Unnatural Search

When I started Ideal Project Group three years ago, I thought it was really important for my website to appear quickly when people were searching for terms relevant to my business. My thinking at the time went something like this: If people can't find you on Google, then you don't exist!

My thinking was flawed, and I'd like to share what I did wrong so that you don't make the same mistake.

As we're all aware, the engines have "natural" search results, and then paid advertising. There's a third category though, which is more like unnatural search. These are search results that appear in the "natural" search part of whatever search engine you use, but are there because of some unnatural behavior.

A couple years ago I submitted two articles to various "e-zine" publications, and would also send out the occasional press release. The idea is that you get the word about your company out there, and then by these articles and press releases linking back to your site, you increase your website's ranking for various search terms. And for some search terms, this "worked" really well.

The problem is, like with most interventions, there are side-effects.

Because they were written by me, these articles are the first thing you see if you Google my name. (You also get a Barack Obama post I wrote on their forum during the election that I'm pretty sure no human ever linked to so you know they did something funky.)

The problem is, these aren't the most relevant links about me. My blog, or Ideal Project Group, or Twitter or Facebook - sure. But these two random articles? It's an unnatural result because of unnatural behavior that I took. The other problem is that they certainly don't represent my best writing or my best thinking.
My point is, had these been the first couple posts on a blog, as opposed to widely distributed articles, they would be seen as the starting point into other, better writings. Or more likely, they would have just sat buried in the bottom of my blog. In other words, they would be living in the world in their appropriate context. The reality is, the "natural" search results today would probably be more relevant had I just accepted the fact that my website wasn't going to get noticed for a little while.

If you remain unconvinced that you shouldn't do this, I'll leave you with this thought: What's worse, not being noticed when you first start out - or writing a blog post about your irrelevant links even after you've been in business for a few years?