Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Bad SEO: Marqui Has The Reference

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Today, as part of the Marqui paid-blogger program, I have received a pointer to a SEO white paper. The 14-page report, that Marqui has apparently commissioned to Anvil (a SEO company itself), is available for access by anyone, albeit behind a short but still annoying registration form.


Entitled "The Marketer's Guide to Optimizing Your Web Content for Search Enginesis accessible here for immediate download. (Nov. 22 2004)

While the introduction reads: "This white paper addresses the fundamentals, and a number of the secrets, to effective search engine optimization, including search engines vs. directories vs. paid listings, making your content "SEO friendly," and creating an optimization methodology for your web site", the white paper is a badly written collection of well-known antiquated principles and techniques that are either out of use, outdated, unsubstantiated or plainly wrong.

Nothing worse to get your name out there while associating it with some low-quality content.

While you can go check the report yourself here are some pointers to the glaring misinformation provided in it with some personal advice for each:

Bad advice:
"To increase their chances of getting properly placed within the directory, marketers should research competitors and the directory submission rules, and create a keyword-loaded description (usually 10 to 15 words)."

Good advice: "keyword-loaded" is a term that is part of the SEO culture that heralds the high-density keyword principles and the need to work around tightly selected keywords/keyphrases. While there may be some important value in using the right terms to express whatever one is presenting, working in systematic and unnaturally mechanical approaches to enrich the visibility of content easily lowers any spontaneity that may be present in our information making our web content some of the most arid, inexpressive and fake forms of communication marketing available out there. To get properly placed state clearly what you are about and submit to the right directory in the first place.

In some cases, a site owner will pay to have his web pages included in a search engine's listings, known as pay-for-inclusion (PFI). While this typically does not buy a bump in the ranking, it does ensure that the pages will be listed more rapidly (within days vs. weeks with a spider-based search engine).

Good advice: place a free Google Custom Search on your site, and you can be positive that Google will have to crawl all of your site content without making any special request. Too good to be true? Trust me. It works.

Think again:
To optimize your content, you must start with your keywords and phrases. They are the link between your site and search engines, therefore between you and your customers, so they must be carefully selected. Being SEO friendly means strategically positioning these keywords and phrases on your site in page titles, META description and META keyword tags, visible HTML
text, at (or near) the top of pages, and in or around hypertext links.

Good advice: This is a distorted view that SEOs have gotten into their heads, as they apparently have never written or experienced successful content creation outside of SEO projects. There is no need to be carefully selecting anything: what really counts is that the title is a jewel of efficiency, synthesis and clarity, while the content needs to written by the best, most competent and engaging writer that you can access: you. That is what really counts.

"Your CMS should permit you to organize your links to be more SEO friendly and thereby maximize your relevancy among search engines."
(page 8).

Good advice: Steer away form anyone suggesting having ways, tools or systems that can organize your links to be more SEO-friendly: that is utter-nonsense. Links are links are links. To get highly credible sites to link to you there is nothing beyond your sheer ability to interact and communicate with those site owners to ever obtain such an honor. The rest is pure crap.

"Review the optimization status of not only the body copy, but also the title tags, the META description and keyword tags, the HTML titles, and the text hyperlinks. These are the top-tier elements in SEO design."

Good advice: This stuff is not only outdated, but it is also not true, unsubstantiated, not signed by any author that can be considered an expert in the field, and is plainly misleading. META description are rarely used by any major search engine and Keyword tags have long been dropped as references for content type by search engine crawlers. As the report even states later on in his pages: "META tags are not weighted as heavily by search engines as they once were; in fact, some search engines do not index them at all anymore. But they nevertheless remain an important tool for boosting your rankings."

Look for a CMS solution that allows you to easily add relevant title tags to your web pages.

