Google Showing Query Specific Results for Olympians

Barry posted about how Google is showing a NBC Olympics box link to Carl Van Loan NBC athlete page for the query “loan”.

Barry noticed that other queries are not returning the Olympics box:

What bugs me is that a search on other popular U.S. Olympics Athletes do not bring up the same style result. One of the most popular U.S. Olympics stars is Apolo Anton Ohno but all you get are Google Images at the top. Another very popular U.S. athlete is Shaun White, but no special NBC Olympics box for Shaun either.

That sounded weird, so I spent a little time testing the system. Barry is right – searches for full names like “Shaun White” and “Apolo Anton Ohno” don’t show the NBC Olympics box. But one word queries for “Shaun”, “Apolo”, “Ohno”, “Van” do.

Here’s a list of some other interesting terms the NBC Olympics box is showing up for:

team, olympics, nbc, 2006, winter, torino, winter 2006, kevin, michael, ski team, snowboard, cross country skiing team (but not cross country – interesting), team sprint

Looks like NBC is using exact matching for these terms, since the NBC Olympic box doesn’t come up for many broad match terms like “NBC News” or full olympian names.

Update: Looks like someone at NBC recently added a few more terms to their campaign. Full names are now coming up with the NBC Olympic box.

Google Related Content AdLinks

Looks like Google is testing a new related content block that displays links to related content (so far news, searches, web pages). I’m assuming Google plans to allow publishers to modify the block to show links to other types of content like images, local, froogle, etc.

Garett Rogers says:

Since this doesn’t appear to show any advertisements, it is likely publishers won’t gain anything by using it — other than the satisfaction of knowing users are finding more information they are looking for. To solidify that point, the source code for the block doesn’t contain any unique identifier — required to link a website to a user account.

True, the source code doesn’t contain any unique identifier – but that doesn’t mean the public version won’t. Right now the outbound links from the content block do carry a client id. So Google is tracking where the visitors are coming from.

Web Page Link:

http://www.googlesyndication.com/relcontent/pageclick?

client=ca-rlu-vivi-ro-468x60_rc
&source=rlu&url=http://www.vivi.ro/blog/?p=182
&type=0&redir_url=http://romanian.joelonsoftware.com/

News Link:

http://www.googlesyndication.com/relcontent/pageclick?

client=ca-rlu-vivi-ro-468x60_rc
&source=rlu
&url=http://www.vivi.ro/blog/?p=182
&type=1
&redir_url=http://www.zf.ro/articole/Brokerii-nu-vad-motive-de-optimism-80250.html

Search Link:

http://www.googlesyndication.com/relcontent/searchclick?

client=ca-rlu-vivi-ro-468x60_rc
&type=2
&redir_url=http://www.google.com/search%3Frcu%3D2RLU%26hl%3Dro%26q%3DBANCURI

Example Script Include:
<script type=”text/javascript” language=”JavaScript”>
<!–
google_rc = new Object();
google_rc['width'] = 468;
google_rc['height'] = 60;
google_rc['modules'] = ['news','searches','pages'];
google_rc['color_line'] = ’336699′;
google_rc['color_link'] = ’0000ee’;
google_rc['color_bg'] = ‘ffffff’;
google_rc['color_text'] = ’000000′;
google_rc['color_source'] = ’6f6f6f’;
google_rc['color_header'] = ‘c6ddf4′;
google_rc['color_footer'] = ‘eeeeee’;
//–>
</script>
<script type=”text/javascript” language=”JavaScript” src=”http://www.googlesyndication.com/relcontent/show_rc.js”></script>

You’ll notice that you can choose which modules to display for the related content block.

Free Link Tips

Tired of directory and article submissions? Here are some tips for getting quality free links to your websites.

1. Profile Pages

Profile pages are essentially pre-sell pages. The links come from keyword rich pages (since you provide the content) and these links can include deep links. Depending on how the profile page is setup, the links may be located in the editorial block.

For example, both MySpace and Squidoo offer great profile pages. These profile pages are located one level off from the main domain. You can place multiple links within a large amount of text.

MySpace

Every account as MySpace has access to a profile page. Take a look at an example profile. Here you can see a decent amount of text with links sprinkled in the content, along with some nice anchor text.

