Think Relationships not Technology


After Matt Cutts’ disclosure that PageRank sculpting support has been discontinued many SEO practitioners struggle with the issue of links in comments or from User Generated Content (UGC) in general draining their PageRank again.

Matt Cutts says that good (non-spammy) outgoing links are a positive ranking factor but few people notice or care.

SEOs are still stuck in the past.

Moreover they focus on technology not conversation. It should be the other way around:

To succeed in a post Web 2.0 environment, where the social web is all-encompassing, self-evident and taken for granted you need to focus on the human factor of SEO.

Some people already argue that the E in SEO stands for experience not engine anymore. Face the facts:

  • SEO is about humans not robots.
  • SEO is about humans not tools.
  • SEO is about users not Google.

SEO is about conversation not technology. It’s even more than that, it’s about relationships. Soon this blog will be two years old. The people I “met” online back then when I started are mostly still around and I’m part of their virtual sphere. I can be silent for a while or they might have stopped blogging in the meantime but all the time the number of my friends online is growing. Having a link means having a relationship with another human being who edits a website.

Web 2.0 allows everybody to link in a plethora of ways. You can bookmark, vote, tweet whatever, you spread the news and good resources via a myriad of channels. The channels change, it’s Friendster one day MySpace the next and Facebook a day later. The relationships stay and the links to other people stay as well. Unless you think robots, tools and Google. They can dump or ban you anytime. People can as well, but they usually don’t out of the blue. Even if they do on the Web you won’t lose 2/3 of your revenue over night.

So make sure you listen to the right people in the conversation. Then make sure to connect with them, forge a relationship, create a link.

The HTML link that shows up on your website is just a manifestation of the real link between two individuals, the person who links and the person who is linked to.

What does this mean for blog comments? I don’t care if you just link your microsite which is unrelated to my blog as long as the link between us is a real and valuable one. It will pay off for both of us, sooner or later, no matter what the robots, tools or Google have to “say”.

The only thing you must care about now more than ever considering blog comments and likewise UGC elsewhere is the quality of links. With WordPress blogs it’s easy:

  • Moderate comments with links
  • Moderate all comments on posts older than a week
  • Do not allow links to empty pages, deep links (unless they’re relevant) and gambling/NSFW pages

Most of these things are common sense and have been practised by most bloggers already. Also make sure to use one of the many dofollow plugins until WordPress removes the obsolete “nofollow attribute” from the default WordPress package. Using nofollow you hurt both your site and your commenters sites.

For people who want to switch off comments altogether: Why are you on the Web? The Web is about sharing or at least offering information. Consider this: Everything you publish and share might empower others and hurt you so either you risk that and reap the benefits or you go offline, no need for a website then.

Think relationships not technology and no single tweak, small or big, from Google or any other site can hurt you. Stay connected to your peers throughout the many platforms and using all the upcoming tools and never forget what really counts.

All you need is link love!


* Links is a Creative Commons image by Ravages.

** Link is a Creative Commons image by fotorita.