Startup Blog

Are paid links really that bad of an idea?

Posted Mike Volpe on 8/18/09 10:31 AM


But first, let's talk about why people buy paid links.  Links are really important for ranking higher in the search engines.  Because of this, some website started selling links because people would buy them to increase their search engine rankings.

Google's Paid Links Policy (from

"Google and most other search engines use links to determine reputation. A site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. Link-based analysis is an extremely useful way of measuring a site's value, and has greatly improved the quality of web search. Both the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of links count towards this rating."

"However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results."

More relevant discussions I found:

Do you think you are smarter than Google?  If so, go ahead and buy all the paid links you want.  But I will bet $1 every time that Google is smarter than you are.  And if you buy enough paid links to have a big effect on your marketing, then Google will find out and you will be penalized.

Download video for iPod and iPhone.

3 Reasons Why Cuil is Not Cool

Posted Mike Volpe on 7/28/08 5:32 PM

Cuil is a new search engine that just launched with lots of buzz in the startup world.  It is supposed to be a "Google Killer."  I don't get it.  I think it sucks.  Here's why:

  1. They lie.  They claim to have the "world's biggest search engine" yet when you search for some simple terms, Google returns a lot more results than they do.  "Search Engine" yields 378 million results in Google and 165 million in Cuil.  "Startup" yields 57 million in Google and only 40 million in Cuil.
  2. They are solving the wrong problem.  I don't need my search engine to crawl more web pages.  I need higher quality, more targeted results.  I need less search engine spam.  I need more personalization.  Cuil does none of this.  Crawling the last 0.1% of webpages Google misses is like including the microscopic dust particles under my bed during a search of my house.  Who cares!!!
  3. Their results suck.  Search for "Cuil" in Cuil and you Search in Google for "Cuil" and you get a bunch of results that make sense, including a news article and Cuil itself.  Search for "Cuil" in Cuil, and you get results like "Properties for Sale in Cuil Mhuine, Ireland", "The Shire of Cuil Choluim" and "Download Chase Around the Windmill".  What a joke.

What do you think?  Is there anything about Cuil that is actually Cool?  Leave a comment...

Google AdWords PPC / SEM Rap

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/11/08 11:51 AM

For those of you who know me personally, you know that this video combines two big elements of my personality.  For more info, you can read this article about rap stars and their marketing techniques and also the follow-up article about rappers and marketing.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is Not Rocket Science

Posted Mike Volpe on 1/31/07 3:08 PM

We have been doing some SEO at my company for some time, with reasonable results. And being a decent size company, we get pitches from lots of vendors who want us to spend a lot of money with them to outsource our SEO. There are also companies, like HubSpot Online Marketing, that are building tools to make SEO just part of how you build and manage your website. But most of the pitches we get are from companies that are SEO "experts" who have "figured out" Google and other engine's ranking algorithms. Many of these "expert" companies that want our business try to tell me that SEO cannot be done in house and only very technical experts can do it effectively. While there might be some benefits that these experts bring to the table, to me the extra cost they ask for is not justified. So, when I saw this article Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is Not Rocket Science I really enjoyed it. We actually do outsource it to a small company right now, but not because we could not do it ourselves, mostly because it is easier and more flexible to outsource than have an employee do it. Sort of like hiring someone to mow your lawn. We could do it, we just want to spend our time on other things. For those of you looking for some insights on how to do some SEO on your own, you should check out this article Improving your Organic Position on Google: A How-To Guide For Small Business.

The Disruption is Beginning...

Posted Mike Volpe on 1/8/07 3:02 PM

Let me go on record saying that the biggest threat to Microsoft today is Google SpreadSheets and Documents. Not search, not Gmail... but spreadsheets and documents. And, if you read this article from innovation Creators about Google taking $200m from Microsoft & Lotus there is already a financial impact. I could not agree more. Google Documents and Spreadsheets has all the characterisitics of a disruptive technology.
  • Much lower cost - free v.s $100's of dollars
  • Less functionality in the traditional sense... BUT more functionality in ways that are important for a small but growing and important market segment - the collaboration and web-centric features will be the future of how we use documents and communicate
I am currently using Google Spreadsheets and Docs for a bunch of things, including tracking gifts and thank you notes for my wedding with my fiance. While Google spreadsheets does not do everything Excel does (pivot tables, charts), it does "enough" (to be dangerous), and the collaboration functionality is very cool and more importantly... quite USEFUL.

Who Will Beat Goolge?

Posted Mike Volpe on 1/2/07 3:00 PM

I am not sure if there is any company out there right now who really has a good shot to unseat Google as the king of search. But, that doesn't mean it's not fun to talk about. Check out this article on the Read/Write Web. At a minimum it is a good summary and categorization of the players out there who have a shot at beating Google, and maybe you'll get lucky and discover the next Google. Some of my thoughts...
  • The article missed a bunch of companies, of course, since it is not possible to name everyone, especially in the Web 2.0 world where things seem to pop up overnight like mushrooms. One notable company (Alexa ranking of ~1900) missed in the vertical search space is ZoomInfo. They are building some nifty stuff and the ability to search on people, rather than documents that mention people is useful since many times different documents are referring to the same person, and you want to find all information related to a single person. And many times this with the same or similar names to others. Just try to find yourself or some business colleagues on ZoomInfo... and then try the same thing on Google. The problem gets worse if you want to find your friend Jane Smith or Dave Jones...
  • Google's strategy in search should not be to be an innovator. Their innovative activity should be focused on things like spreadsheets & documents, Gmail, and other services that could unseat Microsoft. In search, they should just focus on taking the best of what these upstart companies produce and copying it. They have a huge market share in search and a really powerful brand. As long as they do not fall too far behind, they will not lose much ground.

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