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I'm not sure if there's etiquette for how long a Google+ post can or should be, but grab your morning coffee. Haha ;-)

In truth I hate pure, unadulterated dependence on those tools…

I personally like SEO tools (I use several of them and use +Raven Tools  like it's going out of style) – but I think of them like I do a nurse (I love nurses, FYI) to a doctor – they're there to gather information on on a site's SEO efforts, but the SEO should be overlooking that data, researching that individual set of data and making their own diagnosis. An SEO tool is supposed to be a diagnostic tool, not the sole source of the diagnosis.

This morning I got an email from a link building company through the Sugarrae contact form…

"I know you are promoting (Found out from their backlinks), not sure if I can advertise in a similar way let me know thanks."

This is a prime example of what happens when you allow a tool to be more than a tool and make the whole diagnosis. I assume that they noticed our Penguin boost (more likely a larger result of a lot of other people's dives) and they ran our site through a tool (they promote tools making things easy on their site). That tool likely (rightfully) told them, that PushFire had a lot of links coming from and the (insert a specific tools back link power rank name) probably put the links from to at the top of the power scores list.

I'll even give them the benefit of the doubt that they clicked through and saw PushFire had a main page "ad" and very prominent links (likely, since they used my contact form to reach me).

What they didn't bother to do was actually, you know, LOOK at those links from +Sugarrae  to +PushFire  and try to understand WHY they were there and how PushFire achieved them. Had they done that, they may not have been surprised to get this response in return…

"Actually, I co-own PushFire and am the CEO, which I'm surprised you also didn't notice from our backlinks."

Had someone been diagnosing our links and rankings manually, they'd have noticed PushFire also had links from speaking bios, clearly attached to myself and the Sugarrae brand.

Now I know that 1. We're on other companies radars and 2. This specific company, while larger, is local to us and 3. Were I an asshole (which I'm not) and believed in outing (which I don't) and liked to report competitors (which I've never done in my life and never will do), I've got a pretty good hunch a portion of their links are paid – and could easily fill out a form making Google aware of it.

The moral of the story? Calculators are nice, but they shouldn't be depended on in place of actually learning how to do math. Especially when this game that we all love to play relies heavily on being able to discern connections, relationships, intent and the correlation between data.


  #SEO #linkbuilding  
Rae Hoffman's profile photoMatthew Shepherd's profile photoMax Minzer's profile photoMatt Vaden's profile photo
AJ Kohn
Amen. Substituting tools for your own critical thinking is a good way to lose your competitive edge.
First, I hope your G+ experiment continues after this week. It is nice to have heartier content like your as part of the experience.

A company might be able to get by with modest organic increases just doing what tools tell them to do. Tools are providing more and better tips. The difference is competing on a national level or against other sites that know what they are doing. 
Automation in link prospecting is fine to broadly identify opportunities but if they had identified your site as a great opportunity that's where the automation should stop. Understanding the person and business behind a website is critical before conducting outreach and trying to build a relationship. Otherwise you end up looking stupid or spammy. A one sentence outreach email... Oh dear!
+Keith Fraley no, I'll still be interacting here. Part of the reason +Sean Dolan challenged me to this is because a big part of why I wasn't active here was because I didn't want to be bothered to learn yet another platform. ;-)

And yes, both myself and their link building company compete on national terms. We took a boost and they took a slight dive (top three to bottom of first page) in the most recent penguin - but I can't say I'm surprised as their link building service blatantly tells you it revolves around "high quality networks". #SMH  

+Matthew Shepherd I actually didn't super mind the short outreach - I appreciate when folks don't send me a book. It's just that no form of outreach should have been sent from this company to me. I'm a direct competitor and asking me for promotional opportunities was comical to me, regardless of the tactic to open that line of communication.
Yep, they didn't do their homework. I rarely send one line emails as I like to show that I have done my homework, but that can usually be done in less than a paragraph.

Glad you are giving G+ a shot. Keep it up +Rae Hoffman  :)
+Rae Hoffman , no worries, that's a medium size G+ post. You still have plenty of space to make it "long" :P

Totally agree. Tools are tools. You're the driver of the car making decisions (until we have driverless cars all over). You are the master utilizing tools to make a beautiful sculpture with that data and cutting off everything unnecessary.
Why is it that so many of us of who use computers to earn a living (or add additional income), think that the computer has to be used to do everything... Not true! Obviously!

The Human Component / Interaction is so important and can go a really long way towards building a successful brand. The internet and internet companies need NOT be faceless or humanless!

As a plant manager for a cabinet door manufacturer (where we compete against many companies that are much, much larger than ours), many of our customers have expressed to us that they have chosen us simply because we didn't force them to use our online ordering system as the sole means of ordering our products, like our competitors did!
E.g. When they called us on the phone, our sales staff was willing to spend some time with them and answer their question(s)...Which may not have seemed important to us, but they were important to them.

+Rae Hoffman , thanks for the great post, and you are exactly right! Don't rely solely on your a human every now and then and use that brain that God gave ya'! :-)
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