Squidoo

Squidoo is even better. In addition to a profile section, Squidoo allows you to create individual topic pages called Lenses. Each of these lenses can be topic specific and include multiple links. Think of Squidoo lenses as hosted information pages. Here’s a quick example of a lense. Squidoo plans to share revenue with its lensemasters in the future.

2. Real Time Aggregators

Real time aggregators like memeorandum and megite are great for keeping updated with the latest news. From a SEO standpoint, sites like these represent a great vehicle for free links – provided you take the time to figure out how these sites rank.

Washington Post Trackbacks

The Washington Post supports trackbacks on many of their blogs. Similar to other trackback systems, they’ll toss you a link if you send them a trackback. With the immense number of blogs/content over at the Washington Post, you’ll find it fairly easy to come up with a blog post that is worth linking to. For example this one. (As opposed to straight out trackback spamming)

Memeorandum / Megite.com / Tailrank /Chuquet

These sites are real time aggregators – all run on different algorithms so you’ll have to take the time to figure out what works for you. A general tip, once you are in the system you can rehash whatever is on the front page and typically get a link.

Here’s a hint:

Megite works as the following:

Input:

a bunch of keywords, or a list of news or blog sites for a category

Process:

step 1) The sytem uses those keywords or the list to find more blogs or news site from the web. We called it data mining or auto discovery.

step 2) Some magic algorithm and ranking are used to discover the relevent and important blog posts or news.

step 3) learn from the discovered news and posts and infer more blogs and news site, then back to step 2) or output the intermedia results and push them to Megite web site.

3. Hosted Content

In addition to the big hosted blog sites like blogger, typepad, and wordpress.com – you can tap into other hosted content sites for links.

Gather.com

Gather.com is like an article repository that shares revenue with its authors. Here is an example Gather.com article.

The bonus with all these sites is that the better your content is, the better results you get. Better links, more natural traffic and in the case of Gather.com and Squidoo some extra cash too.

Google FUD Over Paid Links

The more and more I think about the debate over paid links and Google, the more I think about FUD.

FUD is a marketing strategy that stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. The term FUD describes disinformation tactics used to persuade customers to use a certain product over a competing product. A company that cannot respond with hard facts can use FUD tactics to cast a shadow of doubt on their competition and make people think twice before switching to the competitor.

Lets take a look at some quotes from Matt Cutts:

Reputable sites that sell links won’t have their search engine rankings or PageRank penalized–a search for [daily cal] would still return dailycal.org.

Fear:
I’m afraid that my site will lose its search engine rankings.

Uncertainty:
Is my site a reputable site?

Doubt:
Maybe I shouldn’t sell a link then, since I’m not dailycal.org

However, link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation (e.g. PageRank and anchortext).

Fear:
I’m afraid my site will lose it’s ability to give reputation.

Uncertainty:
How will I know? Maybe my PR will be affected? Maybe I’ll be penalized?

Doubt:
Guess I shouldn’t sell links.

Google’s stance on selling links is pretty clear and we’re pretty accurate at spotting them, both algorithmically and manually. Sites that sell links can lose their trust in search engines.

Fear:
Google can see my paid links from a mile away. My site will lose its trust in the search engines.

Uncertainty:
Wait. How can Google tell which links are paid? What if I’m just buy links for traffic. Oh no, should I have nofollowed that link?

Doubt:
Maybe I shouldn’t buy any links. I guess I’ll stick with AdWords.

Would anyone be surprised to find that some link buyers turn around and then sell links to other sites? And that those links may not be of the highest quality?

Fear:
What if the site I am advertising on is linking to a bad site? Will my site be punished?

Uncertainty:
How can I check if the site is linking to a bad site? What is high quality?

Doubt:
Forget this, I’m pulling my link buy from this site and I’m sticking with AdWords.

What if a site wants to buy links purely for visitor click traffic, to build buzz, or to support another site? In that situation, I would use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. The nofollow tag allows a site to add a link that abstains from being an editorial vote. Using nofollow is a safe way to buy links, because it’s a machine-readable way to specify that a link doesn’t have to be counted as a vote by a search engine.

Fear:
Now that I have a nofollow link, does that mean visitors will think my link is spam?

