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How to Fake Good Content

I like to think of websites as flowers. Now just before you unsubscribe to my feed, de-bookmark my site and thumbs down me on stumble, hear me out. It’s actually a pretty good analogy!

Okay, so I don’t literally think of websites as flowers, but I’m going to roll with this because I think it makes everything a bit more interesting to imagine pretty flowers than Googlebots (what does a Googlebot look like anyway??). I was looking at some SEO forums today and I saw some pretty bad advice being dished out, unfortunately a lot of people were agreeing as well. So I guess this post is really to bust some link building myths and most importantly, give you a perspective where you can make your own link building decisions.

Simplifying things, there are two main things that are measured when looking at link profiles with websites:

Authority
Gaining links from highly ranked powerful sites, will of course pass some of this authority onto your website. Getting some authority links shows your website is trusted and isn’t a pill-popping-phishing-farm.info. Obtaining these kinds of links tends to be tricky, because you generally have nothing to offer these websites and a lot of them will rather just compete with you than help you out, because they are in the dominant position. Google has to be more careful nowadays and use a series of measures to rank websites as there’s a lot of webmasters who are whipping up their own authority real estate and using it to their own ends [insert evil laugh]. While helpful, in competitive market link building, a few big authority links aren’t going to have you sitting #1. So Google also takes close stock of…

Popularity
Link popularity! Diving head first into dangerous PageRank “is it meaningful, is it not”? territory. I’m not even going to touch on that subject, there are a lot of people who’d rank a whole lot better, if only they spent the time they stare at that stupid green bar actually doing some SEO! I really want to talk about Link Profiling.

Link Profiles
To understand how important this is, we’re going to use my wonderful flower analogy. So lets imagine we’re at a flower show and everyone has put their flowers (websites) out on display. The flower judge (Google) is going to come along and rank these flowers in order of how big and well developed they are. Unfortunately, our judge is blind. So he can’t tell how beautiful the flowers are, only how big they are. However, our judge can still judge the show, because he has a clever way of working out how beautiful the flowers are as well.

Since this is a kind of weird flower show, there are some extra rules. Everyone with flowers is allowed to take some of their flower food and give it to what they think are the beautiful flowers in the show to help them grow some more. Naturally, the biggest and most beautiful flowers attract the most food and grow even quicker. However, there are also some small flowers with really nice, um “buds” on them that attract a few people so they get a nice boost too.

So the flower judge goes around and ranks the best flowers as he sees (hawhaw) fit and takes notes on how well everyone is doing. He sees some really bad flowers too, seriously, they’re like f**king twigs and nobody has fed them at all.

Since the flower show as over 100 billion flowers in it, the judge really never gets a rest. He kind of does laps constantly re-ranking flowers, getting minimum wage in his never ending job. So when we get back to our first group of flowers again, everyone has been working hard on growing them. Poor old twig man’s flower is still looking as crap as ever. So twig man walks around the field before the show and picks up all the flower food he can find that other people have dropped. This flower food is a bit rotten, but it’s certainly better than nothing. The food makes his flower grow a lot bigger, but not all that beautiful. “That’s okay” he thinks, “The judge is blind, he can’t see my flower isn’t beautiful and I’ll be sure to win!”.

When re-ranking the flowers, the judge comes twig man’s flower and has a feel and thinks “Well, this is has certainly grown quickly compared to the other 100,000,000,000 flowers in the show. It must be quite a beautiful flower, I’ll rank him a bit higher”. Twig man is dead chuffed and his flower gets 10th position in his flower niche.

Before the judge comes around again, twig man sets off to find more dropped flower food. Crap! There’s nowhere near as much as last time and what is left is really rotten! Still, nobody is feeding twig man’s plant for him, even though it’s a big plant, it’s an ugly plant. So twig man feeds his plant what bits of rotten food he can. When the judge finally returns and examines twig man’s plant again, he thinks “That’s strange. This plant had grown a lot last time I saw it. Now it has hardly grown at all. Almost all of the other plants, when they start to bloom, grow faster month on month. I think this man is cheating…”

..and so twig man of course loses his place in the flower show…

WTF? Can you say that again, without the patronizing story?
Okay, so what we’re describing here (if my little story wasn’t too abstract): flower food is links, the size (authority) of the flower (site) is relevant to how much food (links) it has and how beautiful a flower is describes the quality of it’s content. The amount of flowers in the show is trying to demonstrate how much comparative data Google has at it’s disposal. So, what you may think you can squeeze by, will stand out like a sore thumb when compared to the profiles of millions of other pages in your niche.