Good advice: Yes, and when you find it give me a buzz too. Let me smoke that too Anvil. Come on! How can a CMS allow me to add relevant title tags? Either I am a good writer and know what constitutes a good and effective title for my content and for what people may search for inside the search engines, or instilling the idea that the CMS will do this for me is just confusing people ideas. (And don't tell me that allowing me to "add relevant title tags" means that the CMS will position those tags in any smarter way than Blogger, Movable Type or even FrontPage may do. This is just an insult to reason.)

PDFs commonly find their way into search results, but can complicate the results as many search engines cannot read them.

Good advice: Hey, this is 2004 and ALL search engines index without a problem any PDF they find. Wake up.

No advice
When creating web pages, first determine the overall theme or topic of the page. Write a short description around this theme. Focus on the theme when writing and creating page content. Include the important keywords and phrases at the top of each page and sprinkle them throughout as appropriate. Remember, the first few words/phrases/sentences on a page are deemed the most relevant by search engines.

Good advice: Just learn yourself how to be a good writer and take newspapers as your reference. If you think that at schools of journalism they would describe it as in the para above just follow the advice literally. If your mind allows more flexibility just follow the advice about writing content in an inverted pyramid approach and you will just do great on any search engine.

Look for a CMS solution that enables you to create and change web pages quickly and easily. This way you ensure your themes and topics remain relevant as you change special online offers or news, or have other fresh information to index.

Good advice: Any CMS allows you to change Web pages quickly and easily. Good examples are blogging tools like Blogger, Movable Type, TypePad. Do not be mislead though. It is in the publishing workflow policies and in the makeup of your newsroom that the foundations for theme relevance and up-to-date content will be born, not in the CMS ease of editing articles.

Hyperlinks are "clickable" pieces of text that connect a viewer to another page or web site. Tip: Add as many links as possible within body text to other pages within your site. This will help increase the number of pages indexed and listed in search engines. An effective CMS will allow you to create links as easily as highlighting text and clicking a "link" button.

Good advice: There is no need to place as many links as possible inside articles to facilitate major search engines in finding your other content. All that is needed is an up-to-date textual site map linked from the home page of your site. Does the Marqui system generate one automatically out of the box?

Bad advice:
A site map includes text links to all the important pages of your site.
Tip: Submit a site map to search engines as it gives them links to all of the key parts of your site.

Good advice: Site maps are not to be submitted to major search engines. They need simply to be added to your site and linked from your home page. Anything else is only misleading.

Bad editorial practice:
No direct (visible or invisible) links are provided to any of the sources mentioned inside the white paper. What readers expect to build trust into any report citing other sources of information is to be able to go and verify such specific resources. So generic links to magazine home pages don't cut it. This is cheating. Obviously, links need to be to the specific article that is being referenced in the report. (See, for example, if you can find any link reference to the original data mentioned on page 7 of the PDF. The content exists online but it is not ever linked to).

Bad PDF production
The Marqui white paper PDF is badly created and the list of bullets that should be appearing on page 12 is just a list of question marks on my hand.
So much for professionalism, credibility, and quality control (if they can't check theirs imagine how much you can trust them to improve your own content!).

Misleading links
The PDF contains text that is formatted as a hyperlink (blue and underlined - page 14) but that doesn't link to anything.

Irrelevant references
The white paper PDF adds a list to generic publications online home pages that have no specific or immediate direct relevance to the SEO topic. Some examples: TechWeb, eWeek, Publish, CNet News, ClickZ (all provided as generic home page URLs).

No authorship
There is no bio, background or profile information about the author of this report and the company behind him/her. Is this a) a SEO company promoting its brand while throwing together some outdated ideas or is this b) a true independent and qualified reporter sharing up-to-date useful SEO tips? (If you were in doubt (a) is the correct answer.)

Oudated concepts
The white paper uses mythological online marketing concepts that hardly apply to today's reality. I am referring, for example, to the clearly suggested need to use a webmaster to submit the site to the major search engines. Nothing could be further from the truth. By far, this is NOT the preferred nor the most effective method to get indexed by a major search engine.

