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"I was thinking about you all day today and what a great person you are."

"I wanted to be #1...After 2 months I reached the top position for my most popular keywords."


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Interview of Lots0

August 5, 2005

Lots0 is a well respected veteran in the SEO space. When I first got started in the SEO field Lots0 had a way of being blunt and dismissing many theories that made him one of the voices that was really worth listening to. I asked to interview him and he said sure.

How & when did you get into search?

Back in 1995-6, I started my first website. It did not take me long to figure out I was getting most all of my traffic from the search engines, as soon as I figured that out my life as a SEO was on its way.

Did you ever do much client work? Do you still? If you did and moved away from it what made you shift away from it?

In the spring of 1998 I started working with my first paying SEO client. By 2000 I was overwhelmed with clients and by 2003 I had dropped most all of my clients.

I guess you could say that; I came, I saw and then I left...

The simple reason I dropped most of my clients; I did not need them. I found I could make more money (with less problems) without clients.

I believe when I spoke to you in the past you told me you competed in some of the more expensive and competitive markets. Sorta a broad question here, but how do SEO techniques differ in competitive and non competitive marketplaces?

I used to go for the high ticket items (kind of an ego thing), but lately I just go for the easy buck, there are so many of them just laying around, it seems a shame not to pick them up as I go along. But don't get me wrong, I still like a challenge once in a while.

To me the only difference between competitive and non-competitive is the amount of work I have to put in to get a page to rank.

How do you know if a site has been hijacked or whether ranking fluctuations were due to algorithm changes? How common is hijacking in competitive markets and less competitive markets? Is there any way to minimize the risks associated with other webmasters hurting your site?

Well it looks like we are done with the easy questions. ;-)

How to tell if a site has been hijacked: I assume that you mean the 302 redirect hijack that can be used only in google to steal Pagerank and position in the SERP.

The 302 Hijack is difficult to spot, it is kind of like a cricket at dusk, you can hear it, you know its there, but you just can't see it.

Usually, if it is an algo tweak it will effect more than just one site, you can usually go to one of the SEO forums and find an update thread where a bunch of folks are all moaning about there loss. If you are among several hundred other site owners that have been demoted it is a good bet it was an algo tweak and not a 302 hijack.

If however, your google traffic comes to a crashing halt (usually within 36 hours) but your rank checking software is showing that you still have your positions, you might want to take a closer look.

Protection from the 302 hijack - There may be some, but I don't know of any.

What helps a site rank well in local markets? Do you need to host locally to compete in competitive marketplaces?

A local IP (site hosted locally) does seem to help, but it is not the end all for local ranking.

If you want to rank locally, on-page is currently where it is at, address and complete international phone numbers on page are a must.

Disinformation and search engine representatives: do search engineers tell the truth? Do they aim to mislead? What helps you determine the motive behind their postings and what they mean?

Do search engineers tell the truth.. Well I think most people are as honest as they can be, including search folk.

I do know that some search folk look at the search results like a proud and concerned parent and are understandably protective of their "baby". Would you misdirect or obscure to protect your "baby"?

Does the Google Sandbox exist? Could you describe what change or phenomenon occurred with the Google algorithms to make people market the existence of that idea?

No Sandbox, No Sandbox, No Sandbox!

According to Dale Gribble(King of the Hill) a sand box is only 10% sand, the rest is a mishmash of vomit, feces, blood and urine.. and in this case a bunch of BS.

Now having said that, I have to say that there are a few people out there who's opinion I highly respect and who strongly believe that there is some sort of a 'sandbox effect' that delays the ranking a site for months.

I think it is easy to market the 'sandbox' as it is a simple (but wrong) explanation for the fact that some sites just don't rank well.

As an SEO working with a client, it is much easier to tell the client he/she is in the 'sandbox' than to try to explain...

A. All the linking structure and onpage SEO all needs to be revamped so the site will rank.

B. Why the SEO recommended the original linking structure and onpage in the first place and why it did not work as advertised.

Temporal effects: is domain aging or link aging important? Do you see it becoming important?

This is a hard one.

I think that domain age has a direct correlation with reputation (trust) as far as the search engines go. The longer a site has been online the better the SEs are able to 'jugde' the actions of the site.

