More SEO Oh, Oh

February 10, 2009

Years ago when I worked at Ziff Communications I listened to John Dvorak. He was an insightful thinker, and his expertise was not leveraged at Ziff. I left the company coincident with Bill Ziff’s announcement of his intention to sell his empire. Mr. Dvorak continued to work on Ziff properties after the break up. I have followed his comments over the years, and I regret that I was probably a suit in a crowd in meetings we both attended.

This morning I read PCMag.com’s “SEO Fiascoes: the Trouble with Search Engine Optimization” and noticed that he wrote the article. The article does a good job of pointing out what I have long known. The statement “…from what I can tell its proponents are modern snake-oil salesmen” is coincident with my research findings.

I steer clear of the SEO crowd. I gave talks at several SEO conferences six or seven years ago, and it was clear to me that this group of “experts” were promising Web site traffic by tricking the indexing subsystems. I mentioned this in The Google Legacy (2005), and that accomplished one thing: no SEO conference organizer wanted me on their program.

Please, navigate here and read Mr. Dvorak’s column. I am not going to summarize it. He is a good writer and an addled goose can do little to make his message more clear. A happy quack for his taking a stand on an issue and indirectly the consultants who snooker clients to pay to get traffic without investing in high value content.

Stephen Arnold, February 10, 2009

Comments

25 Responses to “More SEO Oh, Oh”

  1. More SEO Oh, Oh : Beyond Search | SEO News & Views on February 10th, 2009 10:26 am

    [...] Original post: More SEO Oh, Oh : Beyond Search [...]

  2. aaron wall on February 10th, 2009 5:53 pm

    How can you spend so much time and effort researching search and have such a limited understanding how search relevancy algorithms work?

    Did you know that Yahoo! has a patent for automating SEO? The alternate (and honest) view of SEO is here seobook.com/john-dvorak-seo

  3. Stephen E. Arnold on February 10th, 2009 8:23 pm

    Aaron Wall,

    I, Aaron Wall, am an addled goose. SEO is a way for content free sites to game the indexing systems. Content, Aaron Wall, content. Not tricks, spoofs, and carnival tricks.

    Stephen Arnold, February 10, 2009

  4. SEO is a Marathon but There Are Things You Can Do | Computer Net Daily on February 11th, 2009 11:52 pm

    [...] More SEO Oh, Oh (arnoldit.com) [...]

  5. aaron wall on February 12th, 2009 8:11 pm

    I have sites with great content that went nowhere.

    I have sites with sub-par content that got tons of rankings and exposure.

    And I have sites at just about every level in between.

    Some of our sites make good money.

    Other projects have lost more than I care to mention.

    What is the difference between all of them? Marketing. SEO is a subset of marketing. It can be done effectively or ineffectively. It just depends on who is doing it and how much they care for the project.

    Relevancy algorithms are built around making sure the search ad network makes money (even while many publishers do not). For instance, I bet you make a limited amount recommending the very services you despise via the AdSense ads in the upper right corner of this page. Sites with less traffic than this one make much more from being in niches that are easier to monetize and/or having better ad integration. You would probably make more if you used that ad location to advertise your great reports, or perhaps your own SEO services
    arnoldit.com/services/seo/seo-introduction-0.html
    … and doing so wouldn’t erode your credibility.

    As many of the newspaper companies go bankrupt with tons of “content” my sites (and my bank account) will keep growing. Not because of “content” but content + marketing.

  6. Stephen E. Arnold on February 12th, 2009 10:37 pm

    Aaron Wall,

    Thanks for the tips about making money from Beyond Search. Fact is I slapped Google AdSense on this site to see how the system works. The Web log was a way to capture the phrase “beyond search” and now I am saddled with a bunch of readers who attribute quite a few interesting motives to this modest effort. If content appeals, the automated indexing systems will make it possible for a person interested in a topic without less fussing. Sites that have content that appeals to few are preferable to me than sites with crapo content gussied up with tricks to spoof auto indexing systems. I’m no Shakespeare, and at my age, the thought of marketing makes me nauseous. I love folks who give me advice based on the conditional tense as in “you would probably”. In my goose pond, that sort of argument warrants a honk to mute the carpetbagging. I’m happy posting, monitoring traffic, and watching how the GOOG fiddles the AdSense knobs. Now that I am 65, I’m content to waddle forward. Feel free to do what you need to do. When you get more miles on your odometer, you may find that certain methods are more satisfying than others. Gaming search engines for fun or profit is of zero interest to me as are those who practice these dark arts. Honk.

