After I was laid-off as a Boston newspaper-editor several years ago, I decided to move into SEO for several reasons. First, my communications background and M.B.A. education had shown me that I have a natural affinity for marketing in general. Second, the industry here in Israel — to where I moved after being unable to find work in Boston in the current economic-downturn — is pioneering many aspects of online marketing. But the most-satisfying aspect of SEM is the communal nature of the market. Here’s what I mean.
Still, I will be the first to admit that SEO can be extremely competitive, particularly in the forex, gaming, and “adult,” industries. (The oft-repeated joke among online-marketers is that running one of these websites is the only way to make money online.) Here in Israel and throughout the world, there are hundreds of websites published by high-tech companies that are competing to be on the first page of Google search-results in each of these sectors. In addition (and unfortunately), there are spammers and black-hat SEO artists who also compete to reach millions of people with the expectation that one percent of one percent will click on their links. This is the bad side of SEO — and, unfortunately, the search-engine optimization industry often suffers from a bad reputation as a result.
SEM-Video Tips and Ideas for You
Within this post, I will be posting SEM-video resources for my readers (see below for the explanation). One note: I do not necessarily endorse the comments contained in these videos. Rather, I like to present a variety of viewpoints (yes, I will always be a journalist at heart). Here is the first:
But the good side of online marketing — not that I am biased, since I now work in the field and offer SEO-consultant services — is twofold: the strategy helps Google to do its job better, and the tactic encourages social interaction and cross-promotion. In the first example, the practice of including on-page and off-page SEO factors helps the search-engine giant to categorize a website most effectively and efficiently. (After all, if your website sells baseball cards, then you want to ensure that you are listed and ranked under “baseball cards.”) Both you and Google win.
And the benefits extend further. Of course, every publisher of a professional blog or website — if you are reading this blog, you are likely one of them — wants to make money, either from sales on a company’s website or advertising on a personal forum. I will be the first to admit: As much as I enjoy writing my journalism group-blog and this SEO blog as hobbies in addition to my full-time SEO job, I do enjoy the advertising revenue as well. Just as you do, I assume.
Still, SEO and online-marketing is not merely a self-serving enterprise. In the United States, there is a phrase that many politicians use in debates over tax policy. Those who advocate lower taxes state that “a rising tide lifts all boats” — in other words, lower taxes in one sector eventually benefits all people and the economy as a whole. Since this is not a political blog, I will not discuss the complexity of the issue here. Rather, my point is that Internet marketing does, in fact, “lift all boats” — even among competitors within the same industry.
Here is an example. Take the aforementioned “baseball card” example. There are undoubtedly countless websites that aim to sell, buy, and trade the collectors’ items. And, of course, they all compete with each other regarding on-page SEO, keyword research, and other aspects of online marketing. But the inherent sociality of the Internet benefits them all.
If the online-marketers behind the websites know what they are doing, they will participate in practices including blog commenting, message-board participation, and similar areas in order to connect with baseball-card enthusiasts wherever they happen to be. Of course, their collective goal will be to get clicks to their individual websites, but a larger point remains: By participating in the forums by being “thought leaders” in the industry, they will both brand themselves as experts and help to improve the overall level of discussion. Again, everyone wins.
The take-away is that effective participation in these venues does not entail spamming by saying, “Click here for the best place to buy baseball cards!” and then pasting a link. Rather, the SEM best-practice is to contribute to the discussion in a way that helps the overall community (“Here is why a rookie-card for Barry Bonds will never be worth more than that of Hank Aaron”) and then — indirectly — causes people to click on one’s username or profile to see from which website the author comes.
And this is what I love — the best online-marketing comes not from “cold-calling” people with sales messages, it is contributing positively to one’s field in a way that generates revenue at the same. After all, one of the recommended tactics in social-media marketing is to promote others — and not only yourself — at the same time since they will usually respond in kind. It’s a positive form of cross-promotion that benefits everyone — and sometimes, even competitors. (Though most SEO marketers promote only related websites that do not directly compete.)
In that spirit, my SEO blog-posts here typically contain links to other authors who are experts on the topic as well. First, my full-time SEO job prevents me from writing as much as I would like. Second, I like to credit those SEO marketers whose primary job is to write and publish insightful articles on the industry. As I wrote in a prior post, I despise content-farms and other online SEO-spammers that merely plagarize or otherwise copy the genuine thoughts of experts — those who stand on the shoulders of SEO giants, so to speak (See “Article-Marketing Automation: Pros and Cons” and “Top 10 Blogs, More General Keywords, and a Content Farm.”)
I wish I had the opportunity to contribute to the online world as they do. So, as a result, I am including several SEM-video links that SEO novices should find interesting. Enjoy! Anyone who takes the time to write quality content or upload good SEM-video content is worthy of consideration — whether, in the end, you agree with his point of view. For more information, I invite you to check out our SEO-software reviews.
Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.