Social Interaction & Advertising Are The Modern Day Search Engine Submission & Link Building

Oct 8th

Years ago (well before I was an SEO, or knew what SEO was) search engine submission was a huge phrase. Only recently has search engine marketing replaced search engine submission in popularity.

Search engine submission was big part of the optimization game when search relevancy algorithms were heavily reliant on meta tags and on the page content. As search got polluted with on the page spam you needed to more than submit to compete for coveted valuable phrases, you had to build signals of trust from other sites. Link building was a requirement.

Many of the links that you could easily "build" have effectively disappeared from the web, through the use of nofollow and Google editing the PageRank of many (perhaps most) web directories. Recently Google removed their recommendations for directory submission and link building when these 2 points disappeared from their guidelines

  • Have other relevant sites link to yours.
  • Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites.

Might their reliance on directories be waning?

Absolutely.

Each additional link created and each additional web page published make Google smarter.

The web is a social network and search engines follow people. Once you think of the web from that perspective you have a HUGE advantage over competitors who are "building" one link at a time.

Google wants those who are well connected (and those who can afford to advertise) to succeed. Thus the evolution of SEO looks like...

  • search engine submission
  • on page optimization
  • link "building"
  • advertising, branding, viral marketing, public relations, & social interaction

Getting the basics right (keyword research, site structure, on page optimization) help make everything else you do more effective. But each day that passes you need a bit more (economic and/or social) capital to compete. What social interactions are built into your site? Why should bloggers write about your business?

Published: October 8, 2008

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Comments

October 8, 2008 - 7:59pm

There was also a graph i saw somewhere that showed Social Media Marketing is becoming more popular than Search Engine Marketing. Can't put my finger on where i saw it.

October 9, 2008 - 6:54pm

I think social interaction and word of mouth recommendations are far more important than search engine rankings for service based businesses, but for those who retail a commodity I would say SEO/SEM is still far more important that the social stuff...though both marketing strategies heavily bleed into each other (and in many cases are heavily reliant on each other).

October 8, 2008 - 11:05pm

Would you suggest to a small business to stop paying for the Yahoo and Business.com directory links? Too soon?

October 9, 2008 - 6:54pm

I am still buying those links...I mean...editorial reviews :)

October 9, 2008 - 1:10am

Just because they no longer recommend submitting to directories doesn't mean they no longer count the links does it? And, do the directory links still carry weight in Yahoo and/or MSN?

October 9, 2008 - 7:04pm

I think they still count, but it is anecdotal evidence of the trend of shifting algorithmic strategy when they remove the recommendation.

And directories still work good with Yahoo! Search and excellent with Live Search.

October 9, 2008 - 10:21pm

Good enough for a poke :)

October 9, 2008 - 2:28am

I think the jury is still out on the link value of good directories like yahoo & business.com. Just stick with the rule of building links for traffic and you can't go wrong.

October 9, 2008 - 7:02pm

I submit most of my sites to the top directories. But increasingly I am trying to figure out ways to leverage other link sources as well.

October 9, 2008 - 12:13pm

Every single presence counts on www as long as it is 'relevant'. So it is not useless to do directory submission – again it should not be over done. If you over do then definitely it is wastage of resources.
Regarding social interaction: The days of one way communication/marketing has gone. To be successful online you will have to interact socially. Blogs, forums, wikis and others carries much more weight than directories submission in modern SEO.

October 9, 2008 - 3:02pm

I'm really getting tired of sounding like a groupie or something, but man, this is a great post!

The trick for me and my agency is to convince our Fortune 1000 clients of this shift before it's too late.

You'd be shocked to hear how many of them simply can't grasp the idea that SEO needs viral/interactive/community content in order to truly succeed.

October 9, 2008 - 6:59pm

Thanks Hugo. Glad you liked it. :)

October 9, 2008 - 4:23pm

(i) I don't see a big surprise here. It's been obvious to me for a long time that the "big directories" are bogus... It seems like the "Open Directory" gets updated about once a decade now, and the only thing that being in the Yahoo directory means is that either (a) your site was around a decade ago, or (b) you're a chump who shelled out $300.

