If you look at most of the SEO techniques that are now considered "black hat", they would have been OK and worked well in moderation, but instead they are used, abused, and killed by us, thereby sabotaging our own success. Look at blogging and pinging. It's a great way to drive spiders and it makes sense. However no one wanted to commit to manually blogging and pinging. No one wanted to do it in a realistic way, so we bombarded the free blog servers and bots with all the automated blogs and pings, and we got ourselves where we are now. Another valuable technique, no longer any good to us.
Let me talk specifically about RSS Feeds, Press Releases and Articles and tell you what I think the downfall is there. RSS Feed, it's a great way to stay current. Pull in news that is relevant and comes from different points of view, showing different opinions.
Fabulous! Use a few feeds to enhance the already strong content you have on your site and this tactic should remain long term, to benefit us all. However, what is really happening is people are saying "Great, I don't even have to write content; I'll just pull in feeds and bulk up my site that way" Now you can imagine Google saying, "OK these guys are abusing this technique and trying to fool us - too bad, no more RSS Feeds". And those out there that were using it legitimately are now suffering the loss of this fabulous technique. What is even scarier still, and the reason for this article to begin with is what is happening with Article Syndication - because this one I believe is accidentally being misused and abused. People don't realize the big picture, and therefore aren't considering the future for this technique, and the future for their site.
In order to understand the overuse and abuse of this particular service, you need to understand how it benefits you, and you also need to understand the SPECIFICS of what the engines look for. Perception: Articles provide links to your site. Google likes links.
Score one point for you! Reality: Google likes links that go to various pages on your site, with varying text used as the clickable part of your link (anchor text or hotspot). It is those specifics that people tend to ignore. When you syndicate an article, you send the same article to multiple sources, sometimes even hundreds of sources.
You send the exact same version to each source. That means each link goes to the same page on your site, and has the same anchor text. Not exactly what Google had in mind! The way I see it, it's only a matter of time before Google starts dismissing links from articles as irrelevant. Now: Articles provide a good source of content to enhance your site's existing content. The Future: It's true, they do.
However with all the "scraping" (stealing bits of content from sites online through an automated software and then posting them to your page as text) going on - Google has had to develop a component in their algorithm that determines how old content is, and who was the first publisher of it. Therefore, content from articles is no longer beneficial to you. Even worse, if you syndicate an article that you actually wrote yourself, you are potentially losing the credit for that article -- unless you quickly post it on your site, and wait until it is indexed so Google knows it belongs to you, and then open it up for syndication to the world. Then people can use your content, but you still benefit as the creator of the original content. Most people don't think of that. Sure, they think to post it on their site - but do they wait until its indexed? Not usually, and since article sites are so big and active, they are likely to be spidered first - and then the article site will get credit as the first source to use the content and therefore the owner or creator.
Good: Press Releases are a great way to get news out there, throw in some links and you have built in link popularity with media sites, which are typically high PR. Not Good: People are sending our press releases every time they make a move. Is it really news worthy that you acquired a new client, or that you completed a project for a client? No, not really. However, the real news worthy items get lost in the mass numbers of press releases floating around each and every day. With a little bit of restraint and strategy, we could use these to our benefit without over using them, and driving that strategy into the ground. Stay tuned for the next article in this series: Stop Sabotaging Your Success.
Real Strategies to Implement Now. So, the take-away here: Be careful - even the people with the best intentions can sometimes accidentally run a technique into the ground. Work with someone that sees the big picture and is willing to work a little bit harder, and wait just a little bit longer for results. They end up the ultimate winner, with rankings they can hold on to.
They don't have to live in fear of the death of the next hottest trend. What if you follow the rules, but others don't, and the strategy still gets used and abused? I know, it is possible. However, if everyone decides not to stand for it, and takes action to prevent the misuse of techniques, we'll come a long way towards being where we need to be. So, spread the word - and decide today that your SEO techniques have to work for your future success and not against it.
Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing and co-owner of http://www.EcomBuffet.com Since 1998, her expertise in online marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue and achieve their business goals. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on Search Engine Optimization and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications.