the importance of backlinks, and how in the eyes of search engines they can give a site credibility. Thus, any site which shows up from this search query with links to your competition and not you is potentially lost credibility.

Let’s end with a real-world example. We are in the wine magazine business and are in the process of conducting a linking strategy, trying to get new backlinks to our site in an effort to boost our listings. Our company is Wine Mag, and we want to find a list of pages that link to our competiton: Wine and SpiritsWine Spectator, and Food and Wine, but not to us. We conduct the following search at MSN.com:

(linkdomain:wineandspiritsmagazine.com linkdomain:winespectator.com linkdomain:foodandwine.com) (-linkdomain:winemag.com)

This returns exactly what we wanted, a list of pages that link to our competitors but not to us, and we could now begin the process of contacting the site owners for backlinks.

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Secret Windows XP Theme: Royale Noir

I’ve been wanting to write an entry for this since I first received word over the weekend, but unfortunately free time isn’t always on my side; rather, it rarely is. There is a “secret” Windows XP theme circulating the Internet of late. Apparently during the development of the XP Media Center theme (Royale), Microsoft also produced a black version of the skin. It is purported that since the skin was never officially released there are some bugs in it, however I’ve had it activated for a few days now and have yet to experience any issues. For those questioning the validity of the skin, it has been signed by Microsoft and therefore does not require a custom UxTheme.dll.

Installing Royale Noir is remarkably simple, just download Royale Noir, extract the files contents to C:\WINDOWS\Resources\Themes\royalenoir or whatever else you want to cal the extracted folder, double-click luna.msstyles, select the “Noir” color scheme and voila!

While this hardly compares to the beautiful eye candy that is the linux desktop, it is a step in the right direction for Microsoft; away from the traditionally boring beveled look-and-feel of XP. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take years for the best theme of the upcoming Windows Vista to be released to the public.

Here is a screenshot of Royale Noir:

royale noir windows xp theme screen shot

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A jonholato.com Update

So it’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been super busy at work and will probably continue to get busier, however the good news is not all is lost. In my little spare time I have been working on tool for those in search engine optimization called SEO Robot. It’s still a rudimentary work in progress however it’s progressing nicely. I keep adding more and more functionality to the SEO Robot because I’m not quite sure how far I want to go with this one. For more information about this tool you can visit the SEO Robot page. I have also begun work on a search engine marketing glossary. There are others already in existence, however I plan to take mine beyond those into not only mandatory search engine marketing related information, but also I plan to incorporate general Internet or Web knowledge that I feel would be valuable for search engine marketers.

Also, the theme hunt is on once again. I enjoyed the unsleepable wordpress theme for a while, however I have grown bored with it, and am seeking one that provides more eye candy along with some room for me to add customized php code for enhanced functionality. I promise I will be posting more frequently! :)

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America: Freedom to Fascism

A documentary by Aaron Russo entitled America: Freedom to Fascism (full video) attacks certain characteristics of American government and society, most notably the Federal Reserve banking system and the notion of Federal Income Tax, and is a must watch for any American who is of voting age and pays taxes.

Russo begins the film with some historical background as to how the Federal Reserve and Federal Income Tax systems came into being in the early part of the 20th century as a result of the limitless greed of past bankers like Rockefeller, Morgan and others. Striking is the fact that the Supreme Court labeled income tax as unconstitutional, and it even failed to garner the appropriate number of senate ratifications to become law; however the government has happily been taxing our hard-earned wages, unknown to the masses that this practice they’ve been engaging in for over 90 years is in no way required by any part of the law.

According to the constitution, for income tax to be legal it would have to be apportioned, or distributed evenly among the masses as other taxes are such as the taxes we pay on gasoline and other consumer goods. Anyone who pays income tax knows this is hardly the case. Furthermore, nowhere in the law does it state that Americans are required to complete and submit a 1040 form to the IRS. The government has been taking our well-deserved income right out of our pockets and doesn’t even have the authority to do so.

