Stop Reading SEO Blogs and Start Building a Sustainable Business!
This post is a strongly opinionated one about how affiliates need to stop relying on the latest “SEO secrets” at SEOmoz.org and SearchEngineLand.com and start coming up with sensible marketing practices that fit to their own business model.
First of all, if you’re following leading SEO authorities such as Rand Fishkin, Aaron Wall and Danny Sullivan then you’re going to fail. The fact is these guys can only report on what works at the present, then as soon as Google unleashes some new algorithm update they always create an “updated link building practices post” like this. These guys are complete sheep – Danny Sullivan is pretty much part of the Google newsreel service. His site may as well be an RSS feed of Google’s Webmaster central blog. The advice they gave to you 12 or 15 months ago now becomes old, dangerous, and gets deleted and replaced by new guidelines. Great huh? With everyone update, I’ve seen these guys become more and more “white hat” to the point that they actually look down at anyone who’s been penalized or buying links.
I’ve been overly guilty of relying on these SEO blogs or other affiliates on my Skype, seeing that their tactics are successful, and then doing the same. Then one day, some major algorithm shift comes along that destroys everyone’s sites.
I find it hilarious on forums how links and link wheels that affiliate were happy buying just 6 months ago have now become “Black hat” and “a stupid way to burn your site”. These same people are now buying “high quality links from real sites”, which I’m sure in another 6 months, will also become an outdated, risky strategy.
Choosing your own Strategy
I think this is where the winners of the SEO game are likely to emerge. The people that actually experiment with different SEO tactics, focus on providing value to users, understand risk-management, diversify their income, and don’t chase keywords, are going to make it past these algorithm updates and build a successful business.
You don’t HAVE to use a white hat strategy to build a successful Internet business. I’ve seen lots of people engaging in blackhat SEO strategies that still continue to work well for them. Build a site for $10, spin some articles, rank rank rank and make some money.
This stuff still works; you just have to understand the risks and rewards better. Any type of link you buy can be considered a risk. Personally, I think the people paying $150 for annual link on Best of the Web are insane. For $150 you could probably buy a handful of well-researched, industry-shaking news articles or surveys that you can conduct on your site and promote through PR. At least this will then help you attract “natural” links over time and help build a brand, rather then just paying for an annual link subscription from a forum that every man and his dog uses.
In my opinion, the future of SEO link building is about relationship management. Who do you know that can link to you in the industry? Do you have friends with high quality sites that are willing to give you some PR? Have you built solid relationships with affiliate operators and partners who can put you on a resources page?
If you’re not looking to do this, and you’re trying to avoid Black hat SEO, then I think you’re just going to fail. It’s impossible to find a middle ground between “white hat” and “black hat” SEO to an extent that is sustainable. You only have to look at how hard Google’s latest updates are hitting web spam and their new Webmaster guidelines to see what the future of SEO is. Effectively Google doesn’t want you to do any self-promotion whatsoever (including forum signature links).
The true facts are that any site that is selling links, even if you consider that site high quality, is probably going to be devalued in the future. Google definitely tracks the outgoing links as a major trust factor on your site. If someone’s selling you a link for $100, what does that say about the site in question and the other sites they’re selling links to? Furthermore, which is going to be more successful in 12 months time: a high quality site, lots of content with great user metrics and little links, or a medium quality site that’s bought so many links it’s inevitable that Google will catch up and penalize it?
SEO nowadays is moving away from finding the best links to risk-management. I.e. is there any chance this link is going to hurt me (as opposed to is this link going to help me). Rather then finding ways to add value to their sites, webmasters are finding ways to keep under Google’s radars.