Reading More Isn’t Always Better

While the SEO world is abuzz with the latest gossip from SES San Jose and revelations such as Google’s roll-out of overlay ads on select YouTube video channels, the article that really caught my eye today was BlogStorm’s rather direly titled “Are Webmaster Forums Killing SEO?” Basically, Patrick poses the argument that the disinformation and signal/noise ratio of webmaster forums is degrading the quality of SEO advice on the ‘net and leading some webmasters to do “marketing like its 2003.” His solution? Steer away from forums and stick to the blogs when researching SEO tactics.

While we all should know on a gut-level what we read on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt, many of us still seem to have an innate trust to what we read, especially when it’s from an ostensible “expert” who is able to back up their claims with what at least appears to be some pretty solid results. Despite the reality that the tactics have long fallen out of favor, there’s no shortage of places that will suggest reciprocal linking, low quality directories, and keyword stuffing as the key steps to an effective internet marketing strategy.

I’d have to argue that there’s a fair amount of trash to be found on SEO blogs, as well, though. There’s certainly no shortage of high-level dialogue and engaging discussion — from SEOmoz to Copyblogger, Lorelle to Aaron Wall and John Battelle, and of course “the horse’s mouth” with Matt Cutts — but equally so, there are droves of low-quality, spammy, misleading blogs that are more interested in the traffic you bring to their AdSense ads than the misinformation you leave with. If you’re serious about your business succeeding on the web, then don’t trust what you read on the internet!

Even when experts share what they believe is the truth based on their professional experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is “the” Truth. After all, there are just too many factors involved in search engine rankings for anyone (even the Google engineers) to pretend they know everything, and anyone that makes out that they do is either crazy, lying, or both. The best bet is to read it all, discard it all, try some things, and make up your own mind. And while it’s fine to test the waters with some experimental sites to see what works (we do it all the time), don’t do it with your company site! You wouldn’t read a couple comments from the internet, muck about on your car a bit, and then take off driving down the road — so why would you do the same for a critical aspect of your business?

When it comes to developing a comprehensive, effective strategy for marketing your business, it makes sense to hire internet marketing experts. The corollary of this is, when you do hire internet marketing experts, don’t spend ten minutes reading whatever you can find on the internet and use that information to discount everything those experts have ever told you. After all, that guy on the internet has no vested interest in your success, online or offline.