So the web is becoming far more social in nature. Many clients insist on owning a 6 page brochure site (or maybe 100 of them) and expect the SEO to rank them for crumbs. There are a few potential outcomes of working with clients like that:
the client's website and marketing are so bad that you can never rank them
the client's website and marketing are so bad that you can just get them a bit of exposure (but will later be marginalized by improving search technologies and competing companies that better understand the web)
If your marketing is dependant on a piece of software that is publicly available and your strategy is just to replicate what is already out there, then even if you find a way to compete (temporarily perhaps)... eventually you are going to get marginalized.
If a company with greater resources that is more receptive to the web hires a person half as competent as you they are probably still going to kick your ass, in the longrun.
Why fight the algorithms and the natural trends of the web? Doesn't it make more sense to leverage the trends to your benefit?
If you accept bad SEO clients all you are doing is pushing your services toward the commodity end of the market. And that a path to unhappiness.
Most sites are easy to relate to popular or important link rich ideas if you are creative. For example, to some people this site relates (or at points in time related) to web browsers, open source software, religion, politics, science, education, human rights, free speech, marketing, market manipulation, entrepreneurship, blogging, search, and many other link rich topics.
Part of why I stray off topic is because I think everything is related. But it also doesn't help that I entered the market so late, and SEO is generally hated when compared with the general linkability and passion with which people talk about innovating search technologies. What can you do to make your site relate to something people care a lot about or are irrationally / emotionally drawn toward? Do you care about the environment? Are you religious? Are you disabled? Are you part of a minority? Do you care about human rights? Do you wish the world was safer? What flaws in Google's business model concern you? How did you overcome your biggest faults and fears? Could you help stop wars?
The things you are not supposed to talk about are the things which link rich people link at. You know your idea has legs when people at different ends of the political spectrum link to your idea and claim it as their own because they identify it as being associated with their ideology.
Typically it helps if most of your content is focused on your core topic, but some of the people who are easiest to talk about are easy to talk about because they can relate their topic to other hot topics. If you are a usability consultant why not talk about blogging and search, for example.
At some level, at a very major level in fact, the way we feel about a transaction is more important than the transaction itself. Some people like a sporting event more if they got the ticket from a scalper, other if they got the ticket for free from their boss. Some people need to feel like they've taken the system (whatever the system is) for everything it's worth. Others need to pay retail (especially on a wedding dress, cemetery plot or flu shot).
Marketers are working hard to corrupt the way we feel about our friends and the people we respect. I think, in the end, it's not going to work. We're hardwired to respect real authenticity, and at some level, that means trusting the motives of the person we're listening to.
In addition to all of these forward and backward link tools many video content sites and social bookmarking programs allow you to use other's work to explore interesting items, which sorta brings the fun back to the web...finding all kinds of cool stuff.
As technology evolves, and more users become editors, the value of being a general editor will be commoditized to nothing unless you work long hours, have a community helping you, are heavily biased, passionate, or can add some other significant value to the information you consume and sort. But if you are an agressive marketer being able to sort through information so many different ways makes the job much more fun because it gives you so many options.
Improving Customer Experience linked to me (so they are obviously cool), but, more importantly, they mentioned a cool related keyword research tool named Quintura Search. Quintura is a free LSI type keyword research tool which shows you related keywords pulled from top ranked websites in any of the major search engines and major content sites like Wikipedia and Amazon.com.
If you do not know a topic well this can give you added things to think about when trying to optimize for it. If you do know a topic well this can give you a way to test how sophisticated or biased different search algorithms are. In addition to being able to compare various engines, you can grab more results, and adjust the coverage depth of keywords it sorts through to find what keywords are most semantically related. Also when you scroll over a keyword it highlights other related words, likeso:
AOL has a bias toward consumer (ie: non b2b) type queries, and they may have a higher % of brand related searches that both act to place a bit more emphasis on the top search result than general searchers from other search engines, but some people have dug through the 20 million search queries AOL gave away and come up some stats.
Yahoo! recently announced they are moving some of their link queries over to Site Explorer. The problem with that is that now there is no way to get .edu and .gov backlink data from Yahoo!
I had my programmer update SEO for Firefox to pull linkage data from MSN Search. In addition, he added some of the features that are in SEOpen and SearchStatus, such that you can highlight nofollows on a page and right click on a page and pull in some of the relevant link and other SEO related information.
After Yahoo! (hopefully) restores the ability to sort linkage data by TLD we will re-enable Yahoo! as a data source. There might be a few bugs in the newest version of SEO for Firefox as well...like if you query MSN Search automatically too quickly they may end up blocking your IP address.
A few people have created free cool web based tools which allow you to search through the 20 million keywords AOL recently shared with the marketing community. http://www.aolsearchdatabase.com/ - allows you to sort data by:
If you rank for a business name in a good niche ~ it can pay dividends, especially as the business markets its brand, I am not talking large corps here but I have maybe 5 websites that I tested that rank either 1 or generally 2 for the business names and they pay large, when these businesses advertise and push their brand ~ kerching!