The Back Pain of Search

By Gino Cosme on 2004/10/20

If you've ever suffered from back pain you'll relate to the grief that I discuss in this article. You'll relate even more if your back pain started on the onset of your SEM career. Not surprisingly, mine did.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love this industry. It's entertaining, thought provoking, and challenging. It's an ever-changing industry that keeps me on my toes in constant search of information, knowledge, and new ideas.

But there are some aspects that make me just want to squeal. Most of my rants rest on the shoulders of the SEO kinship. The, often self-proclaimed, gurus and goddesses of the search engine community. The often disbelieving falsities, self propaganda nonsense that many in this industry procreate.

Don't get me wrong. I respect many SEM professionals. The likes of Danny Sullivan, Shari Thurow, Morgan Carey, and Peter da Vanzo - to name but a few. But then there are those, who I'll refrain from naming, who seem to think they are know-it-alls, alluring people to follow their often devious or bandwagon practises, and occasionally belittling those who don't.

What really gets my pain throbbing is the constant battle to find original content from these self-proclaimed "gurus". As you will know, many swear that increasing link popularity is the most important factor in obtaining high search engine placement. Those same experts proclaim that bulking up content is the way to gain link popularity.

"Original, interesting content is what really works. But where has the original content disappeared to?"

I'll take this one step further and say that original, interesting content is what really works. These are the sites that people want to share with friends, families, and colleagues alike. The problem I have with this is quite simple: where has the original content disappeared to?

I cannot remember when last I read an original piece or commentary on the SEO industry? Most of the "content-bulking" copy that I come across is repetition of something said before. "Thesaurusised content" is what I like to call it.

The majority of the population, myself included, don't have the time to sit and read old information. As far as link popularity is concerned, why would someone want to devalue their own site by linking to sites that have similar content? Makes no point at all. Ever noticed that the most populated sites on the Net are those that genuinely have interesting and original information that people find enticing. Isn't that what the gurus mean by "content is king"?

I believe that this "cloned information tendency" that is spreading the Net, like a virus on steroids, is due to a lack of creativity and imagination. The effort of tapping into ones own resources and deciphering ones own opinion of the industry seems daunting to many people. I don't blame people for rather clinging on to the already said like fleas on a dog's coat during the summer months. Fear of the unknown is a risk that very few people wish to take.

I receive a lot of newsletters and RSS feeds from many sources. Of the over 17 hours of reading I do per week, half has been wasted on reading repetitive jumble. Ok, so maybe the wording and style of the jumble is different, but the nuts and crux of what's being said still remains the same. Being the busy person that I am, I don't have time or the inclination to read "old news".

So why am I going on like an anal granny in search of some estrogens? I suppose that I'm just a diehard fan of original content. I like to have a smile in my mind when I finish reading something, either because I've just read something really interesting, or because I can relate to what the author is suggesting.

Just because I want to learn and stay informed on the industry does not mean that I want to be bored either. Nothing gets my natural endorphins running more than entertaining content. The mixture is undeniably a recipe for readership. Readerships means link popularity, and that my dear friends is the only antidote for serious back pain.