Today’s post deals with a much more harmless form of SEO Outting, accidental outting and invalidating testing. To teach this lesson I’m going to use a story …
Let’s assume for a minute your at a ball game or party and your friend comes back from the bathroom, and you notice their zipper is down. Because they are your friend you want to help them out, so in a normal voice you point at their crotch and say “excuse me but your zipper is down” … kudo’s to you for being a good friend right?
Well not really, because while your intentions may have been knoble, your execution had the opposite effect, as you just embarrassed your friend unnecessarily in public. A much better course of action would have been leaning in and whispering in their ear that they need to check their zipper, allowing them to correct the situation without alerting everyone around you. Got it … now that I’ve turned into Miss Manners what does that have to do with SEO …
We’re all familiar with the concept of outting someone, paid links, spamming, cloaking or any other search engine guideline offenses. Where you stand on that issue is hotly debated and I’m not wading into that quagmire. However in the same way that you can cause more damage by trying to help some one by loudly pointing out their fly is down, you can also cause damage trying to help someone by pointing out and linking to “strange” things on their website or blog.
In case you haven’t noticed I do a lot of testing here, in fact it was one of the main reasons I started the blog all those years ago. Some of the tests are pretty obvious, others are subtle so subtle you would never spot them for what they are, but most are somewhere in the middle. So if you see something odd going on here there’s a pretty high likelihood there is a test running. Some tests take longer than others, it’s just part of google slowing down the update cycle to put a damper on out ability to reverse engineer things.
How do you know a test from a wordpress hack … you don’t, but if you see something odd, you don’t twitter about it publicly, write about it on your blog, or worst of all link to it (no followed or not) from anywhere, it’s the same as pointing at my crotch and telling me my zipper is down. Really I’m pretty easy to get a hold of, there’s a contact form here and that phone icon in the sidebar will send a copy of your transcribed voicemail to me by email and SMS, so I’m not going to miss anything. You can ask in a roundabout way “you know it’s that guy in that place with the thing …” just don’t link to it ok, cause even though you are trying to help you just invalidated my experiment.
Lastly and only somewhat related, this blog is not a shining example of SEO Best practices, in reality it’s much closer to Dr. Frankenstein’s castle, with odd parts stitched together in ways they where never intended to be. There are lots of “mistakes” here, in fact there is no shortage of people who will call me out for being wrong. But sometimes when I do things “wrong” I do them that way on purpose, so let’s not send a team of OSHA experts to a mad scientists lab looking for violations … OK