November 23, 2005

Gaming the EcoSystem

My first "web" job back in '96 or '97 as a "search engine marketing specialist" was for a group of small businessmen that realized that they couldn't find their own companies on a simple web search. In the early days of "search engine optimization services" (SEOs) my job was to determine how search engines ranked pages, and "tweak" web page code accordingly so that my clients would show up accurately in search results for their products.

For example, one South Carolina-based client manufactured and repaired machine tools. I optimized their site to score well for the services they offered. As a result, their services were easily found, and in some cases, they appeared to clients searching online to be only machine tool company capable of doing certain kinds of work, because their real-world competitors were lost in the search results "clutter" several pages back. This is how search engine optimization was supposed to work and indeed, is how it was often marketed.

But this optimization knowledge wasn't always used for accuracy. It was, in fact, often used to purposefully distort search engine results in favor of clients.

This led to a cat-and-mouse game between the search engines of the day and SEO companies. The search engines had to produce and maintain relevant results to survive. Most search engines were unable to keep ahead of SEO companies, and their increasingly irrelevant results led to their downfall. They couldn't keep out the trash, became less relevant, and were abandoned by users.

There is a reason why "to search" on the web today is "to Google." Google was able to filter out the trash.

Today, blog trackback parties are a continuation of the same kind of gaming the system that occurred during the heyday of the abuse of search engine optimization, adapted to work off of the idiosyncrasies of the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem instead of search engines.

Trackback parties "game" the system, and have been used to artificially adjust individual Ecosystem rankings. That N.Z. Bear noticed and corrected an abuse of a system he created is morally defensible. He has to, or otherwise it becomes meaningless, and the Ecosystem becomes meaningless and dies. It's survival of the fittest, and N.Z. Bear is well within his rights to assert his dominance in the food chain to assure his own survival.

Those who intended to game the Ecosystem will be among the loudest critics of this move, and those who are sincere about providing links to create true communities won't care. I guess we'll see which is which soon enough.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 23, 2005 11:31 AM | TrackBack

I know of another way to game it, but I do not exploit it.

Get multiple blogs going at subdomains, register them all as sites in the ecosystem, and then crosslink.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at November 23, 2005 12:23 PM


I think your suggestion Is Full Of Crap!

Posted by: basil at November 23, 2005 01:03 PM