Good advice: The preferred method, which is not ever mentioned or referred to in this white paper is to link the new site from a domain that is indexed on a frequent basis by Google or any other major search engine. That is, if I make a link from one site Google has already indexed and which it spiders on a daily basis (this site for example), in 48 hours max Google will have the URL of the index at site/domain inside its index and visible to the public at large. That's how simple it is.

No game name
Somewhat amazing is also the disclaimer that comes with this white paper. I am not too sure in fact of how to best interpret it. It reads:
"©2004 Marqui, Inc. All rights reserved. Marqui does not warrant, guarantee or make representations concerning the contents of this document. All information is provided "AS-IS" without express or implied warranties of any kind. Marqui and the Marqui logo are trademarks ... ... of their respective owners. Whew. Glad to get that out of the way."

Good advice: I wouldn't be that cool in making that final statement, as the company comes out looking completely disjointed. Wanting to be cool and up with the times but writing instead a disclaimer worth of Microsoft or IBM. Desiring to be providing cutting-edge SEO-related info that could boost Marqui's own CMS, but instead publishing a very poor-quality paper while proudly stating very clearly that Marqui doesn't endorse it: hey, I am new to this game...what do you guys call it in the US?

A few humble ideas of what Marqui should actually provide to guarantee improved search engine visibility, exposure and reach, could start from here:

  • Automatic Site Map creation
  • Integrated search for similar content on site (to be referenced linked to)
  • Ability to easily integrate, mix and splice together RSS newsfeeds coming from other departments, partners, sites.
  • Integrate MT-style trackback capabilities.
  • Add XML-RPC pinging functionality.

Now get ready for the real pudding.

Photo credit:Mark Hillman

If I was a person looking to find more information about Marqui and its CMS, what would I search for?

"Marqui CMS Review", "Review of Marqui CMS" or "CMS Marqui review" maybe good short, targeted keyphrases.

Try to "Google" any of those (without the quotation marks) and see where the, highly optimized pages come up. (Please take note of the page/position).

So much for the white paper and all this know-how if you can't even use it.

And just out of curiosity, who is there standing at the top of that Google search results page?

The proof is in the pudding.

(the true value or quality of something can only be judged when it's put to use or tried and tested.)


For more, and the why of the above check out my Next article:
Good SEO: What Search Engines really look for and what you can do to give it to them.

The Marketer's Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Original introduction (read carefully please):

"We are committed to building a world-class marketing engine here at Marqui. We recently completed a new white paper for marketers on best practices in optimizing web sites for search engines.

The white paper addresses the fundamentals, and a number of the secrets, to effective search engine optimization, including search engines vs. directories vs. paid listings, making your content "SEO friendly," and creating an optimization methodology for your web site.

Optimization tips are offered for everything from the coding, to the writing, to the design of your site. Skillfully employed, they can dramatically strengthen your search engine ranking, and with it, hopefully, your bottom line."

[ Read more ]
Readers' Comments    
2008-03-10 17:36:08

Frank Anzer

Robin, you are a first rate hack and a loser. You know as much about SEO as you do about Quantum physics. Get a life.

2005-10-23 20:07:06

Dilip Samuel

The CMS for "search engine friendly" links these guys are talking about is misleading. In fact, this can be done without any CMS. Search engine friendly links are nothing but URLs that don’t have "?" or "&" in them. They are known to be query URLs or database URLs. That's why search engines don't give them high importance though they are indexed. But why recommend going for a CMS when Apache Rewrite module for UNIX and ISAPI module for Windows servers are easily implemented with simple coding logic?

2005-03-22 16:59:48


Scary to think Marqui, a so-called authority site, released that info.

2005-01-07 10:43:15

aaron wall

>directory submission rules, and create a keyword-loaded description (usually 10 to 15 words)

In all fairness it is a smart idea to use descriptive anchor text when building links into your site.

The 10 - 15 words bit is a bit north of what most good SEOs would recommend. Most say to use anywhere from one word to one descriptive phrase.

