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Why SEO Fanatics are BAD for Business
A fair amount seem to think discussions about rankings is same as converting clicks

 7:03 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Caveat: This post is sure to pull someone's chain the wrong way. I can't say that I really care but I will say that this is one of those, "If the shoe fits, wear it" scenarios.

Why is this relevant to the Adsense forum? Because a fair amount of posters here seem to think that discussions about their rankings in the SERPs is the same thing as discussions about converting a visitor into a customer (in this case, a person who clicks on an ad).

Premise: Getting people to your site is a completely different topic than converting them once they get there. As a chain of events, they are related but as a matter of process, they are two different things and people aught to learn how to separate their fruit from their vegetables and also how to stay on point!

Background: I'll start by saying that I've been designing/developing for the web for almost 15 years now. I have built more websites that I'll ever be able to count (most of which are based on brick and mortar businesses or organizations rather than on topics or keywords). I'm a web programmer, database designer/developer, graphic artist and UX designer. I build custom content management solutions from scratch and use my own solutions for projects rather that throwing up a new Word Press site every time I have a new idea for creating a revenue stream. Having said that, there are many who know far more than me and even far more that know less which makes me just another face in the crowd. The point is, everyone's a web developer these days but you would find my skill-set on the more advanced end of the scale if you cared to look.

SEO What? So everyone wants to be number one in the SERPS. Hurray! If my memory serves me correclty, an entire section of this site is dedicated to that topic and I encourage you to have as much fun or misery with that as you can handle--over there! You may not like to hear it, but, if you spend the majority of your time thinking about how to get to the top of the SERPS, then you're very possibly part of a very large problem that affects us all.

I have never sold my SEO services to a client, EVER! Why you might ask? Because I design sites that search engines like, plain and simple. It's nothing special, just good design, good content and making sure that the needs of my brick and mortar clients and their customers are met. SEO is just a standard component of a well-designed site in my book: not something extra. The only portion of SEO that doesn't fall under good site design is getting good inbound links and to me, if these are natural (i.e. based on natural relationships) then it doesn't take some complex network of sites to get the job done. Most business (if they are willing to collaborate with others in their industry) can build the natural links they need without any help from contrived methods or systems. Promotion, real promotion, is still alive and well and one well-placed testimonial can still be worth its weight in gold.

To all of you who thought it was a good idea to spam/deface someone's forum in pursuit of the almighty dollar/euro/etc, I say, wallow in the results you greedy pig! If you've been spamming people's mail boxes, the epitaphs for you are all over the Internet but I can't post them here. If you thought link farms and your brilliant unnatural linking schemes were the cat's meow, then you need your non-forward-looking eyes scratched out. If you think the Internet exists solely for your personal success, then you have missed the point and you're probably guilty of defacing it in the process. If you're focused on manipulating the search engines to your own ends then you more than likely helped create the very problems you are complaining about these days. The list of injustices to the World-Wide-Web committed by webmasters is far too long to detail here and they range from well-intended to down right despicable. Suffice to say, I've heard enough.

Frankly, if throwing together some new sites because your old ones got trashed in the SERPS is your modus operandi, then your old sites probably deserved to get trashed in the first place because you probably threw them up there with the same attitude i.e. "slap something together, target a bunch of keywords, spam the web and make money." Good for you. Your standards are right up there with the folks who brought us the recent and ongoing global recession, the savings and loan debacle a few decades ago and the Great Depression (just to name a few greed-oriented calamities to befall the human race).

There is an age old question that artists and their audiences are familiar with. It goes something like this. Is real art a product of needing money or the product of needing to create? My answer to this question is that if the primary focus is on making money then the art will suffer. Artists need to eat and it's just a sad fact that for most, not selling out can make that difficult, hence the term, "starving artist." It's not a pretty description but many wear it like a badge of honor and I have a certain level of respect for those that do. Still, there's nothing wrong with being a good business person at the same time, so…

…here's a bit of my personal philosophy when it comes to using the Internet as it relates to my long-term economic agenda and my need to feel like a contributing member of the human race.

