Zombie URLs? 7 Geocities Pages That Are Still Alive!

I don’t know what’s going on here, but these 7 URLs from www.geocities.com are still alive. Zombie URLs!!! I feel like I’m in I Am Legend or 28 Weeks Later, and I just found the other survivors. At any rate, these zombie URLs are probably hungry for brains. Maybe it was a glitch that was just in time for Halloween. I dunno. But I’ve gotta give it up to these URLs for surviving Yahoo’s mass extinction event last Monday. It’s evolution in action – on the interwebs!

I know that Yahoo was giving Geocities users the opportunity to get their Geocities URLs redirected to a custom domain (btw, a domain that you could purchase from Yahoo and then host with a Yahoo webhosting account). Those 7 URLs are not being redirected. They actually return 200 OK in the header response.

Just so we have something to compare those zombie Geocities URLs to, here are a few Geocities URLs that have been redirected via 301 redirects. Could it be that Yahoo is learning some SEO? Welcome to the new millennium.

So there you go? Can anyone explain why these URLs are still alive? Could they belong to Yahoo employees? Hmmm…

Geocities URLs Now Returning ‘410 Gone’ in Header Response

Sorry, Geocities Has Closed.
Sorry, Geocities Has Closed.

I was wondering what Yahoo would do with the millions of Geocities URLs out there. I thought they might use a 301 redirect for all URLs, but where would they redirect them? Yahoo.com? I mean, Yahoo is a PR9. They could use the link love. 😉 Also, Yahoo needs money. They should have sold the Geocities redirect. I wonder if anyone would have bid on that. Just imagine: You could buy the link authority of the entire Geocities domain. Of course it would be really easy for Google to discount those links, but it would still be interesting to see if someone would have purchased that redirect opportunity.

And don’t forget that even if the links had been discounted, the amount of traffic you would get from that redirect would be huge. I’m thinking affiliates would have bid pretty high for the Geocities redirect. I can see it now: all Geocities traffic is sent to a landing page with 5 banners – Porn, Viagra, Phentermine, Cash Loans & Debt Relief, and Dating. And then another Porn banner just in case someone missed the first one.

After checking some of the Geocities URLs, I have only seen ‘410 Gone’ in the header response. A ‘410 Gone’ response is harsh. It feels so final. Like an annulment. The relationship is over. The URL is gone forever. The ‘410 Gone’ makes a typical 404 sound more like a “maybe-we’ll-work-out-sometime-in-the-future-but-not-now” response. The 410 does not waffle. It’s not Brett Favre. The 410 Gone response is definitive. Game over.

I miss you Geocities.

Saying Goodbye: Yahoo Shuts Down Geocities Today

Oct. 26, 2009: Yahoo Shuts Down Geocities
Oct. 26, 2009: Yahoo Shuts Down Geocities

Well, today is the day that the music died. Yahoo is shutting down Geocities. 2009 is turning out to be a big year for Yahoo. There was the announcement that Geocities would close. Then there was the Yahoo/MSN merger, where Yahoo announced that MSN would provide the natural search results for Yahoo at some point in the near future. Then Yahoo announced they were going to discontinue the Yahoo Paid Inclusion Program (Yahoo SSP). And today is the day that Yahoo will official shut down Geocities. It honestly feels like a piece of my childhood is dying. My first website was on Geocities. Awwwww….how cute.

In January of 1999, Yahoo purchased Geocities for $3.57 billion in stock. They spent $3.57 billion for an asset, and now it’s closing 10 years later. Sheesh. Do you think they made their money back? Ugh. What a downer.

BTW, anyone have any idea how DMOZ is going to react to this news? They are going to have a tough time removing/redirecting all those Geocities listings in the DMOZ directory.

Saying Goodbye to the Yahoo Paid Inclusion Program, Yahoo SSP

Walter Sobchak says Goodbye to Yahoo Paid Inclusion
Walter Sobchak says Goodbye to Yahoo Paid Inclusion

Apparently, Yahoo’s Paid Inclusion program is being discontinued as of December 31, 2009. It’s the last paid inclusion program of its kind (or at least it’s the last big one to be discontinued). Often blurring the line between paid search marketing and SEO, Yahoo’s paid inclusion program has become a significant source of organic search revenue for websites all over the world. Because of that, we thought it would be fitting to have Walter Sobchak hold a memorial.

"Good night, sweet prince." - Walter Sobchak
"Good night, sweet prince." - Walter Sobchak

Every time he says Donny, just think Yahoo Paid Inclusion Program or Yahoo SSP:

Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors… and bowling, and as a surfer he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and… up to… Pismo. He died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince.

