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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Is Rand Fishkin a Superhero?

rand fishkin
In order to ascertain whether or not Rand Fishkin, the CEO of SEOMoz, is a superhero, we must first define the term and then put him to the test. Let's do it and see what happens.

Variously referred to on the web as "the Wizard of Moz", "Darth Fishkin", "Werewolf Fishkin", "Mastermind", the "Romantic SEO", and many other appellations, his best known pseudonym is perhaps "randfish". With all these names given to the mysterious Randfish, we can't help but wonder if he is a superhero.

Dictionary.com defines a superhero as "a figure...endowed with superhuman powers and usually portrayed as fighting evil or crime." Urbandictionary.com takes it a step further and adds the caveat "and looks good in tights."

So let's analyze this piece by piece.

Question: Is Rand Fishkin endowed with superhuman powers?


Answer: Yes.

Analysis: Only someone endowed with superhuman powers can influence Google's SERPs with the drop of a single link. For example, Rand wrote an article posted yesterday entitled "SEO Company Search Results - An Embarrassment to Google and the Other Engines" in which Rand ranted about the way that certain companies appear to be using unscrupulous techniques to rank for the term "SEO Company". He also provided the names of companies which he thought should rank for that term and provided an anchor text link to those firms with anchor text "SEO Company". As of today, a mere 24 hours later, two of the companies have suddenly appeared in the first few pages of the Google SERPs for this term. There are only two explanations for this. First, key personnel at Google read his article, agreed, and manually changed the SERPs to reflect his opinion. The alternate explanation is that the dropping of a single link in his post was sufficient to substantially alter the SERPs for this term. Regardless of which of the two scenarios played out it is self evident that only a person endowed with super human powers could have such an effect.

Question: Does Rand Fishkin fight evil?

Answer: Yes.


Analysis: As head of SEOMoz, Rand has taken a leadership role along with several other SEO firms (including ours) in the fight against Jason Gambert's attempt to trademark the term "SEO". While the rest of the world stands idly by and watches, Rand and a handful of other firms have taken up this fight for the common good. SEOMoz in fact was the first firm to discover this dastardly deed and make it known to the world. This is not an inexpensive fight, nor is it one which only benefits those who are fighting it. Rand has proven himself a leader in the world of SEO by standing up and defending everyone's right to use the term "SEO".

Further, he is not afraid to name names when he sees something amiss. Rand calls a spade a spade and does not care whether or not other people whine and groan about it. One case in point is in his article mentioned above. He names companies which he believes are using tactics which are not up to the industry standard, and goes on to define those tactics and expose them to the world. He emphasizes the transient nature of such tactics and points out that in the long haul companies using such tactics will suffer. He makes it clear that the noble goal of SEO should be the long term success of the target sites, and that chasing the latest loophole in the ranking algorithms is risky and not economically viable in the long run. While a number of people comment on his post saying things like "if it works it works" and that SEO is a "game", Rand holds his ground and does not compromise his lofty premise that search engine rankings, and indeed all SEO efforts, should be based on the provision of quality, useful content and links, of such a nature that will benefit the users of the web as well as the sites in question. Anyone who disagrees with that is certainly not someone who I would admire - the pursuit of selfish, short term financial gain at the expense of the long term success of a client as well as at the expense of creating a quality web experience is about as ignoble goal as is imaginable.

Rand explains his philosophy further in a comment reply below the post:

"I completely disagree with this logic that Google has weaknesses and we know how to use them. My thinking goes entirely the other way - Google and all the othe engines have ideals to which their algorithms aspire. If we pursue the "weaknesses" we will eventually lose - fighting against teams of some of the planets smartest people with some of the planets best resources (Google Web Spam, et. al) seems like a terrible idea and a poor way to generate ROI for our customers.

Instead, we should be focusing on what, in a perfect world, the engines would want to count, and building sites, content and links that embody that ideal. With this kind of strategy in place, you won't fall out of the results just because Google updates their algorithm or gets better at their job."


Very well said.

Of course Jill Whalen of HighRankings has to weigh in on the subject, in her predictable philosophy of "if it gets you to rank well in the search engines then it must be what Google wants". First off, Jill, Google doesn't "want" spammy links or bogus content. Because it works at the moment in getting a site to rank is far from saying that is the sort of thing for which Google strives to rank sites.

