The Myth of Organic Marketing

Well they got that link because they were the best site out there. That was organic. It is a naive view of marketing to assume that if you are the best people will notice you and people will care. It is not enough to be the need others to say that you are. If anything the web is making most people more driven by self interest - rather than lending a helping hand.

Worse yet, due to the anonymous nature of the web (and other automated technologies), we are bombarded with every type of spam imaginable (auto-dial telemarketing, fakevertising, reverse billing fraud, phishing, bait & switch marketing, etc etc etc) and the people who have distribution are gaining a predisposition that if you contact them out of the blue with anything commercial you are a spammer. Further tools like Twitter pull links off the web graph and make conversations more shallow, limiting the discussion of many complex topics.

Affiliate programs are great for distribution (and whoring fake reviews), but most good affiliates typically target brands that already have their own gravity around them.

Even if you make someone millions of dollars they typically don't want to give a testimonial because they are afraid of creating competition for themselves.

Companies worth over $100 billion dollars - like Google - still need to buy ads and bribe customers for testimonials:

The site has a range of options for letting your company or organization know that you want it to “Go Google,” including things like fliers and pre-populated emails to send out.

And Google is also promising to give away “goodies” each week in August to users who have Gone Google and fill out a Google Doc describing their experience.

Eventually the goal of many forms of marketing is to create something that has enough targeted awareness that it begins to market itself. To become synonymous with a field. Kleenex & Xerox are great examples. But you have to use push marketing, begging, bribery, ass kissing, capital, sweat, blood, luck, and a bit talent to get in that type of position.

You can't be a successful market maker without first being a market manipulator. And even when you get to the top of a market you still have to try to control market perceptions. To get a refund for an Apple iPod that literally blows up you need to sign a confidentiality agreement:

The letter also stated that, in accepting the money, Mr Stanborough was to “agree that you will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential”, and that any breach of confidentiality “may result in Apple seeking injunctive relief, damages and legal costs against the defaulting persons or parties”.

In spite of their strong market positions, Apple and Google are still heavily focused on manipulating public opinion of their products.

And Google's CEO Eric Schmidt sat on Apple's board to avail himself of key information. He sat on that board as Google attempted to clone the iPhone with Gphone, and stayed on it until his company pushed the FCC to go after Apple for blocking the Google Voice app: "Google brought down the disapproving scrutiny of the FCC onto Apple on Friday night, and on Monday morning Schmidt resigned. It is difficult not to make a connection between these two events."

And while Google paints the media as trustworthy, it rarely is. The news corporations do business deals to engage in cross-censorship in an attempt to increase short term corporate profits:

GE is using its control of NBC and MSNBC to ensure that there is no more reporting by Fox of its business activities in Iran or other embarrassing corporate activities, while News Corp. is ensuring that the lies spewed regularly by its top-rated commodity on Fox News are no longer reported by MSNBC. You don't have to agree with the reader's view of the value of this reporting to be highly disturbed that it is being censored.

One of the biggest flaws with the field of SEO is the presumption some people have that there is only 1 right way to do things, everything should be free, marketing should be entirely organic, you have to keep it all above board or you risk losing everything, and other BS pitched by companies trying to minimize and regulate the field.

The bigger risk for most businesses is being too conservative and thus remaining obscure, unknown, and unprofitable.

Published: August 3, 2009 by Aaron Wall in marketing


August 3, 2009 - 2:22pm

All's fair in love and war, right? And make no mistake about it, business is war.

I think that the idea is to strive for being above board and best of breed (product or service) but to keep in mind that you need to experiment with any and all marketing vehicles (particularly in the SEO field) to make sure that you're turning over all stones.

Otherwise, you may wake up to find out that your less-conservative competitor has lapped you.

August 3, 2009 - 5:50pm

Isn't it kind of weird now that Google still use this 1998 method to gauge a website's relevancy and popularity? 99% of links are solicited/organized/bought.

When you do a search in Google you don't see a list of websites based on genuine popularity and relevance, but instead you see a list of websites ranked by the amount of effort they've put into link building. Huge difference.

