Self and Search

A few years ago someone who I respect very much suggested that only the egotistical would consider putting yet another page online about something that someone had already done well. I argued that there is a lot of room in the world for more of anything good. Otherwise, the last gothic romance would have been Wuthering Heights and any art after Guernica would be expensive wallpaper. Excellence would not be much of a goal – one good achievement and it’s all over for anyone who ever wanted to do something like it.

Nothing I said could sway him, and we proceeded to argue.

I was ready for a debate. I had a list of search results that I thought would be easy picking. Those were the just-pre glory days of SEO and frames were all over the place. Many, many sites often weren’t even using metas or Hx tags. I felt strongly that we could establish my friend as a leader in his niche, if we built quality content targeted towards the top three slots in about ten searches.

My friend was new to the web, but knew the organizations behind the authority sites. He felt that those organizations should be the ones to develop the content I’d suggested, full stop. He couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea that the authority sites I wanted to compete with could and should be competed with.

Lately I’ve been wondering if he was more right than I knew at the time. Part of his objection, back in the day, was that tooting his own horn in an effort to out-SEO established national leaders would be laughably self-involved. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of sites that exist primarily for horn-tooting, zillions of abandoned look-at-me blogs, and transitive shells generated to contain scraped feeds encrusted with adsense. Insanity.

Insanity and, in the good ones, self-expression.

Add glorious, self-published chaos, toss a stone into many search results, and you’ll hit someone with an ebook. Next year I may be one of them. The world is changing and I’m looking forward to blogging about it from my ringside seat. The inmates are running the asylum, and we’re not going to stop writing anytime soon.

And my friend? Ironically he, too, has a blog. :)

Bullet Point Challenge

Today I’d like to propose a little game of pin the bullet point on the blog.

Each of the lines at left below appeared in one of the lists that are so popular this time of year. Some are from full blown articles with much substance for thought and inspiration. Others are less serious.

If you read Search Marketing related feeds you’ll see some that have been much blogged about. All are from articles published within about a month, most from the last few days.

All made me smile or nod in agreement, or both.

How many of these points do you recognize? Can you match them up with their origin?

1. Topical Linking vs Strategic Linking

a. Ladies Who Launch

2. Be clear with errors

b. SEM Clubhouse

3. How to read minds

c. Stoney deGeyter

4. Follow Your Followers

d. Jessica Hupp

5. Always wear pants.

e. Seth Godin’s Blog

6. Choose your best you!

f. SEOmoz

7. Good for spiders, good for people

g. Collective Thoughts

8. This is just the beginning.

h. Lip Sticking

No peeking!

Scroll down for the answers.


1. Topical Linking vs Strategic Linking

g. 10 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Sucks…
by Andy Beard for Collective Thoughts.

2. Be clear with errors
d. Holiday Cash: 50+ Ways to Optimize Your Website for Christmas Conversions
by Jessica Hupp

3. How to read minds
f. SEOmoz’s Unusual SearchTerms from the Month of November

a bit of fun from the SEOmoz blog

4. Follow Your Followers
b. 5 Quick Ways To Utilize Twitter in Your Online Marketing Strategies
from SEM Clubhouse

5. Always wear pants.
Let them focus on business – not your legs.

h. Jade Raymond is My Hero

on Lip-Sticking, by Guest Blogger Lena West

6. Choose your best you!
a. Have your best holiday yet!:Your 5 step plan to “go for the joy” and lose the stress this holiday season.
on Ladies Who Launch, by Coach Joelle

7. Good for spiders, good for people
c. 9 Paths of SEO Enlightenment, Part III
on Search Engine Guide, By Stoney deGeyter

8. This is just the beginning.
e. Learning From Flirting
from Seth Godin’s Blog


Real content posted regularly on a blog can get good exposure through feed readers, because in a feed reader the most recent posts move right to the head of the class. Are you a new site that bites badly at the heels of search result 101? That doesn’t matter to RSS readers like Google Reader, because their world is sorted in reverse chronological order. Once you’re in there, all it takes to get the top spot is fresh content.

Of course it’s not that simple. I’m not talking about search traffic, and I am convinced that over 90% of the world does not use feed readers or even know what they are. However, the 10% that does subscribe to feeds is potentially a very dedicated audience, the kind of people who would consider reading fresh material from something they like every single day. Think about that. Every single day. Every single day at spot numero uno, and all you need is good, fresh content for willing eyes.

Those willing eyeballs are the same kind of audience that won’t consider subscribing to a blog lacking some sort of original content, especially if it is not updated regularly. Without something good to read it doesn’t matter how on top of the Google/Yahoo/Ask heap you are. No results. Nada.

This is completely upside down from the old school SEO ideal of search ranking leading to return on investment, or even that ROI comes from search ranking plus a site that has the usability to convert. Once you make contact with real people via your feeds, for those people search engine rankings are virtually out of the loop.

Communication is personal. Day in, day out, the relationship-building and audience-considering that builds feed subscriptions is personal. Down the line, statistics may show big numbers, but no matter how big they are those numbers reflect one person at a time tuning in.

Seven Things Scraped Spamblogs Can’t Do

  • Get subscribers
  • Build trust
  • Inspire loyalty
  • Hold interest
  • Make friends
  • Hold a real conversation
  • Succeed at Value Blogging

Seven of the Reasons Real People Rock

Real people behind quality blogs, that is!

  • Smiling at 2am when seeing a repeat hit from Rimouski (you know who you are)
  • Their blogs can stir cravings for roasted mushrooms and improving the web in one fell swoop
  • A 14 word post can become a 47 comment conversation
  • You can tell that they think
  • And they make you think, about everything from getting return visits (from Rimouski) to ritual and beer
  • “They” becomes “we” as people come together around causes
  • They do the work, over and over again, to offer readers something good to dive into