So maybe it wasn’t a great memorial, but it was certainly a memorial. We’ll miss you, Yahoo Paid Inclusion. We’ll miss you dearly.

Yahoo Paid Inclusion, Search Submit Pro (SSP) Discontinued Effective Dec. 31, 2009

I just got word that Yahoo’s paid inclusion program Search Submit Pro (aka Yahoo SSP) is being discontinued effective December 31, 2009. Everyone has been wondering if Yahoo and Bing would keep Paid Inclusion (Search Submit Pro) up and running after the Yahoo/MSN deal. But it looks like now the verdict is in. Paid Inclusion and Yahoo SSP will be discontinued. Bro hymn for Yahoo SSP. You were a great soldier in the new millennium, and you were the last Paid Inclusion program to fall. Damn.

The impact of this decision will obviously have massive implications in the world of search. There are a lot of websites out there that rely on Yahoo SSP as a source of traffic, revenue and brand exposure. And there are also a ton of marketers who rely on Yahoo Search Submit Pro as a search marketing tool for their clients. Furthermore, Yahoo SSP may not be a huge revenue stream for Yahoo (maybe it’s $100M per year?), but I am still very surprised by the decision to discontinue the program. After all, it’s an effective program that drives millions of dollars every year. Maybe they had to discontinue Yahoo SSP in order to get the Yahoo/MSN deal completed. I’m sure more official blogs/sources will have more official details very soon.

So long, Yahoo SSP. You were a dear friend to the interwebs, and we’ll miss you dearly.

Update 1 (10/14/2009): I wish I could give you a source or a link or something, but I can provide nothing to confirm this post. But believe me, Yahoo’s paid inclusion program is about to go bye-bye. Today I’ve seen people tweeting about it, so I’m sure the details will emerge soon enough. But for now, my lack of proof makes this seem like a rumor. Take it or leave it. I’ll post links once the official story breaks.

Update 2 (10/15/2009): It appears David Lewis got the call from Yahoo, too.

Update 3 (10/16/2009): Barry Schwartz has an official post about Yahoo Paid Inclusion being discontinued. Jump over to SearchEngineLand.com to see it.

Netbook vs. Notebook: Is There a New Sheriff in Keywordville?

We all know that a laptop is a laptop. However, in the wide world of search, you can’t just focus on ranking for laptop. Why? For one, good luck ranking for laptop. The competition is superduper competitive for that term. Next, you’ll probably want to rank for laptops. Again, good luck. Don’t get me wrong. You should definitely optimize your site for those terms. I just don’t want you getting your hopes up. Even in a time of hope and change, I wouldn’t get caught up in hoping that your rankings change so much that you’ll be swimming in $100 bills. It’s just not likely you’ll be able to rank in the top 10 for laptop. But imagine if you could. There are a lot of searches for that term.

Google Keyword Data: Laptop, Notebook, Netbook
Google Keyword Data: Laptop, Notebook, Netbook

Where does that leave us? We must focus on some other generic keywords that also drive a lot of laptop-related traffic. Let’s check out synonyms for laptop. Notebook! Many people refer to their laptop as a notebook, so we definitely need to target the term notebook. Up until a few years ago, that was the main choice as an alternative to laptop. Well guess what. There’s a new keyword on the move: netbook. Just take a look at these historical trends, courtesy of Google Trends:

Google Trends Stats (US) for laptop, notebook, netbook
Google Trends Stats (US) for laptop, notebook, netbook

While the United States search volume has seen a tremendous increase for the term netbook, the News reference volume has been even more dramatic. In the news realm, the term netbook has already passed the volume for notebook, and it looks like netbook and laptop are currently in a dead heat. Where did all of this come from? In Q4 2007 the term netbook appears out of nowhere, and then a year later it’s off to the races. Perhaps a look into the history of netbooks is needed. Or perhaps not. Or perhaps we can borrow a summary from our friends at Wikipedia:

A netbook (a portmanteau of Internet and notebook) is a class of laptop computer designed for wireless communication and access to the Internet.

Primarily designed for web browsing and e-mailing, netbooks rely heavily on the Internet for remote access to web-based applications and are targeted increasingly at cloud computing users who require a less powerful client computer. Netbooks typically run either Linux or Windows XP operating systems rather than more resource-intensive operating systems like Windows Vista or Mac OS X. The devices range in size from below 5 inches to over 13, typically weigh 2 to 3 pounds (~1 kg) and are often significantly cheaper than general purpose laptops.

Netbooks represent a greener alternative to larger laptops due to lower power demands, fewer toxic components, and a resource-efficient approach to computing and some models have achieved EPEAT gold and silver ratings.