Jill then can be seen ranting about Rand's "outing" of companies engaging in questionable practices. Of course Rand stands up to her too, saying:

"Jill - I disagree on this point and I think I will for the future. Outing manipulative practices (or ANY practices for that matter) that put a page at the top of the rankings is part of our job. Disclosing tactics that work (and sharing my opinion about whether they should or not) is something I'll continue to do in the future, and I don't feel particularly bad for anyone who's getting "outed." If you don't want people finding out about your tactics, don't rank #1 for competitive phrases. It's always going to make you a target. I've never liked the "thieves code of honor" - it implies that as SEOs, we're thieves and that's the last thing any of us should want."

Wow! Now if that isn't standing up for a noble cause, I do not know what is? Now, to be clear, am I calling Jill Whalen evil? Of course not. But I do believe that she is wrong to take a position in support of practices which do not benefit the long term good of either SEO clients or web users.

Question: Does Rand Fishkin look good in tights?

Answer: Yet to be determined.


Analysis: At time of writing, I cannot find a picture of Rand Fishkin in tights using a Google image search. This is the last hurdle Rand must overcome to achieve superhero status. Perhaps he would be good enough to send us a picture of him in tights, and we could have the ladies vote on the matter?

Only then will the world truly know for certain whether or not Rand Fishkin is a super hero.




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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

T-Mobile G1 with Google Android Operating System - Product Review

tmobile g1 google android
As a loyal customer of T-Mobile, and a daily user of Google, I just couldn't pass up on getting the new T-Mobile G1 with the Google Android operating system. After waiting in line for two hours, I was able to get my hands on one. The verdict? Read on...

After using the T-Mobile MDA with Windows Mobile for the last several years, I was excited to see this new product finally hit the market. I don't ever wait in line for new products - until today. What got me, I guess, was the combination of the touch screen features with a full QWERTY keypad (a necessity for us old schoolers who learned to type on a manual typewriter, and think that T9 is the newest model of Terminator).

Here's how she looks in my hand:

tmobile g1 google android As you can see, she's very sleek and sexy. Everything a phone should be. It comes with one touch Google search, which is very useful if you're a Googlephile like myself. The operating system is very intuitive and easy to use. It took me all of ten minutes to figure everything out about this phone that I could ever want to know. Don't believe the haters - this phone is easy to use if you have half of a brain, and very stylish.

tmobile g1 google android Here she is from the side. A tad bit thicker than an iPhone, but for me it's worth it to have the slide out QWERTY keypad. She's still very thin, maybe not a size 0, but definitely a size 2.

It comes with 3G capability and I have found browsing the internet quick and easy. For $35 a month, you get the 3G service plus unlimited texting. This is the same price as the additional features I had before: unlimited texting (which Lord knows I need) was previously $15 per month, and the slower GPRS service was $20 per month. So this upgrade costs nothing on a monthly basis more than what you have been paying, assuming you like to text and use the Internet.

The phone itself is only $179.00 if you don't mind signing a 2 year contract. I didn't mind. And that is not in the form of a rebate or online only. You walk into the store, pay the $179, sign the paper, and it's yours.

There is no stylus, because no stylus is needed. It uses the same touch screen technology that an iPhone uses - capacitance instead of pressure - so your finger is all you need to navigate the easy to understand menu sets. Here's a video I made of how easy it is to slide menus up, down and around:



The QWERTY keypad is easy to slide out, it actually doesn't slide straight out but rather makes a short rotation on a hinged arm, up and to the left, then back to the right. Check it out (ignore the chihuahua hair that made a temporary home on the G1 during filming):



It was easy to transfer all of my contact information to the new phone, the sims card plugged right in and everything was there waiting for me. Within minutes I was texting, making calls, and surfing the web. It is incredibly intuitive and the Android system is not foreign at all, even to someone like me who is used to Windows Mobile.

Downsides:

There is only one downside to this phone. It comes with a 1 Gig micro-SD card, without which the 3 Megapixel camera will not take pictures. I decided to upgrade to the 4 Gig card, which I bought at the T-Mobile store for an additional $59. The problem, however, is that the phone doesn't recognize the 4 Gig card, and I can't figure out if it needs to be formatted (and if it does, how to do so), or what the problem is. However, when I put the included 1 Gig card back in and removed the 4 Gig card, everything works fine. So I am going to have to go back to the T-Mobile store and see if they can shine some light on the subject.

The only other potential drawback for some people is that you do have to set up a GMail account if you don't already have one. This is a requirement for the phone to work. I already have one, so no problem there. Although I can see the conspiracy theorists up in arms about this.

Except for those two minor issues, I love it! I would highly recommend the phone if you are a T-Mobile customer considering an upgrade. Happy Googling!

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