30.05.2009 Uncategorized No Comments

Welcome to Google High!

Google has made the web a popularity contest. Google’s algorithmic changes over the last few years have managed to devalue most forms of SEO-built links, and the most reliable linking method left to exploit is nepotistic links from your friends.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have friends with high-PageRank sites in our niches. Most of us aren’t friends with our competitors.

Worse, many of us aren’t all that likable. Salespeople are likable –that’s their job. Those of us whose focus is on creating valuable web content don’t have time to build vast social networks. The end result is that good web sites aren’t getting ranked — web sites promoted by slimy sales guys are getting ranked.

This is all Google’s doing, but we can’t look to Google for a solution. Google is focused on AdWords and has almost completely lost interest in the organic SERPS.

So what do we do? How do we win this popularity contest and earn our great web properties decent spots in Google’s search results?

The answers lay in the lessons we learned, or should have learned, in high-school.

Join a Clique

Cliques are the centers of society in high school, and on the web.

The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.

Grace, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

On the web, people give links to other sites in their cliques. If someone doesn’t feel like you’re in their clique, they are not likely to link to your web site.

There are many opportunities for joining webmaster cliques:

Of course, you can’t just join a group and expect to be seen as a member of the “in group” — you must participate in the chatter and the social drama that exists in any scene. You must be seen to be linked to.

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

People like to say “flattery will get you nowhere”, but that could not be further from the truth. Humans love to be loved.

I want you, to want me. — Cheap Trick (1977)

If you say something nice and believable about a person, the odds are reasonably good that they will link to the page where you mention them.

You can also get links to unrelated pages, just because people feel that they should reciprocate your kindness.

Suck Up To Authority

People in authority are looking for constant external validation that they deserve their authority, and those people can throw around a lot of link weight.

This is what after-market “support” sites are all about — sites that simply regurgitate the corporate communications of web authorities like Google or Microsoft.

These sites get regular links from their patron corporations, because they help promote the official party lines of the organizations.

On the other hand, pointing out Google’s hypocrisy or Microsoft’s poor product quality isn’t likely to get you linked to from either company.

Be Popular

Most people act like sheep. They decide what to like by looking at other people, seeing what they like, and copying those likes and dislikes.

This is why we have so many Hollywood actors who are cast in great roles and demand enormous salaries, even though they can barely act. They are not cast for their acting abilities, they are cast because they are already well-known.

This is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, because to become popular you first have to be popular. Luckily, the web is a bit easier to fool than a group of high-school kids.

Popularity on the web can be faked in a wide variety of ways:

  • Buying blog posts
  • Creating fake social network profiles
  • Buying social bookmarks
  • Creating fake forum accounts
  • Using automated traffic for fake your Alexa rating
  • Buying links or domains to boost your PageRank

Once you “appear” to be popular, people will start writing about you and — if you have enough substance to maintain the popularity — you will be popular.

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