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Like Egol Says - Focus On Creating Great Content

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#1 SEOigloo


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Posted 12 May 2008 - 01:01 AM

Hi Everybody,

We've had several good discussions here about getting links in which our friend EGOL has suggested that people work their tails of creating good content rather than worrying about rote link acquisition. I just blogged about a personal experience with this, and thought members might like what I wrote as it relates both to SEO and to working in non-profit-type situations:

Links And Better Things Come When People Care

Over the past few months, my personal time has been absorbed by a grass roots movement in which I have become deeply involved here in California. The importance of the issue has impelled me to use every skill I possess as a writer, an artist, a graphic designer, an SEO, a marketer. I think the experience I am having in this pursuit is worth sharing.

I remember first learning about the importance of link acquisition as a brand new SEO. I had a vague idea that I would be writing to related businesses and asking them nicely to link to whatever website I was working on. The trouble was, the first projects I was asked to do this on were not being run by businesses who had invested the time to create content worth linking to. Can you imagine a scenario more doomed to fail than giving a new SEO the task of getting links to a website that features nothing but sales pages of 300 pond filters?

Dear So-and-So,
We just love the koi fish you sell and wanted to let you know that we sell pond filters. We’ve linked to your website from ours and would be so pleased if you would consider….

Heaven help us!

About the time that top SEOs started proclaiming that Content is King, I started to understand that what was getting in the way of acquiring valuable links was the artifice of the situations I found myself commonly in - begging for links to unworthy pages from businesses with something better to do with their time. Over the past couple of years, all good SEOs have experienced the difference great content makes, but in my current involvement with my socio-political project, I am seeing something beyond this.

I am seeing what a difference personal involvement makes. When an issue - be it negative like climate change, the housing crisis, honeybee colony collapse, childhood disease, or positive like organic farming, sustainability, literacy education, greening the home, elder advocacy - is deeply affecting people’s lives, the energy, generosity and spirit of sharing that evolves is unlike anything else I’ve encountered as an SEO. Far from being a case of pleading for links, the connections made in these on-line interactions have real-world impacts that forge bonds, build communication and advance whatever cause is at hand.

I have been authoring the most active blog on the web on my particular subject for the past 2 months - just 2 months. In a couple of weeks’ time, the materials I’ve created have been discovered and used in the following ways:

On community pamphlets and fliers
In scientific reports and research documents
On blogs
On websites
In a series of e-cards
In newspapers
On film

I have been incredibly honored to make personal connections with:

Major Media

I’ve been able to act as both an information resource as well as a liaison between interested parties, facilitating new important relationships between people who can help one another. A secondary good is the fact that my blog has now been linked to, unasked, by every major entity involved in this project as well as by multiple media sources. Why is it secondary? Because the actual work being done is certainly more important than the prestige of the Google rankings that come from such excellent links. Still, the links are something to be very thankful for as their influence is making it ever easier for my materials to be found by people who need them.

It is amazing to me that a single blog is capable of accomplishing this much in a couple of months’ time. And, I feel it’s worth sharing this summary because it demonstrates how much you can accomplish when your subject is strong enough that all concern for the wheedling of links for rankings and traffic goes by the wayside. Because of my profession, I can’t help approaching any web endeavor like an SEO, but here, my passion and purpose are so personal that I have simply worked like crazy and felt grateful for the response my blog is receiving.

Working for non-profit or special interest groups is a field of its own. I am convinced that the web is providing an incredible place for caring and dedicated people to make a powerhouse difference in the world. The steps between bright idea and viral domino effect require only concerted effort.

The web can lead to artificial situations on so many levels as we struggle with the proposition that there are real people on the other side of the screen. Now, I have begun to see that the more the web, and the job of the SEO, is viewed as real life, the more naturally really good work will take place, the more powerful and effective our efforts can be, the more impact those efforts can have on our lives outside the web.

#2 saschaeh


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Posted 12 May 2008 - 01:43 AM

Well done on your efforts. It truly sounds like you out did yourself! Thanks for sharing - your post is very inspiring.

#3 A.N.Onym


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Posted 12 May 2008 - 02:28 AM

Miriam, awesome point of view on the whole matter. Precisely what I have been practising :)

What's that local thing that got so much attention? The deer, birding or something else? It'd be interesting to know to be able to gauge how replicable the niche-selection can be. Then again, the enthusiasm is what counts, I guess.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 12 May 2008 - 02:50 AM.

#4 SEOigloo


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Posted 12 May 2008 - 06:18 AM

Thanks, Saschaeh...I just love positive learning experiences like this. They are very reaffirming of having a purpose in work and in life.

Hi Yura -
I've seen smaller successes with different projects along the lines of what EGOL has long suggested, but this has been a bit different as it is a statewide socio-political issue that is, at present, affecting about 7 million people in California. It's interesting to consider what kinds of issues might have a similar scope/niche.

Something along the lines of government-mandated water fluoridation of a state might be on a similar scale as it would affect people across the board in a geographic region and could lead to massive protest. On a more positive note, what about running a blog for the election of a high level official like a state governor? Those would both be geography-based endeavors.