In other words, if a site has been live for five years and this site has always linked and behaved well within the SE guidelines the SEs are able to verify that behavior with their own data and will/should assume that this type of behavior will be the norm in the future for this site and therefore this site should be 'trusted' more than a site that has no track record with the SEs or a record of disregarding the SE guidelines.

Can you build links too quickly? Is there a recommended rate to build them? Does that differ by marketplace or the quality / type of links you are building?

No! We often add tens of thousands of links to a page in just a few minutes. So far we have not gotten 'slapped around' for it yet by any of the Search Engines. If we were to get hurt by doing this, you can bet your last penny that we would stop ASAP.

SEO & ethics: you have been one of the biggest debunkers of this marketing angle for me. Based on a few comments it seems you have a distaste for the SEO ethics crowd. Why do you have such a distaste for many people proclaiming to be "ethical" SEOs?

I was there when the first 'ethical' SEO poked his cowboy hat clad head out from under a rock.

I guess my distaste for the SEO 'ethics' crowd began because I knew the people involved before they became 'ethical' and I was part of original discussions(if you can call them that) about SEO 'ethics'.

I watched as a few SEOs who's business was not doing so well at the time spring to the SEO forefront as they proclaimed they were 'ethical' and all the other SEOs (that did not go along) were evil spammers. Once these self-named 'ethical' SEOs figured out they could get clients and a following of ditto heads by claiming they were 'ethical' they were off and running.

Fortunately, I think the 'ethical' SEO fad has about ran it course, it is fading fast as a marketing method.

Clients don't really care about being 'ethical' as defined by a big corporation like google(or some cowboy hat wearing SEO wannabe), clients care much more about conversions and issues directly related to their business.

On multiple occasions you mentioned that you had a not so pleasant experience with SearchKing. What happened, and what did you learn from it?

Here is a little SEO trivia for you: The 'ethical' SEO fad started because of law suit between searchking and google.

I was once a part of the Searchking "family", a Portal Partner. I even promoted SK and their products. At that time I considered Bob M. the owner of SK as a friend.

Then came Bob's idea to sell links based on pagerank, it was a truly brilliant cutting edge idea at the time. I should point out that Bob was not the first to think of this idea of selling links based on PR, he was just the first to go public with it.

Where things started to go wrong was when Bob decided to (against a LOT of advice not to) push his idea in Googles face.

The result of this public proclamation and public face rubbing was to have google completely bann all sites and domains associated with or hosted by SK. (google lashing out in anger is something too see, let me tell you.)

Then SK(Bob) sued google in US federal court, because of the banning, it was an ill thought out, badly conceived law suite based on faulty legal logic. It was doomed to fail - Bob knew this - he counted on it. Bob never had any intention of winning or even fighting the case, it was all just cheap advertisement to him. I did not know this at the time, I thought it was all legit, I even submitted an affidavit to the court in support of SK.

Most SK hosted sites were gone forever, not able to recover from a google bann.

Under public pressure and after three plus months, google reversed the bann on most, but not all of the the SK hosted domains. As far as I know the Bann still hangs over Search King.

I walked away from all this, seeing that all that google talk about 'doing no evil' was nothing but a pantload. I also learned a LOT about google by watching what they did and how they did it.

Quality links: is there such a thing as quality links? Can search engines tell the difference between quality and low quality links? If so, how do you determine the difference between quality and low quality links?

Yes there are quality links. You tell a quality link the same way you tell a quality site.

Can you rank for competitive terms using only low quality or automated links? If so, do you see this changing anytime soon?


Do pages on important sites get a boost in relevancy for being part of an important site?

Not 'relevancy', pages from an established site are considered more 'important' by google than a page from a new site.

Can and should established sites be more aggressive with their SEO techniques?

Most of the time there is No need for them too.

Page and site theme: are they important to consider when building links from other sites?

If your main concern is SEO and traffic, no. If however, you are looking for conversions I think it is wise idea to keep to a theme.

Are there any low risk SEO techniques you think most webmasters are underutilizing?

A lot of people still keep forgetting the basics; Keyword research, title tags, meta tags, clean code.

Why do the many of the best SEOs go by acronyms or nicknames?

Good last Question - When I first started SEO no one used their real names, everyone used acronyms. At first, I thought it was just an internet 'thing', but then I realized it was also for protection. There are way too many tin foil hat wearing folks out there.


Thanks for the interview Lots0.

- by Aaron Wall, owner of Search Marketing Info

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