The anchor text should be descriptive (so the search engine understands what the referenced document is about) and it should be mixed up. When links develop naturally they have a variety of anchor text. If all the link into your site use the same anchor text you give yourself a smaller base of keywords which your home page will rank highly for and some search engines have filters which prevent a site from ranking in the search results for select terms if too many inbound links use the exact same anchor text.

The major directories will only list your site by its official name, but some of the smaller directories which are rarely seen by people also allow you to use more liberal anchor text, and in most cases I believe it is worth doing ... at least some...for its effect on improved search engine placement.

When I submit websites I usually submit to over 100 web directories knowing that the main goal of my submissions are to build relevant inbound anchor text on a wide variety of IP addresses. This makes my site look more credibile to search engines, establishes a good base link popularity, and helps keep my site indexed.

If I am submitting to an important directory or one that is related to my field and likely to drive a ton of traffic I am more likely to want to use the official site name in the anchor text for brand development purposes.

While directory listings may look somewhat mechanical one would expect most of them to look boring since many directories prohibit promotional language and you should write what your site is about in its description.

>In some cases, a site owner will pay to have his web pages included in a search engine's listings, known as pay-for-inclusion (PFI).

Overture SiteMatch
can help get your site listed in Yahoo! owned search properties. Not ideal for all sites, but it comes with tracking, is cheaper than most legitimate pay per click advertising, and can help keep your site constantly indexed.

Ideal for sites which are:
- time sensitive
- have rapidly rotating stock
- have large databases that may not naturally get fully indexed.

>META description are rarely used by any major search engine and Keyword tags have long been dropped as references for content type by search engine crawlers.

Jon Glick, manager of Yahoo! Search, recently stated (April 2004) in an interview
that meta description content is treated similar to page content as far as relevancy goes.

The keywords is still used by Yahoo! to include a page in a subset of search results if the keyword phrase does not exist on the page or in incomming links. Ideal for misspellings and alternate part numbers that do not make it into the page copy.

>(And don't tell me that allowing me to "add relevant title tags" means that the CMS will position those tags in any smarter way than Blogger, Movable Type or even FrontPage may do. This is just an insult to reason.)

Some older content management systems were such rubbish that they do not allow you to easily create a page they have one generic page title for the whole site.

>Hey, this is 2004 and ALL search engines index without a problem any PDF they find. Wake up.

Right, but PDFs typically contain a large amount of content which in not necissarily granular and focused enough to rank well.

For example I can write a PDF about cars. If three pages are about doors and one page is about door handles odds are my PDF will not outrank a page made specifically about door handles.

Additionally there are indexing limits. I might be wrong on the exact #s but I believe Yahoo! will index up to 500K of a document and Google will do something like 101K.


I think most of the stuff you posted is spot on and some of the stuff in that white paper is outdated.

One additional thing that many people take for granted is the fruits of their own labor. For example, you will rank well for many things you post about based upon the link popularity you built into this site with all the hard work you have done to build it up.

For a while Jeremy Zawodny ranked on the first page of Google for "Rolex" by simply making a post about the spam he was getting.

SEO in the place of useful or unique content is probably going to be a bad business model for most, but for those who are trying to build something of value there are slight tweaks and strategies they can use to help spread their message a bit more.

2005-01-03 08:27:07


Nice deconstruction Robin.
As they say, you can fool some of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people ...

The rebutal to your post by the Anvil guy on the Marqui website is pretty lame.

BTW - what the hell is communication management software?

It looks like some kind of content management tool or is it a blogging tool?

2004-12-31 18:56:30


Very thorough indeed. Thanks Robin.

Check out Janet's answers to this post:


2004-12-31 16:36:45


Nice deconstruction... take a peek at the source of the pages that the Marqui CMS creates - specifically the META tags...

2004-12-31 02:15:03


Man, as a fellow Marqui blogger, I noted my concerns in a post, on the whitepaper, but not point by point.

Very thorough.

Here's my post

2004-12-30 22:25:49

Stephen Downes

Nice deconstruction. They should pay you more.

posted by Robin Good on Thursday, December 30 2004, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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