1.Consider your interests first. If you want to build a website that makes money, start with a topic that you have a real passion for. If you disregard this, the quality of your work will suffer eventually.
2.Provide real content and services that YOU AND YOUR VISITORS deem relevant to the chosen topic. Avoid fluff at all costs. If it's just filler, let it go! Be useful, stay relevant and care about the quality of the information and the user experience you provide above all else. This is your foundation.
3.Focus on building a long-term relationship with your visitors. Yes, the SERPS can provide a steady stream of fresh eyes and fresh revenue but if you can build a solid base of returning visitors AND AREN'T LAZY about how you market to them (this may be too much to ask but one can always dream), they can provide a substantial and (more importantly) stable revenue stream that won't be subject to the whims of the major search engines.
4.Don't neglect traditional marketing approaches and avoid using any marketing technique that you would personally find offensive, misleading or underhanded Granted, some people will need to raise their standards to achieve this but it should be easy for anyone with a passing degree of empathy to grasp. In other words, are you capable of walking a mile in another man's moccasins?
5.Give the competition a break. Stop worrying about others and just focus on being the best you can be at what you do. People recognize quality and are drawn to it even if a BOT has difficulty with such concepts.

Well, that's a start anyway. Follow the above principles and what you'll have built a nice little rest-stop on the Information Super Highway where your audience can pause and enjoy themselves. Then, you can market to them. One way you'll know if you've done well is if you find yourself spending more time engaged with your site than you do looking at your Adsense account. You may even find that you want take a different approach to monetization, one that doesn't interfere with your own enjoyment of your site and act so unpredictably as Adsense does.

Having said that, you may find that Adsense isn't even a good fit for you. There will always be a lack of control over what is shown on your site with that platform and you may find you can do better with some other approach i.e. selling ad space, promoting an affiliate program related to your audience, etc. This is up to you of course but at least your foundation will be solid and you'll have a lot fewer disinteresting chores to manage.

Conclusion: Building sites just to use them as advertising platforms is a cause. It causes the Search Engines to react and it's no wonder that people are frustrated with a game that keeps changing. Pushing these sites at Search Engines using every White Hat or Black Hat technique known to man or woman and inventing new ones along the way is a driving factor in the way your sites (and mine) are treated in the major indexes. How you get people to your site is your business but someone needs to tell you that it also has an effect on the rest of us. Yes, Google, Bing and Yahoo have their own greedy agendas which makes them a part of the problem too. All in all, SEO is a completely different subject than converting visitors. Build a site you love and then let's talk about how to monetize it. Otherwise, I'd like to suggest that you stick your discussion of SERP's where they really belong.



 8:25 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

SEO What?

That is a beautiful line right there. I may use that sometime in the future, if you don't mind.


 8:27 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

How do you feel about WSO fanatics (Web Site Optimization)? In my book it's the opposite of SEO. I is one.


 8:57 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@hannamyluv Words are wonderful things, no? They can certainly cut to the chase. If you want to use that phrase, I'm afraid I'll have to put a tracking link on it and charge royalties. ;) Would also like an attribution and a good bottle of champagne to sweeten the deal. Fantasies aside, "imitation is the best form of flattery," right? If anything I might say here lights a fire and continues the good fight, I'm happy to contribute. Have at it with my blessing. :)

How do you feel about WSO fanatics (Web Site Optimization)?

Depends on what you mean by WSO. Optimized for speed? Usability? Attracting traffic? Visitor Retention? Monetization? All of the above? Something else? Despite the tirade above, I do see pretty much all of the topics on this site as being relevant to my industry, even SEO to a degree. Some things just go too far and others are not pertinent to a given discussion at a given time. Sometimes you gotta look at the forest, other times at the trees but it's never a great idea to cut down the entire forest, even if you're in the business of selling lumber.


