Virtue Signaling: A Covid Short Circuit

May 6, 2020

One of the DarkCyber team sent me a link to “COVID-19 & SEO: Why SEO Is More Important Now Than Ever.” The impact of the article was, “Befuddlement.” The phrase “more important than ever” assumes that search engine optimization was important in the first place.

I have long held the belief that online advertising vendors used search engine as mechanism to drive ad sales. Based on the research for Google Version 2: The Calculating Predator, it was clear that manipulating content could cause the “clever” Google PageRank method to boost pages with minimal intellectual value. Therefore, if you can’t stop weaponized, shaped, or malformed information, what is the benefit of search engine optimization?

The shift coincided with some of my work for the world’s largest source of Web indexed content. By encouraging SEO via an “ambassador” to SEO conferences, online advertising could be positioned as an essential service.

A new Web site is posted. The content is indexed and boosted in the search results. Then over time, the ranking of that “new” site begins to slip down the results page. Nothing the SEO expert does has an impact on the lost results. The customer becomes frustrated and may try another SEO expert. But the site is now essentially not findable.

What’s the solution?

The fix is to purchase online advertising and then traffic returns. Is this magic?

No, it illustrates an aspect of misinformation that gets little purchase in today’s world.

The article “COVID-19 & SEO: Why SEO Is More Important Now Than Ever” illustrates the effort optimization experts expend trying to get a free boost on ad supported “free to use” Web indexes. The word “covid” is lashed to SEO. The argument, noted above, is that SEO is important.

I circled this passage in the write up:

While ecommerce businesses are seeing unmatched results from SEO at the moment — Adobe reports an almost 200% increase in toilet paper purchases alone — companies outside the ecommerce sector are still benefiting from their investment in SEO.

This is interesting logic. Adobe is a word which is used to locate information about Photoshop and other applications. The bound phrase “toilet paper” is a word used frequently on Amazon. (Amazon attracts more product searches now than Google.) But the statement ignores the fact that similar interest in toilet paper occurred in Russia. Perhaps something about the product is causing the searches? Is that something a factor other than SEO?

The search engine optimization sector uses whatever words are needed to generate a boost. Then when the customer finds the SEO less effective, the customer is softened up to buy online ads.

The free Web search systems are under increasing pressure to generate financial returns. This means that the claims of SEO will pay off for those who sell online ads. When the SEO ministrations fail to work, what’s a company to do?

Answer: Buy online ads. Those are going to work.

Why’s this important? Three reasons:

  • The symbiosis between SEO and online advertising is not widely discussed.
  • Content, even if it is wonky, is needed to give the illusion that an online indexing system is timely and comprehensive. They are neither timely nor comprehensive, but those are separate topics.
  • Companies are becoming more and more desperate to make sales. That means that high value information is going to get lost in the barrages of dross.

Are there examples of this activity? Yes, there is the high profile issue between what’s displayed, what’s available, and what’s shown. Navigate to “How Google Search Results Shape, and Sometimes Distort, Public Opinion – and Why You Should Care.”

And there are other examples as well. Take a look at LinkedIn and run a query for “search engine optimization.” You will find a number of experts. At least one of these experts uses an alias. Why? Who is this? We’ll try to answer these questions. Watch for our new feature about SEO deception.

Remember this assertion:

No matter your industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented your business with a slew of challenges and difficult decisions, especially when it comes to how you’ll market your company. Compared to other marketing options, SEO offers far more stability and security. It’s a great option for businesses focusing on long-term growth during tenuous times.

One question: “Are the statements accurate?” or are they the shibboleths of the hustler.

Looking for our search engine optimization hustling coverage, click this link.

Stephen E Arnold, May 7, 2020

Looking for more SEO fancy dancing, read this DarkCyber story at


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