August 3, 2009 - 9:41pm

While looking at some lower quality general web directories today I noticed that a multi-billion dollar quasi-governmental corporation was submitting to tons of them using targeted anchor text. Not that I have anything wrong with them doing that, but the fact that companies that large and slow moving are already engaged in that really shows how widespread SEO has become.

mark waterfield
August 4, 2009 - 8:05am

Great article with some fine points that are so very true.

There may be crossed wires here but, I am not sure that I agree with your comment that you can't be a successful market maker without first being a market manipulator.

If you do not have a great product ............success will not be achieved and you can not be successful.

Your other comments about getting to the top of the market and you still have to control market perceptions.........
Control of market perception can kill off a company if they do nothing about the problem and just ignore it but hide behind the lawyers.

The American Auto Industry has some great examples in it which are a lesson to everyone.

The Pinto ...........unsafe at any speed...Ouch.

The car Lobby in Washington with gazillions of $'s to help keep the gas guzzlers on the road went up spout.

The foreign small car producers took off as the price of oil went through $120 a barrel........This killed GM.

August 4, 2009 - 11:24am

Hi Mark
I agree with arrogence and an unwillingness to take in feedback as being key reasons for the decline of many companies.

Many people achieve success without great product

  • the banking industry
  • the auto industry
  • the people promoting reverse billing fraud
  • anyone else the government bails out in spite of market feedback valuing them at $0
  • hyped launch junk info products marketed to desperate newbies via affiliate commissioned email spam
  • etc.

I am not suggesting having poor product...just noting that inferior products sometimes make more if they are marketed more aggressively.

August 4, 2009 - 2:15pm

I think every successful marketer can evaluate his product only after it will presented to the market.How to make sure is it good or not? The customer will give you an answer.
Sometimes the product you undervalue can bring you a fortune becoming a bestseller.

August 4, 2009 - 4:49pm

You can also create products that you yourself would want to use and then promote them to the market (Google & Gmail were both this way) but that same line of thinking also lead to Google's Lively that crashed and burned so fast that few people even know what it is.

And there are some things you might just guess wrong no matter what. Market pricing can be tough when you have a wide array of customer types. Like it can seem like people are price sensitive, but if you increase prices maybe you attract another market segment and are more appealing to them.

August 4, 2009 - 2:53pm

I am new to this world. I own two websites - - a pop culture blog - and - a blog/site dedicated to technology in the legal industry.

How does this article apply to me? (See, self-interested!)

No, but I'm so new to this world, I'm not sure how this applies to me. Does it even apply to me? What should some in my position take away from this article?

August 11, 2009 - 11:06am

Just saw your two nice sites. Web design certainly is not your problem. To answer your question about the seo article: why don't you get yourself a Google Ranking Account?

August 4, 2009 - 4:46pm

You might take away that you need to do a lot of push marketing before you can hope on organic or pull marketing to help you. :)

August 4, 2009 - 5:44pm

My formula these days is (1) design for high organic marketing (high conversion rate for people making inbound links) but (2) give it a little (ok, a big) push.

I get results this way that can get pretty scary. The first 6 months to a year is pretty slow, but the competition eventually gets overrun like a steamroller. I've gotten my share of site reviews, but I've always passed.

I've got quite a site generation effort going on, but central to it is a brand building campaign that helps give legitimacy to the effort. Eli's totally wrong when he says your foundation doesn't have to look good: it helps to dress it up in good clothes.

August 4, 2009 - 6:13pm

I also like to publish in areas where I feel it will be easy to market my site rather than have to push uphill fighting for each link. In addition to your 2 steps I also have a 3rd step of keep reinvesting if faster distribution until you have a dominant market position.

I think the early foundation can look pretty bad...but by the time you start getting it some great exposure strong design is a cheap investment that pays for itself many fold.

August 4, 2009 - 11:34pm

Think I have spent too much time in MozTowers, I began to believe linkbait was the only way forward and manual link building was bad. But why should Google penalise you for promoting your business...its YOUR business, it shows passion (unless you obviously spam)!

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