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Are Seo Forums Still Needed?


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#1 bwelford

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 01:16 PM

John Carcutt has written an interesting post on Search Engine Journal entitled, Are SEO Forums Still Needed?. Of course Cre8asite Forums is much more than just SEO. Indeed that is only a minor part of what is discussed here.

However in this age of Twitter, Digg, Sphinn, and FriendFeed, is there still a place for forums?

#2 Jem

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 02:09 PM

The problem that I have with places like Digg, and even the bigger forums such as Digital Point, is that it never feels like a community. Take here for instance... I've not posted in quite a while and yet I've popped back in and already I see faces I remember, people who I respect. On Digital Point I can browse for days on end and never see the same face twice! I think there will always be a call for smaller, more user-centred forums where knowledge is shared both freely and with a certain passion.

#3 EGOL

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 02:13 PM

I think that forums serve a great purpose for the beginner. The threads are often started with a question and the beginner can often get good opinions from experienced people.

Once a person gets more experience the noise to information ratio of many forums does not give a good ROI for the time invested. At that point the person is looking for authoritative content and information sharing based on a topic. This is where websites such as SEOmoz excel and why they attract a lot of the more experience people.

The "threads" begin with an authoritative presentation and the comments build upon them or explore.

#4 SEOigloo

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 09:50 PM

Hi Barry,
I continue to prefer the forum atmosphere to what I know of Social Media. The in-depth discussions are happening here, not on Twitter, not even on Sphinn.

I agree with EGOL's comment regarding the fine content one encounters in a forum like this - content that goes way beyond the ABCs of SEO. For some of us, I believe, Cre8asite has replaced the connectedness of the office environment that is a distant memory for those who have gone into business for themselves.

Miriam

#5 A.N.Onym

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 10:47 PM

For me, the forums replace a chance to just talk about the topic with my colleagues. It could be discussing the latest G quirks, tactics or just bouncing off ideas/approaches. You don't get that on social sites, unless you specificially ask about it on LinkedIn or smth.

P.S. Twitter might replace that, but it is bad at presenting all the discussion.

SEOmoz is a one-way street. Even if you create a youmoz entry, you are still broadcasting, not asking or starting a discussion. Sphinn is much more open in this direction, though I don't see discussions there often.

I agree with EGOL, though. The signal of noise on the forums is something that makes it less readable. Cre8 is still one of the two SEO sites, both forums, (another is SEO Refugee) that I read daily, though.

Edit:
I've just found this quote about YOUmoz:

We often receive submitted posts that are nothing more than a concise, basic SEO question. These questions likely won't get published because YOUmoz is a user-generated blog, not a forum.


Edited by A.N.Onym, 04 June 2008 - 02:14 AM.


#6 bwelford

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 12:56 AM

I think the really important feature of a forum is the equality of the voices that come there.

Blogs with comments don't work like that at all. The owner of the blog is talking to the world and perhaps the world talks back.

Even Sphinn that has tried to suggest that discussion and comments are part of its structure doesn't work like that at all. The dissenting voices are put in a separate stream of (sub)consciousness in the DeSphinn stream.

If you want true discussion, then the structure of the place has got to help that happen.

#7 wyliet

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 05:30 AM

They are needed more than you could ever imagine. I'm reasonably new to this SEO stuff (I keep saying that, reckon I'll still say that in about four years time!) and this was the only place I could get straight answers to my questions.

They offer a comfortable and un-intimidating environment in which to be thoughtful, useful and at times naive!

Long live the Forums!!!

Tom
:disco2:

#8 projectphp

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 12:37 AM

The problem with articles is that the best people write too few, and the good write too many.

Bloggin only works, as a business tool, if you are consistent. Unfortunately, people DO NOT have great ideas consistently.

I still believe the two most useful articles I have read are:
http://www.searcheng...nding_paths.htm and:
http://www.searcheng...ptimisation.htm - two of three articles writen by the author ever (AFAIK).

