How Owning Multiple Sites Can Help or Hurt Your Marketing Strategy

Because I own and spent literally 1 day building and marketing it, a year ago a reporter writing for The London Times decided to do a feature article about me. Hey I rank #1 and own the exact match URL so I must be the guy, right? Well maybe (just don't ask Matt!)...but bonus good deal for me on getting the feature, other than some of the regretful out-of-context quotes that were attributed to me.

More recently, I was interviewed by a reporter from The Register named Cade Metz in When Google Does Evil, an article about the opaque world of AdWords. In the article I was referenced as a search marketing consultant, and the link points to

Had that site not ranked for hundreds of AdWords related queries I would not have been asked to do the interview. But I just as easily could have moved the best content from that site over to this one. I appreciate the citation, but screwed it up on my end 2 ways

  • wrong site: anytime featured articles from the mainstream media reference you it really helps if they mention your primary brand
  • weak reference point: there are about 100,000 search marketing consultants in the world. As long as thousands of people claim the same thing you do then your claim does not mean as much as it should. Anytime you talk to the media you want to promote a memorable identity. I had an easy identity when I was the author of the SEO Book, but now that I have changed business models I need a new identity statement for the media, and quick!

When you talk to the media do you make sure they reference the correct site? When you talk to the media what title do you claim that seperates you from the rest of your field?

Published: March 19, 2008 by Aaron Wall in marketing


March 19, 2008 - 2:37pm

I haven't been in a situation where the media have personal asked me anything, but relating to that article, do you agree with how Anti-Google the article comes across as?

I understand that Google have made an error with the automated keyword filler-outer thing, but is Adwords really such an evil thing?

March 19, 2008 - 4:18pm

Just read Google's systematic disrespect for copyright found in their guidelines for remote quality raters.

(Scraped Content that is not Spam) Lyrics, poems, ringtones (that the user programs rather than downloads), quotes, and proverbs have no central authority. When you see pages with this content, you cannot judge it to have been copied, and the pages should not be assigned a Spam label. Unfortunately, some content is written specifically for Spam pages and you will not find it on another source.

Although you may be convinced that the intent is to deceive, if the content makes sense and appears original, you will not be able to label such pages Spam.

After Google works out a deal to get that data direct those sites will be referred to as spam.

Google uses spammers to steal and distribute copyright information (and prohibits that theft from being viewed as spam) until they can debase its value and broker a direct deal for the data. Then anything outside of Google with that same data is duplicate and/or spammy.

Those rating documents are far more honest about strategy than anything you will hear come out of an engineer's mouth.

March 19, 2008 - 2:39pm

If you're really looking for a new identity, to be honest I'd recommend steering clear of anything SEO. It's quickly becoming a synonym to 'spammer' and all the negative connotations that go along with that. Maybe you can somehow channel Seth Godin.

March 19, 2008 - 4:11pm

I hear you Peter but I think I have so much tied into the term that it is hard to jump ship at this point, especially after changing my business model. Plus as PPC gets more and more expensive and search increasingly dominates the web I think SEO will become more and more mainstream. Actually it already is quite mainstream...I mean Yahoo! has an in house SEO team, and I was offered the job to head up the Microsoft SEO team.

I often bash the people who bash SEO when they themsleves profit from it too. A common occurence goes like this - a magazine writes an article calling SEO trash, then their in house SEO leader asks me a question about how to do SEO for their site the next day. A bunch of hypocritical garbage honestly.

March 19, 2008 - 5:10pm

Its relative to the type of media. If you are in a WIRED magazine article, you may be an SEO Master or something hip and to the audience.

If you are on the MSNBC show, they may call you something super generic like Internet Marketing Guru.

March 19, 2008 - 5:52pm

You are still the author of SEO Book, it's just not a book anymore. But it's still a brand, so I don't see why are you worried :)

March 19, 2008 - 6:00pm

When I saw the link they gave you, I thought "d'oh"! Especially after I had talked to Cade and he asked for names, so I told him to contact you w/ your gmail address and to check out this site (amazingly he found me before he found you I think). I wonder why that domain got referenced.. kind of strange unless as you say he was doing Google research and running into it that way.

So the question is - what will your new brand be? I tend to agree with Bobby that your brand as The SEO Book is still very powerful. And I like your training and community model here too.

March 19, 2008 - 6:11pm

This is the second post I've read on the web today. Both posts referred to Seth Godin, and the other one wasn't even on a marketing blog! I have read (most?) of Godin's books, and with the exception of one, "All Marketers are Liars," I thought they were nothing more than "blog-quality" (no offense, Aaron) with regurgitated or repackaged content.

While I do occasionally like hearing the blatantly obvious and can derive some value from doing so, the frequency and sheer exuberance Godin bombards us with it is maddening. I have respect for the level of stature he has been able to achieve from a few sub par books,, and being a frequent quote machine with gems like the one in Jan/Feb 2008 Practical e-Commerce, where he got to be featured as #1 out of the Fifty Great Ideas. Great Idea #1: "Make a Promise and Keep It." [Tiny boring paragraph omitted.]

