A girl I was close with in high school wanted to get her nipples pierced. I’d heard some horror stories about nipple piercings and decided that I’d do some research on the topic to try and dissuade her, assuming she’d learn from others’ mistakes. For instance, consider this girl who got her nipple pierced with the wrong diameter equipment, causing her significant pain during the healing period and difficulty rotating the jewelry. My friend still got her piercings, but they were done properly and she healed quickly. To this day, I’m a strong believer in learning from others’ errors and experience. So I’m going to share five stories of credibility failures in the hope of helping you, dear readers, extract some valuable lessons on link worthiness, aka linkability.
- Google recently bought nofollow-free links from Web 3 and others. This, in the midst of telling people not to buy links. What credibility does Google have when they tell webmasters to do one thing and do another?! Lesson: Practice what you preach. Don’t want a market for PageRank passing links? Don’t participate in it.
- Some conversion blogger who submitted a post to the latest Carnival of the Capitalists had a typo in his tagline, asked for people to subscribe to his RSS feed, which was to be found in a non-existent right-hand column on said page (it’s only on his homepage) and clearly had not done much research before emitting an opinion on SEO, as I wrote in my commentary on his carnival submission. How can you advise people on boosting conversions when your own site doesn’t convert? Lesson: Practice what you preach. Get your own site’s conversion processes in order before you tell others how to do it. (On a related note, I encourage you to subscribe to my RSS feed ;). It’s also prominently placed above the fold if you prefer that link.) (While I think nofollow doesn’t makes sense, I realize that it is being used by Google and therefore nofollowed the link to his page to avoid “voting” for it. I still included him in the carnival because if you replace “SEO” and “PPC” in his title with 1-page-sales-letter-ClickBank-affiliates, his argument might make sense.)
- I was intrigued by the Website SEO Grader tool advertised on Copyblogger, so I clicked their banner. The link to the homepage with the anchor text “free SEO tool” uses the filename in the link (see Brent Payne‘s item at Youmoz on why linking to homepages using filenames is a practice to be avoided). Their reports consider the usage of keywords meta tag as a factor in scoring a site’s SEO. Their report on the top 20 blogs links to Problogger.com (the site is at Problogge.net; the .com used to be parked, but has since been bought and redirected to Problogger.net). They cite Wikipedia (!) for an explanation of PageRank. (Hey, at least that’s better than citing the PageRank as “voting” theory. Zing!) Lesson: Make sure your claims of expertise are well-grounded before seeking to influence/teach others. People will call you out in public if you make baseless claims. Like this criticism of Network Solutions’ SEO, which calls out Network Solutions’ guaranteed rankings.
- Someone at Sphinn recently submitted an item paraphrasing a post of Carl Ocab‘s (Carl is a 14-year-old webmaster from the Philippines.) The paraphrasing was crummy. I had no interest in checking out Carl’s site because it sounded like he was being followed by a dork. (Which was a mistake; anyone who can rank top 20 on Ask for make money online is doing a bloody good job with their SEO.) Lesson: If you’re going to try and constitute social proof, your opinion has to be valued, to begin with. And if you can’t write compelling content, you’re going to have a hell of a time trying to be an influencer whose opinion counts as social proof. On a related note, don’t show off people who lack credibility for your own social proof, if you can avoid it. For instance, I emphasize the fact that Marketing Sherpa cited me in a report (PDF), rather than refer to my relatively unknown clients’ satisfaction.
For further reading, Charles Green’s Trust matters is a great blog for people who want to learn to gain their audiences’ trust and become more influential.