That isn't to say that other people don't write good stuff (Bill's posts are great, even if I only read them when I need to :)), it is just that true inspiration is very rare, and the nature of blogs is that they have to be constantly added to, meaning very little of what is written is of much use, at least to me anyway.

Whereas forums are great, because you never know what question, small or big, will teach you something.

#9 Black_Knight

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 07:53 AM

SEO forums are definitely still needed.

A thousand rip-off merchants, thoughtless wannabes, and cheapskate offshore companies absolutely depend on them. They depend on them for every scrap of SEO knowledge they can wring out to misrepresent themselves to the poor saps they hoodwink into hiring them.

Example: http://www.cre8asite...e...c=63054&hl=

The trouble with any successful SEO related forum, is that it naturally attracts hoardes of unsuccessful SEOs, either to learn just enough shortcuts to get into trouble, or to promote themselves as best they can with volumes of obvious regurgitation of stuff they read once and now repeat endlessly (untested of course) on every forum they can find as though it were a gem of great wisdom rather than admitting it is nothing of theirs.

Those people come, and the good original-thinking SEOs generally leave quickly after. You see it time and again, and those of us who are polite refer to it as an unfavourable increase in the signal-to-noise ratio. But we all know that's just polite talk for "became full of selfish idiots and liars".

Trouble is that to some extent the selfish idiots won. They forced the original thinkers and pioneers to engage in the same thinking: What's in it for me? Years of seeing people like the one in my example led countless real pioneers to abandon the forums and to start giving away less secrets to be abused by such lusers, and to ensure they got credit and ownership of what they did share.

The real sharing moved away into private chats, backroom conversations, and direct networking. Nowhere that leaves ammo for the charlatans.

And the web became poorer for it.

They often describe it as a sign of market maturity. Less sharing, and more careful strategy of ownership and market domination. Whatever else you call it, it's best description is that of an irony. Ironic because it is the act of sealing off from society, becoming less social, and using so-called social media to do it. :)

#10 BillSlawski

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 09:37 AM

Are SEO forums still needed?

I think that as much as there is the potential for abuse that Ammon notes, there are still people who come to forums to talk, to share ideas, to engage in discussion, and to cut through some of the misinformation that propagates on the web.

Social networking sites can be much less social than the name implies.

#11 bwelford

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 12:17 PM

Social networking sites can be much less social than the name implies.

.. and it's getting worse all the time.

Most social media are like rushing rivers. Everyone jumped on to Twitter so it became overloaded and has very variable performance at the moment. Even if it worked well, one never knows who is seeing what and whether they will respond.

Seeing the success of Twitter, or perhaps its operating problems, others are now bringing out similar media. Google will presumably make Jaiku public sometime or other. And now for the last two days we have Plurk. So everyone is jumping into that river. Indeed the Plurk display is exactly like a river. Or you can use the mobile version of Plurk which then looks exactly like the Twitter output.

In my opinion it's much better to try socially interacting in a non-rushing river environment. That's exactly what the Forums are all about.

#12 AbleReach

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 12:38 PM

Social networking is less networking and more bookmarking, with a few who use tools like Twitter and StumbleUpon's "send-to" capacity to add an element of human contact. And I love it, but Social Media is not a forum-type thing in any way.


Forums are forums.

1b. A public meeting place for open discussion.
1c. A medium for open discussion or voicing of ideas, such as a newspaper, a radio or television program, or a website.
2. A public meeting or presentation involving a discussion usually among experts and often including audience participation.


Here at Cre8asite we see confuzzled though enthusiastic newbies who have made a site and now want to know where to put the keywords, as well as seasoned professionals on a tear about something they're debating. In between the two we have the daily life of Cre8asite, which I think could use a little TLC and re-assessment.


Why? Certain natural changes have occurred as the landscape of what could be called "Search" has continued to change. "SEO" forum is too narrow of a definition. There's usability, accessibility, etc, and even some modes of marketing that weren't live and kicking a few years ago.

As much as I enjoy getting all metacognition-ized while explaining the concept of "keywords" to someone who is sure their true home is in a header, there has to be more here than that to keep practiced members coming back. We need to stay open to change in the Search market and further afield, and not insist on assessing it according to older rules. We need to be a true forum for threshing out possibilities.

