Dynamic Sites & Social Feedback

Oct 14th

Part 3 in a series... let me know what you think :)

Blog Software is a Simple CMS

Some of the conversations stemming from my article series starting with Why Bloggers Hate SEO's & Why SEO's Should Love Bloggers have stated that blogs are just a simple CMS. The one catch is they are social in nature.

I have probably read about a couple hundred books, and have only emailed about 5 book authors to tell them how great their books were. Most of the book authors quickly replied to my emails to say thanks. This tells me that they must understand the value of having fans (Seth Godin surely fits in that group) or they are not as inundated with email as I sometimes am.

Compare the books, which take months to write, to most blogs. On blogs I have left hundreds or thousands of comments. Across my various blogs I have got thousands of feedback posts others have left. One blog is almost nothing but a framework for people to leave their comments, and yet they still do!

Some people have stated that blogs are a fad that will die out. They may be right, but if they die out it will only be if other software emerges which does a better job of social integration, as some of the current tools are lacking on many fronts.

Static Content & the Game of Margins

Some old estabished static sites may long live on, but both directly and indirectly the web is becoming more of a read write medium. Margins will require content to become more social.

In spite of years of branding and content creation even the most well known publishers are caught playing the margins, selling ad space aggressively, and push the blame onto their advertisers.

Creating content is a game of margins. If you use a static website, and update it's content to keep it current, you are writing over your old work, which means:

  • you are throwing away it's historical record
  • you are creating less pages (which means less chances to pull in visitors) , as each page is another search lottery ticket
  • it is likely going to be harder for an audience to find the new content
  • it is less likely people will reference the new content, since they do not know what URLs are changing when
  • it is less likely people will reference the old content, since it may eventually change
  • many people will not want to reread the parts they already read
  • as your content size grows it means you are forced to worry about keeping it up to date while still trying to keep up with the news and the shifting marketplace

Add all of those things together, and a business model which would wildly succeed could easily become a complete failure.

The static site this article is on generally sucked until my blog became popular. In spite of the effort writing this aritcle, my average blog post will probably be read many times more than this article is.

Who is a Static Site For?

When you first learn about a topic it may be useful to create a large site about the topics you are learning, just as a way of forcing you to learn it all. Even in doing that, so long as you map out the general hierarchy ahead of time, there is no reason to avoid creating the site using a dynamicly driven database. Eventually when I have enough time this site will likely be shifted to a dynamic format.

The only people who can really afford to get away with using purely static sites are:

  • those who have other dynamic sites which help build their credibility & authority
  • those who are creating a site out of boredom or for a personal hobby
  • those who are not trying to profit or spread ideas
  • those who are known as the authority on their topic (who can do well in spite of the shortfalls in their publishing methods)
  • amazing writers who write so well that they can do well in spite of their publishing format
  • those who were first runners or are in niche fields with few competitors
  • those who are gurus in fields that change slow
  • those who run tons of sites and want to make them scalable (although it is even easier to do this with dynamic sites)

In almost all the above cases I can point to examples of how using dynamic sites could save time or be more profitable.

Example of a Sucky Static Site:

Not too long ago I created a site called Link Hounds to give away free link building tools on. I find the tools exceptionally useful, but the site failed to take off for a number of reasons.

  • API Limitations: when I first announced the site people used it beyond the API limits and it did not work. I should ask the engines for increased limits.
  • Lack of Incentive to Syndicate: in part to make up for the API limitations I gave away the source code and referenced tool mirrors, but some who mirrored the tool did not want to share it with others. Also Yahoo! requires that sites have DOM XML support if you use PHP4 to program the tool. I should have had my friend program in PHP5.
  • Crap Design: While the site design was not bad for free, it obviously is not something stellar.
  • Open Source & SEO: Are generally not concepts which are paired together. I think it will take a bit of time for people to get used to it. An open source website recently asked me to write an article, so that may help a bit.
  • Perception of Value: People think they get what they pay for. In spite of the fact that some of my software is similar to (and in some ways better than) stuff that sells for $150 or more, some people think the software is worthless because it is free. Similar software with strong affiliate marketing is seen by many more people:
  • Boring / Static: If I started working a bit harder at link building and placed a blog offering a bunch of creative link tips on that site I suspect it would garner many more links.

As it sits, there is little reason for people to remember to go back to the Link Hounds site, so they rarely do.

Sites that are dynamic in nature which make it easy to give feedback will fair far better.

Published: October 14, 2005

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Comments

pickled
October 14, 2005 - 10:28pm

"Creating content is a game of margins. If you use a static website, and update it's content to keep it current, you are writing over your old work, which means"

wtf are you talking about? all my sites are static and I've never written over anything.

October 14, 2005 - 10:28pm

Hi. This isn't about the static pages, but I'd like to say that your tools are fascinating. As a developer myself, I think it's great that you've released them as open source. I'm thinking of some tools myself - perhaps pushing more logic to the client side in Ajax/Javascript.

October 14, 2005 - 10:34pm

>wtf are you talking about? all my sites are static and I've never written over anything.

Could you write a site about SEO that stayed current without rewriting some of it as techniques shifted?

Do you still believe all the stuff you wrote in the past still holds true today?

I was speaking for more of dynamic shifting environments than ones that did not change.

The point was updating old content & articles on a broad scale usually is far less financially viable than creating new content and letting old content age in a database.

A Reader
October 14, 2005 - 10:46pm

I get the point Aaron, and I do agree, but can't you do much the same thing statically? Meaning that instead of rewriting an old seo article, I just write a new one and archive the old?

I think dynamic sites backends rock, but you could easily mimick just about anything they do on a static site if you choose.

Where things get tough for static sites is the social aspect -- comments, blogs, etc.

October 14, 2005 - 11:19pm

>Where things get tough for static sites is the social aspect -- comments, blogs, etc.

and that is huge. look at Threadwatch for example

>I think dynamic sites backends rock, but you could easily mimick just about anything they do on a static site if you choose.

also the ability to quickly change things... offers & monetization methods, global navigation, etc. best to use some dynamic technologies if possible.

October 15, 2005 - 6:29am

This was a good article, but I had to read it more than once to "grok" it. Those are the best ones though. Made me think that maybe I should get serious about one of my blogs.

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