The Thanksgivings of a Search Marketer (2007 Version)

I can’t believe it has been almost a year since I wrote my first “The Thanksgivings of a Search Marketer” post but no doubt – here we are. Therefore in traditional fashion, seeing that those of us in the United States will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this coming Thursday, I thought I’d once again reflect on what I am thankful for as a search marketer. Of course first and foremost I am thankful for my wonderful wife, Irma, my family, my faith and the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me this year. However, seeing that this is a search marketing blog, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of things I am thankful for related to that world. Here we go!

As a search marketer, I am thankful for the following…

1. Google Can’t Find Every Paid Link… Yet – Although Google has been trying to discover ways to detect paid links for some time, the proverbial poop seemed to really hit the fan after Michael Gray’s brilliant rebuttal of sorts to Matt Cutts presentation during SES San Jose’s “Are Paid Links Evil” session. Since then, Google has been on a rampage, lowering by hand a number of site’s PageRank scores that they suspect of selling paid links.

However, there are still many sites selling paid links that have not been affected which clearly demonstrates that despite algorithms, despite having access to inventories of sites selling paid links and despite tattle-tales, Google can’t find them all. In fact, they are pushing the entire paid links industry underground, which is where it should have gone prior to their latest FUD campaigns. Because Google can still not detect all paid links, I am thankful.

2. The Benefits of Social Media Sites – Utilizing the benefits of social media and networking sites has put a whole new spin on search marketing for organic search. In fact, it has made it exciting again. Don’t get me wrong – it is always a thrill to see a site with zero visibility and little traffic start to gain momentum in these areas and eventually experience much success. However, the fact that social sites are popping up everywhere and the fact that people actually use these sites, this has provided search marketers additional means to help improve site rankings as well as drive traffic from other venues besides
search engines.

Those benefits include branding opportunities, link popularity building, attracting traffic, interacting with existing and potential customers, and networking opportunities to name a few. I even recently showed how social media can be used to help manage online reputation. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Del.icio.us, Digg, Flickr, Sphinn, StumbeUpon and the list goes on. For these and their benefits, I am thankful.

3. Sphinn and Fetch – The New Web Forums – While Small Business Brief’s “Fetch” site is relatively new, if you have not heard of Search Engine Land’s Sphinn, I’d have to ask, “what rock you have been hiding under?” Both sites provide all the features of the popular Digg site with Sphinn dealing specifically with the world of search and search/social media marketing and Fetch dealing primarily with small business issues. Both allow users to quickly locate some of the hottest stories, articles and posts on the Web as well as the ability for anyone with an account to submit those stories. There is of course the ability to vote on submissions (more votes make an entry popular, pushing it to the front pages) and the ability to comment and interact with others regarding a specific entry.

While forums are still great places for discussion, Sphinn and Small Business Brief are useful in that they first of all allow users to find articles and blog posts that may have not been found otherwise and additionally allow users to start a discussion around the article or post itself. I have come across many great entries that I would have otherwise missed due to the fact that I limit my RSS reader to about 75 blogs that I watch. I have also been the recipient of much attention and traffic for articles I have authored that have went popular on either of these sites. I am thankful for Sphinn and Small Business Brief as well as the community that drives these sites.

4. YouTube – Now whether I am a search marketer or not, I would have probably discovered YouTube one way or another. I really became apparent of how thankful I am for YouTube after attending a Rush concert in July of this year. Because I am such a fan of Neil Peart’s drumming, I wanted to see one of his idols, Buddy Rich, play. I had never seen him before but there he is on YouTube. In fact, you can find just about anything there, from musicians and entertainers demonstrating their talent to companies such as BlendTec showing how their commercial grade blenders can blend everything from from golf balls to credit cards to even an iPhone.

Although we have yet to utilize YouTube for any clients, I can see the potential. It is simply a matter of finding the right opportunities and then convincing clients to act. Therefore I am thankful for YouTube
as a search marketer but also as a plain old web surfer because you can find just about anything you want to see on there.

