opinion

Theories on Webmastering

Jack Mardack
Every day, Millions of surfers make their way from mainstream sites to porn sites. Sometimes they do it directly, via direct navigation and bookmarks, and sometimes they make their way in steps, through a sequence of sites. This is what I call macro-scale "Spectrumming," which happens naturally all over the web, and refers to establishing a network of sites with different site obscenity levels.

The borderland between mainstream and adult sites is appealing to surfers because it contains content - both visual and textual - that is sexy or risqué in nature. It is also appealing to advertisers, because it lets them get the best of both worlds: large volumes of traffic from unrestricted mainstream sources, and the higher converting power of adult-oriented programs. There are a small number of site types where this seems to happen naturally such as dating-related sites, celeb sites and humor or "gross-out" sites.

I wanted to see if I could capitalize on that naturally occurring traffic flow pattern by making sites and arranging them together in a linking relationship that would work like a bridge. I succeeded using a network of blogs.

Actually, I discovered several blog network models. They all "work" - and the differences between them relate to how much time you want to invest in the project and your resources.

1. Simple Serial: a number of blogs are linked in a sequence (Figure 1).

You can string any number of blogs together like this, whether they are all your own or you involve other webmaster/bloggers in a partnership. However, to maximize the (Google) benefits of your blog-to-blog links, the following rules should be applied:

Your links should generally flow from lower page rank sites to higher, and from the sites where you currently have adult material or where you have previously been identified by Google to have had such material, away from adult content and towards clean material, and, you may do the opposite of the first two rules if you observe a 5:1 ratio, or lower. That means you may have one link going the other way, for every five that observe the first two rules.

Google rewards this behavior, which I have termed "Aspirational Linking." But this runs counter to the still-prevalent practice of "linking down" to profit either by selling hard links to lower page rank sites or to "promote" the page rank of your own sites. These latter practices fail the basic "trust test" suggested by Google's own guidelines and are to be avoided at all costs if you care at all about Google treatment…

If you are the operator of a single website (one blog, one IP address, one domain), it is a slow, painstaking and unprofitable process to raise your page rank and increase your search engine traffic. This is true because your outbound links cannot be directly monetized, and you rely on being able to convince a number of lower page rank sites to link to you, though you cannot reciprocate. Yet this is the typical difficulty faced by most small adult webmasters. Desperate to increase their traffic in any way they can, what usually happens is they enter into reciprocal linking relationships with other low page rank sites, and/or they participate in organized link exchange programs or submit to link lists, behavior that Google is aggressively penalizing.

This doesn't mean you can't still get traffic using these methods. Many of you still do, I know. The caution I want to offer is that you should only do these things if you are prepared to accept a Google page rank of 0 and the likelihood that the traffic you're getting is of the lowest quality, since you're dealing with recycled clicks from a closed pool consisting primarily of bookmarks from proven non-buyers.

2. The Semi-Radial and Full-Radial Series:
a number of blogs are arranged in a hub-and-spoke pattern - either (incomplete) a T, or (complete) an X - (Figure 2), and their links are aimed to a blog outside this pattern.

The SRS is a much better strategy than the Simple Serial, assuming you have the necessary resources - specifically, at least three clean IP addresses, the bandwidth and the needed number of SQL databases, one per blog per page rank level.

It was only after I moved up to the SRS that I discovered the 5:1 loophole to the rule of linking between lower page rank sites and high page rank sites. This also applies to linking to "bad neighborhoods." It is obvious Google cannot make the "Link Higher/Link Cleaner" rule an absolute rule without denying itself some high-demand indexing. The system is designed to a clearly verifiable tolerance level, and 5:1 worked for me again and again.

3. Complex Radial: a number of blogs are arranged in a hub-and-spoke pattern, and each spoke is then itself a Series, ranging in complexity from Simple to Complex Radial (Figure 3).

If you have the resources and attention, there's no limit to how far you can take the principles established in Examples 1 and 2.

Most adult webmasters have it in their heads that they should shoot for the moon in terms of page rank every site they operate. This approach inevitably leads to the temptation of "shortcuts," such as linking to your new sites from your established sites in an attempt to boost their page rank or engaging in any of a number of practices that attempt to gain Google page rank by making something look better than it is.

Remember, Google is preeminently concerned with the correct identification of pages and sites. The spider just craves truth. Historical sneakiness and deception in our traffic acquisition tactics have alienated us from the search engines, and this has had the ripple effect of sending a negative message about us to Joe Consumer. For the good of the industry, that must stop. I'm hoping that by sharing these discoveries, wherein it is possible to both succeed - and follow the rules - more of you will be encouraged to fly straight and raise our stock.

Jack Mardack is the president of ProfitLABINC.com, a marketing consultancy committed to the defense of pornography via profitable, rational and responsible strategies. Mardack has begun a discussion on this topic at impoverishednoobs.com.

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