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Echo Chambers

24 February 2005

SEO Forums

There are more than I can count. They all tend to have a lifetime which they build up and then turn south.

Each new forum is supposed to be the new best thing, but developing a community is hard. The more value that is created the more noise will be attracted to it.

Most forum systems seem not to be able to adequately profit contributors enough to sustain a large loyal user base without simultaneously attracting trolls.

When regarding the user space of a community as the commons forums tend to have an unmanageable entropy about them.

Blogs have also cut into the forum market. Now people can pick from amongst over 100 channels on the same topic while getting almost all signal with virtually no noise.

SEO Blogs

Due to less interaction than forums and more competing sites its rather hard to create a successful SEO Blog today.

In the blog world, or any social space, you tend to run into a few people who find most of the new or interesting news and many people who just help build the echo chamber.

Obviously most people who write that would think that they are not part of the latter, but often, exceptionally often actually, I feel unoriginal or bored with most things I do. Then again that is likely part of what helps me do well.

Its always good to reference most of your sources, but if you are at the tail end of a network then your are parsing your site value to the source sites, which is only growing stronger with each and every link.

It is somewhat hard just to jump into the market and do well though. You need to make many incremental improvements to help boost you along.

Compiling the Whole

Within the SEO space many blogs tend to work better than forums because the questions on forums tend to be similar and the lack of social interaction space (or controlled action) by a single or few posters creating the lead stories for conversations tends to take away the commons.

Similar to each forum the web as a whole is a community. Flame wars are a bit less common across the web than within any particular community, but people still tend to follow some of the patterns that anonymous or semi anonymous communication allows. They also tend to follow patterns set forth in the "real world."

Leaders, Followers, & Other Minion

People tend to elect leaders just like they do in the real world. Most people do not like to have to think and most ideas are not all that original.

Often the first person in any space, or the first person to coin a new word gets to own that market space and build upon that brand to create a force that is hard to beat.

As time passes people join these markets and they become more competitive. It is what drives content quality, what drives ad networks, and what drives the internet economy. And it happens much faster than in the real world.

When I created my site Overture showed 0 search volume for "SEO Book" and now the term goes for over a dollar a click on Overture and AdWords.

Half Life

Within any community you can only be a leader for so long before burnout strikes or you lose touch with reality. People still tend to push prior market leaders because as they start they are more inclined to run into "the experts" and thus the experts are more inclined to keep their status. Their continued success drives them even further from reality.

Eventually their reality is so far off base that people call them out on it.

Getting Published

I have had a friend who was far more popular than I get denied the opportunity to write articles for sites based on the fact that people did not know who he was.

While they were a topical publishing site and while his articles were good they did not even care to look at his work before telling him that they were not interested.

From what I have seen the single biggest difference between success and failure on the web is syndication.

Learning

I have had the opportunity to meet or talk to guys like JasonD, LittleMan, NFFC, and DaveN. I recognize that on the technical front there are guys who are going to know more than me.

While stating random forum names may sound weird the forum names people use actually can become a large part of their brand.

Most of the names listed above are people who got into SEO years before I even knew what a search engine was. I also think most of them were well known in large part from their contributions to WebmasterWorld.

While I did acquire one of my first customers from the help wanted section I generally did not spend much time trying to build brand or learn from the largest networks because the noise was so overwhelming and there was so much information that I would have had little chance to succeed.

Rising through the Echo Chamber

The competition in some markets is so high that if you are not exceptionally creative or technologically gifted you will have to work an insane amount of hours to do well (that's what I did). That or look to approach your topic from a unique angle.

The trick is to somehow find a way to offer people a greater signal to noise ratio or create a system which enables them to do that. Google did it, Slashdot did it, etc.

We can emulate the actions of these large organizations on personal levels. You can do that by consuming vast amounts of data or by creating systems that intelligently reorganize it for others.

The trick is to add something to it. Even if you are unsure of where you can or should start you can go to a local community on a topic (or a few related topics) and look at the common recurring problems. Create more elegant or better answers than what the market currently provides.

Losing Credibility

Just like most bands and most book authors eventually most websites and web authors will eventually run out of things to say.

Once people start to believe anything they say or write and feel they deserve any success they have seen they lose their edge. People become focused on mind share and put themselves ahead of their website users.

They create add on products which may not be the best on the market and overcharge for them. They become less honest and their value erodes. Suddenly they become the noise they once replaced. Then someone replaces them.

Starting From Scratch

Would I want to start from scratch today with no money? No way.

When you first start out you have to work way harder than others just to barely get by.

Starting out from scratch may make you more efficient in the longrun though since you can not afford as much fat in your system as other established businesses have.

Within SEO

When starting a new it is better to do well in a few smaller markets than to try to dominate a larger one. It is also easier to get noticed by participating in small communities and small networks.

You can leach off of various sites to help build your brand without being committed to the full level of commitment that the larger sites would require just to get noticed. Additionally this helps you learn things at a slower pace, which makes information easier to digest.

Few people push SEO from a social angle, even though the web is a huge social network. To worry primarily about machines that aim to emulate users and forget the users they are trying to emulate and those web users who will make you successful seems a bit absurd.

Links are just citations though. Being original, funny, useful, or different helps to build them. Saving people time or creating value builds a huge amount of links.

Off the start you will have to work harder than the leaders in your field, but there is not much difference between making $10,000 and $100,000 a year on the web.

The beauty of the echo chamber is that when you get lots of support from within your community people outside of it will also find you and help market you free of charge.

If you read, write, and learn enough market opportunities will find you.

If you spend a thousand hours saving a million people an hour each there is probably a way to attach a business model to that idea. And people will help you do so.

by Aaron Wall of Search Marketing Info

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This article may be syndicated in whole are part. Simply provide a link back to the original article or http://www.search-marketing.info. Please note that I do not usually update articles over time and the date last modified on article pages is usually referring to a navigational change.

 

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