In the coming weeks and months, I am going to be writing quite a lot about a goal-oriented philosophy I have dubbed scaling. Several projects will be based on this same philosophy.
For reasons that should become clear to you almost immediately, I wish to begin with the modest goal of explaining this philosophy and the dual meaning of the word ‘scaling’ when it’s used to describe it.
‘Scaling’ is a term I first applied to a specific method in search engine optimisation where you gain immediate if modest returns via search engines, and then gradually build on this over time in a way that brings ever-present and increasing rewards with each incremental improvement:
OK, so now you know enough about Page Titles and their importance/role to understand this key example; what follows is a Page Title that is descriptive, contains a call to action, and also contains a combination of keywords that might be of importance to a site selling chocolate. A brand new site with no reputation to speak of has no chance of being the top search result for ‘chocolate’ immediately, but the site owner might hope to immediately/quickly be a high search result for a more unique (but still potentially lucrative) query such as ‘buy chocolate online uk’. If they work on the link popularity of their site over time, the likelihood of them performing for more lucrative queries increases, (important bit #1) they are enjoying increasingly lucrative rewards on their journey to this goal, and (important bit #2) they do not have to pay some joker money to come in and fiddle about with their keywords on a monthly basis because all of the relevant keywords are contained within a single, unchanging Page Title.
NomNom (UK) – Buy chocolate online
– buy chocolate
– buy chocolate online
– chocolate uk
– buy chocolate uk
– buy chocolate online uk
Of course, the example above only takes into account a single page and Page Title, as it is designed mainly to help you appreciate the point (i.e. it is not a strategy in itself). What you need to do is scale your relevance on a site-wide basis, and it is here I hope you will understand how it is possible to generate a commanding search result for your entire product/service range without attempting to list every product/service on your front page, and how it is possible to have every Page Title on your site working towards your main keyword strategy without having the same damn Page Title on every single page. (I still see this on some sites. It makes me want to cry.) At the top are three Page Titles, one for the front page and one for each of the main categories, and under that is the keyword query pattern that should help you appreciate how scaling works on any scale:
NomNom (UK) – Buy chocolate online
NomNom (UK) – Buy dark chocolate online
NomNom (UK) – Buy milk chocolate online
buy chocolate online
buy chocolate online uk
dark chocolate || milk chocolate
dark chocolate uk || milk chocolate uk
buy dark chocolate || buy milk chocolate
buy dark chocolate uk || buy milk chocolate uk
buy dark chocolate online || buy milk chocolate online
buy dark chocolate online uk || buy milk chocolate online uk
This method is unpopular among SEO providers who seek monthly cheques from their clients, as it rules out any earnings from constant keyword shuffling and focuses investment on long term goals instead of short term gain through various shortcuts/sidesteps such as AdWords. However, for you to learn about the philosophy of scaling, you need to appreciate this choice of paths from the client’s point of view; if the client wishes to generate an immediate high search result for ‘chocolate’ or bypass the need for an organic result and instead place ads adjacent to the highest results, then a hefty investment will be required to either generate a sufficient number of inbound links to the site and/or pay for advertising bills.
This kind of journey involves a threshold that most of us could not hope to meet immediately, as it requires an enormous monetary investment of one form or another before any results/rewards come in:
Now compare this to the philosophy of building your site with a scaled generic keyword strategy (as outlined above) and making modest, ongoing investments designed to improve your site’s reputation:
When used to describe this philosophy, ‘scaling’ does not just apply to the increasing size of the goals and rewards at each step of the way (i.e. the measurement of amounts and dimensions); it also describes the journey you take on the path to your ultimate goal (i.e. your means of ascent via these same steps).
One thing that has put people off political blogging in recent years is the entirely false sense of scale pushed by ‘leading’ bloggers who have not only been cheating by lying about their traffic statistics for years, but responding to criticism by sniffily rejecting the author(s) as insignificant according to this scale, and asserting their authority over them using these same (fabricated) traffic numbers. It is in this way that they set themselves up as gatekeepers of information in a field where they themselves insist that information should be allowed to flow freely. (One of them even had a widely-understood policy of withholding link-love from anyone who dared to be critical of him. I’m sure I do not need to name names for people to understand the way this might be used to force an agenda on a false premise/mandate.)
Party politics involves a similar deceit that convinces not just candidates but voters that the only viable path lies through assimilation with established parties.
To give other examples outside of politics, until recently, the threshold one had to cross before you could hope to make a living from the music or video production industry was enormous; you were going nowhere fast unless you had a deal with one of the monster-sized organisations, who had a vested interest in maintaining that same threshold and associated illusions, seeking to justify it with the same flawed ‘quality’ argument I describe in relation to political blogging. A similar false threshold persists in the world of print.
I hope to awaken you to the possibility that in the 21st century, with the advent of the web especially, you do not need to scale impossibly steep inclines or beg for favours from the wazzocks manning the cliff-tops.
The rewards of this awakening are potentially immense; think about all the people who sold out their values and/or surrendered a great deal of personal power just so they might hope to secure a seat, gain a record deal, have a script produced, write for a newspaper, have a book produced, or get a product made and/or on the market. See Dragon’s Den especially on this last point, and the impossibly large amounts of expenditure retailers/supermarkets require before they will even stock your goods; this path leads only to stagnation, and dross, and the joy of eating out of a trough.
Scaling is about your right to realise your own potential, and making it happen through realistic and manageable means.
The philosophy not only allows for success in line with your potential, it allows you to halt, change direction*, or even fail part-way while still enjoying rewards… and without crashing disastrously to the ground.
Most importantly, it destroys the illusion that stops some people from moving toward their goals at all until it is far too late.
(*Sometimes a journey is required to help us learn more about our potential, and/or to offer us the insight that drives our goals. It is much easier to change direction gracefully when you are not falling off the side of a cliff.)