Interview With Aaron Wall from SEOBook.com – SEO Legend

Aaron Wall is a well known SEO personality, while he is still “relatively” new compared to the likes of DaveN or Greg Boser, he has made a huge impression in the SEO and Internet Marketing world. His skills can only be described as outstanding. He’s one of the kindest people I know in this industry and has helped many fledgling SEO’s get on their feet without asking for anything in return. His new venture is a community and a training programme where you can speak to him directly and get virtually unlimited help.

 

Where do you see SEO taking us? What does the future have in store for SEO?

I think SEO is just becoming a subset of marketing…an important one, but just a piece of the whole picture. As the web grows it will grow more efficient. The ability to make a lot of money from mechanical SEO will become scarce. But at the same time the web will keep evolving, with new publishing formats and more social structure data, which will create new opportunities for creative individuals who can compete with others on a marketing front while also seeing the web through the lens of a search engine.

Many large corporations or web-related businesses have in-house SEO departments. Do you see this as an increasing trend? Maybe eventually, an in-house SEO department will become the norm?

One of our SEO training modules talks about how language in an industry can evolve. I used the SEO industry as an example because it is one I know well. In the last year or two the term SEO training went from being a low volume search term to a phrase that gets almost as much search volume as my brand does – which is especially impressive growth when considering that my brand is also a strong generic category keyword.

The people looking for SEO training are by their very nature typically in house people. Most of the clients who hire us at Clientside SEM also have an in house team.

It is hard for me to guess at metrics as far as how much in house SEO may grow, but from the people who have hired us, the people in our training program, and the people who bought my ebook I can certainly say that SEO is picking up steam and many offline businesses are getting serious about leveraging their online assets through search.

You’ve previously mentioned that SEO (and SEO business models) do not scale. Do you feel that this will always be the case? Surely as the internet is always changing and throwing new challenges in our paths, SEO might have to learn to scale and adapt to this in some respect?

I think the portion of the search engine marketing world that scales is PPC, which is part of the reason my wife launched PPC Blog. People who are already spending money may look at additional spending as an opportunity at cost savings.

The core reason many prospective customers want SEO is because they want free traffic. Given that line of thinking, most prospective SEO customers are not worth the opportunity cost of engagement when compared with how much you could earn leveraging your knowledge across domains that you own (and I have seen some of your rankings, so I know you know this well!) J

And it is hard to provide something of lasting value without having the market change around you. For example

  • Directories worked well for helping sites rank well. So thousands of general directories sprung up. So Google stripped the PageRank on most of those directories. This process, from market opportunity to death of a market takes at most a few years…and as Google gets better at policing the web the new easy to scale opportunities die quicker.
  • A well known SEO was selling an article submission package for $900, and within a year people in second and third world countries starting selling similar services for about 3% the price he was charging. And as that spread Google eventually decided to kill the PageRank scores on most article directories. That process took a little over a year.

I guess the best way SEOs could scale in a sustainable fashion are

  • Build and market their own websites
  • Create tools that many in house SEOs use (and ideally charge recurring for their usage)
  • Build relationships in a marketplace and act as a vertically oriented public relations firm
  • Engage in deep relationships with businesses where the SEO gets an equity stake and/or a piece of the upside generated through their work

Obviously part of the challenge (and maybe even a hurdle) to becoming a successful SEO is keeping up to date with changes in the Google algorithm. It’s a forever-changing, almost living entity. What wild rides do you feel the algorithm might take us on in the near future?

Unless they get significant blowback Google is going to keep trying to own more and more of the search results (via knoll, YouTube, etc.) trying to own the first click after the search as well.

Many general authority sites have sprung up around the opportunity created by Google placing so much weight on domain authority. I doubt we need eHow, WeHow, and WikiHow, but unless Google goes out of their way to stop it the search results are going to end up full of low quality generalist sites.

There have recently been some big movements based on localization, and that trend will likely only increase in the coming year.

You’ve also said that ad agencies are buying up some of the bigger SEO firms, but have still to totally “get” what search and SEO is about. Eventually though, they’ll come to understand what happens in the world of SEO, because they’ll have to. How do you think they’ll go about it and what do you suppose it’ll mean for SEO when the ad agencies finally “get” it?

