SEO Without the Spam

My newest column was published at Slaw.ca today, titled: Injection Marketing Undermines Credibility.  Within this piece, I’m trying to deliver two central messages.  The first is pretty straight forward: that embedding  links or messages about your services within web conversations is not only ‘tacky’, but it reflects terribly on you and your business.

For the generations of lawyers who’ve spent the better portion of their lives absorbing marketing and advertising, especially via unidirectional channels such as television, there’s a real need to disconnect from that experience.  Those who grasp the concept of “paying it forward” early (think altruism, educating, and connecting) will most often develop a large and mature network of web-based relationships. Those that don’t…  are destined to invest hours into the tools, and gain little traction.

Point being? If you’re not obtaining new relationships with your web marketing efforts, it may be time to work a little harder on ‘outreach’; and ease off on the frequency (and intensity) of your marketing message.  Relationships are the number one objective for your marketing success online; which brings me to the second central message of the column, SEO without spam.

Great SEO is dependent on these relationships, especially relationships with other online publishers. Let me spell it out in SEO terms:

  • a large social network translates into reciprocal linking (linking to and from others in your online social circle) ;
  • that network of links will grow in size boosting your link popularity (Google PageRank, and the like);
  • link networks are not only valuable when in sizable number, but also in terms of domain diversity (not the same people always linking in – new relationships help shape this diversity);
  • websites that link in based on similar topic coverage are better aligned and authentic (also valued by the search engines);
  • similar subject websites also generate links within the body of the page’s text (valued more by the search engines, compared to blogroll links or footer links).

Websites that are really great performers in the search engines – call it ‘link juice’, call it what you will,  have this kind of link network behind them. On-page SEO tactics aside, the real “silver bullet” to SEO rankings is relationships.  Kill those, and you kill your SEO potential.

Unsolicited (or unexpected) commercial messages (a.k.a. spam) kills marketing – good SEO & credibility are just the first casualties. Fortunately the answer is very simple: hang out your shingle and do your business on your website. If your web travels take you elsewhere…  be yourself, be professional, and leave the salesman at home.

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