 9:26 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Optimized for speed? Usability? Attracting traffic? Visitor Retention? Monetization? All of the above? Something else?

Yes all of that and so much more. Over the years I've grown tired of trying to promote WSO to the SEO crowd. It's so much easier to implement best design, development, hosting server configurations, writing (real writing, not rehashing what someone else wrote), intricate measurement of words afterward then editing until secret sauce formula is just right, so on and so on. Applying those practices one time at the beginning is better than chasing after external recognition post-development. And it produces the same results -- high placing in SERP -- with much less grief while also (mostly) withstanding the storms of perpetual algo changes.

Most of my domains rank page one with proper WSO with no backlinks or help from external sources -- and it's not due to lack of competition either. Large extended metropolitan area here with plenty of competition. Some of the domains even garner high SERP internationally for their terms even though the focus audience is local. There's no benefit in that, financially, other than to answer questions for someone.

Also successfully evades the google beast's hunger for Adwords spend.


 9:44 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

How do you feel about WSO fanatics (Web Site Optimization)? In my book it's the opposite of SEO.

I think they are one in the same. SEO means you are optimizing to make the search engines happy. And it just so happens that search engines really, really like it when you make your website better. Just because your reasoning is to make visitors happy does not mean you are not also making search engines happy in the process.

Why is it when search engines look at 200+ factors (maybe lots more than that now), everyone thinks that links and keywords are all SEO is?


 10:34 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Totally agree that too much effort shouldn't be stressed on ranking. As I progress in my line of work, I find myself looking less and less towards ranking metric, if any at all. I still care about what I rank for which keywords (more important, what traffic I receive for the keywords rather than ranking itself). I look at keywords to ask myself, what else is people asking that I am not providing. Or what are people asking and searching that my website does not have the keyword. Do people "phrase" queries differently rather than how I have written the content on my site.

I still get stressed over traffic volumes however, it's like making a store and having no foot traffic. But I now focus even more effort to create things that people will use. It helps that I am in a niche that I absolutely love, with plenty of topics to write about.

Before I do anything, I always ask myself...is it more useful than what is out there now? Will "I" use what I create? Do "I" find my own ads placements annoying. Usually if I can answer to myself that question, I can almost always guaranteed a success.

Although I myself do not have any custom CMS done. I have chosen a couple of wordpress templates that I keep on using and just throw them on sites with placement / codings that I think will work. It has worked wonders for me.


 10:37 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Ranking reports are nice but you can figure that out from your analytics, well you used to be able to before Google stopped passing the keywords for logged in users. Now analytics reports are quickly becoming crippled except for AdWords. If you pay you get your keywords, nothing for you SEO organic search freeloaders anymore.


 10:39 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Why is it when search engines look at 200+ factors (maybe lots more than that now), everyone thinks that links and keywords are all SEO is?

The answer to that is simple. In the early days, search engines were easily manipulated using these techniques and old habits die hard. Also, legends persist. Every client that comes to me these days is obsessed with the topic due to all the hype out there. Way back when, someone came up with the idea of marketing the concept of gaming the system (aka SEO Services) and called it a service. The only service that resulted in my opinion is the dis-service done to the legitimate efforts of pioneering companies to index the web and to a world that relies on their ability to do so on a daily basis.


 11:08 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

concept of gaming the system (aka SEO Services)

While there were plenty who were out to game the system, don't knock the broad term SEO services. Plenty of business and the people who run them have NO CONCEPT of how search engines find, gather and return information. I use to do SEO Services, but mostly all it consisted of was looking at a client's website and saying "hey, dumbass... um... I mean, client... Having the same title on every page is really a bad idea." or "Maybe putting all your text into an image so it looks shiny means that other computers can't read it." Stuff like that and I still see it today.

