Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Anyone Want to Offer Free SEO Advice to a Former Businessweek Editor?

Former Businessweek editor John Byrne has a new site up, and he’s understandably proud: PoetsandQuants has an impressive-looking survey of the top MBA programs and a slew of related stories. (Not a coincidence: Business school rankings are a big asset for Businessweek too.)

The problem, as Byrne explains in a blog post, is that Google (GOOG) doesn’t seem to care. Or at least not in the way he’d like it to: Search for “poetsandquants” and you’ll find many references to the site, including the site’s Twitter and YouTube accounts, but no direct links to the site itself.

And, frustratingly, many of the links that Google does show searchers are simply scraping/Google gaming sites with no connection to Byrne’s site at all. Byrne:

As you go through the first five pages of Google results, there are all kinds of websites that have essentially highjacked Google, rendering its search product less useful and helpful to users. There’s a so-called weblog that is little more than a place to advertise Viagra and Cialis. There’s links to TweetMeme, Interceder, tweetcepts, twapperkeeper, rallyclips, and whotechpunditstweet, among many others. Most of them are search traps that have gamed Google. There’s even a link to one fool who has no idea who I am yet calls me a “douchebag” on page three of Google’s results for PoetsandQuants. (See the screenshot below to get a real glimpse of how bad Google’s results are.) Get through the first ten pages of results and there is still not a direct link to the site.

Two thoughts:

  • Join the club, John. You’re now one of many publishers who have a gripe with Google.
  • The fact that you’re one of many doesn’t make your gripe less worthy. And this sort of thing really should be worrisome for Google. It’s not that the search engine is ignoring your site–it’s that it is sending searchers to the wrong place. This happens much too often, and it’s a huge hole for a competitor to exploit.

I assume that Byrne, and Google, will sort this out fairly quickly–Bryne doesn’t tell us whether he’s been able to get ahold of a human in Mountain View to hash this out. And perhaps a link from this site will help!

But I also assume that Byrne, as a bootstrapping publisher, has less advanced SEO help than he had at his last gig, which means he’s always going to have some version of this problem.

So. Any generous SEO experts want to offer some advice about ways to solve his problem? You’ve got an open forum in the comments section below.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik