Nigritude Ultramarine Update

While it’s unlikely that my Nigritude Ultramarine FAQ is going to reach the number one spot on Google by July 7, it’s been more than worthwhile participating in the Dark Blue SEO contest so far. I’ve been able to document a lot of the search engine activity and have learned some new things. For example, I was aware of many black hat SEO tricks that boost a page in the Google results, but I had no idea there were black hat tricks to directly attack a competitor’s site and push it down in the Google results. My page has been the subject of one cloaked page attack and several fraudulent Google spam reports so far.

I can also tell you that it’s possible to get a completely new site listed in Google within 48 hours and that Google updates their results every 24 hours. The page rank trust metric, on the other hand, may only be updated once a month. My page was first listed on May 9th and still has a page rank of zero. I expect this may change sometime in the next week.

Even without using any devious, black hat tricks, I’ve managed to stay in the top 15 results, out of over 350,000, with nothing but good design, actual content, and a handfull of links (most of them due to the goodwill of a few other folks who enjoyed the page).

I did succumb to the temptation of one highly ranked link yesterday, however. I added a link to my contest page in the June edition of the Robot Competition FAQ, which is in the approved LoPIP and goes from news.answers to the RTFM MIT FAQ repository and eventually ends up on is one of those rare sites like ODP, a site with a Google page rank of 9. I don’t think this is likely to boost my page’s position in the search results much but it should give me a higher page rank, which can’t hurt.

Van Helsing

Susan and I saw Van Helsing recently. It was bad. It was so unbelievably bad. It’s another one of those movies where a few live actors have been stuck into an otherwise completely computer animated movie. And it’s not very good computer animation at that. The animators seemed to think that bigger was better and made everything so much bigger than life that it simply became unbelievable. Castles were higher than 100 story office buildings, My Hyde was about 16 feet tall, the wolfman was about 16 feet tall, Dracula was about 16 feet tall. And all these 16 foot tall monsters appeared to be operating in some other universe with completely different physical laws that allowed them bounce off walls and stick to the ceiling. Every five minutes Van Helsing or one of the other rare human characters would fall hundreds of feet out of a giant castle, land on the stone floor, on their head, and suffer no apparent harm. Some of the animation was done at ILM and they must have had a special that week because they threw a few hundred Ewoks into the deal. That’s right folks, Dracula had an army of Ewoks wearing welding goggles to do his bidding. Oddly the Ewoks walked and talked exactly like Jawas. And despite being way too long, no time could be found to have anything resembling intelligent dialog or character development.

Kenneth Brown and the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution

I’m sure everyone is aware by now that Kenneth Brown, and the other dim-wit lackeys of Microsoft at the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution have published a book claiming that Linus didn’t write the original Linux kernel. We’ve come to expect poorly researched, badly reasoned crap from the pen of Ken Brown, but this isn’t even up to Brown’s usual poor quality. Perhaps AdTI should go back to writing bogus pro-smoking FUD for the tobacco companies.

Nigritude Ultramarine Update

Since my last post, the Nigritude Ultramarine FAQ, my entry in the SEO contest has been indexed by Google and is now showing up in the results. Unlike the hundreds of other pages out there, this is one of a handful that are actually intended to be interesting. It’s also one of the few that’s not using every dirty, black hat SEO trick in the book to try to cheat the Google rankings. No parasitic link farms, no referrer spamming, no keyword spamming, no page cloaking or any of those other things evil SEOs do to replace real Google search results with spam. Suprisingly, my page made it into the top 20 results anyway and is now bouncing around between position 9 and 12.

That makes me happy mostly because it means Google must be doing a very good job at resisting the SEO attacks so far if a purely information page is ranking that high. I have tried to optimize the page in the sense that it contains validated XHTML/CSS, minimal graphics, and correctly uses the meta description and keyword tags. And I seem to be getting some links to it from other sites, though nowhere near the thousands of links the SEO people are creating to their sites from link farms. Google showed 32k results this morning. There are only about 200-300 contestants so the rest of those must be sites linking to the contestants. I’ve probably got no more than 20 links to my page at present. (feel free to help me out by adding one, if you’d like!)

