I was browsing the new posts list of one of the busier seo forums this morning when a title caught my eye. The poster was asking if it were true that a certain technique/tactic got results.
It was true, but it's also one of the dirtier, more tightly held secrets out there at the moment and until then, as far as I know, had not been exposed to the masses. So im in a dillema: Do i go straight to Threadwatch and post it as the grade A information it was or...
Follow the title link above for the full post.
I ummed and ahhed for about 3secs before sending the poster a polite pm asking him if he would remove his post in exchange for finding out how that technique actually worked and what the deal was. He was cool about it and I kept my promise.
Tough decision, if I came back here with it a lot of folks would have been very happy, but equally a lot of folks would have branded me for the devil i beleive I would have been for killing a good trick. The fact is that should that little secret become common knowledge, the SE's would soon do somthing about it and that would ruin a nice little earner for those that have discovered it or have been told about it in private through the seo underground.
I think I did the right thing. It would have made a very cool headline but the usefulness could have been very short lived.
The SEO Underground Network
If there is such a thing im not privvy to it, but it does make for a catchy headline huh? What i mean by seo underground is the way that the good stuff travels.
Most of the real information is either kept for oneself, or passed through email, forum pm systems, closed forums populated by friends that trust eachother or any number of more land-bound means. The good stuff just doesnt get posted out in public.
I was priveleged to be asked if i'd like to join one such small network of trusted friends sometime back and can tell you that a) it's not that uncommon an arrangement and b) i've learnt more their about real seo than i ever have on a forum. I'd encourage any group of friends that regularly chat in some fashion to think about setting up such a network as it's the only way these days of aquiring good information without those nuggets being misused or overused by every tom, dick or harry that happens to read a post on a board.
This isnt anything particularly new or shocking for most. As far as i know these types of arrangements have existed for as long as seo has and have their roots in (gasp, shock, horror!) Freemasonry - For some the very idea of secret groups of seos sharing information is probably horrifying, for others desirable, but for me personally it's just about being mates, and being able to talk about stuff without eavesdroppers.
...and guess what? It Doesn't Scale!
There are quite a few public forums out there that have private forums - areas set aside either for the invited, or those with the cash to join. The problem as i see it, in my admittedly limited experience, is that once you start to top a certain number the information flow dries up. This kind of thing only really works if everyone trusts everyone else and if there is an answer to the scaling problem i've not heard about it, so do let me know :-)
One such example was the wmw supporters forum. Im not certain Brett intended it to be such but when it first launched there was a huge buzz about the good stuff being posted back there. In fact, toolman posted an absolute killer thread entitled "Confessions of an SE Spammer". To say it was an eye opener would be to sell it short, it was a real cracker. But, short lived, the supporters forum over at wmw is a payed system, and as such, anyone can join so unsurprisingly enough GoogleGuy showed up in the thread with just one line: "Interesting thread..." and that was the end of that.
Not knocking the payed model, monetizing a forum is tough from what i've been told (ive never tried it..) and that's a fairly established way of getting some income from signed up members/supporters. It does illustrate the fact that even in situations where the flow of information is semi-closed-in it's still tough to communicate freely and openly with ones peers.
The other way information flows of course is good old face to face, and away from the hubub of sessions and handshaking with the suits, preferably at a bar, information flows plentifuly and freely. Ive only been to the wmw ones, the one in london in 2003 (i think) and then Boston later that year? - London was ideal, all of the talk was at the hotel bar and much was learnt. Boston, a little less, and as the gig began to take a more corporate road i kind of lost interest.
Im looking forward to making the seoroadshow next year, and I know that their are some invite only smaller ones in the UK with no name as I managed to make it to one such gathering this year but, I'd really like to hear where you think the best information is coming from these days....? Is it behind closed doors as I've suggested, is it at conferences, over IM - where?
Oh, and one more thing, if anyone over at the wmw conference happens to tune in here at some point, please tell us how it's going! There's a thread right here that would work just fine :-)