Uncertainty:
Search engines don’t count my link. Visitors see that my link has a link condom. Will humans think my site is spam?

Doubt:
I have no idea how safe this is. The only real safe alternative is to stick with AdWords. I can purchase links without having to worry about how it affects my visitors or my rankings.

The Google FUD is working.

Over at cr8atsiteforums, a user is scared of being punished for placing links on his site:

If I were to sell ads on 14thC and put up a page describing traffic, rates, terms, etc. one of the terms I’m inclined to place would be that a “nofollow” would be attached to the ads.

Except that will turn a lot of people away.

Shoul I even worry about it or just let Google devalue those links on their own (per Rand’s appearance in Newsweek and subsequent chat with Cutts)?

If I do that, would I incur any penalties?

Here’s a post over at webmasterworld:

BUT – arrgh, I still can’t quite get the big G out of my head. Now the option of buying a load of links comes up (around 15,000 in fact) and based on its natural merits of click throughs and brand awareness it seems like a very cost effective way of advertising. I can’t get G out of my head though. With a huge percentage of my traffic coming from search engines I cannot afford to get flagged or lose my rankings. I know I want these link for natural purposes but will G realise they are for natural purposes? I’ve read a bit about buying links and getting flagged and bam, your rankings have plummeted to oblivion. I’m trying to go completely white hat – but even then I think I may get into trouble, even though my motives for the links are totally pure.

And another:

Matt stressed that obvious paid links offered no boost in rankings, although they do not detract. In short, he stressed that paid links are a waste of money, and that G rewards links occuring naturally. He stressed that G is getting better by the day in detecting paid links.

I know there are ways of crafting paid links so that they will appear to be naturally generated, but the effort may not be as cost effective as developing unique, compelling content which will stimulate good inbound links. At least, this was my take away from that session as well as others in which matt participated.

Sure sounds like FUD to me.

Google may have a problem determining the difference between a paid link and a freely given link. But that is their problem, not yours. Ultimately, it is Google’s job to detect whether a link is bought or not and adjust its rankings accordingly.

It’s not the Webmaster/Marketer’s job to prevent web spam.

Who wants to buy an endorsement that says “Visit this site, but I don’t really trust their products”. Imagine buying a page spread for the New York Times that has a big banner across the top that says “This site maybe in the same category as pharmaceuticals, porn, gambling, and other spam.” Right.

Google can/is effectively eliminate competition to its main cash cow (AdWords) by keeping people afraid of using any system other than AdWords for advertising. Buying a graphic ad – well don’t because Google may ban you since the site you are buying ads on may link to something Google doesn’t like. Buying a text ad – well don’t because paid links are bad. Selling ads on your site – well don’t because Google may not trust your site anymore. Adding affiliate links to your site – well don’t because Google doesn’t like “thin affiliates”. Ad nauseum.

The FUD isn’t just hurting the text link brokers and individual link buyers. The impact is widespread. Online publishers are afraid that their sites will lose rankings, so they don’t consider any alternative revenue sources (affiliate links, text link advertising, etc) and they stick with AdSense. Ad networks like text link ads lose potential business since customers are afraid of buying links. SEOs are impacted since clients are afraid of Google so they stick with AdWords. For instance, take a look at the SEO guide from Google. It is filled with FUD. There is one sentence about the benefits of SEO and about another 200 lines covering bad SEO.

Nofollow is not an option. Nofollow was created to make sure spammers get no benefit from abusing public posting areas (like trackbacks/comments/etc). Forcing site owners and advertisers to employ nofollow on their links with FUD is just low. Google needs to stop scaring site owners/advertisers and focus on producing a product that makes the debate over paid links non existent.

Web Analytics Solutions

Looking for a Web Analytics package and need some more info?

Check out Pat McCarthy’s list of web analytics solutions. Not entirely comprehensive, but the list covers the majority of web analytics providers and each solution is accompanied by a concise description.

I’ve been using AWStats for most of my personal sites, but have been slowly migrating them all over to Google Analytics. At work I use the bigger packages – Clicktracks, HBX, Omniture, and Webtrends.

Anyone have a favorite analytics package? I’m leaning towards Omniture.