Yes, keeping a promise is an obviously important idea and maybe it was supposed to sound ironic in this day and age. His picture and by-line were bigger than the advice. It's not like he's Confucius or anything. Am I actually supposed to find this helpful or be worthy of the Cover Story..."Fifty Great Ideas!?!??" I think it's pathetic. Why can't Marketing have a Peter Drucker instead of this clown?

I don't get it. What does channeling Seth Godin mean? If it means you can be the next guy that gets rich and famous by telling other people how to get rich and famous by just repeating the one good idea you had peppered with 99% of how everyone told you how to get rich and famous...then yeah...that makes sense, and I'd recommend that business model to anyone who can pull it off.

After all that...I have to apologize because I really didn't stay on the topic thread. Maybe you'll get a few hits for people looking to abuse Seth Godin.

Actually, maybe I'll stick around for a few seconds...

First, congrats on the business model change. I enjoyed the SEO Book. I find your site to be very informative when I get the time. I hope to clear up some time to start using it now that I'm going to be paying for it.

Second, I am considering coming out with some additional websites, too, and it is hard to start figuring out how you want to divvy up your exposure. For example, I think SEO has a bad rap, but I think it is mostly reserved for SEO Companies. I have found that I'm much more successful representing myself as an SEO consultant (or marketing consultant) than trying to push anything through a company. I am told that I get work because I'm sincere, interested in the work, and spend a lot of time educating and consulting. Companies tend to try to lump things together to maximize margin, so then you end up with firms out there who charge say $5,000 to mess around with meta tags and blast your site to 30,000 search engines. They sell features and not benefits.

When people deal with me directly, they choose to trust me - not my industry and not any vague marketing literature.

So, Aaron, I don't think SEO is a problem. You do the thing that is uniquely yours to do. I mean, does a Jesuit say, "you know the Catholic Church has been in the news a lot lately, maybe I'll quit teaching and praying and become an electrical engineer?" They shouldn't! Plus, you are right, you are linked to the term, and most people are always going to use SEO as a synonym for everything Internet Marketing. Why beat your head against the wall trying to shift paradigms and re-educate people.

Now getting back to Seth Godin because he is now shockingly relevant to the points I'm making. Title really doesn't matter. I don't know WHAT Seth Godin is. I do know WHO he is. I guess that's the point. If you find your sweet spot and keep at it long enough, you'll just be Aaron Wall.

March 19, 2008 - 7:36pm

Thanks for that comment. I still like Seth because I think he is a reminder for the importance of clarity and simplicity in messaging. Virtually nobody writes more clearly than he does.

Sounds like to your customers you are a lot like I am to mine, where people trust the person more than whatever is around them. P...
March 19, 2008 - 10:41pm


You will always be tied to SEO, no matter what your future endeavors include. From here on out dude, you'll just get adjectives added to the label (i.e Consultant, Guru, Professional, Hat Color, etc.).

Personally, I think you should continue to brand yourself. By continuing to brand yourself, it will make no difference what label individuals give to you, as all of them will represent you--Aaron Wall.

Just an idea, but you could makeover your personal domain into sort of your corporate landing page (The Aaron Wall Hub), that simply keeps people up to date on what you are doing (from a much more macro level). This would make those quick elevator pitches much easier, "See what I do at" Again, just an idea.

Keep up the good work!


March 21, 2008 - 3:04pm

In your post, you allude that you should have referenced the article to your SEOBook site and not the Search-Marketing site. And then you mention your new business model, with no reference to a related site.

What is your goal? Where do you presently want traffic? What is your preferred brand? How will you monetize it?

Putting those together will help us see how an genius like you works.


March 21, 2008 - 3:34pm

This site is my brand (and baby) and the membership model is the new business model. :)

March 24, 2008 - 4:52pm


Google keeps picking up the text on my homepage and not that of my specific page I have designed that keyword for. The text on my homepage matches exactly that of the title tage of my detailed page. Any ideas what I can do?

March 25, 2008 - 3:25am

That is common if your site is new and/or has few inbound links and/or almost all the links point at the homepage.

Three things that will help you are more links, deep links, and site age.

April 20, 2008 - 1:37am


I too have some blackhat sites and I believe they get a bad wrap...

The word "blackat" doesn't have to mean that what you're doing it bad...

Maybe your bending the rules to some extent, but if given the chance, how many other people would do the same thing?

This is the subject that people don't talk about but "behind closed doors" would execute in a skinny minute!

Your SEO Book is a great resource, which in my opinion is what you're known for, but don't be ashamed because you have "blackhat" techniques.

Dare to push the limits and be on the cutting edge of progress!


April 20, 2008 - 1:45am

This is the subject that people don't talk about but "behind closed doors" would execute in a skinny minute!

Too true. Some of my customers wanted to do shaddier stuff than we thought made sense for their brands. In a competitive marketplace the profit margins often come from pushing the boundaries. :)

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