Don’t look for innovation from the ad agencies themselves…John Andrews recently wrote a post about a clueless creative agency that offers SEO. Writing on the topic of SEO, that agency gave their take “Many of our clients have spent countless marketing dollars with little success.” In other words, people spending money on SEO that are spending it with them are wasting their money, which leads us to the money quote

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

That quote describes where traditional ad agencies are at right now. They enjoy agency discounts and fat margins on large spends, but their business models are not designed around making lots of small purchases and getting no discount on the media buy.

The other quote that ties in nicely here is from John Wanamaker, “I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted … I just don’t know which half.”

If ad agencies track things too closely they not only see margin compression, but they may also prove to their clients that their high margin business is a net money loser.

With SEO becoming more and more mainstream, newer conferences are popping up all over the place. What’s your opinion on some of the newer conferences and do you think more conferences will benefit SEO awareness and growth of knowledge within the community?

The SEO industry used to be a tight knit community, but as social media has become more popular and too many people have been fighting for too small of a pie the industry has devolved primarily into nothing but a bunch of self promotion and attention whoring.

Some of the conferences might be great for networking, but for people really looking to learn I imagine that seminar formatted learning is probably going to yield greater value transfer to the attendees and higher retention of information.

The marketplace is a competitive one indeed, and I believe you’ve said that most of the public rivalries are “driven by a need for attention in a competitive marketplace instead of SEO businesses trying to beat each other on a one to one basis”. But as time and the media has told us, eventually we might well be led into a situation where big SEO companies are battling it out to become the best, or to have a monopoly in a certain field of SEO, don’t you think?

To some degree Google shapes much of the market competition and helps create monopolies and market leaders. A few examples

  • Why is one link broker penalized such they don’t rank for their official business name when other brokers are not?
  • When I scraped Google rankings on my site, we were blocked from scraping but other competing sites are allowed to. So I had to create a rank checker extension to get around that arbitrary road block.
  • Why are most directories considered spam when Business.com is trusted? They consist mostly of paid listings, and as of about a year ago only had about a half dozen editors managing 65,000 categories.

The war of white hat/black hat is a constantly raging one. With more and more SEOs joining the fray, and having said that many of the better SEOs are “technique agnostic” and are willing to do whatever it takes, what do you think this spells for the future of SEO and how white hat/black hat SEO is done? Also, as an increasing number of techniques are becoming “outlawed”, what are your thoughts regarding the matter of former white hats now being branded black hats simply due to a “law” change?

I think as Google continues to promote their own properties in the search results most SEOs that can see beyond the tip of their own nose will respect Google’s arbitrary changing guidelines less and less.

Relevancy is a game of public relations as much as it is a game of finding the right results to promote. At some point Google goes too far and then people stop trusting them.

Put another way, how can Google try to claim buying and selling links is unethical because they pass PageRank then pollute the web with ads offering things like lonely cheating housewives? In my book Google’s link sales are far sleazier than anything I have ever considered promoting.

Nowadays it’s fair to say that a lot of people purposefully set out to do harm to SEO, either by publically speaking ill of it, or by blogging negatively. With the way that SEO is evolving, what do you think it will take to make them change their tune and properly understand that SEO doesn’t necessarily mean “evil”?

All throughout history established businesses have tried to diminish and vilify new business models and new competing businesses.

On numerous occasions I have read an SEO hate article in the mainstream press, denouncing the field as a bunch of money wasting opportunistic scammers, only to get an email or call from the in house SEO for that publisher asking me an SEO question. The media says SEO is crap while hiring in house SEOs…so they don’t even believe the garbage they are publishing. They are just publishing controversy to pump up their page views.

I think when SEO stops delivering such a strong ROI it will be considered a legitimate business practice.

What do you think the future holds with regards to the evolution of information dissemination? Blogs, media sites such as Digg, and viral marketing are all important parts in getting the message out there, but how do you think these will fare with time? Will sites such as Digg be as important in the future, or will there be newer and better sites, or different methods?

I think as more people get actively involved in blogging and other types of media creation we will become more aware of marketing and media manipulation. This will lead us to be less likely to trust large media organizations and automated filters while we learn to replace these outlets with trusted individuals and small groups we identify with.

Media will get chopped to bits. Google will still be a huge ad network, but most media companies are going to keep seeing marketshare erode as we subscribe to niche publishers.

