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All webmasters are so "savvy" now; it's ridiculous

12:46 am on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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From the middle of the first decade of the new millenium, there has been an increasing awareness of the fact that more and more webmasters, even the "mom and pop" types that are seen as "fodder" that could be taken advantage of (in the form of easily convincing them to give you a "goodwill" backlink for example), are adopting the "what's in it for me?" attitude.

There have been several threads/posts pointing out the issue of how people are becoming more and more stingy with backlinks, and even amateur webmasters who think customizing a blogspot blog is "web design", when asked for a backlink, demand a reciprocal link from a "page that has at least a PR of 3" etc. Of course, placing so much importance on PR only confirms the fact that they are amateurs, but I digress.

And so us experienced webmasters turn to warmer, more "give and you shall receive" approaches (that require a greater investment of effort) to link and brand building, including various ever-evolving creative ideas such as conducting interviews to attract links.

In fact, some webmasters have changed their focus to branding, word-of-mouth and diversification of traffic sources instead of SEO. At which point they notice that even such avenues are saturated/used/abused/the targets jaded.

Let me give you an example: martinibuster made a great post on creating mindshare or branding through genuine involvement and contribution to online communities. This is about as solid and white hat as it gets. As martinibuster noted, "people can smell self promotion a mile away". Okay, so you decide to become a valued contributor to a forum related to a niche website of yours, with a non-spammy link in your signature to your incredibly useful informational site. So you find a suitable related forum, register, and since you're here for the long-term, decide to read the forum rules/faq. You're OK'ing each rule as your scroll down until you reach the part about signatures. And it reads something like this: "No links to thematically related sites". And I thought signatures with links to unrelated sites were spammy! Disallowing affiliate links / commercial sites is one thing, but this? Competition is becoming more cutthroat; one day novice webmasters may have to resort to promoting their websites on the streets. And this wasn't even in a "webmaster" or "SEO" forum; it was a non-technical forum.

Frowning on black-hat tactics is understandable, but increasingly things that were considered white-hat before are being treated as undesirable. The "hippie" days of the internet characterized by generosity and opportunity are long gone. Now it's all about the money, and this attitude has seeped into every corner of the web in a VERY preemptive manifestation.


[edited by: tradewinds at 12:57 am (utc) on May 6, 2010]

7:11 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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A search engine needs to figure out two main things:

- What is this page about?
- Is it a good page about its topic?

Relevant links out could definitely help with the first question, and possibly with the second as well.

I think you should add - "it has to decide which of the thousand relevant pages it should serve first." since we all know there are many, many relevant pages for almost any subject on the internet. So if you were a smart search engine, what would you look at besides the links?
1:48 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Every single website out there is just too tired of link requests that even the highest quality request gets deleted/ignored.

There you have it. The old school ways of requesting links no longer apply in many instances.

Did you know I can Tweet a link and within 24 hours it will have seeped into the fabric of the Social Internet? Tweeting a link is like sending out 1,000 of the old school link requests. But in this instance, they are getting noticed and linked to.

Old school link development methods are dead. If you're sending out link requests via email, you need to wake up and smell the coffee, those things have long been deprecated in favor of more natural methods. Earning them.

You may have a bit of time left just yet, but the days of the little guys owning the serps like it was the wild west are slowly dwindling to a close.

That's a pretty bleak picture - for those who rely ONLY on links - and there are a bunch of those folks. ;)
2:07 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Getting into the "strongly connected core" of the Web is where it's at.
11:13 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Did you know I can Tweet a link and within 24 hours it will have seeped into the fabric of the Social Internet? Tweeting a link is like sending out 1,000 of the old school link requests.

Just like RSS subscriptions are slowly replacing email newsletters for some functions (eg updates about new content on a blog). Web 2.0 is very real; it's almost like a new medium altogether. With viral marketing for example, Hotmail's early success relied largely on pre-existing social networks based on people who emailed each other. In those days, viral marketing was about TAF scripts and chain-letter emails. Now a major focus for viral marketing campaigns is, of course, Facebook.

Getting into the "strongly connected core" of the Web is where it's at.

And since the traditional "cores" (i.e. authority sites) are increasingly refusing to give out links or leak traffic, marketers are turning their attention to "core" users of Facebook who can influence a large number of people.
1:20 am on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Just as they have encouraged us to recycle in the real world and move away from a throw away society so has the web changed to a throw away internet.

Bebo was bought for $850m by AOL two years ago now there talking about shutting it down. This is a throw away web we are living in where todays best site could be history tomorrow.

A internet driven by throw away content and throw away search listings. There is no such thing as white hat black hat anymore there is just the race. And why? Well the worst kept secret is that the internet is in massive recession with advertising plunging.

The problem is that search engines response to this in creating the throw away internet is likely to force most people and business away and the damage done will be permanent.
1:38 am on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Ok that last post is really an observation, but I am off to do a whitening teeth site thats offers cash for gold and virtual wow power together with comparing finance and forex trading that helps you loose weight buy viagra and find the best casino then share my success through a paid for blog on how to get rich online.
2:24 am on May 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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In 2005, I 80% of my traffic was from Google. In 2010, 35% of my traffic is from Google, traffic quantity nearly the same between the two years. The difference? Better in-links from relevant traffic sources who link to me because I have good content. Nope, I didn't ask them for links, they linked to me. Content is king.
4:50 am on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I still believe you can have an authority site and great content and nobody will link. Especially in ecommerce.

Why would they? You can have a peanut butter site and link to jelly, but it's more likely you will just add jelly section of your own. It keeps them on your site longer interacting which is good SEO, and makes it more likely they will buy peanut butter.

I can see some media and article links coming in from good content, but not straight site links.
6:23 am on May 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Well well, all of the finest SEO's have come out in this thread.

Tedster is right, linking to authority sites on the subject of your page makes sense for visitors and so it is slightly rewarded as well. It's not who links to you, it's who you link to and no site can be an island.

Many people I'd consider the best and brightest do this which is why they've already adapted a tiered approach to linking to other sites. Tip of the day: don't link to the source from your articles, link to a page on your site ABOUT the source and have that page link to the source instead. You get credit for the link and pass a little less pagerank to it. I've been doing it since long before techcrunch launched crunchbase to accomplish this very thing.

I apologize to any new SEO's who are reading this post, it does you a disservice. The more people know the harder it becomes to outrank others and yes, I know of an even better way of linking out or I wouldn't have posted that tip. Rankings are money to many, myself included, and while I think it's healthy for all sites to improve it's still a business to many and you won't find all of the trade secrets on WW. My advice is to test, learn, retest and keep learning... it's a lifetime course.
5:00 pm on Sept 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I stopped chasing free links years ago. Nowadays it's quite hard to get good links with money.
8:27 am on Sept 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You can have a peanut butter site and link to jelly, but it's more likely you will just add jelly section of your own

True, but perhaps your feelings on jelly are slightly different from a few other jelly-makers, and this is something that gets mentioned in the content you write for your site. Or you might be doing a roundup on jelly and peanut butter sandwiches and want to give some kudos to the people who first started making them.

I find that the more comprehensive an article / page I try to write, the MORE links I need to put in it.

I do this for my readers, but also for karma reasons. If I'm generous and link to others, hopefully people will link to me. And if I'm plugged into my networks and discussing what's new in peanut butter and the things it touches, I should be reading alot about jelly and other stuff too and should know a bunch of things I want to discuss and link too. Other webmasters in those related niches that do the same will probably be doing the same. People who come across my pages will hopefully think they are good sources of information and want to cite them as part of their own take on the niche.
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