There are a lot of ways you can spend $300 on link building that will give you a better return on investment.

(ii) I take things that Google says about as seriously as the Chinese government. Much like Alan Greenspan, they try to intimidate webmasters by small words and deeds.

Links are always going to help. Link building is always going to help. On the other hand, there's a certain coefficient, let's call it "k", which is the probability that a visitor to the site is going to make a link. There are many fields that are dominated by rather ancient sites that have the benefit of having been around long enough to attract, say, 250,000 natural inbound links. If you're going to beat one of those sites, you need to get "k" high so you can build links faster than they do.

As for SMO, it's an area where people are struggling to get profitability. It's technologically and socially very possible to play social media. Spammers face one big problem, which is that you can't keep things on the front page that don't look like they belong there. SMO audiences are strongly allergic to anything that has a CPM north of $5 -- the audiences are also bad clickers and converters, so a site that has a $2 CPM with search traffic might get more like a 25 cent CPM with social traffic.

The problems can be solved, but they involve the total design of your business. The "average" SEO who wants to promote a small business or throwaway sites to sell Acai can't play the SMO game with the big fish.

October 9, 2008 - 7:01pm

The problems can be solved, but they involve the total design of your business. The "average" SEO who wants to promote a small business or throwaway sites to sell Acai can't play the SMO game with the big fish.

Absolutely. The social aspects need to be thought about and baked into the core of the strategy.

I am glad I was lucky enough to learn SEO long enough ago to give me a foundation to build other marketing knowledge from. Doing SEO today in a mechanical nature would be anything but fun.

October 9, 2008 - 4:50pm

Its interesting that how things that were fire yesterday are ashes now. Social media is something though thats going to stay. The reason is simple - its a way people connect themselves.

Coming to directories. I have written an article on "How Search Engines Treat Links From Directories". I hope this will help SEOBOOK visitors.

October 9, 2008 - 6:57pm

Hi Dilip
There is no requirement to promote your site in every comment you leave on this site. In fact I think most marketing professionals would tell you that it would probably be discouraged unless the site you are commenting on does not really read the comments.

October 9, 2008 - 9:47pm

Aaron, I don't know about you, but I leave mechanical SEO to machines.

Today I was looking at a particular niche where there's an online store that's really a pretty crappy store. They've got some cool products, but I think they think about them the wrong way. They sell stuff for $300 that my AI finds on ebay for $30.

They've got about 8k inlinks -- looking at Yahoo Site Explorer I can see the whole sad story. They've hired a writer who writes a retarded blog (me and my AI are two of the three subscribers to the RSS feed) and writes retarded article marketing articles. Funny enough, they've got a competitor that has 20k inlinks and gets probably 100 times the traffic.

Now, these guys sell expensive stuff, so maybe they can live on the paltry traffic they get. However, I get a feeling that my AI is going to buy up their inventory on ebay eventually...

Moral: thgere's a big difference between "doing SEO" and "connecting to consumers."

October 9, 2008 - 10:19pm

OK, so... I understand the whole "being social" aspect of this. My problem is how do you stay social & sincere on 1000 social media/networking sites? To be active on all of them you would need bots. Or, you could really truly interact on 5-10 of them, and that in itself would turn into a full-time job... Niche oriented social sites... I get that being active on those is easy, they're generally less active though. I don't want to have to be playing around on 10 different Myspace clones all day to be considered relevant...

October 9, 2008 - 10:29pm

My problem is how do you stay social & sincere on 1000 social media/networking sites?

I think the eventual goal for some businesses is to turn your own site into one of the social sites so the activity happens on your site. Of course it depends on your strategy and how competitive your market is. If you look at how much effort I put into this site you could dominate most markets on less than 10% that effort. The credit card site that Bankrate bought for $34 million only had about 2,000 inbound links.

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