Social media and WOM (word of mouth) are excellent examples. Some more traditional SEOs will shoot down the value of both as being gossip, inferior to search optimization, point blank, without feeling a need to back themselves up by looking into how social networking and WOM can work, according to practicing experts. IMHO that's not exactly forum-type behavior. When we've gone down that un-forum-like path we've lost out on what could be some fruitful and interesting conversations about creative marketing, personal branding, etc.

You don't have to agree with me about Social Media to agree with me about a mode of discussion. The difference between "where do I put the keywords" and "how do I develop a creative marketing strategy" is more than having a few experts on tap who want to talk about keywords and marketing. There has to be a willingness to create an atmosphere of give and take. In the past Cre8asite has been very, very good at that, and it's essential that we recapture and guard that spirit on an almost daily basis.

Discussions about creative marketing strategies will keep the secret-bearers coming back. Their secrets aren't what made them great marketers. The spark is in their passion and creativity, work and intelligence.

What is our spark, as a forum?

I think we're at an awkward phase, in between what was working and what is going to work, in Search and in this forum, and I welcome the discussion.

Edited by AbleReach, 05 June 2008 - 01:08 PM.


#13 iamlost

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 01:54 PM

The argument is directed at 'SEO' but could be any endeavour.

In the beginning, much of the knowledge base of the entire SEO Industry was formulated and recorded in the SEO forums. Today however, this is just not the case. Much of the new knowledge is now being published on blogs, social or news sites.

In the beginning there were a small group of people leveraging basic information via group effort for practical results. Today however, that information is valuable for itself, not simply it's results.

Indeed mass popularity creates misinformation due to misunderstanding which in turn increases the value of both truth and process. This creates cause for disinformation, deliberate falsehoods designed to further boost real value. Thus secret societies for SEO truth are born as they have for all truths man has known. Secrets, after all, are worth more.

There are at least three 'kickers' in the SEO drama:
1. there is no one SEO as there is no one SE for which to optimise (self-limitation to one is acceptance of inability).
2. despite SE guidelines, suggested best practices, whitepapers, and patents there is no hard data, only hypothesis and limited test results against continually changing complex targets.
3. SEs are not the alpha-omega of site marketing or traffic.

SEO is to the web what air pilots were generations ago. That higher, further, faster stuff. Very glamourous - all the girls told them so (the women pilots were generally simply quietly better). Now pilots are ho hum, well paid bus drivers in the sky. So too, soon, SEO.

Few fora were ever exclusively SEO and most that were are gone or branching out. Competitive webmastering is a complex multi-discipline of skills and knowledge of which SEO is one small subset.

The over-arching discussion of all that is needed to be successful online, longterm, is still within the fora. The basics for the newcomers and the tangental inspirations for the journeymen. I have been doing this stuff for over a decade and still learn something new every day. Frankly, those who say they don't learn something new on a frequent basis need to widen their circle of friends. Mutual admiration societies are gratifying but stifle the imagination.

Are SEO Forums Still Needed?
Someone needs to train the busdrivers of the future. :pieinface:

#14 randfish

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 11:43 AM

I'd agree that SEO forums, particularly cre8asite, are still essential to the web. If they didn't exist, others would build them and they'd flourish. Just this week I've sent a few emails referring people to cre8, mainly because there's just no other outlet or social media experience that offers the flexibility and community giving that you can find here.

#15 Black_Knight

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 01:43 PM

SEO is to the web what air pilots were generations ago. That higher, further, faster stuff. Very glamourous - all the girls told them so (the women pilots were generally simply quietly better). Now pilots are ho hum, well paid bus drivers in the sky. So too, soon, SEO.

I don't recall disagreeing with you before, iamlost, but this time I certainly do.

I don't disagree with your analogy though - I disagree with the fact you are ignoring the most important part of it. Regular pilots fly regular craft. Craft that have been tested and proven. They just follow the established routes in established vessels.