The Wikipedia entry goes on about the history of the netbook, from Psion’s line of Netbooks to the One Laptop Per Child project to the Palm Foleo. But the real change in netbook-related search volume came in 2007 when Asus released the ASUS Eee PC. And it wasn’t only ASUS. Everybody had to play catch up and copycat. Following the ASUS EeePC, Everex came out with the CloudBook, MSI developed the Wind, Dell released the Inspiron Mini, HP put out the HP Mini, and many other similar models were on the assembly line for production.

In early 2008, Intel announced that it would be quitting the One Laptop Per Child program, but that didn’t impact search. In fact, in early 2008 the search volume trend for netbook really started to rise. Why might this be? There’s probably many more verifiable and accurate reasons than this one I’m about to throw out there, but I’m going to start with the US economy in 2008. Netbooks are inexpensive, small, underpowered laptops. The key word (no pun intended) in that list is inexpensive. Netbooks average about $350. And just in case you think this post is too long and off base, just check out this link. Today on Amazon, the top 3 bestsellers in Computers & PC Hardware are netbook computers. And there are all under $375. Don’t believe me? Here’s the screenshot:

Amazon Bestsellers: Computers & PC Hardware
Amazon Bestsellers: Computers & PC Hardware

There you have it. Netbooks are cheap. They are lightweight. They don’t have a lot of the unnecessary bells and whistles that 99% of people will never use. Netbooks are perfect for people who just want to surf the web and check email. In the next few years, netbooks will make it easier for more and more people to get online, and it’s only natural that many of the major companies get involved in the netbook market. Already there are several models from brands such as Acer, Lenovo, Samsung, MSI, Sylvania, Toshiba, ASUS, HP and Dell.

Google Trends: netbook and netbooks
Google Trends: netbook and netbooks

Lastly, here is a look at the terms netbook and notebook vs. the plurals. For those of you wondering, the term netbook has already passed notebooks in terms of search volume. This is another sign that netbook term is only going to become increasingly competitive. If you are running an SEO campaign for a company selling laptops, notebooks and netbooks, I hope you consider placing a lot of focus on netbook-related terms. You are not on the ground floor of ranking for netbooks, but the good news is that you still have a good shot at setting up your site for great netbook-related rankings in the future.

Google Going Pac-Man on All Other Search Engines

I saw this data the other day, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Google is going Pac-Man on those other search engines
Google is going Pac-Man on those other search engines

You remember Pac-Man, don’t you? He would bust out of this prison-like cell and then start eating up everything in site. It brings back memories just thinking about it. And Ms. Pac-Man? Yeah, she was smoking hot. But I digress…

Clearly Google is morphing into Pac-man. Google continues to eat up the competition in the U.S. Keep in mind that in most other countries, especially in Europe, Google is driving >90% of all search traffic. Together, Google+Yahoo+MSN account for 96% of all search traffic in the U.S. You e-commerce marketing directors better make sure you’ve got your sites listed in those search engines. However, you should pay extra close attention to Google. If you’re not ranking in the top 3 pages for your important keywords, you need to make that a top priority, or soon your business might go tits-up like Circuit City (not that they had trouble ranking for stuff, but you know what I mean). Also, you should not forget about Yahoo. I’ve got friends who work with the Yahoo paid inclusion program, and I know that program is the most reliable way to break into the top 10 results on Yahoo. It’s like having paid ads appear in the organic listings. And you can track all of it! Yahoo’s 18% market share is nothing to sneeze at, so make sure you have a paid inclusion feed running on Yahoo.

In the spirit of video games, I’d like to continue this post, though I know it should have just ended. With Google turning into Pac-Man in pie graphs around the world, I thought it might be fun to give the competition some fun nicknames. Here are Pac-Man’s original enemies from the arcade game:

Pac-Man's Enemies from the original 1980 Pac-Man arcade

Notice that there are 4 ghost characters: Shadow (aka Blinky), Speedy (aka Pinky), Bashful (aka Inky), and Pokey (aka Clyde). I kinda like these guys. I, too, would be pissed if some yellow freak was on my property eating all of my stuff. Google also has 4 competitors:

Character / Nickname
Yahoo / Can’t Follow 301 Redirects
MSN / Can’t do a link: command
Ask / 302 on the Homepage
Other / Excite Who?

I really don’t see any of the these guys closing the gap on Google. I know Obama is promising change, but I don’t think these percentages are going to start going the other way. I mean, Google is now a verb in our vernacular. Good luck to Yahoo and MSN in overcoming that obstacle.

Well that’s it for now. Until next time. Make like some trees and get outta here.