Googlebot’s are not human so they really read your content and decide on it’s actual quality. Googlebots rely heavily on links and most importantly, trends in links. The best term I’ve heard used is the “organic bloom” effect, which describes a continued up-surge in links. The theory is; if you write some excellent content, people will link to it, people follow these links, agree it’s good content and link to you as well. This effect is exponential, the more links you have, the more new links you are likely to attract overtime. It can be quite obvious to Google that you have poor content if you try wham 100 top directory links at your site, they get indexed then the following months you get nothing. If you had great content, your website would continue growing.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn into one of those people that says “The best SEO is just write good content”, because that’s not SEO, that’s just writing good content and having a worthwhile website and frankly people that say that are cop outs. There are ways that you can mimic the “organic bloom” effect and make Google think you’ve got the best website in your field.

Which brings me neatly to the crap I saw on an SEO forum today…
A chap was asking how many directories he should submit his site to and if he should outsource the work. He said he had found people offering 500/1000 directory submissions for $200. The advice given to him by the resident “SEO Experts” was “only to submit to the top 50 directories, everything else is a waste of time”.

My outlook is this; a “top” directory is obviously popular and therefore normally has 2 million other links in it, reducing the quality of the link you receive, so although the link will get indexed, it’s still only a directory link at the end of the day. Also, as we just demonstrated what good is having 50 new links just suddenly appear to your website? Guff all.

Yes, small directories may seem like a waste of time, however they also provide this “organic bloom” effect. If you pay $300 for 1,200 directory submissions, you’re guaranteed to get new links indexed every month for absolutely ages. Not to mention the time you’re going to save. If you can find someone with a good reputation to manually do these links for you, it’s worth forking out so you can spend your time working on more advanced tactics.

The organic bloom effect is the exact reason that link laundering and exploiting link velocity works so well. I’ve been approached many times by e-commerce clients asking for help with SEO, because they are in a sticky position with content. People don’t go to e-commerce sites for great content, they skim a variety of sites for research then land on a chosen e-commerce site to buy. Sometimes optimising a page for links/search engines is at the other end of the scale to optimising for purchase conversions.

If you’ve got a site like this and your competition is outranking you just because they’re older and bigger, copying the organic bloom effect can make Google think your site is more beautiful and you’ll have an advantage that your competition didn’t even know existed. That will give them something to think about when their staring at their silver medal!


edit:

Found this search “recommendation” somewhat amusing:

Hehe :)

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26 responses to “How to Fake Good Content”

  • Tinu says:

    I agree with a lot of what you said, especially on the time saving factor. Another point people miss is the point you made about a site that is made to process sales vs a site made to gather leads, etc. Big, big distinction, and the leading reason why one-size-fits-all search Or promotion logic just doesn’t work.

    Comment by Tinu
    July 14th, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

  • George says:

    I knew there was a reason why I left your blog’s feed in my RSS reader though you did not post almost anything for 2 months.

    In another words: Great post !

    Comment by George
    July 14th, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

  • chatmasta says:

    Mark, as many people have told you, you REALLY need to post more, since you’re such a good writer. Great post, great reality check. I loved the flower bit. 😉

    By the way, I’m guessing that “SEO forum” was DP….don’t even bother with that shithole. B/S/T is the only good part of it nowadays.

    Comment by chatmasta
    July 15th, 2007 @ 2:53 am

  • Mark says:

    chatmasta:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence! As I’ve mentioned before, each of these posts takes a couple of hours to do and as you know I don’t monetize this blog in anyway. I just don’t have time to full-time blog! I’ll try my best though!

    Comment by Mark
    July 15th, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

  • markus941 says:

    “what does a Googlebot look like anyway?”

    I’m trying to find out 😉
    http://blog.auinteractive.com/googlebot-competition

    Comment by markus941
    July 15th, 2007 @ 8:13 pm

  • Mark says:

    markus941:

    I already saw your post, which is what made me ask the question. I couldn’t remember where I’d seen the competition though. I’ve edited the post and given you some link love..

    Comment by Mark
    July 15th, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  • Joe says:

    A great analogy! I have always viewed my sites as trees. When each small tree gains a new link I view it as a branch and so on.

    Comment by Joe
    July 16th, 2007 @ 1:20 am

  • TextAdSearch says:

    So basically what you are saying is slowly slowly catchy monkey.

    I like the analogy (I had an image of a googleman at a flower show) but I think I would prefer it if you told it like it was.

    Comment by TextAdSearch
    July 16th, 2007 @ 3:22 pm

  • ozonew4m says:

    Hi.. I hope you dont mind but I would like to add your blog feed to the SEO news section on my website at http://www.ozonew4m.com .

    Comment by ozonew4m
    July 16th, 2007 @ 6:45 pm

  • markus941 says:

    I appreciate the linklove, Mark. I like your style of writing – I’ll have to use your flower analogy next time someone asks me about how it works.

