Wow, I hit a nerve at Superpages

Search,SEO by on February 1, 2007 at 9:56 am

A fairly lengthy post by Chris Silver Smith at Superpages in response to my critical post of his ‘local SEO’ techniques.

I’ll respond to a few points he made:

First, they can limit this effect by requiring that listings in their directory might only display their legally-licensed business names. Second, if a business has legally created a name with the gobbledygook he so dislikes, what exactly do they propose to do - disallow the business from being listed under their legal name?!?

Uh, yes. Directories are for users, not businesses.

Google removes websites from their index all the time because the believe those sites degrade the quality of their user’s experience. I have no qualms in preventing “A A A A A A A A A A A A A A H Drains For Less”(yes, this is a real listing) from making it into our directory.

He also came down hard on the concept of getting a listing for each city in which your business provides service. I’d counter that if a plumber provides service in that city, he should be allowed to be listed in that directory, and I do not see that as any sort of a detractor for users. Users should be given the choice of all businesses that provide service for their area!

Yes, online directories should show all of the service providers that provide service in a particular area. However, there is no way that the user experience is improved by the plumber that makes up shell listings in each town within a 50 mile radius. The business that lists itself as ‘Newton Plumber’, ‘Wellesley Plumber’, ‘Belmont Plumber’ is spamming the directory.

‘Doorway pages’ is the term used to describe this activity online and can result in getting a website kicked out of Google’s index. These should probably be called ‘doorway listings’, and I would expect similar results in directories.

It’s doubly ironic that Dave would accuse me of causing “spamming”, since he actually has mentioned some SEO tactics that he apparently admired which are completely black-hat, and are terribly bad advice for any webmaster to pursue.

I love being quoted out of context ;). He’s referring to this post I wrote after finding bluehatseo’s site for the first time. I agree with Chris, that the techniques are terribly bad advice for legit webmasters to pursue, and I was fairly clear that the techniques weren’t appropriate in my post (I could have been more clear though and will clarify). I even joked around and suggested techniques to improve on bluehatseo’s ideas (I did the same thing for Chris’ techniques).

However, the author is a critical thinker, fairly humorous and well aware of the fact that he is operating on the black side of SEO. White hat webmasters need to know what the darker side is doing, so for example, they don’t fall into the trap of reporting the wrong site.

I was angry at Chris’ post, but not at bluehatseo? Chris works for Superpages and small businesses will listen to him. If he were at ‘yellow hat seo’ and not Superpages, I probably would have written a different post.

He apparently feels that some of these tips could result in “spamming” online directory listings. I beg to differ, of course. (Not to be too pedantic, but his use of the word, “spam”, is inaccurate because spam is the mass-mailing of unsolicited email notes of a commercial nature. My posting had nothing to do with email. Heh!)

Um, no. I think he might be joking in his comment above, but since I’m busy blockquoting and responding I’ll just include the Wikipedia link.

Chris, all of your techniques are clever. Some are amusing (in a bluehatseo kind of way). I just think you need to be more cautious about suggesting them given the company you work for. I worry that local businesses will take your advice thinking that they are operating entirely above board. And much like the taking the advice of a black hat seo they may find themselves dropped from directories.


  1. Eli — February 1, 2007 @ 3:36 pm

    Thanks for the mention Dave.

    I just got wind of that post a bit ago. I posted a response in his comments. Incase he opts out of approving it I’ll post it for you to read to.

    ## Begin Quote
    Great post Chris.
    I love your use of adjectives when describing something you don’t agree with.
    “terribly bad”
    Then you cunningly use that type of descriptive writing to sell an unfounded opinion as factual.

    “These tactics may initially generate traffic, but they’re not sustainable, and captcha subversion is downright unethical.”

    Then you pin that opinion on your REAL target (Dave) despite the grossly misguided ratiocinatives and suggest him responsible for the questionable subject you’re characterizing to a fault.

    “SEO tactics that he apparently admired”

    “He laud’s BlueHatSEO’s, blog”

    You even have the audacity to talk about security; knowing full well that there isn’t an intelligent systems security advisor in the world that doesn’t read hacker manuals and even admire some of the uniqueness of the techniques used. Say! That remarkably sounds like an incredibly casuistic post I just read.

    I tip my blue hat off to you managing to persuade people not to learn. You are definitely a talented writer.

