There has been a lot written about Google’s new SearchWiki in relation to SEO. The initial reaction in most of the posts I’ve read is that SearchWiki sucks and it’s going to ruin SEO. Some SEO bloggers have entered into full Chicken Little mode claiming the sky is falling. While the long term effects of SearchWiki can be debated (in fact, you’ll get my take on just that in the next post) I think a lot of people are missing the most immediate implications of Google’s newest “improvement” for their search engine.
By allowing users to edit the results they see in a search engine result page (SERP), Google has effectively given SEOs a proverbial gun to hold up potential clients. While it likely isn’t their intent, the big G has made SEO the most pressing and immediate need of any online business. SEOs, the next time you try to close a potential client, give them a few facts and see how they react.
Now what kind of horrible salesman do you have to be to NOT close the deal when you have those facts staring the prospect in the face. And you know what? Every one of those 4 points is 100% accurate.
SearchWiki is making first impressions more important than ever before. Once a user votes up a competitor’s site, you just lost the #1 spot (and all the traffic that’s associated with it) for that person forever (or until Google decides they’ve made a mistake with SearchWiki but I don’t see that happening any time soon, again more on this in the next post).
While some in the SEO industry are lamenting SearchWiki as the silver bullet that will kill SEO forever, few have realized that it also just provided SEOs with a HUGE weapon to use in a sales pitch to potential clients. So, you can either piss and moan about how Google’s new toy is going to put you out of business in a few years, or you can use what you’re given to close more deals, gain more clients, deliver more value, and create more long lasting business relationships. Are you going to take action or complain?
The choice is yours.
One of the resounding themes of this year’s PubCon was a short but profound question: What value are you adding? While it seems like an easy question, having a solid answer to the question can be the difference between success and failure for your site, and not just in the search engines.
As the number of blogs continues to grow, the need for bloggers to set themselves apart is becoming even more important. Whether you call it being unique, finding your voice, or differentiating yourself, it ultimately boils down to conveying to your readers the value that you’ll be providing them. Will you be breaking news stories, providing unique commentary, educating readers or simply entertaining them? No matter what topic or niche you’re blogging in, you need to answer the question of why people would read your blog, or more simply put:
What value are you adding?
Affiliate marketing is one of the most lucrative methods of making money online. The ability to make money selling other people’s products has attracted scores of would be marketers but the simple fact of the matter is that the majority of those trying to make money online, will fail. And yet, at the same time there are those that make millions of dollars simply telling other people what they think of a product or service.
While many affiliates do nothing more than putting a banner or ad on their site hoping readers click on it and convert, others take the time to do in depth reviews of a product that help perspective buyers make informed decisions. Readers often view ads as an annoyance while a quality review will help build your reputation and trust. Even readers that don’t convert will be more likely to listen to your recommendations and buy from you in the future.
What’s the difference? Successful affiliates add value to the offer or product that they’re promoting.
To people outside the industry, SEO (more specifically link building) can seem like some sort of black magic or even worse, spam. In reality, successful link building is answering the same types of questions. What about your site is exceptional enough that someone should link to it? What information or content are you presenting on your page that search engines should rank ahead of others? Once you have the rankings, why would a user want to click on your listing?
What value is your site adding?
While this might seem like a simple question, answering it for yourself, your readers, and the search engines will put your site in position for long term success. So once again I ask you:
What Value Are You Adding?
When I first heard about search engine optimization, I was given a set of CD’s and tasked with learning how to bring traffic to a website from the search engines. While those CD’s helped educate me in the basics, it wasn’t until I stumbled across an SEO forum that I really started to learn the methods and tactics that produced results. Since that time, SEO blogs have become increasingly popular as the default place to learn the discipline.
However, as search engines takes a more and more active roll in the community and SEO bloggers continue to publicly discuss previously untapped link sources, little known but effective methods, and conversations held in private, I’ve found myself asking a recurring question:
Is SEO blogging worth it?
That question may seem obsurd, especially since it’s being posed on an SEO blog, but I think it’s an important question. Obviously blogging allows us to communicate with others in the same industry or profession. It allows us to share our knowledge with newcomers (as I said, this is essentially how I learned what has become my profession). And for some SEO bloggers, it attracts clients.
Unfortunately, all of those benefits are not without their costs. Every time a blogger posts about a new place to obtain a free clean link, or reports a site selling links, or demonstrates how one of the search engines is being gamed, they are making every other SEOs job that much harder. The link source closes the loop hole, or the links are devalued by the search engines. The site selling links receives a penalty and the buyers lose value. The site being used to illustrate the point loses rankings, loses authority, or loses it’s competitive edge.