Gaming Google and Technorati Blog Style

Liz Strauss is pissed not even a little mad that Technorati keeps launching new features while their basic features are still broken.

So in protest, Liz is encouraging her readers to spread some link love to Janice Myint – Technorati’s Customer Support Specialist.

Let’s give Janice Myint Authority, by getting everyone to LINK TO JANICE.
We’ll need to do this with some saavy. We don’t want Janice to end up in the Google sandbox. I propose we work together on the honor system. Are you with me?

For SEO reasons, we need a variety of link types and a variety of link names. Keep these guidelines in mind.

  • Not everyone should use the exact title of her blog.
  • Not everyone should blogroll her blog. Some should be links to individual posts.
  • Some should be comment links.
  • Not everyone should link today, tomorrow, or the next day.

Choose one of the options below to pick your link day.

  • 1. Choose the last letter in your last name. Count its place in the alphabet. Count out that many days from today and link to Janice’s blog on that day.
  • 2. When you get your next link to your own blog. Link to Janice’s blog.
  • 3. If a friend or family member has a birthday, anniversary or other occasions between now and April 1st, link to Janice’s blog on that day.
  • 4. When you get the third, or fourth, or fifth, “Sorry Technorati is . . .” message, link to Janice’s blog.

What’s interesting here is how the guidelines are laid out:

Varied Link Descriptions

Too much of the same anchor text looks suspicious.

Varied Link Depth

Same thing goes with link depth. If every link is going to the homepage, things don’t look natural.

Varied Link Location

Link placement matters – if all the links are in the navigation or the footer, these links do not carry as much value as links in content rich areas.

Natural Link Growth

Gradual and varied link growth = Natural.

Couple more things that are happening that aren’t specifically outlined in the guidelines:

Varied Sites

Since Liz’s site reaches a variety of readers – naturally the sites they run will be located on different servers/ips and provide a nice distribution of site locations.

Related Content

Most of the time, content will accompany these links since the majority of these links will come from blog posts.

SES NYC 2006 Party and Events Schedule

Joseph Morin recently posted up the SES NYC 2006 Party/Events Schedule over at SEW. If you are planning an event or just wondering what’s on the list, head over here.

If you are a search engine or vendor events coordinator and are planning an official gathering or even an informal one that you would like me to promote like I did for SES San Jose 2005, then send me a PM with all of the details that you would like included. If you are an attendee and you’ve heard of a great event, also feel free to send me a PM and I’ll look into adding it to the list. SES Chicago 2005 had no advance planning for after hours events and we want to make sure that we do things in advance for NYC.

You might want to keep an eye for Ask’s event on Monday. This is what Joe had to say about the event.

Ask Jeeves just announced a MAJOR bash for Monday night.

Emphasis not mine. =P

Google Product Communities and Resources

Looking for help using some of Google’s products? Most of the time, the best information can be found reading community forums and this case is no different. In addition to the normal forums/resources, Google provides many useful places for you to discuss and read more about their products.

Here are some of Google’s communities and resources that may help you.

Google Analytics

Conversion University
Learn more about driving traffic to your site and converting visitors into customers.

Google Analytics Support
Helpful resource for Google Analytics

Google Analytics Google Group
Discuss Google Analytics with other users.

Google AdWords

Inside AdWords
Official Google AdWords Blog.

Google AdWords Google Group
Discuss Google AdWords with other users.

AdWords API Blog
Office Google AdWords API Blog.

AdWords Learning Center
Learn more about how Google AdWords works.

AdWords Support
FAQ for AdWords and resources.

Large SEO Firms Suck?

I’ve been meaning to write something about this topic for a while, but never really got around to it. Do large SEO firms suck?

Jim Boykin, CEO of WeBuildPages, has ranted before about large SEO firms:

I don’t get it…I just don’t get it…people pay huge money to huge SEO companies and the get very fancy meta tags and keyword analysis for their 12 month contract…I think I’ve ranted about this before…but how do these big companies get away with selling “meta tag and on page optimization” for 12 month contracts…and NO LINK BUILDING…I just don’t get it!…here’s another kicker…I know that some of these big companies (including the big SEO company name I removed above) have people who work for them who know better…they just gotta know that meta tags and on page optimization alone can’t do squat for rankings…I don’t get it.

