EDIT: I wrote this post about 5 years ago, and it’s just as applicable now as it was then (and well before then, for that matter). I thought it could bear another airing.
I haven’t been around as long as some folks… it’s only been a little over fourteen years ago that I even became aware of SEO and I’ve only been doing it full time now for about 10 years, so I figure I’ve earned the right to call BS when I see it. And like most of us, I see a lot of it.
I have the luxury of having six decades under my belt, too, which gives me honorary curmudgeon status. So I don’t have to be too concerned about who does or doesn’t agree with me. Those that know me will probably tell you I just don’t give a damn.
In the ten years I’ve been studying or practicing SEO, I’ve seen just about every kind of crap-hat practice there is. Thankfully, I can say I’ve never participated in any of it. But for every one of us that doesn’t, there must be at least a hundred or more that do. Sometimes, it’s a matter of being misguided, sometimes woefully inexperienced and sometimes it’s just plain greed.
In a few cases, it’s something that can’t be fixed (that’s the polite way of saying “Stupid”).
Some of it is the flash-in-the-pan sort – you’ve seen it. It flares up, seems to take on a life of its own, then just as suddenly, is tossed aside like a Christmas fruitcake.
Sometimes it’s as simple as a misinterpretation of something said by Google or some SEO “celebrity”, and the sheeple, always eager to let someone else do their thinking for them, follow the rest of the lemmings off the cliff.
And once in a while, it’s something that should never have been seen as acceptable, but somehow gets elevated to the status of “newest, bestest” and resolutely refuses to die.
TBPR and keyword density come to mind as a couple of those zombie notions that Just.Won’t. Die.
Unfortunately, it’s not the only one. Oh, no! There are LOTS of them. I think it’s high time we put a stake through the hearts of many of them, but we all know that’s a futile exercise. There’s always someone willing to breathe life back into them.
Some suggestions – not original, but still valid
I’d still like to offer some suggestions, though. Maybe if enough of us say it enough times, it just might help a little. Most of the SEOs I know aren’t guilty of these offenses, but there are plenty out there that are – maybe we just need to keep saying these things until we finally outnumber them.
- If you have to refer to yourself as a guru, expert or ninja, guess what? You aren’t! Do you refer to yourself as “beautiful”, “extremely intelligent” or “sexy”? That’d be a little pretentious, wouldn’t it? Do you really think there’s a difference? Stop puffing yourself up – it makes you look like an ass! It only has value when others call you those things.
- You’re not required to have a concrete opinion on everything. If you do, and it’s supported with some logic, fine. But just because someone asks a question or states their opinion doesn’t mean you always have to throw in your two cents worth, especially if you can’t back it up with fact or sound logic. Credibility is built not upon the quantity of your opinions, but the quality.
- Don’t take it personally when someone disagrees with you or asks you for the basis of your opinion. It’s not necessarily a challenge – they may just be curious, even open-minded. If you respond with a chip on your shoulder, there are now two of you that won’t learn a thing from the exchange. Even if the other guy does take an antagonistic position, who do you think will be seen as the most reasonable – them, or you, responding in a calm and civil manner?
- Don’t be a parrot. If everyone in the blogosphere has already offered their take on the latest update or technique, the last thing you should want is to be seen as a “me, too” blogger. If you have a different take on it or can add something worthwhile, that’s different. If not, you’ll be a lot better off finding a different topic. Even better, point out that really great post someone else wrote on the topic, and move on.
- You’re not always going to be right – get over it. Learn to admit when you’re wrong or learned something from somebody else’s interpretation of an issue. You’ll find that when you show yourself as willing to listen to reasonable disagreement with an open mind, your strongly held opinions will be given more consideration.
- Finally, when you make statements, remember that many people may read them that don’t have a good understanding of the topic. Human nature being what it is, a lot of people will accept whatever opinion is most strongly stated. As professionals, I think it’s our responsibility to be very careful to qualify our public statements as based upon fact, observation/opinion or just a hunch or feeling. Stating as fact is a disservice, if it isn’t really a fact.
If more of us would steer clear of these behaviors, I think it would go a long way toward eliminating some of the misinformation, damaged websites and tarnished reputation of the SEO profession. At the very least, it might put a stake through the heart of many false beliefs that just won’t go away.
We’re going to need a hell of a lot of stakes, though.