Now remember the Test Pilot.

Sure, basic SEO can be a matter of following an established script, just maintaining the motion. But most websites are a completely untested craft. It is only the truly skilled, the elite, experienced SEOs that have what it takes to uncover what they can do, and ensure they are safe by knowing their safety limits.

Put your site into a well-worn groove of average and mediocre marketing and it will probably perform with averagely mediocre results. It is important that someone has tested what it can really do, and learned to get the very best from it. It is all part of the Optimization mentality. Optimization is about refusing to be average. Its about doing the best you can do. Its about making the sites you optimize push the outer limits of the performance capability to get the absolute optimal results.


However, I do agree with you that the majority of big ('famous'?) SEO forums usually attract the people who dream of being the flying aces, and will in all likelihood barely manage to put in the effort and study to become the bus-drivers of search marketing. Forums will also attract the guys with their wild stories of being a flying ace, and who in reality, got all their stories from others, and haven't even got a pilot license of their own.

But occassionally, just occassionally, a forum stays low enough on the radar to avoid the majority of the 'fakers and takers', and can still provide a little familiar comfort to a real pilot who's happy to be an instructor to those who really want to be a great pilot.

Afterthought afterthought
Damn, I just got Elton John's song 'Rocket Man' in my head and it won't go away now.

Edited by Black_Knight, 06 June 2008 - 01:48 PM.


#16 Respree

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 02:19 PM

I would recommend lowering your sword, iamlost. :)

#17 iamlost

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 03:34 PM

One is judged by the quality of those who disagree with one.
Therefore I have arrived at a pinnacle - thanks, Ammon :)

I would recommend lowering your sword, iamlost.

Hey, I can take one counterpunch without going down = let me count the ways I mix my metaphors...

I don't disagree with your analogy though - I disagree with the fact you are ignoring the most important part of it. Regular pilots fly regular craft. Craft that have been tested and proven. They just follow the established routes in established vessels.

Now remember the Test Pilot.

Sure, basic SEO can be a matter of following an established script, just maintaining the motion. But most websites are a completely untested craft. It is only the truly skilled, the elite, experienced SEOs that have what it takes to uncover what they can do, and ensure they are safe by knowing their safety limits.

I did not forget the test pilot, indeed I originally included that analogy in the post - believe it or not ;).

I had it slightly differently: rather than have what it takes to uncover what they can do, and ensure they are safe by knowing their safety limits I pointed out they usually learned their limits by exceeding them. And then testing methods to bypass that boundary. Rinse. Repeat. And keep quiet until it becomes known or stops working or a better alternative is found.

The reason I dropped the analogy from the post is that it simply does not and never will apply to 99.99% of those doing SEO. I have yet to hear of a 'secret' that actually was at the time it was being promoted (see the silliness in the preceeding?).

Where fora do the greatest SEO service is (1) pushing basic best practices and countering mis- and disinformation, and (2) discussing the advantages and disadvantages, risks and benefits of each 'released from testing' procedure.

Most sites operate just fine with 'busdriver' SEO pilots. Or perhaps it is better said that they would do better if they hired one. :) For those sites/niches requiring a more pro-active aggressive SEO policy they can hire an inhouse SEO fighter jock or the services of a test pilot SEO consultant. And pay all appropriate costs while taking considered risks.

Sure, basic SEO can be a matter of following an established script

I really really hope not.
I would rather say that SEO can be a matter of following established guidelines with knowledge, skill and imagination.
Not paint by numbers, which would be scriptlike, and inherently mediocre unto some lowest common denominator. (Mind you, if such are my 'competitors'...:))
More like da Vinci, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Pollock each gifted, each quite different.
Unfortunately we seem to have a preponderance of Andy Warhols...

But occassionally, just occassionally, a forum stays low enough on the radar to avoid the majority of the 'fakers and takers', and can still provide a little familiar comfort to a real pilot who's happy to be an instructor to those who really want to be a great pilot.


Yes.
And those, few, who know how to 'listen'.