Maybe I shouldn’t bitch…the more of the big companies that continue to do 1997 SEO, the better my company looks, and the more of their clients I’m going to take from them (because the biggest part of our work involves working on getting our clients links).

Rand’s post from last week addressed this too.

Both Dana and I commented that we had received many phone calls from customers of large SEO firms who had been unsatisfied with customer service, client relations and, most frequently, quality of work. I had hoped it was just me, but I think it’s a trend in the corporate world that large service providers suffer in many aspects of the services they offer. Dana and I talked specifically about some notable examples of big names in the SEO industry who had gone to work for large firms and, subsequently, left due to disagreement in how the company was managing their customers and their employees.

As most of you know, I work for Search Engine Optimization Inc (SEO Inc) – one of the larger west coast SEO firms. I’d like to think we are doing an awesome job for our clients. We pay a great deal of attention to every single client and take a consultative approach to everything we do. This allows us to tailor our campaigns and ensure high quality work.

But I’d like to hear what you think. Do you think large SEO firms suck? What can be done better? What are the typical unsatisfactory issues? Which large firms do you like? Which large firms don’t you? Why?

How can you tell if an SEO firm is good?

I think it’s pretty simple, would their competition recommend them to you? This is why Rand’s list of recommended SEO firms is so useful. Every firm listed is being vouched for by their competition. That’s much better than a client testimonial in my book.

What are your thoughts on large SEO firms?

Search Engine Marketing Magazine

I know Barry covered this a week ago, but I just received an email from Boris Mordkovich at the Search Marketing Standard asking for a mention on my blog – so here it is.

Our company has just launched the first print magazine dedicated to solely covering SEM – Search Marketing Standard. It’s a quarterly publication, about 40 pages large (for starters), with a subscribers base of over 15,000+.

Our debut issue will be coming out in May and we have already launched our website – www.searchmarketingstandard.com. We’re very excited about this venture, as we feel that a magazine in our industry is long overdue and we’re pleased to be the first ones to do it.

I would truly appreciate it if you could mention the magazine in your blog. I think that your readers would be interested in it and it would certainly mean a lot to us.

In case you need more information, we had a press release come out a few days ago: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/1/prweb337487.htm

They are offering a free one year subscription on their website. I’ve signed up and I’ll post a review of the magazine in May.

Yahoo Asking For Questions For Andrei Broder

Yahoo is hosting a Q&A session with Andrei Broder over at their search blog.

My question for Andrei Broder:

Blog Search. It sucks. How is Yahoo going to make it better? Conversation based search? Comment search?

My second question for Andrei Broder:

PS. If you are annoyed by all these sites that ask you to copy some letters or numbers to prove you are not a bot, you can blame Andrei as well: he co-invented this challenge, back in 1998.

Do you regret inventing this? Proving that you are not a bot to a ton of sites daily is annoying to say the least.

Google’s Official Response to Google China

I’ve been waiting for this – Google’s official response to Google in China.

With so many denouncing Google’s move into China, it’s good to see the thoughts behind Google China.

Bill Thompson from the BBC argues that Google’s entry into China makes perfect sense.

Forgive me if I refuse to go along with the knee-jerk consensus on this one.

Millions of people may now be turning away from Google in disgust, but I’ve just reinstated them as the default search for my Firefox toolbar, because I think it should be supported for its brave decision.

Even if the primary motivation for going into China is that it makes commercial sense for the company – as indeed it must do, since US law is quite harsh on boards that take actions which could damage shareholder value – it also makes political sense.

Supporters of free speech and open societies should be supporting Google rather than lambasting it.

David Weinberger would have done the same if he was Google.

If forced to choose — as Google has been — I’d probably do what Google is doing. It sucks, it stinks, but how would an information embargo help? It wouldn’t apply pressure on the Chinese government. Chinese citizens would not be any more likely to rise up against the government because they don’t have access to Google. Staying out of China would not lead to a more free China.

Doc Searls believes into continuing the conversation with the Chinese goverment over the alternative.

I believe constant engagement — conversation, if you will — with the Chinese government, beats picking up one’s very large marbles and going home. Which seems to be the alternative.