5. CopySentry – If you have a blog, have written articles that are published online, or just have great content on your site, then you have most likely been the victim of copy theft. Copy thieves lift your content and publish it elsewhere, all without asking permission and/or giving you any credit. This is an ever growing problem on the Internet due to the fact that is as easy as “cutting and pasting.”

This is why I am so thankful for Copysentry, a wonderful subscription service that finds sites which have copied your content. We get a weekly report in which case there is almost always an incident of copy theft. This tool combined with form letters help us to battle incidences of copy theft. The thief is easily identified and an email is sent ordering them to either remove content or provide proper credit. 99% of the time this is effective in getting the stolen content either removed or getting the person to give you credit for your work. Therefore I am thankful that CopySentry at least automates the process of finding these thieves so we can manually deal with them.

6. Jay Allen’s Comment Challenge Plug-In – I hate blog comment spam to no end, mostly because it is a huge time waster. We use Movable Type as the blogging platform for this blog and while they have a pretty decent filtering system to send spammy comments to a junk folder, once in awhile a good comment would end up in there as well. This would require taking time to sift though the some 1,000 or so junk comments that would arrive daily (mostly from automated programs) in order to make sure that good comments were not accidentally deleted. We therefore implemented authentication in order to comment as a means to fight this. Commenters would now have to sign in with a TypeKey account. If a user did not already have an account, setting one up was easy enough. However, this remedy was still a hassle that steered most people away from commenting at all.

Then I discovered Jay Allen’s Comment Challenge Plug-in for Movable Type. This is a highly effective anti-spam plug-in that provides two defenses, 1.) a “comment beacon” that must be present in the comment submission. This beacon prevents “blind submissions” that make up the vast majority of automated spam, 2.) a optional, configurable text-based challenge/response mechanism (a type of CAPTCHA) that eliminates the automated spam that slipped past the beacon. Now all users have to do to comment here is to enter a pre-designated word or phrase in a field directly under the comments field. This has completely shut the door on automated comment spam programs and as such, saves me a lot of time as I only have to approve comments, not sift though thousands of junk comments. I am thankful for such an awesome plug-in to deal with a problem that seems to plague most blogs.

7. Ten Years in Business - This year we celebrated ten years of being in business. I started back in April of 1997 as an affiliate of a web design company and today not only run SearchRank, but several successful web properties that are beginning to earn decent revenues in and of themselves. It seems like the time has just whisked by, probably because I have been having such a blast.

The beginnings were a bit rough and to be honest, I didn’t know if I was going to make it in the web development field I started in. I was still working the same warehouse job I had been in for the past eleven years when starting the company. I eventually moved to a part-time job at night before running the business full time. Web development led into search marketing and when launching the Searchrank brand at the end of 1999, we turned a corner as far as profitability and success. I haven’t looked back since. I am so thankful for ten years in business which is a result of my wife putting up with me working endless hours, loyal clients over the years and the search marketing community itself, which leads into the next thing I am thankful for.

8. The Search Marketing Community – Even though our little cottage industry has grown up, it is still a very tight circle. In fact, I think of the search marketing community as a very large extended family. I am thankful for the many friends and acquaintances Irma and myself have developed over the years. We enjoy each other’s company online and in real life (conferences, in-town visits, etc.).

We also frequently help each other out whether that entails digging each other’s posts, referring business to one another or something else. A perfect example of this is when the National Pork Board threatened to sue Jennifer Laycock over what they considered a trademark infringement. Their demands were silly and not only did the search marketing community come to her aid, breast feeding moms everywhere rallied as well (you’ll have to read the story to understand). The end result was that a very large organization that was picking on a breast-feeding mother backed off and apologized.

I am thankful for this wonderful community. Even as it continues to grow, I hope we will maintain our family-like atmosphere.

Finally – Everything I Was Thankful For Last Year – While this list is a bit shorter than last years’ 16 items, it is not meant to replace that list but rather to add on to it. Therefore not only am I thankful for the 8 things above, but the 15 things from last year which includes web properties, tools, techniques and most important, people.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses. Follow +David Wallace on Google + as well as Twitter.

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