#18 Black_Knight

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 05:16 PM

The reason I dropped the analogy from the post is that it simply does not and never will apply to 99.99% of those doing SEO.

Neither will the carefully qualified label of 'real' SEOs :)

Just because someone is driving a bus does not mean he's a professional bus-driver, right?

Where fora do the greatest SEO service is (1) pushing basic best practices and countering mis- and disinformation, and (2) discussing the advantages and disadvantages, risks and benefits of each 'released from testing' procedure.

You know how there's about 100 casual readers, and 20 dedicated, regular lurkers to every person who actually ever posts (at least)? I'll guarantee you that's the same percentage who just scan through threads looking for numbers and examples to actually copy, not think about.

I've met far, far too many people in SEO jobs who think SEO is about using the keyword(s) twice in the (ten word) title tag, once in a H1 heading at the top of the main content, 4 times in the first paragraph, twice in each following paragraph, and once more in each of 3 other h2 tags...

Paint by numbers indeed.

In fact, I think a lot of SEOs come from dev backgrounds, and tend to be logical thinkers rather than creative thinkers. Being able to even think up something radically different, logic-defying, and making it work is just not gong to happen for those guys. They need for 2 + 2 to equal 4 unless they can operate in base 3 (when 2 + 2 = 20). :) Meanwhile the creative type is quite happy to embrace the idea that perhaps 2 + 2 equals monkey. :nah:

#19 iamlost

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 08:03 PM

I've met far, far too many people in SEO jobs who think SEO is about using the keyword(s) twice in the (ten word) title tag, once in a H1 heading at the top of the main content, 4 times in the first paragraph, twice in each following paragraph, and once more in each of 3 other h2 tags...

Paint by numbers indeed.

And half of them blog all about it. :)

Which simply increases the value of considered discussion about an issue. And of places such as Cre8asiteforums where the conversations take place. Of especial importance, to me, are the differing perspectives that get illuminated on an issue: those who SEO for themselves, both longterm or slash and burn, those who specialise in contracting/consulting SEO services for others, large or small.

With a process is as fluid as SEO such suggestions and alternative experiences from around the world are truly priceless.

Meanwhile the creative type is quite happy to embrace the idea that perhaps 2 + 2 equals monkey

While the creative marketing type sees '2 + 2 = monkey' as a banana affiliate bonanza, an associated arbitrage golden opportunity due to 'yes, we have no bananas today', a popular 'wack a tarzan' banner ad, and a monkey-shines dating site... Movie rights, did I mention multimedia, I do believe my banana boat is coming in...

Thanks for the heads up, Ammon.
It is official, iamlost has gone bananas. :) :) :) ;) :infinite-banana:

#20 goodnewscowboy

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 01:30 PM

Oh man Ammon! Thanks so much for getting Rocket Man into *my* head!

#21 Black_Knight

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 02:12 PM

Oh man Ammon! Thanks so much for getting Rocket Man into *my* head!

Ah, but after the last exchange with iamlost, I think perhaps another moment of musical magic has to come to mind...

#22 earlpearl

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 05:05 PM

I like forums. I like forums like this where the conversations take on a tone of familiarity.

There are many more places and ways to gather information on seo topics than there were several years ago. To that extent some of the power of forums has dissapated.

Still, this particular forum is a terrific community. It is astonishing that the noise level is dramatically low.

I think there is more accessable great information here than most other sources. Maybe all forums aren't needed but I believe this one is.

#23 Joshua Sciarrino

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 10:25 PM

Meanwhile the creative type is quite happy to embrace the idea that perhaps 2 + 2 equals monkey.


Hey! It does!

I testify! :kicking:

I've done extensive research about this and it does equal monkey! To those who are in disbelief, check you the research I've done, it proves HANDS DOWN (or monkeys up....) that 2+2 DOES equal monkey.

But when it comes to forums...I think someone is going find a better way to create more productive discussion area. How? When? Where? Those are great questions only God knows the answers to.

Maybe interactive discussions spanning different websites?? I have no idea.

That's my two bananas.



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