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SEO Excuse #143; The other guy is doing it, so it must work
Written by David Harry
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 04:56

So my friends... here we sit. After many a Google update it seems people are starting to get it. But it shouldn't be that way. There are some folks out here that, deemed Google-fan boy or not, kept talking about higher quality approaches. Avoiding the low road. That quality and strategy would ultimately trump cheap and easy. Of course nobody (in the SEO world) listens. Why?

Because cheap and easy is working. Just look what the other guy is doing. He ranks.

Uh huh. Entirely believable since most SEOs you meet are certainly smarter than a Stanford trained search engineer. Right? Uh huh. The sadder truth is that most in the industry that pay attention even a little, always felt that many of the tactics wouldn't last. The older ones, knew it wouldn't, because history is a great teacher.

But the attitude prevailed.

SEO blindness

But look at this!

“Have you seen this SERP!!!”, seems to be making the rounds a lot these days. Uhm, not sure I get the point. Yup, Google ain't perfect. But it's the same damned thing as the “they're doing it and it's working”

This thing of ours is not about what others are doing. You won't last long that way. It is about what you are doing and the service value you provide. It is about understanding what search engines want and how the technology is evolving.

Google certainly has plenty of crap hat pages/sites ranking. But do you really believe it will stay that way? Are you willing to take that chance? As time passes the algorithms and manual review systems are likely to improve. More shall take the fall. History once again, our great professor.

Unbelievably people are still talking about, (mostly in private of course) other sites in the search results and the borderline tactics they use, that it might still be possible to take the same direction. It's like some deluded lunatic that keeps sticking their hand into the fan expecting not to eventually have a finger liberated..

Know this; the more you depend on Google, the cleaner you must become.

SEO Ninjas

Take it to a higher level

And so I say again to anyone that's willing to listen. Get ahead of the game. If it's Panda, Penguin or some other adorable update, the writing has long been on the wall. But attitudes also need to change.

Consider this exchange;

SEO writer exchange

Dear SEO guy.... thanks, you make my heart warm. First off you don't even know what content costs to create? Really? I don't care if it's legit content or stuff to be spun, you're doing it all wrong. Content creating is about knowing the channels, the demographics and (client's) industry in order to produce something that will bring visibility, build brand, deliver traffic and hey, if ya' do it right, it might just get a few links too.

Secondly, you're selling an SEO related product to webmasters and SEOs. Really? And you can't put your own thoughts together for content? That's equally troubling.

Now onto the nice lady provider. She's the enabler in this poor soul's SEO addiction. Just because the customer is ignorant, is no reason for you to be. A $7 article? Uh huh. Maybe copywriters should become more skilled in content programs.... can't hurt. Not only so we all know that that price means crap that can be spun, but it also sets the bar low for other copywriters. Not good. Exacting standards? For $7? Whatever.

You might want to charge a little more then truly assess a customers needs and convince them of a better direction. Surely they aren't going to be taking over the SEO blogosphere. So we can assume in the end it's just filler... the 'feed Google content' concept. Regardless though, stop feeding the addiction and work to increase your own value.

This was merely an exchange I came across while writing this. By no means is it an isolated incident. The SEO world is just full of crap that people are selling far and wide. But it certain highlights the attitudes and the need for change.

Those were the days my friends

Things change. Search evolves. That's the odd part at times. Why so many can see the writing on the wall, but fail to adapt. Until it's too late.

It's one thing to be polluting the web with spam for your own gain, it's quite another to be taking client money and delivering what you know in your heart is sub-par and likely to be devalued some day. Why? Yup, again; because it's working, “just look at so-and-so”.

I know of more instances at this time of people that believed in and trusted an SEO, than I do of ones where everyone understood the risks. All the whining about Google not giving us the playbook and changing THEIR rules, doesn't make up for the money lost, and damage to the client's and the industry's image.

Stinky face

What are we supposed to do now?

And there's the other side of it. From emails, to instant messenger to my own little community, there's a lot of this kind of anguish going around as well. A lot of folks are scared to do anything, others muse about the 'end of SEO'. Funny thing that. I was under the impression that SEO was about a lot more than just building tons of crappy links.

But yet again this concept has been lost. Over the years when I'd preach about on-site SEO and the massive value it contains, “naw, just throw some links at it” would come from the other side of the argument. And since it was seemingly cheaper and easier, it fell by and large on deaf ears. And I mean clients too, not just other SEOs.

If you are freaked out to the point where you don't know what to do next, my suggestion is to look at the entire strategy that you've employed over the years. Probably wouldn't hurt to learn more about how search engines work and keep up on history too, but that's just me (again).


David Harry -

Hi my name is Dave and I, am an algo-holic

I am an avid search geek that spends most of his time reading about and playing with search engines. My main passion has always been about the technical side of things from a strong perspective rooted in IR and related technologies.You can find me providing SEO consulting services for Verve Developments.

You can also hook up with me via


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0 #1 Mike Wilton 2012-05-09 07:47
Amen brother! I miss your rants man, hopefully you've still got a few left in ya'! It's funny you bring this up because this is a battle I have been fighting for the last 3 years in my organization.

Pushing the ideas of content, user experience, semantic markup, social...People looked at me like I was a freaking nut case. "But what about links?!" It wasn't until Panda laid the smack down on some candy asses that people started to really take what I was saying a little bit more seriously.

Fast forward a year and we are FINALLY on the brink of people "getting it" and thankfully with Penguin we only saw a few sites hit, sites that I have preaching were bad juju for a few years now.

It's a hard fight, and I think all of the people griping at Google earlier this year about making SEO's liars had a point. Its hard to sell people on what's right and be forward thinking when they see a competitor or another search space dominating with crap hat tactics that cost next to nothing offshore. I know for a fact that in my search space crap-hat is rampant. MOST sites that rank do so with the help of a link profile almost completely built out of the stuff Google pointed out as bad with the Penguin update. You know, the ones on an auto insurance domain with spun content that links to online poker, a dating site, and used cars? And sadly even with Penguin, none of those sites got hit. So its a hard sell, especially in a search space that seems unaffected by nearly every major algo update and in a niche that isn't doing anything very innovative in terms of SEO or online marketing.

Keep fighting the good fight man. Your future-proofing beliefs have been my inspiration for years man and I'll preach it til the day I die, or leave the industry.
0 #2 Andrew Shotland 2012-05-09 19:22
:-* Couldn't agree with you more Dave. The problem as I see it is that most companies never budgeted to do SEO the right way. So when you tell them that they have to invest in marketing their service and maybe even figure out what differentiates their service/brand from their competitors, this creates discussions that don't have answers as easy as "buy some links and content".

If you are running a business and the only marketing programs you have budgeted for are PPC and linkbuilding, you need to rethink your plan asap.
0 #3 David Harry 2012-05-10 04:09
Thanks Mike. You certainly know the pain of trying to spread the word on doing things the smart way. Sadly a lot of folks, clients and other SEOs, won't learn until it's too late. And again I am seeing peeps, in the Dojo and elsewhere, talking about this and that SERP, this and that link profile and considering that "it works. ". Meh, guess some folks just never learn.

Andrew I know the pain of that one all too well. The cheap and easy, the 'throw links at it' approach is what folks are trained on. They often scoff at the budgets we propose. Crap links don't build brand, authority nor traffic (on their own). Doing it right does, but it costs more. Welcome to 2012....hehe

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