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16 Reasons People Hate SEOs

Todd posted “Top 16 reasons People Hate SEOs” and I thought it worthy of comment.

First, I know people “hate” SEO because there are people out there branding them with the thought that SEOs are “hated” (like, um… Todd). Second, isn’t it funny how Todd titled his post “top 16 reasons” and not “16 reasons”? It appears Todd doesn’t only think people hate SEOs, but Todd thinks there are a lot of reasons people hate SEOs.

Anyway, of the top reasons people dislike SEO, I have to add several that I believe Todd missed. In fact, if I simply look to answer the query “name some top reasons people might not like SEOs” I come up with these:

Expert SEO makes you feel stupid: Let’s face it. You have schooling, perhaps an advanced degree, and you’ve been on the web since 1921. You were part of Cyberdyne Systems when it built the Internets (as CTO). You have a photo of yourself with Dan Quayle, and another with Al Gore. You have lost more as an angel investor that Ted Leonsis has spent on reputation management (even including the acquisition of Jason Calcanis). But for the life of you, after 2 years of work, you didn’t achieve what your new-found $500 per hour SEO consultant did for your website in one day. ONE-FREAKIN-DAY.  And she didn’t even do it… she told your web people how to do it. Now don’t you feel stupid.

Expert SEO makes you feel really stupid: You did the initial SEO for your web venture yourself, because you’ve been on the web for eons and know your way around, and you gave Saturday morning SEO training sessions to your web team as your site was built. Later, you got concensus about needing a professional, because the web team simply couldn’t grasp it all and you were too busy to do it all yourself. You went with the BigBrandSEOCompany on a bottom-tier budget level. Which became Middle-tier in short order. And then upper tier, and eventually $tratosTier. And when you finally said “no more” and the SEO company stopped “optimizing” for you, your traffic dumped and you had to take full credit for the failure because, well, it was your decision to pull the plug, right? And then you hired the independent SEO expert you had passed over the first few times. After a few months and a less than ten grand your site is higher than it ever was, full of momentum, and your monthly SEO spend is trivial. You don’t know what to do, and you’re afraid to touch the site. When you ask your SEO what to do, she says, “Why, is something wrong? Traffic levels look great”. You guesss you’ll wait until she suggests a next step. Or something. Boy, do you feel stupid.

An Expert SEO is a Scary Thing: Your Expert SEO comes in and immediately everyone can see she knows her stuff. And your stuff. And his stuff. And that guy’s stuff. Nobody is safe… this SEO person seems to hold a very broad yet very, very advanced expertise *and* is one of the most creative people you have ever met. This is scary.

An SEO Praises No Cow: Your company is full of Sacred Cows, those large, smelly beasts that wander around freely and stink up the place, taking up room, consuming resources,  and generally getting in the way, but which no one will acknowledge as anything except sacred. Perhaps they are yours and your staff defend them, or perhaps they belong to your boss and you defend them. Or, as is too common, they belong to a long-since-gone Founding Director whose extended family remains casually involved in the philanthropic activities of the corporation, and whose representatives expect to see the Sacred Cows well-fed and grazing comfortably during the annual Company Tour next Christmas. But SEOs know no Sacred Cows. In fact, SEO Experts know that Sacred Cows make the best hamburger. Your SEO Expert says sell the cows and buy a few plastic cows to put out on the lawn at Christmas, or commission a bronze one from a famous artist to immortalize the “rich fertilization provided by the beloved Founding Family”, but kill the recurring expense and get one with optimization.  That was your idea two years ago, but you couldn’t be so bold. And that, quite simply, doesn’t seem fair to you.

I feel much better writing “Reasons People Love SEOs” so I’ll stop here and start on that one.


  1. Todd wrote:

    I literally laughed out loud. Awesome post John – I’ve found a little self deprecation eases the blow of making people feel like a complete idiots, telling them how to do their jobs, and letting ’em know that their precious cow smells like a steaming pile of dung:) I do find in most bigger operations, I spend more time playing politics than doing SEO unfortunately. Although “seo politics” are certainly much more direct and effective than the normal corporate ones.

    Looking forward to the reason why people love us.

    Friday, January 5, 2007 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  2. Jill wrote:

    Mmm…sacred cow…

    Friday, January 5, 2007 at 9:23 pm | Permalink