What if Matt Cutts told you all his secrets?

On Saturday in Alon Shvut I tend to spend some time schmoozing in the park while my kids play. It’s one of the main reasons I enjoy living here. So yesterday someone asks me about Google’s secrets and how much it would help me if I just knew Google’s secrets.

My answer? Not that much. I don’t think that knowledge is the biggest issue in SEO Success. I feel like we know what needs to be done – getting real sites to talk about our company and products in the correct context – getting links from the right kind of natural sites etc. When we’re not doing these things we are trying to make it look like we did these things. The most interesting information that Matt Cutts and his Webspam team have is probably information on how people are trying to beat the system – all the shtick that people pull etc. But that stuff won’t really get you far because presumably those are the holes they are filling as they become aware. Also you can’t create a long-term business based on using some loopholes.

I don’t feel like there are secrets out there that would help me all that much. I think that SEO’s would probably do better just building their sites and doing everything they can to make them either popular or make it look like they are popular (hint: sometimes it’s easier to actually do something interesting than to pretend to do something interesting…) and leave the chase after Google’s secrets to someone who is bored!

It would be interesting to know what Bing has in store for us – I am personally hoping the after Bing and Yahoo combine there will actually be a significant competitor to Google in the Search Engine space. I never like all my eggs in one basket.

The beetle and the online marketer

SEO BeetleI bike to work when the weather is decent. It’s only 5km but the route is pretty hilly so I get some real exercise on the way.

Today when I was on the last incline before reaching the office – I saw what appeared to be a beetle crossing the road.

In any case I swerved to miss him since President Obama recently showed us that to get the full effect of killing annoying bugs you need to be filmed…

Then I started thinking how if I had run him over I might have effected the whole population of his species in the area. Maybe this bug was destined to mother of millions… True – if this one was dumb enough to cross the road while thousands of her comrades were in the grassy fields – she probably wasn’t the most brilliant of the bunch, but there is a vulnerability when a single event can knock you out completely. Nassim Taleb call’s these unexpected devastating events “Black Swans”. I highly recommend his books on Randomness.

Of course with bugs they have it all worked out – they presumably diversify their activities and locations enough so that one event wont knock out their population completely.

Recently my cell phone website http://www.younevercall.com was penalized by Google, probably for overly aggressive linking and what we now know was a concerted effort to get the site penalized by a much wealthier competing website. (They actually reported their efforts on Twitter – but that has since been removed…)

YouNeverCall was run over by a Google penalty and appears to be in intensive care – possibly to awaken in a few weeks.

Much like the beetle, our company is set up so that that single event does not end our company – though it does have a big effect.

To learn from the beetle would mean:

  1. Stopping to rely on lower quality links and sites to aid in SEO
  2. Expect the unexpected – be prepared for the penalty before it comes
  3. Make logical rather than emotional decisions of what to do when crisis strikes.

I think the last one may be the most important one. At each juncture it makes sense to look at the resources: people, websites, available tactics, etc. and make intelligent decisions about where to go next.

This is the third time that YouNeverCall has suffered a penalty over the past 6 years and each time the website and the business as a whole has come out stronger.

I don’t think that can be said for the beetle.