January 21, 2006
by Aaron Wall
Search engines make money selling ads next to relevant search
results. If the results are easy to manipulate relevancy plummets,
searchers search elsewhere, and there is no reason to buy ads.
Google places many new sites through a probationary period where it
is hard to rank for competitive terms. Unless a site has a good bit of
quality linkage data (ie: citations from highly trusted powerful sites
like CNN, Wall Street Journal, SlashDot or LockerGnome) it is going to
be hard to rank for competitive terms unless you are willing to wait a
Other search engines may not be inclined to rank new documents well
until they have significant surrounding linkage data. With over 10
billion documents on the web to chose from why should they?
Some people go the more is better route and try to get a ton of low
quality spammy links, but usually the only person winning from link
farms or spam software
is the person charging you to use the service.
Some people get pissed when search engines do not rank new documents,
but they should think of what the world was like before their was a web
or search engines.
It usually takes time to build credibility and get established. Think
of the slow traditional publishing process and how slow ideas spread
before the web.
Why should search engines be obligated to offer people quick success
at the risk of relevancy & their business models?
If a person is doing Earth shatteringly well at being cited by others
they will probably rank quickly. Even if they do not need to rank well
right away if most of the active channels about their topic are talking
about them they will still get a ton of traffic anyway.
When sites are new some people view them as a loss liter until they
make a profit. While I have limited background in economics, that is not
how I view launching new for profit websites.
When you start working in a new field it is almost guaranteed that
you are going to get paid less than what you are worth. Anything worth
doing usually requires over investment off the start for minimal return.
The first quarter of last year I made $900 profit in the whole quarter.
As time passes and your reputation establishes similar workload
returns far greater profits. Right now I do not work any harder than I
did about a year or two ago, but I make far more than I deserve just
because that is how capitalism works.
Off the start you get ripped off, and then as time passes if you
stick with it you get far more than you deserve.
If your market is worth being in you have to remember that
competition is likely going to have a head start, and some of them are
going to reinvest profits into marketing.
Some people get discouraged and quit before they ever have a chance
to catch up. Think of all your efforts (and even errors) as a good
thing. Think of how hard the competition is going to have to try if they
want to catch you in the search results a year or two down the road.
There are an unlimited number of ways to create profit or useful
websites, but there are also an endless number of scams. Why would a
person who LOVES your topic want to regularly visit or
link at your site? Why would they trust you enough to vote for you?
Think of webmasters of established high quality sites as search
editors. What could you do to make your site seem as clean and easy to
link to as possible? If you were an editor for Google who covered your
topic would you want to vote for your site if you were not affiliated
with it? How could you change the publishing format, business model, or
marketing mechanism to make your site easier to link at?
I recently gave a lecture at a local college about SEO. I mentioned
that the less commercial a site looks the easier it is to get links to.
The teacher cut me off and mentioned that when he launched his site he
found it easy to get links because it was fairly non commercial when it
launched. The links he got nearly a decade ago are still keeping his
site near the top of the search results for queries like marketing
even though he does not have much time to invest into updating his site.
If your site is commercial you have to spend a certain amount of time
and money to compete. If your site looks non commercial or hobby like
you can get the links far easier.
As long as you are not too spammy with how you change your site you
can later leverage your link popularity for profit. Most of the link
popularity will probably stick.
When doing competitive analysis it is easy to focus on why or how
competing channels got links or coverage they may not deserve, but far
more productive / rewarding to figure out how to get more links than you
- Sometimes bias creates loyal readers and linkers (as scene in many
- Sometimes c ontroversy is the way to get links (like ThreadWatch).
- Sometimes it is becoming friends with lots of others (like SE
- Sometimes killer content is the key to the top of the results
- Sometimes creating cool tools helps build link equity (like
There is no universal law to the top of the search results. You
probably are not going to get to the top if you only copy the
competition. Try to get some of their best links if you can and then
look to create ways to make people want to talk about you. Leverage your
skills and personality. It will be hard for your competition to get some
of those quality links, and that is how you catch up in the search
results - getting links that the competition can't.
- by Aaron Wall, author of The SEOBook .
For more information on the topic of this article use our Google-powered
Subscribe to our newsletter:
Your Email address:
given away to anybody. You can unsubscribe at any time.