    ## End Quote

  2. acewasabi — February 2, 2007 @ 10:26 am

    Actually, Dave, I think you should leave Chris and his advice be – the sooner the superpages of the world die out, the more trees we can save, and the sooner we can tell quaint stories about how people used to use something called the “yellowpages”.

    Also, given that you’re such an analytical person, perhaps you could entertain us with a graph showing Superpages usage over time – that should surely be telling, and we can use the data to decide whether Chris and his compatriots are giving good advice or bad.

  3. acewasabi — February 2, 2007 @ 10:28 am

    ps. when i say “superpages of the world” i mean to include chris’ company, other online directories, and also dead-tree companies (ie the actual physical YP companies).

  4. acewasabi — February 2, 2007 @ 10:35 am

    I had to do this:



    For the not-so-astute reader, I’ll point out that on the superpages result page for “pizza 94043” there isn’t ONE SINGLE PIXEL OF HTML THAT IS ACTUALLY RELEVANT IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM.

    This remains true whether you enter pizza as a ‘keyword’ or a ‘business name’, although, in SP’s defense, in the former case they manage some truly exceptional algorithmic magic and determine that perhaps I wanted an actual pizza place, and they link me to Mountain Mikes Pizza… in GILROY (query was for Mountain View)

  5. davenaff — February 3, 2007 @ 1:07 pm

    Eli and Acewasabi, the comments were hilarious. Eli, you have a great blog – keep up the great work.

    Acewasabi, I think this quote says it all:
    “For the not-so-astute reader, I’ll point out that on the superpages result page for “pizza 94043? there isn’t ONE SINGLE PIXEL OF HTML THAT IS ACTUALLY RELEVANT IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM.”

  6. […] sparked from my “Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics“, Dave Naffziger has posted a rebuttal of my recent post.Just to clarify, if there was any doubt, and to steer the unwary newbies of search engine […]

  7. Eli — February 6, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

    #quote from his rebuttal
    At this point, we must wonder if Dave really knows what “black hat SEO” is in the first place, since he included unqualified links to that actual blackhat blog in question. The major search engines warn about linking to “bad neighborhoods” – i.e. linking to spammer sites. I just checked Dave’s links and realized he’s using straight links to that black hat blog, which looks pretty risky to me. He’s linking to what could easily be considered a “bad neighborhood”, which could result in his blog getting penalized, along with anyone who’s currently linking directly to him.
    # end quote

    Now I am forced to wonder if HE knows what black hat SEO is? While the blog you linked to may include TALK about black hat techniques it does NOT PERFORM black hat techniques. So how does linking to a site that talks about black hat equate to linking to a black hat site, or as he likes it put it “bad neighborhood”? It doesn’t. I think everyone can agree with that. Having a site like does not make the site the site bad in Google’s algorythms. Likewise linking to a site like does not mean you are linking to a bad neighborhood. If the site your linking to has legitimate SEO practices in place then there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Aaron Wall from as well as various other large names in SEO linked to me without a nofollow. They must be idiots to. :)

    The ignorance this guy is writing is downright shocking. Its a perfect example of why people should learn black hat. If they understand what it is they are better equiped to know what they should and shouldn’t do. I say that you stick by your guns with what you say. It’s your blog not his. People read it because they enjoy reading what you have to say not because some guy who I’m pretty sure just learned how to turn on his computer has to say about it. You’ve got a great blog keep up the excellent work!


  8. davenaff — February 9, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

    I was fairly amused by his latest response, but even more amused by your follow up. After reading about the first third of his post, I ultimately decided that a response wasn’t quite worthy of a full post. I mean seriously, at this point it would be a rebuttal rebuttal rebuttal rebuttal.

    I am fairly confident in the original position and frankly think all SEOs should work to understand the entire continuum of SEO.

    Incidentally, your Power Indexing post was really good. About a year and half ago, we changed our URLs at JB and didn’t implement our 301 redirects correctly (long story). We dropped 400,000 pages from the index and it took us close to 6 months to recover. Our sitemap was a classic top down sitemap – as it turns out, we should have experimented with reversed or rolling sitemaps.

  9. Rahul Pathak — February 10, 2007 @ 3:26 pm

    I’m thoroughly enjoying this series of posts. Having worked on sorting through local listing data with you, I completely agree with your perspective. Also, Eli, you’re spot on with your comment that you have to understand the full range of practices that exist in a field in order to really master it.

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