The Top 10 SEO’s in the World

I always wanted to find out who the best SEO’s thought the Best SEO’s were, I’ve asked around and made a list of the top ten. If you don’t agree with any of the list, please contact the people on it directly:

10. Seth Godin – He may not call himself an SEO but he sure is – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

9.  Dave Naylor – Load mouth, big balls, lovely bloke, knows everyone, everyone wants to know him. – http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk

8. Ralph & Dirk – AKA Fantomaster.com – These guys revolutionised the industry and have forgotten more than you’ll ever know

7. Brett Tabke – Brett built upon Jim’s initial work and commercialised it. Commercial intent and capitalism are the underpinings of SEO and for that Brett should be in this list

6. Bob Massa – Being an effective SEO doesn’t just mean understanding the algorithm inside it, it also means having the balls to “go for it” darn the consequences. No one has gone for it more in the search engines than Bob when he sued Google – http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=2165111 He didn’t win but he definately has testicles the size of watermelons!

5. NFFC – He simply is search and if he doesn’t know the answer he knows someone that will. Who he is, few know, how to get in contact with him, fewer still know  but if you have a large floodlight, can beam an image of Nottingham Forest Football Club’s logo into the sky, he may just come to your rescue.

4. Matt Cutts – I feel confident that if the gamekeeper ever turned poacher he’d have more venison that he’d know what to do with

3. Jason Duke – Where do the top SEOs go for help when they don’t know? Well know you know!

2. Krishna Bharat – Hilltop, nuf said. A bloody god!!! – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna_Bharat

1. Jim Wilson – Jim was to SEO as the Wright brothers were to flight – http://memorial.jimworld.com/legacy/ He is missed!!

** I’ve been told that Jim Wilson was rude mean and spiteful to people new to the industry, again, not my opinion, just what I’ve heard.

I also thought Danny Sullivan, Michael Gray, Greg Boser, Aaron Wall and Todd Friesan deserved a place, they are certainly up there with the best.

Understanding The Main Social Networks

I’ve written this post as many people don’t really understand in great detail as to how each social network works. This post should hopefully give you some insight into how many votes you need to make the “popular” page of a network, how much traffic to expect, and what the result of negative votes are on your story.

Name of Network: Digg
Number of Votes Needed to go Popular: 60 – 300+ on average
Consequence of Negative Vote: Requires more Diggs to become popular. NOTE: One Bury does not cause your story to be removed! You can have a significant amount of “buries” and the story could still go popular.
Expected Traffic: 10,000 to 100,000 UVs
Type of Network: Social News

Name of Network: Stumble
Number of Votes Needed to go Popular: 30 – 40 typically, Reviews and Tags are also important
Consequence of Negative Vote: -1 to overall points
Expected Traffic: 2,000 – 50,000 UVs and the cycle can come again weeks to months later.
Type of Network: Toolbar – random

Name of Network: Propeller
Number of Votes Needed to go Popular: 35+ on average
Consequence of Negative Vote: -1 to overall points
Expected Traffic: 1,000 – 20,000 UVs – Can go to 100,000 if the story goes to news.aol.com
Type of Network: Social News

Name of Network: del.icio.us
Number of Votes Needed to go Popular: More than 120 bookmarks (as fast as you can)
Consequence of Negative Vote: -1 Vote
Expected Traffic: Up to 20,000
Type of Network: Techy, Internet based info, guides

Name of Network: Mixx
Number of Votes Needed to go Popular: 30 – 60
Consequence of Negative Vote: -1 to overall points
Expected Traffic: Less than 100 UVs
Type of Network: Social News

Name of Network: Reddit
Number of Votes Needed to go Popular: 3 – 300+
Consequence of Negative Vote: -1 total points
Expected Traffic: 3,000 – 30,000 UVs
Type of Network: Social News

Name of Network: Yahoo! Buzz
Number of Votes Needed to go Popular: N/A. Popular is Yahoo.com and that is manually selected.
Consequence of Negative Vote: Unknown
Expected Traffic: 1-3 million UVs
Type of Network: Social News

Name of Network: Fark
Number of Votes Needed to go Popular: Admin manually select for Popular
Consequence of Negative Vote: unknown
Expected Traffic: 5,000 to 15,000 UVs
Type of Network: Humor

Name of Network: Ebaumsworld
Number of Votes Needed to go Popular: 30
Expected Traffic: 500-20,000+
Type of Network: Weird, Wacky Stuff, Interesting and Funny Pictures work really well.

99% of Links Don’t Work on Google

If you consider yourself an SEO, then you must know that links = ranking on the search engines. When I first started out, virtually any old crappy link would do. Even FFA links worked okay and got your website ranking well.

