Protesting the Link Economy

I don't know about you, but I've had just about enough of search engines and their ongoing issues with the practice of optimization. In addition, and more importantly perhaps, I've also had just about enough from the SEO community as a whole who seem to perpetually whine, moan and bellyache over the wrongs done to them by the search engines.

So who's really to blame for this current digital state and what can we white hat Web workers do about the whole situation?

The problem - at least as I see it - is that as search engines have become increasingly reliant on advertising revenue, they have less motivation to support those websites that seek organic traffic. As a result, the practice of search engine optimization has been seen in an increasingly more negative light (as the complexities surrounding the practice mount); actually, it was never really seen in a good light, but I digress.

The long list of acceptable practices leveraged by search marketers looking to secure top placement on the organic listings of popular search engines has dwindled. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to find any SEO who can name more than a few that still work, or at least work with any confidence.

Buying links, submitting content to article directories, directory submissions, forum posting and blog commenting - these tactics just aren't as useful as they once were. But why? The reason, my fellow Internet professional is simple. A segment of the Web workers' population ruined these approaches for everyone else. They don't just buy one link from a high-traffic website, they buy hundreds (and don't often adjust the anchor text) on the cheap. They don't write engaging and thought provoking articles for the readers of other blogs, they set up numerous blogs and interlink (dubbed link wheeling), auto-churn some copy, fill the site with ads and hope that they will somehow magically rank for highly competitive search terms and phrases in the pharmaceutical (Viagra and Oxycontin), fashion (Coach purses) and adult verticals.

I've spent a good portion of my professional career (who am I kidding, I've spent all of my professional career) monitoring the tactics and techniques employed by both the white hat and the black hat search engine optimizers. As such, I can, with immense confidence, tell you that the way to gain awareness of your brand and its products (on or off the Web) and ultimately acquire the links that search engines have for so long downplayed as the key to higher rankings, is this: be unique and different, more so than every single one of your competitors.

Should your message not compel others to provide your website with a citation (link) you're doing it wrong. You will have no one to blame but yourself - not Google or Bing, not the competition, but your brand, your company, your enterprise.

Let this serve as a wake-up call. Google and Bing (or any search engine that may emerge in the future) owes the community of Internet professionals nothing when it comes to organic rankings. Their responsibility is to provide the best possible and most engaging experience for users - and that should be the same when it comes to your SEO campaigns.