Rising Above the SEO Reputation
By Kalena Jordan of Web Rank
How many times have you seen an article referring to
SEO (search engine optimization) as a "Black Art"
or "underhanded", "manipulative", "sleazy", "deceptive", "
sneaky" etc. I could go on but you get my drift. The
thing is, our industry has a pitiful reputation which is
being reinforced on a daily basis by the media and word
This realization hit me between the eyes recently when
I read a comment in a search engine forum from an SEO
who claimed he used his ethical SEO methods as a
Unique Selling Point. Look what we've been reduced
to - differentiating ourselves from the masses because
we DON'T break the rules. What other industry could
boast such a thing? Apart from the used car industry, I
can't really think of any.
So where did this nasty reputation come from and why
has it been allowed to propagate? Well, it's mainly care
of the hundreds of cowboys out there who decide one
day they are online marketing experts, announce
themselves as SEO's and set up a backyard biz,
deciding (naively) that the fastest way to achieve high
rankings is to break the rules, "crack" the search engine
algorithms and undermine the search indexes by
generating pages and pages of search engine spam.
They do this by creating doorway pages designed for
search engine spiders rather than humans, complete
with hidden text, hidden links, cloaking and lots of
other "tricks" they come across as they surf the
Problem is these self-proclaimed experts don't bother to
do their research and learn that such spamming
techniques have long been ineffective. Nearly all the
search engines these days have sophisticated methods
of detecting and removing spam within days of
receiving submissions. Penalties for spamming the
search engines differ from engine to engine, but can
range from being "red flagged" and put on a watch list,
to being hit with a ranking penalty, to having your site
permanently banned from their index (in severe cases).
The type of scumbag SEO's that would play Russian
Roulette with their client's web sites in this fashion are
well-deserving of scorn. It can take months for search
engines to lift such penalties, if they decide to at all.
While ineffective, such search engine spamming
techniques have defined the reputation of the search
engine optimization industry to date. In turn, this
reputation is eroding business for so-called "ethical"
SEO's - a term I use loosely to describe SEO's that
don't try to undermine the search engine indexes when
optimizing web sites. Actually, I'm not really
comfortable with the term "ethics" to describe SEO.
Until the industry establishes and accepts a
standardized Code of Practice, we are just measuring
others by our own personal standards and a set of
arbitrary rules. But the SEO's I'm talking about strive to
keep search results as relevant as possible by revising
the visible site content and following the guidelines set
down by the search engines in the optimization
process. Some SEO's call this White Magic SEO -
a tongue in cheek response to the Black Magic jibes I
Not surprisingly, search engines have been reduced to
lumping all SEO's into the "untrustworthy" basket. On
their Webmaster Do's and Don'ts page, Google
state: "Be very careful about allowing an individual
consultant or company to 'optimize' your web site.
Chances are they will engage in some of our "Don'ts"
and end up hurting your site". Chances are? Sounds a
bit all presumptuous if you ask me.
Quite a lot has happened in the search industry over
the past month. Keeping a daily blog reveals just how
often this industry is shifting. It also makes putting
this newsletter together a breeze :-)
This issue includes important
announcements made by many of the major search
engines this month including Lycos, AOL, Yahoo and
Now don't go hitting the delete key just yet - this
month's feature article is well worth a read. It looks at
the bad reputation the SEO industry suffers from,
how it developed and the difficulty of rising above it.
That's it from me, but remember to
visit our daily
Search Engine News Blog for the latest
industry news and goss.
Till next time - wishing you high
- Lycos to Launch PPC Program
Earlier this month, Lycos announced they will be
launching a new keyword-based advertising program at
the end of August. Called
InSite AdBuyer, the new
program will allow advertisers to create text-based ad
panels (likely to be similar to Google AdWords) for
display on Lycos Search and HotBot.|
|Ah-Ha & InfoSpace Launch Paid Inclusion
The PR Manager of InfoSpace sent me a heads-up this
month about a new Paid Inclusion program being
launched between Ah-Ha.com and InfoSpace.|
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|Overture Gets Greedy
An email from Overture to advertisers has sent some
shock waves around the SEO community this month.
Not content to disappoint us with their sneaky Auto-
Bidding tool, now Overture calmly announce that their
Match Driver tool will ensure
your listings will appear for search terms you haven't
even bid on!|
|Yahoo Substituting Google Content
| ||Yahoo has apparently begun to replace their Web Page
Matches, traditionally fed by Google results, with their
own Directory results. If you conduct a search on
Yahoo for "optimization services" and look at the
Matches, you'll see that some results are using
the site titles and descriptions from Google but many
others are using site titles and descriptions taken from
Yahoo's own Directory.|
|AOL Reveals Partnership With WorldCom
| ||As a result of an investigation by the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC), AOL Time Warner
have revealed that they were a business partner of
WorldCom, the company that was found guilty of $6
billion in accounting fraud and recently filed the world's
biggest bankruptcy suit.|
Full Story (and more search engine news)