However, times have changed, and since 2003 and it has become much harder to rank your site well, especially on Google. This is because Google has changed its search algorithm and is filtering the majority of links.

Google filters out and doesn’t trust the vast majority of links on the Internet, and I estimate this to be as high has 99% of all links. If you’ve been in SEO a while, I’m sure you have tried to broker some bargain deal where a guy in India will do “1000 directory submissions for $50”, only to discover it was the worst $50 you’ve ever spent.

If you want your site to rank, forget about “wholesale” links. These include links from directories, article sites, forums and similar places where you can go and get “a lot of links” without any editorial judgment easily. Even paid links fall into this category, with a high percentage of paid links being filtered out. Even what are deemed as “bulk” links where you can make 3-way link exchanges don’t work very well.

“Mechanical SEO” is almost dead. Where you can churn out a website, get some links and rank well. It’s so much harder to obtain decent rankings on Google, the algo is very SPAM resistant.

However, it is still possible to obtain good links, and the easiest and most cost effective way is through link bait. Linkbaiting can be a hundred times easier than going out and manually tryng to find non-filtered links. A good piece of link bait can generate tens of thousands of links, and can be created in a couple of days.

Need Social Media Success? Don’t Start With Digg

Digg is seen as the “Grand Daddy” or the “Big Kahuna” of Social Media Networks. It has the ability to send an enormous amount of traffic in a given direction.

However, since the major algorithmic update in January, it’s been much harder to get your Digg submissions to the front page. Also, it’s not unusual to see stories in the “upcoming” section with 300 – 400 Diggs and they still don’t hit the front page, and I saw a story today with 1010 Diggs and it was still in “upcoming”! Back in the old days, we could get almost every article onto the front page, now the odds of getting a submission to go “popular” are less than 50%.

Getting your story a significant amount of Diggs is hard work and very time consuming. Preparing an article or piece that you think will work takes hours and hours of tweaking and can cost a considerable amount of money. All that work will be wasted if the story gets buried or expires, which is statistically more than likely to happen.

Even many of the top submitters have stopped submitting to Digg to protect their high “popular” percentage and continue to appear to be successful on Digg.

However, there are many other Social Networks that can generate large amounts of traffic and are much easier to find success with. I’ve listed the top few other networks you should try:

1) reddit.com
2) del.icio.us
3) buzz.yahoo.com
4) stumbleupon.com
5) fark.com
6) Propeller.com

Using these networks, you can generate as much traffic – if not more – than an average front page on Digg. Also, it will require considerably less effort and your failure rate will be far lower than on Digg.

Give it a try, submit ten articles to Digg. If you’re lucky, two of them will become popular and send, say, 40,000 visitors. This is basically just an average number that you’ll probably get for a couple of regular stories becoming popular.

Submit the same ten articles to the other sites, and if you know what you are doing, there is a good chance that you’ll have an 80% success rate. I bet you could get at least 100,000 visitors. Getting a hit on Propeller can net hundreds of thousands of visitors too, so that one certianly shouldn’t be avoided.

I’m not saying forget Digg, just focus your efforts on the other networks, as you can have much greater success for less money, less time, and a lot less heartache.

I’ve had a lot of comments asking why I didn’t put Mixx on the list. Here is the reason: I’ve never had a decent amount of traffic from Mixx, the most being around 1000 visitors. It requires much effort to get your story to the popular section of any network, and your effort is best spent elsewhere.

Google Rankings Highly Unstable

I’ve noticed recently that Google’s rankings are particularly unstable. This has happened before. Previously the rankings went through a period of changing up to twenty times in a single day.

Alas, this volatile period seems to have returned with even more fury. We’re seeing some of our sites on the first page and then another search shows them on page two or three. Never before have I managed to affect the rankings so dramatically by just pressing F5.

 

I noticed a comment posted by Jeremy Luebke on Aaron Walls community forum:

“Forget a daily shuffle, I can hit search and get one SERP, and then hit the button again and get a different set of results. So I am seeing instant shuffling all day long.

Here is another weird thing.

When I talk about a SERP I mean from 1-1000 for each search with it being pages to 10 listings per page. I click search and get a set of SERPs. I click to go to the 2nd page and get a different set of SERPs. In other words, the 2nd page may contain results that where on the first page because the results shuffled between pages. Also results that should have been on the 2nd page are nowhere to be found because the SERP of the 2nd page actually ranks the site on the first page.

