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  • Stop Chasing Traffic – Practice Human Powered SEO

    Image: Catching up by M.Danys.

    While working on an extended review of the new social news community for SEO, SERPd I had a realization. Thus the review will have to wait till next week. First I have something more important to say. Listen up SEO people: Stop chasing traffic!

    On the Web today traffic is a side effect.

    Traffic can not be your goal. Also once you have the traffic it’s just a milestone on your way to conversions and ROI. SEO is complex these days. Depending who you are and who you work for SEO can be anything and everything that makes a business more profitable on the Web.

    SEO may be web development, SEO may be PR, SEO may be usability. We all know that, I hope at least but SEO is also relationships with other people. You know, all those

    • influencers
    • connectors
    • bloggers
    • journalists
    • industry veterans

    ultimately decide who you are and where you are. Of course you can ignore them and do your own thing but it’s far easier to be part of the larger social sphere you belong to in the first place instead of just being a lone ranger.


    SERPd fills in the void Sphinn has left after they discontinued voting. It’s still nascent, sometimes buggy and the design isn’t as polished as one would expect these days. Also SERPd is just a tiny social news community. It may have around 300 members now. This reminds me of course of the early days of Sphinn when I started out there as an enthusiastic contributor.

    Sure, Sphinn has proved be a great targeted traffic source at the end. A frontpage appearance on Sphinn was good enough for a thousand qualified visitors. It never was the main motivation though. The most important thing Sphinn has given me were the relationships with my peers. Living in Germany I haven’t met most of the individuals I converse with online about SEO. So I have to use the Web to be part of the international SEO community. These days I mostly do on Twitter but in the early days om my international blogging career I did mainly on Sphinn and partly on StumbeUpon.

    The sites change but the people are still around.

    They still know me, who I am and what I stand for. I managed to insult some people over the years. They don’t like my anymore. Some people have disappeared altogether. Either they moved on from SEO and social media to something else or they don’t socialize that much anymore online. There is a huge number of people who still there and more people show up all the time.

    It’s how you interact with these people that determines your future SEO success.

    It’s your peers who link to you, it’s the social media users, it’s the professional bloggers.

    It seems that I am the third most active user on SERPd right now, the other two are the people behind the project. I didn’t even try very hard. I just went there and contributed to the budding community. A community is like a garden, you have to plant seeds first to reap later. This post is not about Sphinn or SERPd though. It’s just an example.

    The main point is that you need people. You must go after the people not the traffic.

    Be kind, supportive and part of the community and you will get the links, the traffic and the support in the future. Of course you have to deserve it. You won’t get it without a good blog, great content and some true expertise but being there and being part of the community is crucial.

    When I started out on Sphinn nobody knew me, my blog was new as well and I only had been around some forums. Within a short time frame I managed to get a substantial amount of attention from the industry as well as from a wider audience. Throughout the years I had many other opportunities. I got clients, job offers, software providers ask me to review their tools etc. etc.

    Never underestimate the power of relationships. Stop chasing traffic. Practice human powered SEO. You will be faster by bike than by car during the rush hour to extent the metaphor.

    FOLLOW
    ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    I help people with blogs, social media & search. I help you succeed on the Web. I've been online publishing for 15 years. I started back in 1997.

    10 Responses to “Stop Chasing Traffic – Practice Human Powered SEO”

    1. Good point Tad! Cheers!!

      Too often SEO (or some other semi-tangible within the internet world) is seen as the panacea. These are all means, they are not ends. As you correctly noted, relationships are the ends. Another example, I like to sight is the e-comm obsession with shopping cart abandonment. One, regardless of venue, no one buys everything they look at. The simple fact is, people are going to not buy things. Two, the problem might not be the shopping cart but that marketing is driving on the wrong type of shopper. Three, there are plenty of (poorly designed) sites that should be obsessed with why people aren’t adding anything to begin with.

      I think the bottom line here is, understand your context and how your goals related to that context. Don’t get distracted by irrelevant correlations and over-simplified solutions to what are often multi-vector puzzles.

    2. Frank Strong says:

      This is an excellent point: “SEO is also relationships with other people.” We don’t often think of it that way – SEO gets labeled as technical, but you are right. Nice post!

    3. sasha says:

      I feel like SEO bloggers are frequently writing about this (ironically?). But it really is true, and even if SEO brings in a ton of traffic to a poor website, everyone will simply leave once they realize it. Reaching out to others and giving yourself is the best way to make real connections and generate interest.

    4. IVox says:

      I am always shocked at how people seem to think that by simply buying a link on a directory is supposed to boost their page rank by 5. IT makes as much sense as thinking a classified ad is going to boost your through the door traffic by the hundreds. It takes time and commitment to build quality links that will lead to actual results in the search engines.

    5. we still prefer to deal with those we know and trust. Great post, good points.

    6. Useful article. I do believe SEO should be more concentrated on peer to peer and useful linking between assocuiates as well even though there are limited numbers compared to faceless linking it means getting sites with authority. Im not a fan of these automated linking systems or Indian linkers who can get 1000 links per day from random sites. It should be tactical as opposed to mindless repetitiveness.

    7. Banii says:

      You have a good point. The built relationships can help us to get good traffic not “just traffic”.

    8. SERPD says:

      Stop Chasing Traffic – Practice Human Powered SEO…

      Traffic can not be your goal. Also once you have the traffic it’s just a milestone on your way to conversions and ROI. SEO is complex these days. Depending who you are and who you work for SEO can b……

    9. Lisa says:

      Great post Tad! i am constantly touting the benefits of people. SEO is more about engaging than marketing these days. It’s nice to see more people becoming involved with the community.

    10. Thanks for your great post.I like this very much, please write more about these, wait for your update.

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