Last week, I was privileged to participate on a panel about blog monetization at the inaugural Family Travel Conference . In my presentation I talked a bit about the different ways to make money with your blog as well as some of the considerations if you decide to go the advertising route, including the advantages of working with an ad network. My fellow panelists were Steve Bookbinder of Digital Media Training, Tim Springstead of Travora (formerly the Travel Ad Network), and moderator Michael Theodore of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
In the Q&A there were a lot of questions about Google and SEO, as Steve had talked a lot about this in his prepared remarks. Now my position on this has remained relatively unchanged for the past 15 years.
You should absolutely optimize your content for search. After all, you do want to be found. Content written for search engines however is not necessarily good for people, whereas smart, compelling content written for people is perfectly acceptable to the search engine. Tweak a bit here and there, use keywords, absolutely. I don’t recommend you make your blog HARDER to find.
But, write for people, not search engines.
And don’t make your business decisions based on whether Google will reward OR penalize your site. Search is only one of the ways your audience finds you.
During the panel the audience and panelists discussed this at some length. One of the examples we discussed was syndicating your work, and whether Google will penalize you if the same post appears in multiple places.
No one knows exactly how Google “does its magic” but if there is proper attribution, usually a link back to the original, Google does not penalize syndicated content. I think its algorithm will get even smarter as time goes on, as it gains more understanding about reputable aggregators/syndicators and slime balls. Syndication is becoming an important business model on the web and Google will (if it hasn’t already) figure out the best ways to distinguish between syndicated content — when my post appears on another site with my permission — and content farms , which steal other people’s copyrighted works.
BUT even if it did not — even if syndicating your content to another online publication WOULD be penalized by the search engine, it still might be the best choice, if that site delivers more traffic or helps you establish your expert reputation. I advised the folks to look at the whole picture, not just one tool, one source of traffic.
Toward the end of the panel, we delved a bit into social promotion —Facebook, Pinterest etc. All the panelists felt that Pinterest would be big in travel, and were in general agreement that one didn’t have to be engaging in all the social sharing sites, just the ones that mattered to your audience (something you’ve all read here more than once!) Then one of my fellow panelists said something to the effect of: he wouldn’t advise the audience to abandon Facebook for Pinterest, to which I replied, “I might,” but never got to circle back and explain what I meant
So conference attendees, if you are wondering what I meant — here’s the gist. Far too often folks (whether bloggers or marketers) equate “having a digital/social marketing strategy’ with having a Google and Facebook strategy. A Twitter strategy. Next everyone will be asking, what’s your Pinterest strategy.
This is like nails on a chalkboard to me. What you need is a marketing strategy, and then you look at the toolkit to figure out which tools are the best ones for the job.
Searching (Google) and sharing (Facebook et al) only matter when there’s something to search for or share. Without content, they are irrelevant. So, focus on your content first. Tell your story.
Because if Facebook, Google and all the rest disappeared tomorrow, you would still have a story.
That’s what matters. And what your readers come for.
- Online Marketing News: Pinterest’s Sneaky Tactics, Keeping Leaders Honest, 100 Million Videos Watched Per Day (toprankblog.com)
- Pinterest quietly profits off its users’ links – Feb. 10, 2012 (exitbusiness.wordpress.com)
- Pinterest: 10 reasons why it will be bigger than Twitter (umpf.co.uk)