Why Michael Gray Hates SEO Bloggers

Michael Gray recently published a video requesting that SEO bloggers step away from their keyboards and discontinue their posts if they cannot find something of original value to write and instead regurgitate a string of already known pieces of information or updates found on the already widely known websites such Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, Marketing Pilgrim, Threadwatch and others.

Is Michael Gray Correct?
To some extent, absolutely. If all you are doing with your SEO blog is copying SEO headlines from one of the above, prominent SEO news websites, than it probably means you will not get a lot of value out of your SEO blog, as it relates to new traffic, quality conversation and improved readership. Rand Fishkin recently wrote a good post on why blogging in an oversaturated market can become a difficult task in achieving success. Brian Clark continually writes good articles on ways to improve your blog conversations and how to get more subscribers. But they all really touch on one major point: You have to bring something of unique value to the table to achieve success through blogging. The more uniquely valuable your information is, your professional opinions, or possibly the way you deliver your message, the more successful you may become online.

Was The Objective of the Video to Stop New SEO’s from Blogging?
Whenever an SEO starts talking about something online, there are probably a handful of reasons why they are doing it. The reason Michael Gray created and posted that video may have been because he had just gotten fed up with a ton of comment/email spam he received that morning requesting links to his blogroll, for all I know (he didn’t write me to explain his reasoning, but I did get a traffic referral when I added Wolf-Howl to my list of SEO blogs). But I would bet he created the video to generate inbound links. That’s why blogging is so attractive to the SEO community, and why the idea behind it should be attractive to the small business website owner. Good blogging creates buzz, commentary and hopefully, inbound links – which are a key ingredient to search engine rankings. A good blog is essentially a collection of valuable content, similar to what small businesses should be creating to improve their web presence and create an opportunity for inbound links. The difference in blogging is that the creation on inbound links is a integral, almost passive part of the entire process, since everything about good blogging is in creating and contributing to good conversations with other bloggers.

Folks in the SEO industry have been calling this practice “linkbaiting”, or a way to create a compelling piece of material designed to generate inbound links. The “bait” is the actual piece of information. The second part of the process is the “hook” which draws visitors (and hopefully links) to the page. There are many ways to do this, but generally speaking, we’ve classified hook into 5 major themes:

  • News Hooks
  • Contrary Hooks
  • Attack Hooks
  • Resource Hooks
  • Humour Hooks

Performancing.com has a good article describing each “Hook” theme for the creation of Linkbait. The video is an example of an “Attack Hook”, which is designed to bluntly present a point, with the hope of drawing traffic and conversation. This type of hook can be dangerous, but a lot of it depends on the individual who writes it.

How Successful Was The Video?
The short answer to that is that I have no idea, but I do know the following about his blog and that post:

  • My bloglines subscription indicates that 163 other readers subscribe to that specific feed, but that doesn’t mean they all subscribed after that post
  • His Alexa Traffic rank is 5,535, which means there was a fairly good potential for people to see the post and make comments already
  • 43 people commented – meaning it generated a decent amount of conversation on the blog itself.
  • 599 people watched the video on YouTube, as of this morning at around 8:30 AM, of which over 400 of the clicks came directly from the Wolf-Howl website.
  • MSN Search reveals 12 inbound links to the post this morning as well

In analysis, Michael Gray received nearly 600 views of the video, with at least 43 reads of the post on his blog, and at least 12 inbound links to his website, from one piece of content. I know of small businesses that struggle to get 12 inbound links in one quarter.

What Should Small Businesses Take From This Example?
You don’t have to create a blog to generate inbound links – but you do need to create compelling content in order to be successful at building your website presence. The most practical piece of linkbait small business website owners can create are “Resource Hooks“. Give your customers tools, free samples, and/or free information to draw in readers, visitors and inbound links. Provide opportunities for new visitors to stay attached to your content and your website message, through RSS feeds, newsletters and email subscriptions. Wolf-Howl has the advantage of already being prominent in the Search Engine Optimization space, so there is an immediate subscriber base to draw from. When your business or your website is new online, you do not immediately share that characteristic, so get your website information in front of everyone you can, in as many ways as you can, using even the most traditional of marketing communication – business cards, letterhead, email signatures, press releases and/or existing print materials.

I don’t believe that Michael Gray hates SEO Bloggers, but I do believe that the emergence of poorly created SEO resources and SEO blogs creates an opportunity for creative, intelligent leaders in the industry to capitalize on this deficiency. I also believe that through competitive advantage and unique value-add, small businesses can also integrate creative website strategy to generate uniquely valuable content, compelling copy and quality inbound links.


One Response to “Why Michael Gray Hates SEO Bloggers”

  1. Stephen Pitts on March 23rd, 2007 6:23 pm

    I don’t think that anyone wants to read the same thing over and over, and in that respect I agree with Graywolf, however, I think the way it was delivered was very negative in nature. I don’t kid myself and think that I am an A-List blogger, however, I try to uplift others in my posts and focus on what is valuable. I think Michael missed that one. If you just regurgitate information that is available, that is not valuable. However, to think that others don’t have opinions that could be valuable is the wrong approach.

    The easiest way to let others know how you feel is to look to who or what you find valuable and not worry about the rest.

    In the SEO community, everyone has an opinion of what is valuable or not, it is up to the discretion of the reader to adhere to these ideas and at their risk. There is no absolute in SEO, never has, never will. Every website and web page is different. Each require a different approach based upon the vertical and the specific topic.

    I would like to encourage others to research and test some of their own ideas. It is extremely difficult to look at SEO from a theoretical aspect. The web is about building unique information for the masses, if you don’t provide something unique, read more, study more and then publish.

    The Internet is a very powerful media outlet, we all have the power to publish, which is wonderful, but let’s all encourage others to provide value to the community through uplifting and nurturing. Or, vote with your feet, I do!