Hard Answers Are Easy Links

If it is hard to find the answer to a question then

  • it is probably easy to be one of the best answers

  • those who stumble across your answer will appreciate your effort, relevancy, and knowledge

Matt Cutts recently posted some SEO tips on his site revolving around the theory that

In general, any time you look for an answer or some information and can’t find it, that should strike you as an opportunity.

You hear people say examples different ways. Some people will say to start from market edges, while others will say try to get user generated media, etc...but generally the way to make something that is hopefully useful is to be passionate and knowledgeable about a topic and then try to create something that you would want to frequently use or reference.

And while it may seem like it sucks to have to put the extra effort in to find the correct answers to certain questions, that is the exact reason that it has so much value.

There are tons of offline opportunities that will migrate online. How high is the quality of the average book as compared to the average web page? And yet due to most publishers not marketing most books very hard most of them sell fewer than 1,000 copies. Much book content will eventually be found online, but for now many people make a great living by reading various print books, condensing them down into something more palatable and publishing it as an ebook.

The web is about making knowledge accessible and selling it as credible. The more accessible your information is the easier it is to be referenced and thus perceived as credible.

Experience presents great offline to online opportunity as well. When I went to Search Engine Strategies I got an extra bonus 8 hour layover each way. One of them was because in San Diego I was required to exit a terminal, find out what terminal I was supposed to go to, find out how to get to that terminal, wait on a terminal bus, wait while the terminal bus driver allowed people to overload the bus, reorganize everyone else's luggage to make it fit good enough for the bus driver to drive, ride the length of the airport, try to get tickets for the next flight from multiple people because the machine would not work and a couple of the workers did not feel like helping me, go through security, find my gate, and get on my plane in an hour.

Now that airport runaround probably sounds a bit absurd, but the people who sold me my ticket most likely KNEW that I was going to have to leave the airport and re-enter, with a high probability of missing my flight. And if they didn't know that, then the online airline booking company which decided to find ways to aggregate and make such information readily available would have a huge advantage over competitors who did not make that type of experience related aggregated information easily accessible.

Many markets are full of people chasing money, but if you can capture experiences or are willing to share what you learn you have a distinct business advantage over people who are looking at revenue ahead of quality.

Published: August 22, 2006 by Aaron Wall in seo tips


August 20, 2007 - 3:27pm

" * it is probably easy to be one of the best answers
* those who stumble across your answer will appreciate your effort, relevancy, and knowledge"

If the answer to a questions is returned by a search engine, it is quite likely outdated by the time you get it.

Take my search that lead me here...the information I was looking for must be more current than a year old

August 22, 2006 - 12:29pm

I often try and do silly things ie. Audio from MAC to PC via a Jabber Client. Searching around I didn't find much help in the SERP's, if someone had written a how to they could get some great links from some nice sites and help some idiots like myself along the way.

Another good example that I bounced off Bill Slawski around two years ago was coming up with a service to help people choose an SEO or SEM. it would be very useful for potential seo/sem clients. Because as we all know the SEO is not created equal and an SEO with a lot of experience in one particular vertical will be far more resourceful and useful to a client in that particular niche.

I was thinking in terms of geography and verticals. Being based in Australia I am in a good position to offer such advice (the market is small), but I'm a little too busy for such a grand project. Maybe someone will do something similar in the future - like seo consultants only themed as well as geographically based.

August 22, 2006 - 2:59pm

Finding hard to answer questions is not always an easy task.
I have spent some time reading contents on a few categories of Yahoo Answers and find it quite practical to spot interesting subjects.
You can either find commonly asked questions for which you have a good answer ready or find questions that few people can answer.
Then, you just have to write an article covering the subject.

Gus Farrah
August 22, 2006 - 6:04pm

I beleave there is good informartion if you find people looking for that information. What I mean is that you need to find people that needs the information you have, they are the ones who will rate it probably as good information because you got to them with the right answers.

August 22, 2006 - 6:27pm

Identifying content gaps/needs in a given online "media space" has taken up the lion's share of my work of late, along with recommendations for filling those gaps.

It's a blast :)

Is it possible Aaron to create a tool that will analyze a piece of content and pre-determine how many links it's likely to get in its space?

...in other words what would be signifiers for a piece that could indicate its usefulness to a given online media space/community in relation to whether this type of content previously existed?

I guess it would have to pick out who's writing about such issues online as well? Could it suggest blogs/sites you should consider contacting as well?

Any thoughts on what this would take?


August 22, 2006 - 7:12pm

Hi Garrett
I think there is too much human emotion involved in how and why ideas spread to be able to do it algorithmically.

If one could create an algorithm that could do that with any reasonable sense of distribution accuracy they would be able to create a far better search than what Google is offering right now.

I think that since it requires human interaction (and spreading ideas is probably at least as much emotion as logic) that having some human layers in the filitering process decrease the downside far more than they hurt a business on the efficiency front.

August 22, 2006 - 8:05pm

I hear you. Wishful thinking :P

To your point, in looking back over Cutts' piece I see phrases like:

"I thought about the words that a user would type in..."


"...I'm probably in a space..."

Even at Google there's no "strong content" identifier or certainty of a piece of content's usefulness. Much less its potential for generating links.

Schwartz is coming at a tool from the time to create vs. links perspective.

I guess the best tool for finding content opportunity is still my brain, intuition and a whole bunch of searches.

On a side note, for creating a "media map" of a given space I've recently used an amazon book search to show me who a space's strong thinkers/writers are and then used that list to build out blogs and media sites that are potential publishers/participants in that space's "conversation".

This has further helped identify niche content opportunities (or rather, underserved audiences...) within given verticals.

I feel certain there's a tool still to be built for the process I'm using... just not sure what it will look like yet.

Thanks for your thoughtful critique.


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