the frequency a kenny chung blog

It’s 5am and I just completed a manual recoding of the share buttons on this blog. The reason? I had previously been using a plug-in titled “Facebook Like and Share, Twitter, Google +1, Google buzz buttons”. Yes, the keyword-stuffed name should’ve been a dead giveaway, but it did what I needed it to do – it created post-level Facebook Like, Twitter Tweet, and Google +1 buttons. I’d been using it for several months without actually checking out the code, and tonight I found this unsettling tidbit:

Vas Pro Social Media Share Button Black Hat Links
The highlighted portion contains the black hat hidden links included with the plug-in.

In the above screenshot, you can see that the plug-in included two hidden links within every single blog post. As a webmaster (and SEO), this was jarring. I suppose I thought plug-ins were policed better than that. But here’s the kicker – the plug-in has since been removed from The nearest mention of it is this forum post where another user found the black-hat links that the plug-in appended to their posts and meta descriptions.

To say that I learned from my mistake would be an understatement. I basically rebuilt the social share toolbar code from the ground up, and improved upon it by using asynchronous code where possible. I also had to brush up a bit about WordPress and “The Loop“, which is a concept I had only previously read about in passing.

So what’s the takeaway? If you’re running on your own domain, be wary that WordPress will not notify you if a plug-in has been detected or flagged as malicious. Do the due diligence and review the code for plug-ins that don’t have many user reviews. And if all else fails, do it yourself!

By the way, if anybody wants the code I used, leave a comment or email me!

March 28th, 2013
according to

The following notes are from the presentation titled “For Good Measure: Brand Measurement in a Digital World” at SES NY from Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

Note that these are just my notes, and I am not necessarily endorsing any strategies, tactics or POVs stated therein.

March 27th, 2013
according to

The following notes are from the presentation titled “Spy vs Spy: Key Insights to Outperform the Competition” at SES NY from Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

Note that these are just my notes, and I am not necessarily endorsing any strategies, tactics or POVs stated therein.

January 5th, 2012
according to

I’ll admit that the title of this blog post is a bit sensationalist, but walk down this path with me and maybe it will be justified enough to make sense. Alternative names for this blog post? “How to Sell SEO to a Non-Believer” or “Wagering on SEO” or maybe even “SEO is next to Godliness”. Okay, not that last one.

The inspiration for this post is the argument proposed by the French philosopher/mathematician Blaise Pascal regarding the existence of God. His viewpoint, dubbed Pascal’s Wager, stated (without taking sides in the argument) that whether or not God exists, it benefits a person to live virtuously such that when that person dies, he or she will have done a life of good as a result of the potential existence of God, regardless of whether or not there’s a Heaven or anything afterwards. The possibility of being a good person and not going to Heaven are considerably outweighed by the consequences of being an immoral person your whole life and then finding out that God exists. The probability math comes out to roughly 3 out of 4 times, it’s better to live your life as if you believed in God.

I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes in interpreting Pascal’s Wager, but the general framework can be applied to many non-theistic topics, such as global warming. Take this comic for example:

Global warming Climate Summit comic
This comic is a personal favorite regarding the global warming “debate”

This all relates back to SEO, I promise. Hopefully also with practical implications.

So let’s say you have to sell SEO to a client or business. You can invoke some form of Pascal’s Wager to do so, as unintuitive as it may seem. The best argument for why SEO is a useful service worth paying for isn’t in dollar signs, rankings, or clickthrough rate percentages. It’s in the alternative. How much does it cost for that company to not have optimized pages and to not rank well on the first page for relevant terms? That’s the gambit. Sure, there are checks and P&Ls involved, but at the end of the day, if you shell out X amount of dollars for good SEO, it’s worth it 75% of the time. And that’s an ROI any marketer can get behind.

This reminds me of a party I attended recently where a stranger asked what I did for a living. I replied with the generic “Internet marketing” to some awkward indifference. I then added, “you know, God’s work.” That at least got a chuckle. Little did he know I wasn’t entirely joking.

I’d like to preface this blog post by saying that I’m usually the first to poke fun at SEOs who blog about the “search impact” of every little thing that Google does, whether it’s changing a font, repositioning items slightly in the SERP, or whatever the case may be. So in order for me to get riled up over something they do, it has to be huge. And this recent update to Google Analytics is nothing short of huge.

To quote this Google Blog Post:

When a signed in user visits your site from an organic Google search, all web analytics services, including Google Analytics, will continue to recognize the visit as Google “organic” search, but will no longer report the query terms that the user searched on to reach your site. Keep in mind that the change will affect only a minority of your traffic.

Under the clearly cop-out guise of protecting user privacy, Google is going to start not reporting on organic keywords that logged-in users search. Isn’t that the whole selling point of Google Analytics? If not, it’s definitely a major one- the ability to see how users reach your site and how you can better position yourself in the space to garner more clickthroughs.

Google Control All The Data
Visual Approximation of Google Engineers

I especially take issue with the last line I quoted above: Google says that this will only affect a minority of organic traffic. B-U-L-L. Think about it for a second. Who’s most likely to use SSL? Or to put it even more broadly, who’s most likely to be logged into their Google accounts when searching? First on the list are net savvy people who work in the cloud and rely on Google and Google Apps services (including companies who run on Apps). Think about the repercussions of a tech content site not being able to see how admins or webmasters are reaching their resources. You also have people on local networks who are most likely to use SSL- probably the majority of college students on a shared network. That is definitely a key demo. And maybe this one slipped past people’s radar, but in order to do anything with an Android phone, you need to be logged into your Google account! So every single Android user will have their keywords stripped as well. Is Google trying to make us hate their mobile OS and its users?

So what’s an SEO to do? Not much to do, really. We can storm Mountain View with our pitchforks, but Google is stubborn, especially when it comes to PR- and soundbyte-friendly topics such as “user privacy”. Let’s face it- Google’s plan is to have more people use their services and to be logged in indefinitely (take the ubiquitous “+You” bar, for example). Given enough time, Google will have everyone logged in whenever they search, and then they’ll also control all of that query data.

Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

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licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.