SEO isn't just gaming the system (plenty out there who do and you are right they ruin it for the rest), but ideally, SEO should be creating a symbiotic relationship between a website and a search engine. When done properly, both parties benefit. SEO can open up sites that search engines could not get to and therefore are now able to grant access to the masses to potentially great content, which in turn means that the creators of that great content get rewarded. This is the #1 reason Google has never come out and said SEO is bad.

SEO is important to a functioning website, but it should not be the main function of a website. That is why I like the "SEO What?" That something can potentially make you rank better/get more traffic/get the #1 spot for the bestest keyword ever means little if you have nothing to show when they get there.

And so that this thread does not get kicked to the Google Forum curb
By extension, you can apply this to AdSense. Just because a site is "made for AdSense" does not mean it is a bad site. But sites and publishers who only focus on making sites only for AdSense, dis-regarding other things like... you know... visitor experience, give everyone else a headache and a bad name.

Everything you said webcentric is absolutely right. Just don't go too far to the other side and vilify what isn't necessarily bad. ;)


 12:04 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)


Just don't go too far to the other side and vilify what isn't necessarily bad.

Yes, my last post had a bit of "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" in it and your points are well-taken and dead on. Your comments also apply to the earlier post about website optimization in general. The fundamentals of good site design you mentioned are some of the cornerstones of a solid Internet marketing effort and whether the goal is to make more money with Adsense or sell more widgets, a properly designed site is a key component. What I call good site design includes those elements of SEO you just mentioned but I simply choose to call them design fundamentals because of all the other nonsense that gets bundled in with the concept of SEO.

I frequent this forum because I'm always looking for insights into Adsense itself. The program is changing right along with the indexes and getting other people's insights on the subject has proven invaluable. If Adsense is the garden and SERPs are the water for the garden, then my intention was to simply focus on planting and weeding the garden and keep the discussion about where to get the water at a distance. Thanks for reminding me where I was headed when launching this campaign.


 12:21 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

The program is changing right along with the indexes

I think that is the first time I have actually read that written down here (maybe it was before, but I just have not seen it). You are right. AdSense is changing. They are sending warning signs and shots, but I think people don't get the message soon, they will pay for it during a "purge". When Google does a purge in one of its services, it is not fun, but you can survive if you pay attention.


 1:17 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

You are right. AdSense is changing. They are sending warning signs and shots

Such as?


 1:40 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Such as?

The last 2 case studies they released (these are meant as much to indicate what kind of sites they want as much as 'Hey look how much money you can make'). If you chat with the AdSense advisors, the advice they give now is MASSIVELY different than it was a few years ago. Heck, even the big push to try to meet up with more AdSense publishers. And if you listen really closely, the off handed remarks they make when you talk to them indicate a lot too. The reports people are making about being banned and why. People I know who have been banned and why.

I will bet money they are trying to nudge people a certain way. I have seen it before a few times with AdWords and certainly more than a few times with Search. If history in those areas holds true with AdSense (and I don't see why it would not), if nudging does not work, they will just chop out what they feel is not working.

One thing to remember with Google is their end customer is always the most important. They will and have sacrificed millions, possibly billions of dollars to keep those people happy (just look back on the arbitrage purge in AdWords many years ago if you don't believe that) With Search and AdWords, really the end customer is the searcher. With AdSense it is a little different, the end customer is the advertiser. If their advertisers are not happy with the sites they appear on through AdSense, and publishers don't take the hint... they will find a way to systematically wipe out anyone that does not fit in order to keep the end customer happy.

It is and always has been the Google Way.


 1:47 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Such as?

Just look at how Adsense and Analytics and Adwords and Google+ (among other services) are being integrated. The updates are coming in almost daily, new features related to Ad Serving options, new ad features like favicons for image ads, enhanced display ad features, incorporating Google+ features into Adsense, etc. Google is a machine and whether or not things work the way we want them to, I'm fairly certain that Google's goal is for all these services to work in unison and in support of each other (for the benefit of Google first and foremost). They've been pretty demonstrative about their willingness to purge their definition of undesirable publishers from Adsense and content from the index all along so I don't see how one could expect anything but Google's brand of quality control and more of the same purging going forward. This board offers plenty of evidence in support of the ongoing policies at Google. I don't have a crystal ball but I'm guessing policies are going to get tighter, not looser in the future. So why would it not follow that Adsense is vulnerable too?


