(Continued from Part 1)
Next subject . . .
What about free submissions to FAST? Are they a thing of past?
According to Baker, "Free submit will continue to operate. There will be no effect on pages (already) in index. The inclusion service is simply a guarantee that your pages will be indexed regularly and are guaranteed a reservation in FAST index. The trick with free submit is amount of spam we receive through that channel. It makes it difficult to keep up with all of submissions. PartnerSite provides an economic incentive to NOT submit spam."
How quickly does FAST index free submissions?
Mr. Baker answered, "Usually within 2-6 weeks. However, 95% of what comes through free submission is spam, and that's what causes bottleneck. Also, there's no guarantee on refresh rate of those sites that we pick up through free submit. Unfortunately, it's 5% of submitters that are spammers that ruin it for rest of us. The extent that people go through to spam index is truly amazing."
Is there a penalty for submitting your site through their free Add URL?
Baker replied, "Not really. Freshness does effect rank, but only marginally. I have never seen freshness boost ranking more than 1 or 2 spaces."
What does FAST consider spam? As stated earlier, FAST estimates that an amazing 95% of submissions through their free Add URL page are spam.
Baker further explained, "Unfortunately this is case. We believe there are approximately 30 million crawlable servers globally, two-thirds of which have been blacklisted as spam servers."
Whew! Think about it: 20 MILLION crawlable servers globally are blacklisted as spam servers. If this is really true, it explains why engines have collectively gone to such great lengths in their efforts to curtail spam.
At Dallas Search Engine Strategies Conference in November, FAST introduced their new spam policies. Baker explained that according to FAST, spam comes in three different categories:
* Page Spam, which consists of any measures to boost ranking, such as link farms, etc. * Spam stuffing, such as keyword stuffing, invisible text, etc. * Offensive content, which is not so much spam, but is something that we detect and flag as such.
You can access and read Fast's entire spam policy at: http://www.alltheweb.com/info/spampolicy.html
And, if you're so inclined, you can report spam to FAST by emailing email@example.com.
The ultimate fear of a search engine marketer: your site has been banned. What recourse is there for a site that gets on Fast's spam list and becomes banished from engine? Is this forever?
Baker replied, "This really is handled on a case by case basis. We have worked with sites that have contacted us and informed us that they have cleaned up their act. Obviously, this is very time consuming, so combination of PartnerSite, spam guidelines, and not having your site hosted on a banned server should enable a site to get in index through a variety of means if they think they have cleaned up their act."
Translated: If your site is hosted on one of 20 million servers tagged for spamming, you'd best move it to a different server before you initiate kiss-and-makeup ritual with FAST.
Baker further explained, "What really matters is server where submission is coming from. So many servers have been completely blacklisted due to proliferation of spam. I suggest 'know thy neighbor.' The crawler will take care of rest."
This again underscores importance of your site having its own unique IP address to insure against problems caused by an unruly site sharing same IP.
How does FAST feel about cloaking? In Dallas, Mr. Baker and I had a long discussion about cloaking and how FAST engine feels about it. We even served on a panel where a question came up about cloaking and about responsible cloaking guidelines.
As I mentioned to him, from our position as SEO's, we see issues from opposite perspectives. Of course, we don't have a front row seat to parade of spam but, even so, our viewpoint is dictated by that of legitimate businesses trying to ethically compete in arenas that are often very competitive and sometimes dominated by nefarious position jockeying. Therefore, on issue of cloaking, I pointed out instances where it's only tool available that prevents our work from being stolen. My thinking is there's no harm done provided that a person follows all of engine's guidelines and does not spam in any way.
Baker's response: "Unfortunately, 20% of sites that use redirects maliciously ruin it for rest. Redirects and cloaks have become such a hassle that we can't afford to risk indexing them. We do work through PartnerSite IV customers to index cloaks. However, they are sent through a rigorous spam-detection process."