    Stephen Arnold, February 12, 2009

  7. SEO Book.com on February 14th, 2009 6:48 am

    Content vs SEO: Business Profit Margins …

  8. Charles on February 14th, 2009 9:11 am

    “SEO is a way for content free sites to game the indexing systems.”

    The above statement is one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time. Content is important but content without promotion (i.e. SEO and marketing) is invisible. Try it yourself – put together a great resource on a new domain and put no effort into link building, optimizing each of your web pages, and internal linking. You’ll quickly see the results – very few people will ever see your great resource.

    Putting together valuable content simply makes SEO easier. It’s very important but shouldn’t be seen as a substitute to SEO and marketing.

  9. Stephen E. Arnold on February 14th, 2009 11:39 am

    Charles,

    Thanks for your opinion. I stick by my “content free” comment. SEO is a haven for carpet baggers. I am not interested in people seeing my “great resource”. Check out the editorial policy on the About link on this page. Step back and look at the SEO sector and the industry that has flourished around spoofing machine indexing. If that’s too much of a leap, look at the steps SEO mavens take to boost sites in a results list. Reverse engineering is interesting to some, not to me. I think those who engage in SEO are exploitative.

    Stephen Arnold, February 14, 2009

  10. Charles on February 14th, 2009 12:32 pm

    Stephen, you may not be interested in people seeing the resource that you put together but anyone who’s looking to build a profitable business is. Without promoting your content, of which SEO is a large part, you’ll never be able to put your content in front of a large audience. That’s fine if what you do is a hobby but businesses can’t survive like that.

    Of course there are a huge amount a scammers in the SEO industry, just like there are in all successful industries. The key is to hire someone who’s reputable, not neglect the whole industry and try to pretend it doesn’t matter.

  11. Content vs SEO: Business Profit Margins | SEO Tips Mashup on February 14th, 2009 2:18 pm

    [...] Arnold wrote “Gaming search engines for fun or profit is of zero interest to me as are those who practice [...]

  12. Conrad on February 14th, 2009 4:11 pm

    Forgive me if I have misunderstood you but are are you simply saying in a roundabout way that you can manipulate search engine rankings with SEO but that doing so is unethical?

  13. Content vs SEO: Business Profit Margins : india sem on February 16th, 2009 12:18 am

    [...] Arnold wrote “Gaming search engines for fun or profit is of zero interest to me as are those who practice [...]

  14. Content vs SEO: Business Profit Margins | Searchsavant - The SEOintelligence Blog on February 16th, 2009 4:22 am

    [...] Arnold wrote “Gaming search engines for fun or profit is of zero interest to me as are those who practice [...]

  15. Econs.net Blog » Content vs SEO: Business Profit Margins on February 17th, 2009 6:53 am

    [...] Arnold wrote “Gaming search engines for fun or profit is of zero interest to me as are those who practice [...]

  16. Oh that's funny.... on February 19th, 2009 8:50 am

    I can’t believe I read this…

    >I, Aaron Wall, am an addled goose. SEO is a way for content free sites to game the indexing systems. Content, Aaron Wall, content. Not tricks, spoofs, and carnival tricks.

    Stephen Arnold, you have beclowned yourself.

    Preaching to Aaron Wall about content shows you for an absolute ignorant fool. – Do you not realize Aaron made his -first- million in sales of A BOOK.

    Last I heard that was content.

    If you knew anything about the man to whom you are speaking you’d know that he talks about quality content and brand building ad nauseum.

    No wonder you love Dvorak… You take complete ignorance of your topic, wrap it in sanctimony and call it thought….

    And you preach to others about content – HA!

  17. Oh that's funny.... on February 19th, 2009 9:27 am

    I tell ya what Stephen, I’ll make you a gentleman’s wager.

    I’ll paypal, Aaron $100 for you to get a free month on his site. You spend just one hour per work day for a month reading his forum and participating in the discussion (bringing your years of knowledge to the table) and then post what you learned.