But, it wouldn't need to be by region. I really think the key element is that people who are working together for a common cause become a self-evangelizing community. It's powerful stuff to witness.

That's really cool that you have been working in this way, too!

#5 bwelford


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Posted 12 May 2008 - 09:40 AM

Congratulations on your post, Miriam , which I found most thought-provoking. I must admit I'm struggling to make sense of the current PageRank / NoFollow paradox debate. That's really the meat of the current topic here on Google - Publisher Or Advertiser?. I believe this thread you have started brings in a very useful notion. It doesn't help solve the major flaw in PageRank, but I think it represents reality.

As it happens Aaron Wall has written another significant post entitled Strategic Content as Marketing for Link Building (and the Win). In Sphinn comments, both Eric Moses and Jill Whalen said they had covered similar ground in 2004. It's all about avoiding the need to buy links by writing stuff that attracts links. A short quotation will give you a sense of this recent article:

Custom content is going mainstream - business marketers are spending nearly 30% of their marketing budget on custom content, and today Danny Sullivan announced he is doing a paid search feature with John Battelle for Thomson Reuters. If you have cash, hire personalities and market leaders for brand association and exposure.

The border between content and advertising is blurring.

What it's saying to me is that Google does not like paid links and ignores them. However, if you carefully use perhaps even more cash to get people writing content that causes other people to link to it, then those links will not be ignored by Google. It sounds like one law for the rich and one for the poor.

I believe your post, Miriam, represents a more useful concept. Some people have used the word engagement. I believe what you're writing is engaging. It connects with your audience. That is why it has been so successful. Your readers would state that your posts are highly relevant to their information needs. In a Google search, your posts should come high in the rankings for appropriate keywords.

This moves beyond the other factor that people have talked about, which is TrustRank. That was a measure of the content of an item. Engagement goes beyond that, since it is measured in the minds of your readers. What we would like to see when we do a search are articles that will engage us when we read them. That's what the search engine should do. Perhaps how we click will be an indicator of how engaging we found an article.

In a sense, this has been an off-topic digression. However, thank you for posting. You certainly got me thinking.

#6 cre8pc


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Posted 12 May 2008 - 12:54 PM

Right on Miriam!

My artist friend, whose web site I took over, told me that one night before I uploaded the redesigned version, he looked at his old site after hearing my feedback on it. I had explained to him all the reasons why it was dead and not working for him. He hadn’t understood this until he looked at it again from the perspective of a usability consultant. He told me he was amazed at all that was missing from the old site that he just never noticed before. He had trusted he would be taken care of by those who had built his web sites.

Two webmasters built him web sites on two separate domains. Both were uninspiring, unattractive and lacked a reason to remain on the site or worse, bookmark it or ever return. Two chances. Two complete duds.

I saw his art. I spent the time to get to know the artist as a man, human, visionary. I know he’ll be famous. Neither of the other two webmasters believed and it showed in their work. Neither of them had a clue about SEO, accessibility, persuasive design or marketing.

In today’s Internet market, these skills are what you will need to look for. Skills, along with passion. You want people who help you to succeed and who know how to make it happen because they want this for you.

#7 SEOigloo


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Posted 12 May 2008 - 03:50 PM

Barry -
Really nice article from Aaron Wall. The Rich vs. Poor dilemma is one that troubles me, as well, Barry. Yet, here's the thing...there's a wild-card element to Google's results in that someone without funding can be so compelling that they work their way to the top simply on the merit of their own, self-created content. I've seen this happen elsewhere, obviously not in money markets like mortgages or something like that, but in niche scenarios. I believe it can still be done, getting those links and rankings where the person trying to win them is also the person creating the content. The proposition becomes more costly when the person trying to win is NOT the content creator and has to hire someone.

Because I've never bought links, I don't really know what the comparison would be between hiring a writer who feels enough personal involvement in the subject that they can be compelling, and paying for links. Which would be a more expensive investment? I'm not sure. It does, however, seem like investing in the copy vs. the links would have the potential for more ultimate impact. After all, a link just takes someone to a page. It's the contents of that page that keeps them there, wins loyalty, builds community. It's an interesting question!

Kim -
I love your story! I think it illustrates 2 points. 1) Having the skills to build a great website are essential. 2) Believing in the business/person for whom you are developing is essential if the site is to go beyond just good to extraordinary.

I know I get excited when projects come our way that I can really get on-board with. A matchmaker who would match up developers with business owners based on shared ideals/interests might be a cool thing! Thank you, Kim.


Edited by SEOigloo, 13 May 2008 - 04:07 AM.

#8 A.N.Onym


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Posted 12 May 2008 - 08:20 PM

Ah, I have to note that in your case, Miriam, the topic did touch the nerve of every citizen living in the state so the topic was bound to get noticed. I guess in stale business topics one has to be more creative in engaging the audience. Which goes to covering the real world, which is very, very far from the 'get any links' mindset.

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