Warning: For those Internet Marketers reading this article, you may want to skip this post–this stuff takes time, study and work. The choice is yours
I first started off delving into search engine optimization when I began online marketing as an internet marketer. Now that I look back on it and see some friends still going that route, it’s interesting to see how my mindset has changed. I no longer have the internet marketers mindset.
I used to think like an internet marketer; find a niche, throw up some basic content, use Google ‘loopholes’ for backlinking, throw up a whole bunch of crappy automated backlinks or a few of those and some high PR backlinks from wherever I could insert a generic comment.
One of my IM friends still has the Internet marketers mindset while trying to do SEO for a real company. He’s currently running into some issues and I foresee a ton more coming his way like a tsunami. He still believes that it’s just part of the SEO game to have some of your sites slapped and de-indexed while others magically stick. I don’t see it like that at all anymore. After stepping out of the Internet Marketers world and into the light of correct SEO for businesses (locally and nationally), I learned that minor ranking fluctuations happen for sites, but Google slaps and de-indexes aren’t happening to most legit businesses.
As I learn more and more about SEO, I realize that I was doing a lot of things wrong while doing IM. Some of the misguided ideas and techniques I followed were
- Thin content
- Low quality backlinks
- Get as many links as possible as quickly as possible
- No value provided for user
- Have as many sites as possible in as many “profitable” niches as possible
- Do everything just for the sake of SEO
- Exploit ‘loopholes’
- Off-Page SEO is everything
The Internet Marketers Mindset
Not only was my content thin, it was typically thrown together with a generic sales pitch or fluff. I was writing to sell with the end-user in mind (Google was the end user in this case). I had my family writing to just get content on the sites–“…And make sure you use the keyword in there at least once every two paragraphs”. I didn’t really care how well-written or valuable the content was, I just wanted content on the site so Google would see ‘unique’, ‘relevant’ content. I didn’t care about what the people coming to the site would receive for visiting. And it’s a pretty common thing in internet marketing to throw up horrible content, “Cause then visitors will want to stop reading and click on your ads just to get out of your site”–seems like a pretty good plan, no?
Thanks to the first major Panda update, a ton of ‘thin’ sites were demoted. I had internet marketer friends that lost ~80%+ of their incomes because of Panda–it was a sad thing to hear and see. Nevertheless, Panda was an answer to many people wanting ‘fat content’.
Low Quality BackLinks
Well, at the time, I really didn’t realize that they were low quality. All I knew was that I needed a ton of back links. So I built backlinks or had them built. What kind, you may have asked? I would have simply responded, “Backlinks.” Backlinks have different values, provide different PR amounts and the wrong kinds can be the end of you. I never really paid attention to what kind of pages my links were coming from, nor to where else they linked. Backlinks from relevant sites were less important than amassing a ton of high PR sites from any page on which I could place a link.
Mass Links? I’ll Take 10,000 Shipped Overnight!
Oooh. This scares me. I see people still doing this kind of link building and I cringe. One of the major issues with mass link building is that it tends to look (and is) unnatural. Search Engines are looking for natural links to be built to your site. Gaining a ton of links and losing a ton of links tells Google, “Hey! Come check out my site. I’m ready to be slapped. And hurry please.” I never really implemented this technique cause it always seemed a little fishy to me; so glad I didn’t–Panda would have rocked me more than it did.
No Value for the End-User
The Internet Marketer mind-set thinks, “How can I make money the quickest and easiest way possible?” The focus is on the “I” and not on providing value to the end-user or an audience. I fell into this mind-set cause I saw money being made and thought, “How can I get my hands on some of that?” These two questions aren’t bad in and of themselves, but the way to go about accomplishing these goals can be skewed. The IM courses I read focused on pushing out over 100 sites that only made a couple dollars a day. With that in mind, my thought was, “Dag, that’s a ton of sites. I need to hurry up! The quicker I get something out there, the faster I’ll make money.” In that mind set, I focused on quantity over quality. I was paying $0.50 to $1.00 per article for my site and I was excited about it–that right there can tell you about the quality of the content on my sites (although, the technique I used did often provide some pretty good content for a dollar).
100s of Micro Niche Sites
I learned that I needed to have tons of mini sites in order to make the big bucks with internet marketing. 100 sites x $2 a day was $200 per day x 30 days = $6,000 earnings. The math looked great and very desirable. I spent so much money on niches that didn’t turn a profit. It was always a gamble, and that’s just how it was. The courses I read even told me that they had a ton of sites that didn’t make any money. My goal was to have an empire of 1,000 sites. I broke over 100 sites. I made money, but the ROI wasn’t worth the effort.
One for All and All for SEO
Search engine optimization was the goal. Good SEO meant high rankings. Good SEO meant a ton of back links. The purpose behind every link, every article, every web 2.0 property, etc. was to produce a link. There was never really any value to anything I produced. Ever seen the comments on your site, “Great blog post! I was searching for this topic and you seem to be an expert on the subject. Thank you for posting this!” with a keyword as their signature? That’s part of the IM mindset. Put it out there and hope it sticks.
