Google Crackdown on Content Thin Sites Exposes The SEO Myth

Breaking News Update: Let me give you an idea of why I am not a believer in SEO . . . go to Google right now and type in “is paterno guilty” . . . look who comes up first on the first page. This is without SEO and focusing instead on content.

As Google tries to penalize the thinly reported, quick-hit web posts proliferating across the web, Discovery — the Silver Spring, Md., nonfiction-media concern best known as the backer of cable networks including Discovery, TLC and OWN — is putting more emphasis on HowStuffWorks, an operation that tries to marry large-scale content generation with the rules of fact-checked journalism.

from March 10th, 2011 AdAge article “At Discovery, Pushing Back Against the ‘Content Farm,” by Brian Steinberg

The other morning I came across a very interesting article in the AdAge Mediaworks website “At Discovery, Pushing Back Against the ‘Content Farm,” which confirmed a long held belief I have had about the dubious value of Search Engine Optimization “SEO” strategies in terms of driving readers, listeners or viewers (depending on your choice of social mediums) to your site.

My concern with SEO in general  has centered around the fact that the majority of approaches are more focused on creating traffic than they are on delivering valuable information and insight to the community to which the author is trying to connect.  The result of this traffic versus quality content practice is what the article referred to as the thinly reported, quick hit web posts in which catch words or phrases are employed to lure prospective visitors with the promise of delivering something that is newsworthy.  Google, who has for some time struggled with a high percentage of search related links that fail to provide the actual information being sought by its users is, through this latest crackdown, attempting to address the problem of contrived SEO sensitive content that inevitably increases search miss percentages.

An example of an organization that is placing an emphasis on content is Discovery, which through its attempt to blend the influence of its existing and substantial reach through traditional mediums such as television, with the emergence of the citizen journalist, is positioning itself as a leading hybrid media player.  By attracting and cultivating top notch writers through a ready made audience platform, the communications company who’s brands also include well known cable networks such as TLC and OWN, is clearly pursuing a dominant position in a dramatically changing (social) media world.

The quality of content, which is reflected in thoroughly researched articles or posts that offer a unique view on a timely topic, is something that I have always strived to provide through the various PI Social Media Network’s franchises such as this blog, our Internet Radio Shows on Blog Talk Radio, and now the new PI Inquisitive Eye TV Channel.  A perfect example of this is our extensive and exclusive coverage of the William Melchert-Dinkel case, in which the Serial Suicide Killer as I have dubbed him is facing trial for his role in the Internet Suicides of Canadian Nadia Kajouji and UK resident Mark Drybrough.

Leveraging all of the social mediums at our disposal we have, according to audience feedback, succeeded in providing the most comprehensive and informative coverage available anywhere in either the virtual or traditional media realms.  This includes breaking exclusive stories such as the reaction of the mother of one of Melchert-Dinkel’s victims, to the trail judge’s denial of several key defense motions.

Suffice to say, the payoff in terms of audience growth has been tremendous as we now have a significant global reach each month through our collective network of 10 blogs, 2 radio programs and 1 television show.  What is worth noting is that we accomplished what we have to date with virtually no thought as to a definitive SEO strategy.  In short, we placed all of our proverbial marbles in one bag relative to generating and keeping audience interest through effective story selection and an unparalleled research discipline that ensures accuracy of both the related facts and corresponding insights we provide.

The proof as they say is in the search, and by putting our efforts towards building a strong and unique brand around our franchises, see what happens when you type in PI Window on Business in any search engine.  What this shows is that by taking the time to build a solid brand presence you will create a unique social media fingerprint that people will be inclined to follow on a consistent basis.  This is a far more effective strategy for building a sustainable audience than creating content around a series of cleverly crafted search terms.  In fact I would even venture to say that it is virtually impossible to build a sustainable brand through an SEO-centric strategy.

While we still have a ways to go to hit the 12.5 million unique monthly visitor totals of a Discovery, our likelihood of reaching this lofty number sooner, is far greater with the emphasis being placed on content than it is on pursuing a Search Engine Optimization Strategy in which the primary focus is on creating alluring search terms to attract a short term or one-time audience spike.

Those offering quality content to the right, those offering SEO content to the left


2 Responses to “Google Crackdown on Content Thin Sites Exposes The SEO Myth”
  1. jimbouchard says:

    There are ALWAYS schemes for increasing traffic be it on the web, or in the “old” days through coupons and loss leaders. The fact is substantive content ALWAYS trumps any of these gadgets.

    Be patient and build loyalty as Jon has.

    GREAT article and GREAT advice!

    • Thank you, Jim.

      Although the occasional well-placed plug here and there doesn’t hurt, such as mentioning the great content on our 49th Parallel Forum Show on Blog Talk Radio.

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