 3:01 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

With AdSense it is a little different, the end customer is the advertiser.

If you are saying that Adsense wants sites that convert for the advertiser, that has always been the case. The advertiser has always been the most important thing.


 3:07 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

that has always been the case

Yes it has (though not everyone here on this forum realizes that so it needs saying - frequently), but advertisers have gotten more sophisticated in the past few years. I imagine their complaints have as well.


 11:35 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Great discussion, thanks webcentric for posting your thoughts!

The advertiser has always been the most important thing.

I feel the same way. It's a balancing act.


 6:05 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Great discussion

I agree and will add that it takes great minds to have a great discussion which I'm always grateful for.

The advertiser has always been the most important thing.

I know it's been said before by others but it's good to keep in mind that the Adwords advertising machine (including the certified networks G caters to) would have much less value for advertisers if there was no program that allowed publishers to push those ads out to a larger audience. While it's easy to think of advertisers as the primary customer of the Adsense program, it's important to note that it's really an equation with Google serving as the equal sign (after taking its cut, of course). The Adsense program needs publishers just like it needs advertisers. Advertisers fuel the system but publishers do a great deal of the work to actually deliver the product. We definitely have a stake in things and every now and again it's good to recognize that we are a valuable part of the equation. It's probably a very bad idea though to assume that one is non-expendable in such a system. G may need publishers but they may not necessarily need me.


 7:04 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's probably a very bad idea though to assume that one is non-expendable in such a system.

Yes, it is.

Once you wrap your head around how big Google is and how many sites are out there, you suddenly start to feel pretty darn small.


 8:17 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

G may need publishers but they may not necessarily need me.

Quite true. And I would add that while G needs publishers, G does not need Adsense. It is a money making endeavor for G, but so is Adwords without Adsense. Adsense expands the advertising universe for advertisers, but if certain publisher site were to become too much of a headache for Adsense to police, then, yes, I could see a purge of those sites.


 11:00 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Adsense expands the advertising universe for advertisers

Yes, but I think it does more than that as well. Through Adsense, advertisers are able to reach beyond the SERPs into a diverse world of highly targeted environments (our websites). I'm not saying the SERPs don't provide good targeting for advertisers (because they do), just that webmasters tailor the user experience in ways Google can't. In many cases, we are pre-selling for the advertiser in the sense that we're surrounding the ads with related content (or, in other words, producing an environment to support a certain ad subject) that keeps the viewer's attention long enough for the ad to be effective. We are a targeting mechanism for the system and we help retain people's attention and focus it. In this sense, I think Adsense is quite valuable to Google and us little folks do serve a key purpose in that system.


Channel targeting is a good example of one way G is working to facilitate relationships between the advertiser and the publisher...(even if it is a bit weighted in the advertiser's favor). This shows that Google understands the value of publishers quite well and that Adsense is a key component in their strategy.


 11:22 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

We are

You keep using these words... I do not think it means what you think it means...

"We" includes all publishers. I do not consider myself part of a collective "we". There is an "us" kind of publisher and a "them" kind of publisher. And the "them" kind, you have been ranting about this whole thread.

I don't think G would wipe out the entire AdSense program, because of what Webcentric pointed out. It does allow advertisers access to sites they would not normally be able to access, and there is value in that. But the advertisers are getting a little tired of a certain kind of site.


 11:38 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

We are

You keep using these words... I do not think it means what you think it means...

True, I'm not necessarily drawing distinctions with my use of that pronoun in the previous post and perhaps even above. I like to think inclusively, collaboratively as a matter of habit so I'm surely guilty as charged.


