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May 24 / Black Hat Cat

On a way to better SEO tactics! Or not?

The turmoil after three-level update (a combo of Penguin, Panda and “confessyoubastard” mailing) came live is tremendous. It is quite likely that only 3% of all SERPS were influenced but there are only so many commercially important SERPS, and most of these fall into that selection. However one month past the strike it is quite clear what should be done. In fact solutions for prospering under Neue Ordnung new rules were always there. It is just that we were not listening…

The ultimate manifestation of Google-approved and totally risk-free strategy is available in Mike King’s e-books on effective link-building. These are not actually e-books but rather “get-and-implement strategy” instructions. When reading these my imagination was sparked by this phrase: Those marketers are too impatient to properly build links because link building is a process wherein you are convincing people who don’t know you to take a real world action that benefits you.”  This sole phrase is a key to anything we do when building links. If the activity is industrial-scale you are to stick to this paradigm and the only difference between tactics is the way you perform the “convincing” – be it hacks,  interaction with low-quality sites (where you are welcomed for some reason with your spam) or the kind of approach praised as “community-oriented” and “content-driven”. Problem is ther is more than one way to convince people.

What Google achieved with Penguin (and they keep pressing) is that low-level link building is not a kind of activity which allows to rank. If it is not yet the case I have no doubt it will be. Just imagine the sheer volume of Google’s intellectual potential and resources. They will get us all! But if their goal is better user experience (and that is not an axiom) with SERPS, what they achieve as a result may not be quite what they expected.

Let us imagine that all the spam-prone bookmarking and directory sites, all the low-value blogs and meaningless articles are zero. Right from tomorrow they all are eliminated. Totally. Will SERPs disappear? Certainly not! They will still return you 10 good links and those will be better due to the fact they are supported by solid communities and plenty of links from authority sites. Add here Google+ effects and “rel author” as a measure of publishers’ authority and we find ourselves in a world where no spammer has a place. Now that is  going to be great!


Things which spoil perfect picture (IMHO) are following:

- In most of the commercially attractive SERPS competition is not between “outright spammer” and “nice good guys”. There are plenty of investment-intense commercial providers with similar-level content and similar offers (there is very little you can do to create some incredibly unusual content on Viagra, Casino, Loans, Fashion etc. without compromising your ability to deliver “call to action” and sell). Therefore winners and losers will be determined by marginal portion of “authority”

- Each SERP has its own maximal achievable amount of “authority” which is distributed among market operators.  In the age of Majestic SEO and Blekko there is little chance you can hide some outstanding links from your competitors (and with spammy “white noise ” links eliminated there are even less chances to have a profile hard to analyze). So we are able to create similar link profiles. And due to “outreach Glass ceiling” described in my previous post none has real chance to gain extra valuable links using commonly-available technology.

- Another problem with the “authority” available is that overall amount of this precious resource is limited due to relevancy consideration. Indeed there is not much  fun in getting link from Chanel homepage for a dental clinic in Minnesota.

- “Content driven” and “community-serving” approach is absolutely incredible in everything  apart from predictability. Much like with Hollywood films and Broadway musicals when it comes to box-office revenue chances are that best director and great actors will not be able to earn you success. With limited budgets available to most online marketers it is clear our risks are even greater. The technology will work anyway in a long term but you need to survive long enough to see that “long term”. Believe me – that is not something pleasant for financial people analyzing investment prospects.

What results will these considerations have for tactics? Let us develop a simple logical pass:

a)  With increased numbers of people hunting “authority” links in a “whitehat” manner we will see more competition for “authority” which is limited by relevancy considerations and will of the “authority” bearers to engage with “less authoritative resources” (Glass ceiling)

b) Requirements for predictable and less-risky campaigns will press marketers into different tactics – preferably those with more clear mechanics

c) With Google paying more and more attention to brand becoming a brand is an ultimate goal of any marketer.

d) Introduction of Google+ and “Search+ My World”  creates perfect instrument for Google to take into account signals from real life about your brand meaning. Add YouTube, Picasa and tons of available social measures and you will see that Google is able to see when real world people consider some entity to be well-known= “authority”=brand .

e) “Glass ceiling” is higher for your outreach if you are well-known entity in real world for obvious reasons

f) Based on statements a-e what are the most appropriate tactics for SEO?

If you have limited budget you go and buy links. If you have more money go and buy banner ads and then buy links. If you have plenty of money go and hire offline advertisers. With 150 years of marketing and 60 years of TV advertising they do know how to convince people  you are a brand (Just witnessing that happening – a huge international company is entering a local market. From none to brand in TWO WEEKS.) After that you go and buy banners and after that you go and buy links.

And on top of that – go and bribe Google+ “middle level” authority users.

And only then you apply what they tell you about  ”community interaction” and “content strategy”

That is already happening. Personally I witnessed an authority link to be placed on a non-profit organization site to a travel agency in return for sponsorship. Now here comes a fresh story :

With further development of the way to transfer “real – life” signals into search (and that is directly stated goal of Google) it may be that Penguin and Panda were the last spells to open a hellgate in which Lucifer of offline marketing will enter SEO replacing “algorithm gaming” with nightmare of  TV-style consumer brainwashing, social media bribery disguised as “authority opinions” and clever link purchase disguised as “sponsorship”.


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