I’ve been reading Outsmarting Google: SEO Secrets to Winning New Business by Evan Bailyn, a new book detailing the brash self-promoter’s secrets of online success. It begins with a bold premise: PageRank, everything Matt Cutts says, and indeed all Google’s official positions regarding SEO are part of a “Google Circus” designed to distract us from the truth about search engine optimization.
That truth, Bailyn says, is that links are all that matter. The quality of your website, the content, the code, the design — unimportant. Your URL, page title, and links are the only factors Google really considers. Oh, and time.
At this point, I can imagine the site owners reading the book feeling very happy. This is so much easier than the things that Matt Cutts or SEO pros like me say you have to do (build a good site, focus on usability and good, original content, develop visibility by being a good citizen of the web). Just use your automatic linkbuilding software to get a bunch of links, and you’re set.
Continue reading. First, you need links from trustworthy sites, and Bailyn recommends that you look at the sites and use their design and content to determine their trustworthiness. Then you email requests for links to all the credible sites whose readers might gain value from your site. (Hint: they’ll check your site for trustworthiness, too, before they decide to link to you.) You should also build content that will encourage others to link to you. “To [attract Google traffic] you need a lot of content and a lot of links… When you’ve got at least 1,500 articles and 20 high-TrustRank links to your website…you begin to see a substantial amount of traffic coming from Google.”
Bailyn goes on to explain why poor quality content won’t do the trick, how a high quality landing page is required for Google Adwords to work well, the importance of being authentic and interesting in social media, and why good design is essential for conversion. In other words, you need to build a good site, focus on usability and good, original content, and develop visibility by being a good citizen of the web.
Okay, so Outsmarting Google doesn’t really contain game-changing secrets. Is it worth reading if you want to make your site perform well online? Sure. The fact that Bailyn has been able to package the same sensible advice the rest of us give people as a system of amazing secrets Google doesn’t want you to know demonstrates his skill at marketing. The book is filled with good, specific advice and practical strategies you can use.
There are case studies, screen shots, and tools you might not know about. There are lesser-known techniques, such as buying old domains or persuading people to let you advertise on their sites, outlined in detail. Bailyn gives you templates for highly persuasive emails that could be a huge help if that doesn’t come naturally to you.
This book is current (some of the “Future of SEO” section is happening now), easy for non-specialists to read, and enjoyable. I’m in favor of working with Google, since I think it’s in their best interests, in my best interests, and in my clients’ best interests, for all of us to work together to provide the best possible user experience for all the users of the web. However, I know that there are lots of folks who see Google as an evil empire, or who just enjoy the thought of outsmarting Google. This book is the white-hat way to get that feeling and also get good results in your online marketing. What’s not to like?