Also, in retrospect, my "we" thinking was somewhat delineated when I created a title for this thread and used the term "SEO Fanatics" to describe the them you are referring to. Maybe not the most accurately descriptive term for the group but definitely a group I don't include myself in. Of course, maybe "we" is a concept many don't want to be associated with either for many other reasons. It is a bit presumptuous of me to think anyone would want to be a member of my club. LOL! On the other hand an active Adsense publisher is an active Adsense publisher until they are booted from the system so in that respect, "we" are all in the same lifeboat whether "we" like it or not.

p.p.s. @hannamyluv I do appreciate and enjoy your attention to detail.


 12:24 am on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

"we" are all in the same lifeboat whether "we" like it or not.

Oh, but we are not... exactly.

I don't know how long you have been in this industry, but really, go look up something on the arbitrage purge from AdWords. Carnage. And everyone affected (and I was among them) should have seen it coming. In hindsight, you can also see the same with every major SERP update. E.G. It is not like G did not say "knock it off" before Panda and Penguin.

If we are all in the same lifeboat, G is right now politely telling everyone to stop rocking it. If people don't get with the program, G is going to start shoving overboard entire sections who are making it hard to row the boat, and they won't pay much attention to collateral damage. You don't want to be in their section of the boat.

I think AdSense has never been seriously targeted before because G could just take undesirable sites out through the search results and rankings before. Now, with FB and TW, they don't have (mostly) total control over traffic sources, so they will have to purge in other ways.

I do appreciate and enjoy your attention to detail.

I am not trying to pick on you. You have great thoughts. But other people read words too. Just making sure you say what you mean to say. Feel free to push back. I only bite the heads of people who don't think. ;)


 4:06 am on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

I don't know how long you have been in this industry...

Depends on what you mean by "this industry" (there, back at you ;)

I'm not an online advertiser, have never used Adwords (probably should just for the edification) or for that matter, banner exchanges, link exchanges (well link exchanges based on actual industry relationships yes but not link exchange services), etc. I don't purchase traffic or really use many of the standard Internet mechanisms for attracting visitors and I've certainly not engaged in arbitrage. Can't talk about my "niche(s)" but I'll say that I build things from the ground up and that starts with personal or business relationships and progresses to word of mouth and other forms of referrals, traditional marketing when appropriate, and yes, I know how to take an established site and lend some of it's reputation to a new one when it makes sense to do so. It's definitely not the get-rich-quick approach but it provides for fairly steady and consistent growth. And just to be clear, not everything I do has an Adsense motive attached to it. Some projects are about moving widgets for a client or even just for fun. I also do pro bono stuff around the community from time to time.

and they won't pay much attention to collateral damage

Which is why (we)b publishers in the Adsense program really are all in the same boat. Doesn't matter who tipped the boat over once it starts sinking but I get your point that throwing the troublemakers overboard before that happens is a sensible solution. So being on the sensible side of the boat is a good strategy but there are still no guaranties.

Anyway, it's been a long but productive day and I've got just enough energy left to say, have a great weekend all. So,

"Have a great weekend everybody!"


 7:21 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Adsense expands the advertising universe for advertisers

It also gives advertisers a second chance to reach searchers who who have ignored ads on the SERPs and clicked on organic results.


 5:08 am on Sep 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I regret focusing on creating good content, as that does not seem to be enough any more.

I should have been doing more SEO and marketing.


 6:13 am on Sep 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

Real SEO is creating a website that people want to come to. If you build a site to rank you build a site to fail.

If you do anything else and have any success it will go away. You will constantly have to build new sites and start over again. That is why I got out of the "trying to rank business". I made a lot of money but it was stressful to constantly start over again.


 7:44 am on Sep 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you chat with the AdSense advisors

I get different advice every time I talk to a new one. Which one was correct?

This 52 message thread spans 2 pages: 52 ( [1] 2 > >
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