This happens logged in or not on 3 different machines & 6 browsers, one of which is my testing box which has never once logged into Google and always clears cookies so this goes way beyond personalization or web history.”

Strange times at the moment, lets hope things become more stable soon.

Quality Content is Not Enough

Want success on the social networks? Everyone tells you to write compelling, quality pieces that will appear to like-minded social users. “Digg Bait” is writing so that it appeals exactly to the “Digg mind” and by doing that you will have massive success on the social networks, including Digg. This statement is only about half correct, quality content is nothing without the promotion.

It doesn’t matter how good the piece that you created is, it just won’t become popular without promoting it correctly throughout the social networks. Try it yourself, spend a whole week creating some study that is tech-related which social geeks (like me) will love. Then submit it to the networks and watch what happens…nothing.

The reason behind that is they are called social networks for a reason and you need a bunch of people to take interest in your story before it will go out and spread into the wider community.
You need to build a list of “friends” that will help give your article a push into “view”. Without enough votes, thumbs up, Diggs, stumbles or whatever, people will not see your creation, and it will be an absolute waste.
Building up a good network of “friends”, takes time and a lot of effort, many of the successful social media marketers I know participate in their networks full time. It’s not something that you can start and then have some success a day later.

Successful social media marketers have put the effort in, consistently and now have their own networks of several hundred to several thousand people. When they submit an article to the social networks, it gets a lot of attention because of their following. An article submitted by an established social media marketer will attract dozens of “votes” without ever even having to ask, this will propel the article into view and it will start to the gain traction organically. From then it will more than likely hit the “popular page” of one or more social networks, attracting tens of thousands of visitors.

On the flip side, the power of an integrated social networker can get an under par article onto the “popular” page of a social network. This is because their loyal following will vote for the story almost habitually and not even consider rating the story negatively. It’s a strange phenomenon, where your loyal followers will support you almost blindly no matter what the quality of your work.

That’s not to say any old garbage will do well, the piece needs to have some good qualities otherwise people outside their network will destroy the article’s chance of success.

The moral of the story: If you want success, build your network. Otherwise, try and convince an active social media marketer with some influence to bump-start your story.

WP Super Cache – An Essential Plugin for Your Blog

I’ve always tried to keep my hosting costs low as possible as it’s a bit of a necessary evil. Hosting costs vary wildly, from $1 a month to several hundred for a small blog like this. Obviously, huge sites can spend millions.

I’ve been through my fair share of hosts and thought I had found the perfect cheap host when someone recommended Hostgator. It’s inexpensive, has 24 hour support and has really amazing up time.

However, even this company let me down eventually. I wrote a post called 10 Google Easter Eggs and spent at least six hours researching, writing, and formatting the post. Then I proceeded to promote it on the various social networks. The article was doing really, really well and two hours after launching the hosting company turned off my hosting. Without ANY warning!

I contacted them straight away and while their online support is good, they didn’t have any power to turn my site back on again, nor could they tell me what the actual problem was. I created a support ticket and and started a dialogue with their support team.

Here was the one of the emails I received back from their support team:

“You have exceeded your cpu quota, by driving system load up almost to 20. Normal system load is less than 10. Your account is starting to cause service outages for other users on the server, and re-instating it will continue to cause slowdowns and problems for other users. With that in mind, what do you feel is fair in this situation?”

Now, all I run is a blog, and who am I to know that their server can’t handle it? More to the point, I don’t know what’s fair? All I want is my blog running and yes, I don’t want other peoples’ sites to go out.

I literally begged for them to turn my site back on, but to no avail. Twenty emails later I got this response:

“The only way to get more CPU resources is to purchase a dedicated server: http://hostgator.com/dedicated.shtml However, there are quite a few things that can be done such as installing WP-SuperCache or another caching system and optimizing the database or using a theme that doesn’t have so many callbacks.”

Now most people know about WP Super Cache but I never thought it was necessary unless you are trying to hit the front page of Digg consistently, or were generating tens of thousands of visitors.

WP-Super Cache generates HTML pages directly from your Apache server instead of generating load-bearing PHP pages. This obviously stops your server from crashing, even if you get a huge amount of traffic, from Digg or somewhere else. Or in my case, I had a theme which was generating too many call backs and loading the server more than usual.

Click the link here to download WP SuperCache, it’s a great system and can save you tons of money and even more importantly, a lot of time and hassle.