One thing that I found surprising is how far some of the SEO experts are willing to go to pump up their pages. Within two hours of my site being picked and shown in the Google results, someone filed a Google spam report against it. After doing some searches on SEO discussion forums, I discovered this is standard operating procedure for some SEOs. They file spam reports against any sites close to or higher than theirs in the Google results in the hope that Google will pull their competitor’s site from the database.

Nigritude Ultramarine

A recent slashdot article brought to my attention the DarkBlue SEO Challenge, a contest with the goal of getting a webpage to the number one position in Google’s results for the search phrase “nigritude ultramarine”. I decided to take a whack at it despite the unfortunate choice of words (most people I’ve mentioned it to seem to think nigritude has a vaguely racial-slur sort of sound – it actually means the “state of being the color black”.

The first step was to grab a domain, so I grabbed from GoDaddy. The name was picked up by the root name servers last night and now I’m on the way. Most of the other pages I looked at were jokes or meaningless tangles of links connected to parasitic link farms. The link farms seem to be a typical trick used by SEO “experts” to attack Google’s Page Rank trust metric. In much the same way as if a user created hundreds of fake mod_virgule accounts at Advogato or and tried to certify their main account. Google’s page rank is somewhat resistant to this type of attack but if enough trusted sites link to the the attacker’s link farm, the attack can be successful. A favorite ploy is for the attacker to add domains to the link farms that are recently expired domains with ODP listings. ODP links have a very high trust value (as high as 9 or 10) and just a few such domains can boost the page rank of a parasitic link farm tremendously.

ODP has been putting a lot of effort into combating this and other SEO attacks. Google also expends a lot of effort tweaking their page ranking algorithms to untangle the mess SEO experts make of things. Thinking about this gave me the idea of making a purely information site built in the traditional Internet style to see how it would compare in the Google rankings to a typical “expert” optimized page. Would it be overwhelmed by link farm boosted pages? Would the Internet community favour links to it over the contentless pages? Would anybody even care? ;-)

To this end, I’ve created the Nigritude Ultramarine FAQ. It contains, you guessed it, frequently asked questions about the whole nigritude ultramarine thing. If you have a question about the subject, serious or not, feel free to stop by and ask it. And if you’d like to help me out, I wouldn’t mind a few more links from other sites. Just a simple contextual link with the text nigritude ultramarine – nothing tricky please; no contentless link farms, link spamming, referrer spamming, or the like.

The site has been up for a full 24 hours now and is already getting a fairly steady stream of visitors. The referers seem to be personal blogs, so someone noticed and began spreading the word before me. I have submitted the URL to Google but haven’t been visited by GoogleBot yet. I did get an unsolicited visit from the Ask Jeeves/Teoma spider within hours of going live and was also hit by the robot today (not sure how either discovered the site).

So far I have aquired inbound links from several PR7 sites, so hopefully I’ll start out with a reasonably high placement in the search results. But on the other hand, some of the SEO folks out there have pages with 4,000+ inbound links from their link farms so this may be a futile exercise. Time will tell.

Update: As I was writing this entry, Googlebot hit the site. We’ll see if I make it into the results by tomorrow. I’ll make some webalizer stats of the traffic available if anyone is interested.

Mod_Virgule Update

I found some time to package up and release my latest mod_virgule code. This release brings my fork back up to date with the official code including the recentlog, project, and article permalinks and the recentlog edit patches (which oddly don’t appear on Advogato – is it not running the latest version anymore?). I’ve also incorporated a somewhat mutated form of the “forgotten password” patch Steve Kemp submitted back in Feb 2003. This release also fixes the corrupt profile.xml segfault issue and a couple of segfaults that resulted from incorrect handling of names containing UTF-8 data. The default form encoding type has been changed from ISO-8859-1 to UTF-8 throughout. It’s still not 100% UTF-8 safe but it’s getting there. At least has been very stable since the UTF-8 patches went in.