Myths, BS and FUD, Oh My!

During a chat in the SEO Training Dojo the other day, a friend vented a bit on something they have seen a lot lately and it got me reflecting on some similar issues that really bother me. I know I’m not alone in bristling when I see some of the following claims and practices, (among others).

Many (and by many, I mean a hell of a lot!) persist in keeping alive such garbage as these jewels:

  • Duplicate content “penalty” – Come on, people! Do you really still think there is such a thing? Google’s NOT going to ban your site, de-index it, or push you into the supplementals because of poor canonicalization! Nor will they for using an excerpt on your WordPress blog that’s the same as some text found in the post! The worst that should happen is that blatant republication could result in a slap. There may be disadvantages, but that doesn’t equate to a penalty.

  • Make BIG money online! – I really love this one! It reminds me of the “get rich quick” schemes printed inside all the matchbooks in the 60s. For every e-millionaire, there’s a few thousand e-paupers. Seems to me that the folks that get rich on the internet do it mostly by selling such plans to the gullible masses.

  • THE BEST approach to SEO – some swear by forum comments, others by blog comments, still more by guest blogging… more than a few sing the praises of content over everything else. Guess what, folks – there IS no BEST approach. There are several good approaches, of course. But NONE of them are THE best! Build yourself a well-rounded strategy, and you’ll find yourself at the helm of a much more successful SEO campaign. No single thing alone will accomplish what you need. Stop trying to peddle your snake oil to the young and gullible. For that matter, you could even give the old and gullible a break.

  • The ONLY way to get indexed is by filing a sitemap with Google – Really? Sorry, ladies and gentlemen! A sitemap is NOT the only way to get indexed. In fact, filing a sitemap won’t necessarily get you indexed, even if you do file it with Google. A sitemap is a tool to compensate for less than perfect navigation. It’s a handy tool, and one that frankly, most sites could use. But let’s not assign mysterious powers to it, okay?

  • This e-book shares never-before-told secrets – this is a lot like the one that my friend boiled over about the other day. You want secrets? Join the Bilderberg Group! You might hear something new there. But there are no “secrets” to be told here, people! There may be some new, refreshing techniques, or a particularly insightful prediction of future search engine or market behavior. But (a) there are no secrets, and (b) even if there were, only a dear friend, trusted lover or blithering idiot is likely to share them with you, I don’t care HOW sweet your smile is.

  • Small, closed-door conferences tend to expose more secrets than the large conferences – for a start, see the likelihood of the existence of any such “secrets” in the preceeding paragraph. Then, put yourself in the position of the person putting on such an intimate conference. Would YOU expose any supposed secrets to others, based solely upon their ability to cough up the cash to hear you speak? Would you expect them to respect your request for secrecy, and not share your jewels with their close friend? Be realistic! People don’t lay out a couple thousand bucks to hear earth-shattering news that they’re not allowed to share with even their most trusted partner. If the speaker did hold any special secrets, you can bet he’s holding back on you.

  • Guru, Master, God/Goddess – this one’s pretty simple, I think. If you are describing yourself with any of these terms, you are burdened with an ego that has outgrown your home state. Having already made your credibility questionable, what can you possibly have to say that will be bought by anyone with half a brain?

  • Whining – One of my personal pet peeves! You picked this business. Quit sniveling about how tough it is! Of course it’s tough! If it was easy, anyone could do it! Every site owner and webmaster out there could optimize the hell out of their sites, and there’d be no need for SEOs at all. Stop whining about how the search engines won’t tell you what they’re looking at. They DO tell you! You just don’t want to listen, ‘cause you’d rather find an easier way to rank. Get over it, or get out of it.

  • Conspiracy theories – okay, so you’re convinced Google is bringing 1984 to life, and we’ll all be spied on wherever we may try to hide. Fine. You’re entitled to your opinion. And I’m entitled to think you’re a crackpot that needs to be under constant supervision. Your tinfoil hat is a little the worse for wear.

So what brings on this rant? Just frustration, I suppose. Frustration over a profession of some difficulty, which loses a little more respect, both from within and without , with each and every instance of the above. And the nine examples above only scratch the surface. (I didn’t even bother to mention the plethora of “SEO is Dead” posts that pop up with every noteworthy algorithm update.)

Fear, Uncertainty and Denial

Take a Stand!

The point is, our industry should be garnering more respect and credibility, after several years of hard-earned progress. But some of us do great harm with the above practices and most of the rest of us share some portion of the blame by ignoring it, instead of shouting it down.

Maybe we should declare February “Get It Right” Month. Next time you see someone shoveling SEO myths, BS or FUD, call them out on it. Set them straight, and maybe keep them from doing a little more damage to our industry. The credibility you save may be your own.

 

About Doc Sheldon

Doc Sheldon has been providing SEO consulting services for 14 years. His passions are technical on-page SEO and the Semantic Web. Fluent in Spanish, he has also provided consulting services to several large clients, specializing in cross-border operations in Latin America. Early on, he saw exciting potential for those that could figure out what the search engines might do next, and were willing to work within the guidelines set by the search engines. To that end, he first founded his content strategy agency, and later launched his SEO agency, now serving clients on four continents with content, WP web development and SEO services.

5 Comments

  1. As ever Doc an insightful read, there be no silver bullets in my gun either, just well a well used polishing cloth.

  2. Doc,

    OMG were you snooping around my mind yesterday as I was writing what will be my next article on SMW later today? It’s like you were. Except you’re much more polite. And respectful of others. and we’re focused on different hack issues. But otherwise it’s identical. in a few paragraphs. maybe. 🙂

  3. @Dean – Thanks, mate. Well said… the fact that we might LIKE there to be silver bullets doesn’t make it so.

    @Alan – I really need to work on that politeness and respect thing… it’ll be my downfall some day. 😉 Loved your Black Magic SEO post, BTW!

  4. Hear hear! Fight the good fight brother! Bring down the FUD! Death to the clueless gurus! FREEDOM!!!

  5. [quote name=”Barry Adams”]Hear hear! Fight the good fight brother! Bring down the FUD! Death to the clueless gurus! FREEDOM!!![/quote]

    Barry, I seem to remember someone being quoted as saying that ‘Freedom is an illusion’.

    FUD, however, is a reality. 😉

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