I’d have to agree. I don’t see any alternative for Google to take. Staying out of China is a bad option financially and politically – If the ultimate goal is to affect change in China, staying out of China is not the way to go.

Rand Says SEO vs. Conversion Debate Shouldn’t Exist

Rand responded to an entry I wrote last week about optimization vs user experience and I totally agree with him.

The two are inextricably tied together. How is it that SEO can make a site less user-friendly when our primary work is making the site attractive to visitors, potential linkers and search engines? These groups all have the same desire – high quality content, descriptive title tags and text & a usable experience.

Here’s the thing though – not all SEOs are the same. Not all SEOs are out there trying to make site more attractive or producing higher quality content. Some SEOs are real new to optimization and really don’t know any better. So as long as there is an SEO out there employing doorway pages, keyword spam, html spam – we’ll still be having this debate.

That’s why I feel it is important to talk about basic issues like conversions/tracking/analytics, if only to teach newer SEOs to continually think about how their optimization efforts are affecting the website as a whole. SEO is not conducted in a vacuum.

Make sure you drop by Rand’s entry and read up on the comments. There’s some good discussion going on over there.

Some quotes from the comments:

jestep:

I think that a lot of people associate traffic with conversions. The belief is that the more traffic, the more potential to make a sale. The problem is that many shady SEO’s (so called SEO’s) prey on the business owners that believe in the traffic = revenue theory. Because of this I think that SEO is looked upon by many as a shady industry. Full of deception on both the user and the search engine level.

rmccarley:

Keep in mind that not all high-traffic terms are convertable. The idea at that point is to build a site that is a resource and will have the viewer coming back so they make the purchase through you when they are ready (adds a bit to the concept of first impressions, don’t you think?).

EGOL:

Bottom line. You can’t focus on traffic. You need to be greedy and want the traffic AND the conversions.

Optimization vs User Experience

I’ve run into this problem many times:

Before optimization a site is converting about 3% of its traffic. After optimization, it’s converting about 2% of its traffic but I’ve increased the traffic to the site by 50%. Not bad right? I only lost about 1% conversion, but I’ve increased traffic by a whopping 50%.

Some quick math shows that I haven’t done anything to help the site’s overall goal.

100 visitors x 3% conversion = 3 visitors converting
150 visitors x 2% conversion = 3 visitors converting

Quite often, small changes will affect the conversion rate of a page – a couple more footer links, some content rewording, or a revised title. All your efforts could easily sabotage your returns.

Obviously usability and search engine optimization can go hand in hand – they aren’t mutually exclusive. But what if you need to choose between one or the other to spend on? Should you allocate your budget for marketing or improving user experience? Or what makes more sense for a successful website?

I’d start off focusing on a web site’s usability and user experience, long before I’d allocate funds for marketing. You should too.

Why?

First, improving your user experience/usability augments the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. It doesn’t go the other way around.

Second, marketing costs are limited by time. If you stop paying for PPC or SEO – your traffic will begin to taper off too. Not so with improvements to usability, since generally it is a one time thing. (Of course, you probably want to continually improve your user experience)

Third, dollar for dollar it’s hard for marketing to generate the same amount of returns investing in your user experience will generate. Let’s say your current conversion rate is 1% and through usability testing / conversion tweaks, you are able to increase that to 2%. In order for marketing to return the same amount of overall conversions, you would have to increase your traffic by 100%. On top of that, you would need to keep those traffic gains consistent all the time.

Fourth, many usability tweaks are common sense. For example, take a look at this thread over at Webmaster World, many of the tips are simple and would not cost anything other than a few minutes of your time.

Focus on a good user experience first, then place your efforts into your search engine marketing campaigns. Not before.

Anyone else have a story about optimization/marketing campaigns that affected conversions (for better or worse)?

v7ndotcom elursrebmem

What is v7ndotcom elursrebmem?

v7ndotcom elursrebmem are the keywords John Scott has picked for V7N SEO Contest. If you reverse the keywords around, you’ll notice they spell out the words “members rule”.

Why v7ndotcom elursrebmem?

From John Scott:

The keywords I chose indicate the value this community places upon community. The v7n community has always been, in my opinion, a couple notches above other forums where community is involved.

What are the rules of SEO Contest

1. In order to win the first prize, you must place first in Google (organic rankings) for the search term on May 15, 2006, noon, Pacific standard time.