This one always makes me laugh. This technique is to SEO what ‘Insider Trading Secrets’ is to stock trading. By the time someone sells a course on the loophole, the loophole is already closed. It’s often IMers trying to stay ahead of the game. SEO has sound principles that will stand the test of time. Loopholes are just that, loopholes. If you’ve heard tax evasion loopholes, SEO has the same.
Off-Page SEO is EVERYTHING
The majority of Internet Marketing courses, WSOs, PDFs, etc. devote most of their chapters/modules to link building tactics. The rarely focus on On-Page SEO, and if they do, it’s a quick overview with the most basics of on-page. On-Page has become and continues to become a more weighted metric for SERPs.
A Fresh New Pair of Google Goggles
Don’t be fooled by this sections’ header. Thick doesn’t just mean a longer version of thin, it means well-rounded, juicy, plump and savory content that people can chew on, digest, then regurgitate for their chicks to enjoy–sorry for the gross visual, but it seemed to fit Moving on….The trend in ranking is that more content equals better rankings. I now focus on creating content that provides value to the end user. I want visitors to learn something. Whether I write 600 words or 2500 words for a page or even an article, I now focus on providing value for others.
High Quality BackLinks
Backlinks are supposed to be votes of popularity. The more relevant, trusted and authoritative the voter is, the stronger the vote. I like to use this analogy when thinking of good backlink candidates.
For deciding on good fish bait, whose opinion would you trust more, someone who has fished a total of three times in their life or a seasoned/expert fisherman with qualification? How about a gymnast?
Most likely, you would trust the expert fisherman’s opinion. Why?–it’s a given, but I’ll answer the rhetoric anyway . The expert fisherman has experience and has established him or her self as an authority on fishing. He would also be a trusted source. His or her vote would most likely persuade you more than 20 people who have never fished or rarely fish.
Google sees backlinks the same way. When building backlinks, I now focus on getting high quality backlinks. High quality backlinks have three attributes:
Amounting links from sites or properties that have those three attributes will provide strong, long-term back links that will stand the weight of any Panda. These links take work, but are well worth it.
A Sufficient Amount of Links at a Good Rate
Instead of just trying to get as many links as possible as quickly as I can, I now pay attention to Link Velocity (the rate at which links are gained and lost). Examine the product life cycle graph below
Using that chart as a reference for link building efforts, with links on the y-axis in place of “Sales Volume”, I start building links slowly at the beginning. As rankings begin to increase in the growth period, I increase link building efforts by quite a bit. With link building, this looks more natural than sticking with the same amount of high volume backlinks continuously. In an ideal world, your content would be shared. Just like MLM companies sales pitches, the 3×3 matrix is also a good reference for how backlinks would naturally grow (3 to the nth power).
When creating content, I now focus on, “What will help my audience? What do they need that I can provide?” I have changed my focus on helping out others. I feel pleased with the sites I create now. With the IM mind-set, I was kinda ashamed of the low-quality sites that I was producing. When valuable content is created, it helps people and in turn, those people begin sharing your information or product and end up creating backlinks for you. I once read that “content is king”, but I thought it would be too much work and money to provide valuable content. Now, after a lot of trial and error, I realize that crap content won’t hold up in the long run.
Authority Site Focus
Instead of creating 100s of sites, I have now changed my focus to authority sites. These sites contain quality content and a lot of it. I focus on producing quality content that people will love to share. This will take longer to develop than niche sites, but there are many benefits of establishing an authority site.
- Safety in numbers (of pages)
- More authority
- More trust
- More pages for people to share
- More rankings for long-tail keywords
Do everything just for the sake of SEO
I love SEO and think it needs to be done, but there has to be balance. As an Internet Marketer, I would write (outsource) and send out a press release just cause I knew it would provide strong backlinks. The writing was just ‘good enough’ to pass as a press release. I realized I was wasting a valuable traffic building and link baiting opportunity. If I had just taken the time to write a quality press release that was worth sharing, I could have tripled the effect of the press release and enhanced its back-fetching ability. I now focus on quality in my link building campaigns. This goes back to Google SEO Best Practices–create content worth sharing, and you will be rewarded by people sharing your content. Google has stated, “Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.” (SEO Starter Guide, Google)
I don’t really pay attention to these anymore. I’d rather focus on using sound SEO principles that will keep my site clean and free from any penalties.
Off-Page SEO isn’t
Off-Page is only half of the SEO equation. On-page metrics are beginning to hold more weight in ranking factors than in prior years. Search engines are continually re-evaluating and updating algorithms. I predict that on-page will become more and more a ranking factor and that on-page will entail much more than it currently does.
The latter techniques will provide long-term rankings, while the former, IM techniques will often lead to instability in rankings and short-term success. Google is always hacking down on ‘SPAM’ sites. Follow the SEO mindset and you will create an empire that will stand the tests of time.