I just read an excellent article by Jack Humphrey: Social Marketing Is Here To Stay. It’s a brilliant “State of the Web” address that is well worth the read.
Jack talks about how the internet is constantly evolving (well duh! but apparently some people just don’t get it) and how the marketing methods that we used to use have become largely ineffective. There is a huge paradigm shift needed for those of us who started in the “old school”, using methods such as “google cash”, putting up adsense sites without caring too much about the content, free-for-all link farms (my gosh, I can’t believe we thought that would work!), etc.
People want great quality content, and so they should! Who wants to do a search on Google and the top 10 results are all “filler sites”? If you are looking for information, you should get information. If you are looking for nonsense… well there are plenty of places to look for that, but why waste your time. People want to be entertained and/or educated. That’s why web 2.0 is so popular. A recent Comscore survey of US internet users (January 2008) found that people in the US spent over 200 minutes per person *ON AVERAGE* in January 2008 watching online videos. Why did they do that? Entertainment. Information. Education.
SEO works and works extremely well, but not using the methods that we used years ago. You have to have good content or you’ll just be a “flash in the pan”. Sure black hat can work… for the short term. But if you want long term results, if you want to be a “player” or “authority” in your niche, you can’t go past great quality content. You have to use “white hat” SEO methods (and/or head to the relatively unexplored Web 2.0 fields).
Give the people what they want… your market/audience/clients will reward you for it.