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September 13, 2007

An SEO Quiz, Shady Optimization Companies & Ask.com Maps

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So, we didn’t get eaten by bears after all. (And no, it wasn’t because we brought whistles, Volker). I’m kind of sad because it seems while we were up in Yosemite for our annual company retreat, the SEO industry went right along head without us. Didn’t they realize I wasn’t going to be around to blog? Like, seriously.

Okay, here’s some of the stuff we missed and maybe you did to.

SEOmoz’s Search Engine Optimization Quiz
Earlier this week, SEOmoz released a link baity Dark Lord of SEO quiz (complete with a new badge!). The quiz is 75 questions, covers the basic and advanced principles of search engine optimization and got a pretty public lashing when users, including Danny Sullivan, began disputing the expertness and biasness of the test.

Lots has already been said about the SEO quiz, but I think Vanessa Fox really hit the nail on the head when she said it was basically an SEOmoz compatibility test. If you agree with the questions and answers that SEOmoz has marked as "correct", then you share similar SEO methodology beliefs as the Mozzers. It also means you’re probably a pretty big SEOmoz blog reader and you may have a life-sized Rand/Rebecca/Jane doll hidden in your closet.

I played around with the quiz a bit this morning. For me the problem is that SEOmoz was trying to create the definitive quiz on search engine optimization. I don’t think that’s really possible at this stage in the game. Search engine optimization is always changing. It’s going to be damn near impossible for anyone, even Rand and company, to create a quiz today that will be just as relevant and useful a year from now. I mean, sure, there are optimization basics that will always hold true, but methodologies shift and change. Principles are evolving. What we thought 6 months ago may not hold true today.

The fact is, it’s really difficult to give a definitive "right" answer when you’re talking about search engine optimization. There are so many "what ifs" and variables that come into play that in some instances there are either (a) more than one right answer or (b) no "right" answer at all. Danny Sullivan did a good job capturing this sentiment in his Dissecting an SEO quiz. Someone should give Danny a cookie.

Would You Stay With A Bad SEO Company?

Barry pointed to a very interesting Cre8asite Forum thread earlier this week. In the thread, Cre8asite member Miriam tells the story of a Web development client of hers who has been receiving optimization services from a company that may or may not have been practicing good SEO. Miriam expressed her concerns to the client and recommended that the client perhaps end their contract with said SEO company. The client, who understood Miriam’s concerns, was hesitant to switch companies in fear he would lose all the rankings he had earned. Miriam consulted the Cre8asite community to get their advice on what this client should do.

I can completely understand this client’s fear, but I really think it’s time to find a new search engine optimization company. One you can trust. I mean, how in the world are going to improve your site and increase rankings if you can’t trust the people running the project? You can’t.

My advice? Terminate the contract and change all of your passwords/information so that the company no longer has access to your site. Then, find yourself a respectable SEO company. Don’t waste your time or money with this kind of "SEO". It’s not going to benefit you, your site or your customers.

I really don’t think this client need worry about any sort of drop in rankings, as it’s highly unlikely that switching companies will have any such impact on a site. If they were going to stop SEO altogether, then maybe, but simply switching providers is not going to hurt you. And if it did…well then that search engine optimization company was doing some seriously shady tricks and it’s in your best interest to get as far away from them as fast as you possibly can.

Ask.com Releases Embeddable Maps, New Features

Ask has followed Google’s lead, giving users the ability to embed a map directly onto their Web sites. The map appears as an image and links off to the full map over at Ask.com. Also cool is that Ask lets users include all the notations and drawings that users are able to use when they customize their maps. Yey, Ask!

To embed the map, just click the "embed" link located at the top right hand corner of any Ask map. Then copy the code and paste it directly onto your site, blog, etc. Simple, eh?

Rounding all the new Ask mapping features, users can also now adjust their routes if they don’t like the one laid out by Ask (Susan will be so excited), and there’s a new zip code business search to help you find all the pizza places in a certain vicinity. I’m sure it works for other businesses too, but pizza is clearly the greatest.

If you haven’t already done so, you should check out Nathan Weinberg’s comments on the new Ask mapping features. He raises a good point, questioning why Ask.com still uses two separate mapping services – Ask Maps and Ask City. When are we going to see these two merged?

Fun Finds

NxE had a fun piece of linkbait with the Fifty Most Influential Bloggers. Familiar names include Neil Patel (I wonder if he needed a permission slip to be included?), Rand Fishkin, Matt Cutts, Michael Arrington, Guy Kawasaki, and my personal favorite, Heather B. Armstrong.

Google wants to put a robot on the moon. Or something.

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3 responses to “An SEO Quiz, Shady Optimization Companies & Ask.com Maps”

  1. iamlost writes:

    I’m kind of sad because it seems while we were up in Yosemite for our annual company retreat, the SEO industry went right along head without us. Didn’t they realize I wasn’t going to be around to blog? Like, seriously.

    I missed hearing about Susan.
    I [heart] Susan :)
    She is so cute. ;)
    Hi, Susan. Sigh.

  2. Billy writes:

    I don’t understand how an “SEO newbie” can constantly rank on the first page of search engines for extremely competitive terms. At least according to the SEOMoz quiz.

  3. Alan Bleiweiss writes:

    Here’s a very good reason to leave a suspect company – a former client of ours had switched to another web company about two years ago. Last November they came back to the fold and I took over their SEO work. Why did they come back? For a while they did GREAT in rankings. Then, oddly enough, they disappeared from Yahoo altogether and became buried at Google.

    Turns out the site used some nasty black hat methods.

    It has taken me so much work and effort over a all this time to finally get their entire site back into the Yahoo index – heck – it took four months just to get Yahoo to even reinclude the home page!

    So I’d say the potential for being banned should be reason enough.



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