The next time you come across a great source of free links, wouldn’t you be better served by using that information to improve your site’s or your client’s site’s rankings? Sure blogging it might bring you some attention and maybe even some links, but will a few extra subscribers benefit you as much as increased rankings would? Do you really get enough business from your blog that it would be more valuable to expose that link source than to use it to improve the quality of service you’re providing to your current clients?
I realize many of these types of posts are written with the best of intentions, to achieve all of the benefits we mentioned earlier, but many times that’s not the end result. In this age of social media, interactive SEO courses, and cheaper and more frequent confrences or events, do we really need SEO blogs to achieve the benefits we’re seeking?
Someone once told me that with every decision I need to ask myself whether or not the juice would be worth the squeeze. So I ask you, all you SEO bloggers out there, is SEO blogging really worth it?
This time of year it’s hard to avoid the latest most up-to-date polling numbers telling you which political candidate is winning or which party is in the lead. We’ve got political pundits coming out of the wood-work and each one of them has a different take on the whole thing.
Rather than relying on the latest polling data of the undecided voters (has anyone ever met one of these people by the way? I’m not sure they actually exist) I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the election through the eyes of a search engine, namely Google.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start spouting off my political opinion or interpretation of my findings (you probably get enough of that if you follow me on Twitter). I’m going to go strictly FoxNews on this one (I report, you decide).
The first and most natural comparison is just a simple search for the candidates names:
Since the pure number of results doesn’t really give us an indicator of the sentiment of those results, I decided to see who Google thought would win the election and actually become President.
Up next is a search that as in golf, you’re shooting for the lower total…
Experience (or in this case inexperience) has been a topic of discussion for supporters of both major candidates. What did Google have to say about it?
Another popular talking point is that the media has been biased for one cadidate or the other depending on which station or publication you’re talking about. To help investigate those claims I made use of the handy “site:” searches combined with the candidates names to figure out who was covered most.
So what do all these numbers say? You tell me! Weigh in with your opinion in a comment below.
Posted by Skitzzo as SEO
Dear SEO Bloggers,
I’ve been reading SEO blogs for quite some time and while I appreciate the input you offer up on a regular basis, I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend. It seems that more and more of your posts state your opinions or theories, as facts.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is nothing new; people have been doing it for as long as they’ve had opinions (and in fact, I’ve been guilty of this as well), but it seems to be happening more and more often in the SEO blogosphere.
Why, just yesterday I read 3 different posts, from SEO’s I generally respect as knowing what the hell they’re doing, and yet within those posts, they casually stated a “fact” that as far as I know has never been proven and remains at best, a theory.
Of course, blogging is essentially stating your opinion on matters or offering your take on an issue, but why have we abandoned phrases like “in my experience” or “as far as I can tell” or *gasp* “I think”? Are we all so desperate to sound like authorities in our field that we have to state everything as definitive fact rather than opinion or theory?
To make matters worse, these statements aren’t being backed up with anything! There’s no logical reasoning applied to them, there’s no research provided, there’s not even any links being given to other articles or posts that support their position!
One of the things I like most about SEO is that it’s constantly changing and really, only Google knows precisely what works and what doesn’t (and to be honest, I even have my doubts about them). But the fact that things change so often means that there is very little “common knowledge” in this industry. Even something as simple as “links are the key to ranking” will be hotly debated by some members of our industry.
So please, the next time you want to say something along the lines of “________ doesn’t work anymore” or “________ links are devalued” or “doing _______ will harm your rankings”, please, please PLEASE back it up with something! I’d be much more comfortable reading “I haven’t been seeing ____ links helping my sites as much as they used to” or “As the results of this experiment suggest, doing _____ will harm your site’s rankings.”
It might seem like I’m splitting hairs here or dealing in semantics but keep in mind you’re not only writing to other seasoned SEO’s. People that are completely new to the industry or that are trying to learn more about SEO often do the bulk of their learning on blogs and forums. When one blogger writes one thing as an established fact, and another blog states the exact opposite, it leads to a lot of confusion and, in my opinion (see how easy that was?) hurts the industry as a whole.
If our industry ever wants to fully shed the reputation of snake oil salesmen, I believe we’re going to have to start putting some serious data, testing, and documented experience behind what we claim as fact.
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