SEO: Costly, Noisy, and Uninteresting

February 15, 2009

I enjoy reading the comments from aggrieved search engine optimization wizards. I know SEO is a big business. I met a fellow in San Jose who boasted of charging “clueless clients” more than $5,000 a month for adding a page label and metatags to a Web page. Great work if you want to do it. I don’t. I gave talks for a couple of years at various SEO conferences. I grew tired of 20 somethings coming up to me and asking, “How do I get a high Google ranking?” The answer is simple, “Follow Google’s guidelines and write information that is substantive.” Google makes the rules of its information toll road pretty clear. Look here, for example. Google even employs some mostly socially acceptable engineers to baby sit the SEO mavens.

I am not alone in taking a dim view of SEO. I have spoken with several of the Beyond Search goslings about methods to fool Mother Google. These range from ripping off content from other sources in violation of copyright to loading up pages with crapola that Google’s indexing system interprets as “content.” Here’s an article that I keep in my ready file when I get asked about SEO. I love the title: “Make $200K+ a Year Running the SEO Scam.” I also point to an SEO “expert’s” own tips to help avoid the most egregious scam artists. You can read this checklist from here. Finally, navigate here and look at the message in words and pictures. The message is pretty clear. Pay for rankings whether the content is information, disinformation, good, bad, or indifferent.

My suggestion is take a writing class and then audit a course in indexing at an accredited university offering a degree in library science. Oh, too much work. Too bad for me because I have to wade through false drops in public Web search engines. SEO is contributing to information problems, not solving them.

In Washington, DC, a few days ago, I heard this comment, “We have to get our agency to appear higher in the Google rankings. The House finance committee uses Google results to determine who is doing a good job.” Great. Now the Federal Web sites, which are often choked with data, will be doing SEO to reach elected officials. Wonderful.

SEO is like kudzu. I’m glad I confine my SEO activities to recommending that sites use clean code, follow Google’s rules, include content that is substantive, and update information frequently. I leave the rest to the trophy generation carpetbaggers.

Stephen Arnold, February 15, 2009


5 Responses to “SEO: Costly, Noisy, and Uninteresting”

  1. SEO: Costly, Noisy, and Uninteresting : Beyond Search | SEO News & Views on February 15th, 2009 12:40 am

    […] Read the original:  SEO: Costly, Noisy, and Uninteresting : Beyond Search […]

  2. Ellen on February 15th, 2009 7:10 pm

    Thanks for this! It’s relief to hear someone else speak this way!

  3. SEO being your own site optimizer | Article Hop on February 15th, 2009 11:30 pm

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