As a ‘blogger, the flow of traffic I receive is either ‘natural’ (web directories, search engines, other ‘blogs), or it’s from Social Media venues (StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit et cetera). But given how Social Media is maturing as a legitimate marketing method, why is the traffic it generates deemed unnatural?
Much has been said recently about the natural link growth of a ‘blog or website, and how the unnatural spiky surges in traffic to a ‘blog and the links they generate are less favourable than more gradual back-links:
“Dave Naylor hinted that he believed that Google is looking at how natural a site’s link growth profile looks like, and discounting many of the rapid growth spikes if they are not followed up by an increased baseline link growth rate.”
Assuming this is the case, I find this thinking highly hypocritical.
If so-called ‘linkbait’ is the tool of choice for seasoned marketeers, whipping up a frenzy around a service or a product to generate buzz, is that bad? Would it be preferable for these guys to buy banner adverts to drive web traffic instead?
Surely, if I piled a load of money into a Google AdWords campaign and generated the same amount of buzz, would I then be penalized by Google?
I very much doubt.
Natural linking selection
So if it is a question of generating quality back-links to your on-line marketing campaign — be it paid-for or driven by Social Media — let’s take this a step further, shall we?
If your ‘blog or website gets nothing more than a load of really low quality back-links, why would the likes of Google feel the need to hand-edit the article in question and knock it out of their index, or remove a PageRank point or two?
After all, links being the web currency of choice, poor quality back-links do not equate to a high ranking with any search engine, so the penalty is entirely self-regulating, surely?
And what if your on-line marketing campaign is a success? Chances are, you’ll start to generate incidental traffic to your content, probably driven by people sending emails to friends, family and colleagues, or from the main-stream media.
When this happens, the indicators are clear; the content behind your campaign is so strong it’s alive! Does that warrant being penalized? No, that would be very, very wrong.
The problem is, Social Media marketing does get penalized.
Patterns in Social Media
OK, so you have yourself an article, you think it’s great and you have a bunch of friends waiting in the wings, ready to submit and then vote on your content.
You choose your time, then flick the switch and wait. After the initial surge in traffic (probably friends of friends) the traffic dies off, pretty much across the board.
Why? Chances are the article you thought was great was barely average for everyone else. And the same rules apply to the marketeers, too.
This is Social Media democracy in action, baby! And you got the big thumbs down. As have I in the past, and more than once, too.
So how unnatural is natural selection? This is a brave new world, one of UGC (User-Generated Content) and democratized content.