2. Prizes for 2nd place through 5th place will be awarded based on web page placing in the corresponding positions in Google on May 15, 2006, noon, Pacific standard time.

3. For the purpose of this competition, indented listings in the SERPs will not be counted.

4. In order to qualify for the prize, a web page must include one of the following:

a. A link back to the V7N home page.

The link can be in any manner you wish, any anchor text you wish, with nofollow, without nofollow, JavaScript, cloaked or fried up and served with potatoes.

b. One of these Official V7n SEO Contest banners:

The banners may link to V7N, or not link to V7N. Linking the banner to any domain other than v7n will disqualify the contestant.

Just to make this very clear, the banner may be unlinked. You do not need to link the banner graphic to v7n. For those who do not speak English: you do not need to link el-banner-o to v7n-o.

c. The following text:

We support v7n.com

Basically attain the top rank for v7ndotcom elursrebmem and place some sort of message supporting V7N.

What are the prizes?

First Prize: $4000 + Ipod
Second Prize: $500
Third Prize: $100
Fourth Prize: $100
Fifth Prize: $100

Greg Boser, Todd Friesen, and Mike Grehan are also adding cash prizes if you are willing to follow a couple more rules.

Extra rules?

In addition to ranking for v7ndotcom elursrebmem, you’ll need to:

1. Place a link to the non-www version of Matt’s blog (http://mattcutts.com/blog.

In order to be eligible for the cash, your site will need to show up in a backlink search conducted on the day the contest ends. (We will use Yahoo’s Site Explorer to verify compliance.)

2. Use one of the non-link alternatives for the duration of the contest. (We will track and logs linking sites in order to determine eligibility).

v7ndotcom elursrebmem News

People have already started developing entries for the v7ndotcom elursrebmem contest. Yahoo is already showing more than 350+ entries for “v7ndotcom elursrebmem”. Threadwatch is covering a new google UI test showing Google Base entries for “v7ndotcom elursrebmem”. Even Danny Sullivan can’t ignore the contest like he thought.

Damn — just when I thought I could ignore the latest SEO contest, it does something interesting.

I’m betting the one with the best viral marketing campaign wins.

My Favorite Google Tool – Google SMS

Aside from Gmail (which I have been using for more than a year now), there is one other Google tool that I can’t live without – Google SMS.

I have one of those old Verizon phones and I don’t pay for web access or data, so my only way of tapping into search is through SMS. Ever since Google SMS launched, I’ve been using the service to find local restaurants, movie times, directions, phone numbers, etc. It’s replaced 411 as a more efficient and lower cost alternative to finding phone numbers for businesses.

I’m sure Google will start placing advertisements on text messages to monetize the service soon, but in the meanwhile – I’m enjoying the ad free service. It works and I can’t live without it.

Google even offers a wallet sized tip sheet(pdf) you can print out for Google SMS.

BigDaddy Data Center Default for Web Results

This new datacenter is going to be the default for Google’s web results. Bigdaddy is live at 64.233.179.104 and 66.249.93.104.

Q: Do you expect this to become the default source of web results? How long will it take?
A: Yes, I do expect Bigdaddy to become the default source of web results. The length of the transition will depend on lots of different issues. Right now I’m guessing 1-2 months, but if I find out more specifics I’ll let you know.

Google PC

Google has been in talks with Walmart to sell a cheap Google PC with Google’s operating system (via LA Times). Looks like Microsoft is in for some tough times, a cheap PC running Google’s free products (Gmail, Google Maps, Google Base, Personalized Homepage) will make it harder for Microsoft to charge high prices for software.

Sources say Google has been in negotiations with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., among other retailers, to sell a Google PC. The machine would run an operating system created by Google, not Microsoft’s Windows, which is one reason it would be so cheap — perhaps as little as a couple of hundred dollars.

Bear Stearns analysts speculated in a research report last month that consumers would soon see something called “Google Cubes” — a small hardware box that could allow users to move songs, videos and other digital files between their computers and TV sets.

Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and president of products, will give a keynote address Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Analysts suspect that Page will use the opportunity either to show off a Google computing device or announce a partnership with a big retailer to sell such a machine.