    Make a post at the end of the month about the current state of SEO and -specifically- about you preaching to Aaron about “carnival tricks” vs quality content.

    If you can (with a straight face) still stand behind the nonsense you’ve written in this post, I’ll paypal your favorite charity another $100.

    If, on the other hand, you disabuse yourself of your ignorance, you agree to, make a public apology, send me back my $100 and donate $100 to the charity of MY choice.

    You’ll never do it. You’re an intellectual coward.

  18. Stephen E. Arnold on February 19th, 2009 10:07 am

    Anonymous “Gentleman’s Wager”,

    Yep, ad hominem and from a person who does not shrink from posting an email address as “youare@amoron.com”. I stand by my view of search engine optimization is a scam to get traffic without focusing on content. I am proud to be an addled goose, but I am not sure “intellectual coward” is on target. I surmise you are a child of the entitlement generation. SEO is carpetbagging in my opinion. Content, dear youare@amoron.com. (And what an interesting email address you included with your thoughtful post written when you were calm, cool, and collected.) In my opinion, the address suits well the ad hominem approach in your comment. Here’s my formula for effective SEO: [1] Follow the Google Webmaster guidelines. [2] Create substantive content. [3] Update frequently. [4] Write clean code. No SEO seminar needed either.

    Stephen Arnold, February 19, 2009

  19. Oh that's funny.... on February 19th, 2009 12:20 pm

    ok you have my email address… your straw man is now retired.

    >”I stand by my view of search engine optimization is a scam to get traffic”

    Blissfully ignorant people always stand by their delusions. I can “stand by my view” the earth is flat, that would neither make it true nor make me not a moron.

    I surmise you are a child of the me generation. Your personal opinion trumps reality because your fragile ego can’t handle that you’re not the center of the universe.

    Now that we’ve had our fun hurling meaningless insults, are you willing to talk address the substance or do you prefer hide behind straw men hurling invective about that which you are ignorant?

  20. Oh that's funny.... on February 19th, 2009 12:31 pm

    >Here’s my formula for effective SEO: [1] Follow the Google Webmaster guidelines. [2] Create substantive content. [3] Update frequently. [4] Write clean code. No SEO seminar needed either.

    Yeah, the intellectual immolation continues apace.

  21. Oh that's funny.... on March 1st, 2009 2:33 pm

    The irony is Stephen, there was a valid point to be made about SEO.

    It is that SEO is a skill few understand -yourself included- and fewer can actually do properly. Because there are no boards to pass or licenses to get, anyone can call themselves an SEO.

    This creates confusion -which you suffer from- because many people (yourself included) do not have the skills to separate the wheat from the chaff. I can go buy seojoe.com tomorrow, that doesn’t mean I’m at all qualified.

    In a job market where the top people can make well into 6 figures a year and anyone can claim they do it for a living, is there any surprise there is a large amout of noise? Of course not.

    And yes, many of these people are unqualified and some are scam artists.

    That’s not a function of the job, that’s just part of being in the race of humans.

    Did you do anything in this post to reduce the noise? No, you just created more. You’re bitter because these people understand things you don’t, so rather than acknowledge their years of effort and study, you deride them and their profession to protect your own ego.

    Sad.

  22. Stephen E. Arnold on March 1st, 2009 4:19 pm

    Oh that’s funny…

    Thanks for your post. Please, read the editorial policy for the Web log by clicking the About link at the top of this page. If the addled goose’s comments make you uncomfortable, unhappy, or downright angry, please, stop reading the Beyond Search comments. Heck, I don’t read some of the information the goslings create. Some of the articles honk me off, and I host the content.

    Stephen Arnold, March 1, 2009

  23. Oh that's funny.... on March 1st, 2009 5:04 pm

    No anger here Stephen, just making observations that anyone with any sense of awareness could have made. No worries.

    Cheers.

  24. Implementing Good SEO To Promote Content | SEO Articles on June 18th, 2009 4:19 pm

    [...] Arnold wrote “Gaming search engines for fun or profit is of zero interest to me as are those who practice [...]

  25. Implementing Good SEO To Promote Content – www.JRANDALLSMITH.com on August 20th, 2009 8:27 pm

    [...] Arnold wrote “Gaming search engines for fun or profit is of zero interest to me as are those who practice [...]