10 Google Easter Eggs

An Easter Egg is best described as a message or feature which is hidden in a piece of software, be it a DVD, CD, program, or video game. Below I’ve listed 10 Google-related Easter Eggs in no particular order, they are:

1. It’s been fixed now, but it used to be possible to ask Google Maps for directions from – for example – Providence, Rhode Island (in the US) to Rome in Italy (in Europe) and be told that you would have to swim many thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean in order to get there.

2. Famous photographer-evader Nessie the Loch Ness monster has been spotted just off the coast of Google. If you set your browser to the Beach iGoogle theme and wait until 3:14am, Nessie will surface from the sea for approximately 60 seconds. The rumour is that Google developers wanted to create a tribute to the mathematical quatity Pi (roughly equal to 3.14159). Similar instances that occur at this time on other themes include the Aurora Borealis appearing in the Seasonal Scape, or kitsune (mythical fox spirits common to Japanese folklore) appearing in the Tea House theme.

3. The Google calculator facility can often be a useful tool, but it is not without its fair share of easter eggs. Have a search for the “answer to life the universe and everything” and see what you get. Ever wanted to know the “number of horns on a unicorn”? Try searching for it now, and the calculator will let you know.

4. Ever wanted to momentarily pretend you were Elmer Fudd? Google gives you that chance with Google Elmer Fudd. Further possibilities include Pig Latin and even Klingon.

5. If you open up Picasa – Google’s free image software – and use the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Y, a teddy bear will show up. The more you press it, the more bears will pop up, until they eventually take over the screen.

6. Included in the Spam folder in Google Mail, just above the “Delete” button and where you usually come across advertising spam of some sort, you’ll find various recipes that include Spam as the main ingredient.

7. Hidden within the Google Earth program is a flight simulator. Accessed by pressing Ctrl-Alt-A on the keyboard (or Command-Option-A for Macs), you’re given the chance to try your hand at piloting either a propeller-powered plane or an F16 jet. You’re also given a choice of starting from a number of famous airports. Controls are available, and I recommend you read them, as I crashed even before I’d taken off. Hopefully you’ll fare better, good luck!

8. Google Maps has a tiny character called the Pegman show up whenever you zoom in close enough to experience Google Street Views. Occasionally, depending on the time of year, Google dresses the Pegman up in different costumes. For example, at Halloween he becomes a witch, and at Christmas he becomes a snowman.

9. If you type in “google easter eggs” and hit the”I’m Feeling Lucky” button, you’re treated to a minigame in which you control a rabbit and have to catch eggs which then spell out the word “Google”.

The following isn’t really an easter egg as such, but I thought I’d include it anyway.

10. As part of an April Fool’s joke in 2007, Google decreed that it would be launching Gmail Paper. This system would allow a Gmail user to print their entire account’s worth of emails and have it shipped to them as a hard copy. No amount would be too much, as it was possible to “print one, one thousand, or one hundred thousand of your emails”.

Social Media Marketing – What’s the Point?

Social media marketing is tricky, and a lot of people don’t fully understand the positives and negatives of integrating it into their businesses. I’m going to explain how your website will benefit from embracing social media.

The primary reason we work in social media is to get links. Clean, Google friendly backlinks.  It’s possible to generate thousands of them with a single article, just three hundred words could bring in more than ten thousand links.  Obviously, links bring good rankings on Google and will help your site become an authority site if marketed correctly.

Successfully marketing an article on the social networks also brings traffic, more than you could ever desire. We’ve launched articles that have had almost a million visitors. Unfortunately, the traffic is commercially worthless, you’re going to make almost no sales, get any sign-ups or achieve any direct return.  I’ve only ever heard once of a person making “proper” money from a success on the social networks, and that was just $11,000. 

Social Media success on your blog could also help you gain a few RSS subscribers, but I wouldn’t think it would add them in the hundreds.

Brand exposure is also a factor, however, most social network users don’t like commercial sites and the pages have to be “dressed down” in order for them to work. Hence, negating the “brand exposure” that having millions of visitors might bring.

Social media marketing is a great way to start your viral marketing campaign which again would bring indirect brand awareness. Viral videos have always worked well, and are working particularly well at the moment.

In summary, social media can be of huge benefit, if you realise how to use it to it’s full potential. As a webmaster or business owner, the benefit is indirect, mostly though increased link equity, which will bring the rankings and then the traffic. Using social media to create links is by far the most economical way of increasing your rankings on the search engines, and it is still within Google’s guidelines as an added bonus.