    Comment by markus941
    July 16th, 2007 @ 7:46 pm

  • Mark says:

    ozonew4m:

    Go ahead.. Nice design btw! :)

    Comment by Mark
    July 16th, 2007 @ 8:00 pm

  • Jon Waraas says:

    Hey mark, can you email me your email addy? I want to ask you something :)

    Comment by Jon Waraas
    July 17th, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  • Frances says:

    But doesnt google analyse the dropped flower food? Doesnt it say – loads and loads of directories – thats no good. Lets not rate that site too highly. I dont know the answer. Just read the endless warnings about too many directory links.

    Comment by Frances
    July 18th, 2007 @ 1:01 am

  • Mark says:

    Hey Frances,

    Thanks for your comment. The ideal situation would be to have a constant stream of authority links incoming, but as discussed in the article – getting authority links can be tough, so we are going for the “popularity” side of things. If you haven’t already I would suggest you read the article on link velocity which is linked in the post.

    So, yes directories do lack authority, but en masse they are still definitely worth doing.

    If people warn you about too many directories – laugh in their face. If having lots of directory links harmed you, I would be buying every directory link going and pointing them at my competitors! At the end of the day, a directory is still a genuine link, even if directories nowadays are more for search engines than humans, they really don’t harm you at all.

    Hope that answers your question. Thanks for stopping by!

    Comment by Mark
    July 18th, 2007 @ 1:20 am

  • Linda Jenkinson says:

    Great post Mark. You made me take a new look at directory submissions! Thanks!

    Comment by Linda Jenkinson
    July 18th, 2007 @ 12:21 pm

  • Frances says:

    That did answer my question. But I still wonder, what about new sites – the hardest of all to get links for and the ones that need it most? I wonder if getting loads of directory links over six months would sandbox you for longer or less?

    Comment by Frances
    July 18th, 2007 @ 4:53 pm

  • Chris says:

    Mark,

    If you do decide to add your site to website directories, over what period of time should you submit them?

    Like here on your site, you advertise the 1200 submissions for $200. How many days does it take to complete that? Do you do so many per day? Does it matter how quickly you submit to them all?

    Thanks!

    Comment by Chris
    August 2nd, 2007 @ 10:50 am

  • Anime Girl says:

    I just purchased this service! Please get in touch.

    Cheers,

    Aoleon

    Comment by Anime Girl
    August 10th, 2007 @ 7:56 pm

  • Louiss says:

    Your “flower” is really beautiful. Thanks for your article. :)

    Comment by Louiss
    August 16th, 2007 @ 3:13 pm

  • ecoshopper.net says:

    With these theories it would be bad to get 1200 links at the same time on directories.

    It would be better to space them out and do 100 a month for 12 months, because there is very very difficult to get 1200 a month!

    Comment by ecoshopper.net
    August 28th, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

  • Mark says:

    You can get 1200 directory submissions in a week, no problem if you actually work at it.

    The whole point of this post is that it doesn’t matter that they’re not spaced out because of indexing times.

    Comment by Mark
    August 28th, 2007 @ 2:59 pm

  • Digerati Marketing Making Money With Adult Affiliates The Blackhat Way says:

    […] can I do this? As discussed when we talked about the organic bloom effect, when we build links we are looking at trying to do is get a mix between big authority links and […]

    Comment by Digerati Marketing Making Money With Adult Affiliates The Blackhat Way
    September 23rd, 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  • JohnGore says:

    Thanks for a great site Mark, great tips!

    So if I understand you right, I should submit my BrandNewSite to as many search engines as I can.

    Then I hope google looks at 100 of them in the first week, 100 in the second week, etc…

    Okay. But what if google looks at all the directories in the first week? Then I will suffer just like the stick flower analogy. I wil look like I boomed fast, then suddenly no more growth, and google will take my rank away.

    Please help me understand this.

    Kind regards

    Comment by JohnGore
    February 7th, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

  • Mark says:

    If you do 1,200 directory submissions, due to the nature of links on the web, I’d find it very unlikely that Google spiders all those 1,200 directories out of the billions of other pages in the index – all at once.

    Comment by Mark
    February 7th, 2008 @ 9:22 pm

  • Andres says:

    I purchased slow link building very succesfully in a new website last year, but this year I developed 2 new web sites, the domain of one is 2 years old and the other domain is new. One website with more links and one with the same amount of the first, both where approaching to the top of the SERPS and suddenly they are gone.

    Also, a site in Spanish that used directory links as the primary method to go up was hit.

    I don’t know if this is the end of the directory haven, or it is just a penalty (strange because a 2 year website was hit also), but it looks like Google taking a hit on sites that acquire directory links.

    Comment by Andres
    June 19th, 2008 @ 10:52 am

  • Pinoy says:

    Hi Mark, I found your site very informative. I had an old site with a .net TLD and then decided to use the .com of the domain. I then redirected the .net to .com do you think the links i already have on the .net also count on the .com since I had a 301 redirect on the .net to .com?

    Comment by Pinoy
    March 6th, 2011 @ 2:15 pm