The irony of it all is that the money collected by the government in these “taxes” doesn’t even go toward the people; rather, the income tax collected by the government goes directly to the foreign debt we owe outside investors. Let me state that once more: not one cent of the money the government takes from your paycheck goes toward you, or any other American.

The latter part of the documentary devotes a good amount of time to raising awareness about the Real ID Act, which I too must confess to having never heard of before this film. Basically the Real ID Act is George Orwell’s Big Brother come true, a national identification card which would be required when performing common tasks such as flying in an airplane, opening a bank account, entering any government building, etc.

He goes even further, with evidence to support his claims, detailing government programs to implant tiny, grain-of-rice size transmitters inside of people. These devices would take the national ID card notion even further by allowing the government to track every single move you make, even so much as to account for where you spend your cash.

This film, America: Freedom to Fascism, is probably the most eye-opening documentary to hit America since Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore; and in my opinion, much more powerful as well as frightening, because it shows that continued inaction on our part of changing the way our government operates will only lead to the inevitable elimination of our civil liberties the way we know them today. Our forefathers would be sick.

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What is Google Co-op?

1. What is Google Co-op?
2. How does Google Co-op work?

1. What is Google Co-op?

Users:

Google Co-op is an effort by Google to refine search engine results pages (SERPs) even further with the aid of organizations, businesses and individuals who label web pages that they find useful for particular topics. The end result is more relevant search results for users’ search queries. Also, users may subscribe to a contributor’s annotations if they wish; for example if a user is interested in diabetes related information he or she could subscribe to the labels of the American Diabetes Association, in which case the pages they have annotated will appear in his or her search results.

Contributors:

Google Co-op provides a way for you to improve the quality of SERPs for the topics you are most familiar with. For example, if you are an endocrinologist with expertise in diagnosing diabetes, you may use your expert knowledge to help Google provide better results by annotating web pages you find useful under the Tests/diagnosis label for the Condition info facet. Searchers can also subscribe to your annotations, in which case any pages you have annotated that are relevant to their search query will be returned.

2. How does Google Co-op work?

Users:

Apart from conducting normal searches on Google, the only action users may take, which is optional, is to subscribe to contributors who have provided annotations. Upon doing this, the user will receive pages that have been annotated by that contributor in their SERPs.

To subscribe to someone a user must visit the Google Co-op Directory, where all the providers are listed with buttons to subscribe/unsubscribe. Trusted sources, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, are enabled by default.

Users are able to manage their subscriptions at any time by returning to the Google Co-op Directory page and utilizing the subscribe/unsubscribe button. Note: Contributors who are listed in the directory are sources the community has found especially useful and of high quality; not all Google Co-op contributors are listed in the directory.

Contributors:

There are two ways to contribute to Google Co-op: labeling web pages for an existing topic or creating a new one. Both methods require the annotation of URLs with labels for different facets, depending on the subject matter in question, and are outside the scope of this blog entry. The important thing to remember now is that as an expert in your respective field you are aiding Google in returning the most relevant SERPs for users’ search queries. For instruction on annotating URLs, either by adding to existing topics or adding your own, wait for a future entry or visit the following: http://www.google.com/coop/docs/guide_topics.html.

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Google Cruise

Last Thursday night, 9/28/2006, some of the good folks at Google decided to take some of us from the office out on a drinks/dinner/drinks/dessert/drinks/more drinks cruise on the Hudson River. :) It was their way of saying “thank you for doing business with us,” and we couldn’t have been happier to say “you’re welcome.”

We took the Calypso out of Chelsea Piers and headed up river, all the way to the George Washington Bridge. We turned around directly underneath the bridge, which was an amazing sight, as most people only drive on it and never get to experience the view from below. Unfortunately, I was in the midst of a sit-down dinner with numerous co-workers and a few Googlites and was unable to leave and capture the moment on camera. After that we headed southward all the way down to the Statue of Liberty, which, if you haven’t yet seen Lady Liberty in person, I highly recommend.

Against all of our wills the cruise ended shortly after that as our time limit had expired on beautiful Calypso. Kudos to Google for planning an amazing night, which was every bit as educational as it was entertaining (one of the Googlers taught me how to play craps).

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