The Tragedy of the Blogging Commons

Thinking of buying a course or an e-book promising MASSIVE TRAFFIC!!!?   SEO algorithms change frequently.  Here are things to consider before we jump off into the land of dubious SEO tactics.

I am beginning to doubt that Pinterest is an especially good referrer to anyone’s blogs, despite all the hoopla. Perhaps if you’re targeting recipes, handicrafts or fashion and makeup in your blogs?  I am not sure if  Tailwind can help me (or perhaps, anyone!)  to grow my audience.   I’m keeping an open mind and looking at courses and websites designed to help create a Pinterest marketing strategy.   It’s beginning to feel like a trudge through a snake oil swamp.  Here’s a reflection on what’s important to consider, drawn from my research life on online communities.

This is a reflection drawn from the Daily Word prompt for the word: congregate. 

What is The Tragedy of the Commons?

In “the tragedy of the commons,”  a shared resource (like, say, a bit of public pasture land) is deteriorated to the point of collapse.  This collapse is caused by the decisions of individuals to maximize their capability to exploit it without anything holding them back.  The original discussion by William Foster Lloyd  (see the Wikipedia article on the  tragedy of the commons) is considered a classic, must-read for social scientists.

As a teacher, and an online citizen, the number of dubious marketers out there in my niche causes me to wince–frequently.  As I study SEO and how to build a reputable business online, the number of hucksters and scam artists out there makes my skin crawl.  Gads, who wants to join that team? More and more, I’m convinced that the best role for me is going to be that of consumer watchdog. ARF.

I am not sure if Tailwind is a place where business bloggers congregate or just another fad that’s going to pass on by.  Or if it’s just a meeting of eye-ball herders.

Building a good audience is not the same as herding eyeballs, hoping that numbers alone will mean someone will be deceived into buying baloney.  Creating quality content is the goal.  I’m a bit disturbed by the sense we get that we all have to go into snake oil sales to succeed.  Because that dog don’t hunt, as we say in the South. 

Back in the Olden Days, this kind of chicanery was certainly not new, even then.

The early days of search engine optimization were all about manipulating the keywords. I can’t tell you how many times I would see people putting in words like “sex” and “boobs” into the meta descriptions of content.  These cheesy attempts to get websites higher up in the rankings on search engines are from back in early 2000s. Search engine algorithm creators would get wise to these kinds of “black hat” techniques. This is why the advent of dramatically new search engine algorithm strategies can tank pages that rely on them.

SEO algorithms change all the time

Perhaps you’ve heard about the Panda and Penguin updates of the Google algorithm, which tanked so many websites using black and grey hat SEO techniques. No? Here’s a great post from the Moz blog about how algorithms shift and what really matters.

There are over 600 changes in the Google algorithm every year that go unannounced according to the Moz article.    The algorithms change but the principles remain the same.  Google (and Bing and other search engines) are attempting to police the commons, so that the best content appears at the top.  They want to prevent content developers from gaming the system, so that snake oil and bleah sites don’t tip over the system.

The algorithms are good, but not perfect.  They’re attempting to account for human behaviors: coding and search engine optimization ARE very human behaviors.   It will always be a bit of an arms race.   Humans are devious, creative and crafty beings.  The chances are, however, that those e-books and courses may be promoting black hat and grey hat techniques that are already outdated by changes in the algorithms.   We all want good courses, books and guides.  When I find good things, I will let you know–and when I find lousy material, I may just have to say something. 😉

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I want to be a consumer watch-dog blog for bloggers. 🙂   Because we sure need one.  Even more than one.

 

How to Survive in the World of Changing SEO

Avoid trash-blogging.  Putting in an excessive number of ads that prevent a page from being read-able is already one of the ways a blog gets down-graded.  Other search engines, including Pinterest, will follow suit.  Right now, Pinterest’s algorithms don’t seem to care and some of the Tailwindians are taking advantage of this.  That’s going to change.  Concentrate on serving your audiences and providing value. 

Plug-ins like SEO Yoast can help as their developers keep on top of the little details of algorithmic changes and adjust the plug-in with up-dates accordingly.

Take advantage of WordPress.com as a platform.  WordPress.com statistics are staggering.   The WordPress.com community is enormous.  I’ve gotten the most value from the WordPress.com reader referral and the Business Plan, which generates a noticeable bump in my traffic. I’ve determined for myself that the Business Plan on WordPress.com is better than the self-hosted type of WordPress blog. It seems especially good for a writer who hopes to develop a side-gig in marketing my own writing in the future.

And a note in closing

Keep in mind that the tactics and techniques being marketed to you MAY NOT WORK to build that “massive traffic” they speak of.   Perhaps it worked for the developers of the course or e-book, a few years back.  Things change quickly. If their techniques rely on tricks and black hat secrets, then if they work today, they may not work tomorrow.  Tomorrow comes fast on the Internet.

Keep away from the hucksters and the hard sell operators. I will continue to investigate these things, including Tailwind, to see if there is any secret sauce out there.  I actually pay for stuff and I don’t get anything free. Nor do I want anything free. Don’t buy from marketers who promise AMAZING SECRETS.  Just because someone claims to have the keys to the fame and glory of high traffic doesn’t mean they are telling the truth.  Snake oil salesmen often insult people who appear to be walking away from them.  Stay away from the types who treat you like a “square” or an idiot if you don’t sign up for their newsletter. There are so many jerks online.  That’s what I mean by the problem of the tragedy of the blogging commons. Let’s make them go away.

I believe that many of these expensive courses and resources are parts of the biggest con games on the Internet.  My mission is to help bloggers  figure out how to make passive income without getting hoodwinked and conned.  Also, just as importantly, how to grow a viable, sustainable business.

I’m continuing my research on Pinterest and Tailwind — which I think will take many months.  And probably I’ll try out a course or two.  When I find something worthwhile, I’ll let you know.   More on this research as it rolls along. ~ Lola

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Author: Lola

Recovering academic, real-life, honest to cornflakes anthropologist (Ph.D. and fieldwork and everything), tech-head and social media researcher.

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