Imagine you’re Google for a moment (I accept that’s not an easy challenge!). Your job is to do the “right” job and fairly and wisely and correctly rank web pages from all across the internet on any given search term. What a job!
So you refine, refine, refine and refine some more a funky-as “algorithm” that does that job for you, and as most of us SEO-type people know, you rely pretty heavily on incoming links to determine what pages have what “authority” against a given keyword or phrase…. so far so good.
At one extreme is that category of search terms which has been “SEO-ed to hell”, like:
These are among the kinds of search terms where the SEO companies like to show off their skills, because these terms are either very hard to SEO, or aggressively sought-after, or it’s clear that the top (say) 20 Google results are all backed by explicit and determined SEO work.
But there’s another category of “term” that I’m really concerned about, where bloggers like you and me have a significant and rarely talked about onus of responsibility. These are the terms where someone out their is deserving of a link, because they either deserve to “own” that term in the SERPs, or they have added something significant to the meaning or development of that terms or subject-matter.
Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:
- social media optimization
Rohit Bhargava is rightly credited with coining this term and promoting its use aggressively. So he deserves (I think) the first position in Google, as indeed I think he deserves the link when you and I write this term into a blog post and want to link to somewhere for it. And sure enough, Google gives him that first place of honour. Yay.
- asset based community development
This is an approach to community development made popular by a couple of guys at Northwestern… and sure enough Google honours them with first position. Yay again.
- email spam
First result here goes to Wikipedia. Is that because no-one “owns” that term, so we should default to the Wikipedia entry? Personally, I think the spam.abuse.net site probably deserves more recognition than its current 5th positition. It’s has massive pedigree, age, authority in the industry, etc.
- identity theft
The US Government has the first position on this keyword phrase, an impressively accomplished attorney called Mari Frank has second position and Wikipedia comes in third. My guess is Wikipedia is on the rise here, as it is in most places.
- wearable computer
There are a number of university “labs” dedicated to this subject, most notably MIT’s, and yet Wikipedia holds first position on this term. MIT comes in third at the moment.
OK, so here’s my issue, and it’s to do with the way I suspect most bloggers write posts — not all, just most, including yours truly…
We know it’s good blogging practice to apply links to key terms and phrases we use; we thus enrich our posts with links to content that help the uninformed reader dig deeper… it’s just a good and nice thing to do. But my fear is that as Wikipedia entries “rise to the top” of Google rankings (in particular), bloggers will link to those pages more and more, over and against other, perhaps more deserving pages, because we tend to go for the first result of a Google search when we go looking for someone to link to.
I want to suggest this may be a) laziness and b) ripping off a more deserving (than Wikipedia) website of a link.
My request and challenge is therefore this: in your blogging, as you come across the need for external links to this and that issue/subject/term, please think carefully that you are at that moment making an IMPORTANT decision… you’re ultimately determine the search rankings for those keywords in the search engines! Yes you are!
So please STOP “defaulting” to a Wikipedia entry just because, either:
- you can’t be bothered finding out who else is richly deserving of that link; or
- your habit of finding a link is to grab whatever Google lists at Number One (too often Wikipedia, in my opinion).
As an important aside, I think this “defaulting” to Wikipedia is the world’s most brilliant SEO strategy ever, and I just don’t think it’s deserving of it (that’s a whole other story).
Meanwhile, if you come across Google search results that you think enfairly favour Wikipedia over against a more deserving website or blog, leave a comment linking to that search on Google. Maybe they’ll come over here and have a look