Liz Strauss has a fabulous article over at the Blog Herald entitled The Two Webs: Information or Relationships? I recommend that all Performancing members read it and savor it.
The basic gist of the article is that there are two webs: one structural, the other relational. The structural web is the one that a person considers when doing an analytical measurement (e.g. total links, etc.). Unlike the structural web, the relational web is the one that consists of human relationships.
Human relationships can sometimes be represented by the structural web, and algorithms rely on this sort of representation, but the structural web isn’t good at differentiating structural aspects that indicate true human relationship, as opposed to manipulated structure.
The take home point of the article for me was this: those of us who are ultra-analytical tend to place excessive value in the structural web to the neglect of the relational web. We are prone to doing whatever we can to manipulate the structural web (e.g. buying and selling links), while ignoring the reason the structural web acquired value in the first place.
So why does the structural web have value? Because of the way it has been used to measure human relationships and human interests.
Ok, So what…
Well, after several years on the web, it’s my view that you can ultimately achieve more success at the structural level by focusing on the relational level. Sure, focusing on the structural level is easier on the surface, but in the end, I think it takes more work, more man hours, and is a self-perpetuating monster (buy more links to sell more links).
What can you do
Here’s my tip. Get the attention of high profile bloggers in your niche. That should be your number one focus for the first 12 months of blogging on a site. Screw the SERPS. Screw Google. Screw Yahoo. Screw Live. Well, not really, but don’t pay attention to them. Really. Ignore them altogether.
Instead, make it your only priority for one full year to do whatever it takes to get the attention of at least one high profile blogger in your niche. Spend the 10 hours each week you would have otherwise spent on artificial linkbuilding to 1) write good articles and 2) make insightful comments on blogs in your niche.
A Recipe For Success
Focus all your energy on the following:
1. Write good original articles
2. Link out to other blogs in your niche in *every* post
3. Write articles that provide commentary or opinion on articles from other blogs (include link)
4. Comment your ass off at 3-5 other blogs in your niche (but make the comments snappy and good).
5. Once a month, write a great article that deserves to be emailed to a *great* blogger or two in your niche for critical feedback (what do you think of this article?) – Then send the email(s).
I think that with these 5 steps, you’ll locate yourself definitively within the web of online relationships, and become much more successful than with mindless SEO. Sure, mindless SEO gets you a few visits here and there, but unless you are one of the best there’s a terrible ceiling for what you can achieve by trying to do everything within the structural web.
In fact, even the best SEOs have gotten there, in my view, by networking and getting the right friends at the right time, and this can only happen in the relational web.
So here’s to 2007 becoming the year of relationship building and networking! And here’s to your success!
This article gets to the point: building relationships in much more important than just getting artificial links. I have found a lot more success through relationship building. The attraction to me comes in the fact that relationships can turn into long-term.
Hi Sorry if my articles mislead you. I’m firm believer in whole brain thinking. If you travel my blog you’ll find the phrase head and heart everywhere. I can build spreadsheets with the best of ’em, but if you don’t know the people who are behind the numbers, you’re missing the story. In like manner, if you don’t understand the numbers and how they work, you can’t fully serve your readers. It’s just great business to keep an eye on both sides of the coin.
Relationships are everyone’s business and all business is relationships. When SEO and relationships work together you get a superstar —>>> Darren Rowse, SEO guy and incredible human being.
Thanks Ryan, for noticing and for translating for me.
Not bashing SEO. It’s a more nuanced criticism: SEO to the exclusion of relationship building.
SEO is a good thing when it is done in moderation and proportion. But when it becomes the end-all, be-all to running a site, something has gone wrong.
while we’re at it, here’s another article by Liz on ‘relationship linking’ on Perf.
And why do bloggers keep bashing SEO? Does it give you more power?
I’ll have to admit, though, it’s seems like progress is slower when I’m focusing on the relational level. But you’re right, the relational level is more important and influential than the structural level.
Also, for me, it’s more difficult to succeed with the relational focus, because you really need to create great content to impress other bloggers. And creating great content is probably the hardest part of blogging.