Mar 22, 2007

Honesty Will Rise to the Top

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has become a big industry. A lot of dollars are being spent to make sure your site is developed and promoted properly to succeed in the search engines.

One of the SEO tactics is to have an employee call or email a "complementary" business to see if they would put a link to your website on their website. And it works better if someone links to you, but you don't link back to them.

This idea of sharing links on websites is a fine idea in some cases... for instance, let's say I'm the best guy in town who does custom auto paint jobs, and you're the only guy who sells a certain brand of rims. My cars always look great on your rims, so we recommend each other to our customers. We share coupons and brochures and send a lot of business to each other. We put each other's links on our websites.

But this is a case where real, honest business relationships and truly complementary products and services were involved. Having an SEO firm call you out of the blue to ask for a link is not an honest relationship, even if the products do go together well.

If I sell paint jobs, and you just call me out of the blue and say, "Hey we saw your site and it looks great! Will you put a link to our custom rim and tire store on your site?", then you're bugging me. You're interrupting my work.

And you're definitely not helping my business. What if my customer has a budget for a paintjob, but sees your tires and thinks "I'll put off the paint job and do new tires and rims instead."? You might say that's a stretch, but why would I send a customer from my website to your website when I'm trying to close a deal?

But this isn't really even the main point. As in Seth's blog today, it's really just spamming. And eventually it will go away, because honesty will rise to the top of the search engines.

By honesty, I mean your site will be designed with one thing in mind: your clear message to your audience. Google and Yahoo and Microsoft and future companies will do their part in organizing the web, making it easy to put your information and sales pitch into the hands of people who need your product or service. You're going to have to buy some PPCs or PPAs or what ever the next PP is.

The free searches are going to be improved by both the technology and the user preference and experience. Future web users will be better "searchers," they'll put in more accurate keywords, they'll know when to search locally (paint job) and when to search globally (car parts).

The engines will help you figure that out too. I have a pretty good feeling I'll go into a customized Google search interface and say "I'm looking for a new paintjob for my Rover, within 100 miles. I'm looking for four Big Phat Boyz Rims."

I believe then the software will be smart enough to seek the providers, get a proposal back (automated or manual), and within a couple days I have the best prices and proposals right in front of me. I didn't even visit any websites... it was all pulled into my Google (probably known as an "Omnipotent Operating System" (OOS) by then. We will need no OOS optimization (OOSO) for our websites.)

It's going to be fun to see how it really does play out... but spamming will die and honesty will rise.

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