So here is an ingenious way to drive traffic to your site. Let millions of blogs find out what their “rating” is movie-style. This is exactly what a site called – an online dating site has done. For those that know me, I am a search engine marketing guy in my “real” life. Years ago, before SEO became the “hot” thing, a company called Atomz Search – which is now owned by analytics company WebSideStory – built a little widget that anyone could put on their website. This widget allowed the website owner to have a small internal search engine, which tens of thousands of people loved. Only, on the widget was a little link back to Atomz Search. This sky rocketed Atomz’ webpage to a Page Rank of 9 for a long time.

Well, this practice slowly fell out of vogue, and most people forgot about little Atomz Search, Atomz even stopped really offering the widget. And a million other schemes have cropped up around how to generate a huge amount of links to your site to increase organic listings. There were free-for-all link pages, paid links, link farms (both good and bad), press releases and a dozen other strategies. Some worked, some didnt.

Then the blog came. Almost like the Borg from Star Trek, blogs have permeated our online life completely. Even someone like me, who would rather go throw a lacrosse ball around, or play with my dogs, finds a strange enjoyment in writing for my blog, regardless of the size of my readership (Hi Mom!). So, now people are having conversations about if they have too many blogs much like people used to wonder if they had too many e-mail addresses, websites, phone numbers, etc. The ease at which starting and building and posting to a blog has become, there is little standing in the way of anyone blogging.

Now that most people have a cell phone, an email address and blog, look at what has returned…the widget. And almost all the widgets I have seen or used include a link back to the mothership. Widgets like: Lijit, MyBlogLog, TwitterTools (although Alex does allow you to turn it off – Thanks Alex), Bookmarking Widgets, and others all have links back to their creators.

So, is this a bad thing? Probably not. Most of the widgets that exist on my blog are there because they add value to the blog or its readers (Hi Mom!), and frankly, I have found some of the widgets because of the link on the bottom of the widget. But all of these widgets were built specifically for their functionality. Mingle2’s widget, and other like Mingle2, are building widgets for the link. Even some search marketing companies are bulding widgets specifically for the link popularity effect.

As a search marketer, and a competitor, I have always felt that the game should be played for the enjoyment of the game, not to find the little tricks and shortcuts that allows a short-term victory. Of course, the difference here is that money is involved. An industry has been born from the belief that a small number of folks know how to drive highly relevant, contextual traffic from search engines in a way that nobody else knows. It is frankly the biggest scam ever perpetrated. SEO is not difficult. There is no need for link baiting widgets or super secret tactics. There is only need for consistent high quality work and value production.

Mingle2’s widget is funny, and I will post my “rating” at the end of this post (just to be completely hypocritical – or as I like to call it nonconformist – with an added nofollow tag just to be spiteful), the question remains…how successful is this tactic? Well, Mingle2 has 313 links on Google and 301 from Technorati from blogs to its “blog rating” widget.

Online Dating

Mingle2Online Dating