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Relationship Building: It’s the Future of Detroit — SEO, too. Part 1: Farts

It’s a pretty commonplace understanding that the denser the population around you, the less easy it is to form relationships with those people. If you’re in rural little Omer, Michigan, your chances of knowing your neighbor’s names is much greater than if you live in Detroit.

The advantages of knowing the people around you are huge, and often ignored — especially in the business world. When the Detroit economy collapsed, however, the businesspeople who survived the most easily were the ones who knew their vendors, but more importantly, knew their customers. There’s nothing quite as powerful as having customers who know you and come to you because they know you.

As it turns out, building relationships with your customers and clients is also rapidly becoming one of the most important strategies in the Detroit SEO world, as well. In order to explain why, though, I’m going to have to talk for a while, so this is going to be multi-part post. It all starts with a look at how search engines are starting to get a little too greedy for their own good.

Taking the Cut
It all starts with Google and it’s competitors and how they make a profit. Google’s motto may be ‘Don’t be Evil’, but that certainly has never meant ‘Don’t make a Fat Profit’. 80%+ of Google’s money comes, unsurprisingly, from paid advertising. That basically means AdWords and AdSense. What that means to SEO folks is that Google doesn’t want to you be doing SEO — they want you to be using PPC instead.

The problem with PPC is that the more companies shift to PPC, the higher bids get, which means the lower profit margins become — for everyone but Google, who rakes it in. So we fight against the Google machine and we stick with SEO. But SEO, with Panda, Penguin, and the other Google updates, has become much more competitive as well. You can’t really advertise on Google anymore without either:

  • Using PPC
  • or Content Marketing

Content Marketing: It’s like Bum Marketing with Farts
Content marketing is, writ short, the act of creating content that (in Google’s words) “blur[s] the lines between advertising and content.” If you don’t want to play the losing PPC game, you’re basically restricted to playing the Content Marketing game if you want your SERPs results to be what you want them to be.

The amazing part is that just four years ago, content marketing was called “Bum marketing” because “any old bum could do it”. Today, that’s not true at all anymore because the level of competition has exploded. Today, far too much content is getting produced every day — there’s literally more content being produced each day than any one of us could consume in a year. Google can’t value all of that content usefully, so it makes it’s best assumptions based on the factors it understands and gives you the content that it things is most appropriate. The limitation isn’t on the content itself — it’s on how many spots Google has available at the top of the SERPs. In the words of one amazing editors at, Google “is resorting to what experts call FARTS–Forced ARTificial Scarcity. Or they would call it that, if they were as awesome at naming things as I am.

Read Part 2: SEOh, No!

Read Part 3: Post-Scarcity?

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