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January 22nd, 2007 by john andrews

Why SEO Sucks

There is a reason why SEO sucks for many, many people. It seems SEO is HATED even, in many cases. I usually ignore that SEO Hater stuff because many, many people don’t really understand what SEO is, and some people like to foster SEO F.U.D. (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt… the same stuff that sells backup systems and certain unnecessary insurance policies). Whatever. But today I have a concrete example of why SEO sucks.

SEO sucks because it is like SCHOOL. And of course everybody knows, School Sucks right?

SEO is like school, because it is all about learning. Not memorizing, not completing requirements, but learning and getting along. If you listen to people who say “school sucks” it is usually because the people at school are mean or boring, the classes are boring or simply wrong or meaningless in the real world, or school sucks because they simply can’t make the grades. And if you try and make it in the world without proper schooling, your career choices can seem unfairly limited. Ditto for SEO.

Some SEO people suck. The ones who cold-call clients pitching guaranteed rankings, exploiting the ignorance of the buyer, or the ones who over-promise and under-deliver, or do nothing at all. Scammers often like to pretend to be SEOs, and they suck, too. Some of the more vocal “SEO sucks” people used to be SEOs, but didn’t do very well. Some just don’t like it when they learn how much good SEO costs, so they get annoyed and say it sucks. So that’s the people part of the “school sucks” analogy.

A lot of SEO is boring. Title tags, site maps, and endless re-writing of insider abbreviations and graphic labels so they actual make sense, and can be read by search engines. Complex projects are often completed because of clever shortcutting, and often SEO is about unrolling those shortcuts. It’s not always exciting stuff. Kind of like accounting class, at the middle level when it’s all abut regulations and not about why those regulations exist. Bo. Ring. And many people who try SEO school fail. They do “everything right” 9in their own eyes), but don’t rank. That’s like going to summer school and still failing the course. Kinda sucks, right?

Which brings me to today’s real-world observation. I liked school in general, but at times I hated it. I liked it when it showed me I was ignorant, but capable of learning. I hated it when it simply told me I was ignorant (often when I knew I was not). Usually when I hated it, that was because it was either incorrect or did not apply to my version of the “real world”. I don’t mean it was outright wrong, but in my world view, it was either unnecessary or would be soon. For example, if a Computer Science instructor wants to teach you assembly language programming for a long-retired piece of IBM hardware, because he thinks it is good for structured learning, I might disagree. I might think he’s just lazy, and wants to have an easy life teaching (grading, understanding) what he already knows. It really is true that good students make for good teachers, but not if you tell them to shut up and go with the program. If you go to school to learn, and they teach the wrong stuff, then school sucks. If you go to read about SEO and they teach the wrong stuff….

Blog hopping today I hit this blog. He’s a designer. But he has a post about SEO. It’s keyword-stuffed ‘n crap, but in a nice way. But it’s wrong. And then he admits it’s not SEO… but it is… but not completely… but it works….. but not 100%…. but enough for him, since 1998. And he says “I don’t believe in Splogging“. And then he says (in the comments) “I am not really up to speed on specific SEO techniques these days. I try and do the basics, but if you want some turbo charged SEO I would contact...” and then it links to an SEO blog. An SEO “firm” that promotes Blogging for SEO. Aptly named, I might add. And there, amid the not-exactly-correct-nor-useful SEO “information” about using blogs for SEO, I click thru to a portfolio example. It’s a splog, folks. And it isn’t even well indexed. And it doesn’t rank for the key terms I tried. Oh, and it appears to have some canonical issues.

Now I know that might be some sort of feeder splog, not intended to rank itself, blah blah blah whatever. Sorry to question the skillz. My point is not who knows SEO, but who teaches school. SEO sucks because… well, because School Sucks. And the only way we can fix that, is by asking politely, that good web designers stick to web designing, and stop preaching SEO. Please.

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January 18th, 2007 by john andrews

Search Engines Hijack Commercial Traffic

Sub-titled: “Rank for Your Own Domain: More Important Every Day”

A friend called yesterday with a concern. She no longer appeared for her own company (domain) in Microsoft Live. (By the way, she called it Microsoft “Live” as in the verb, “to live“. Pity Microsoft).

After a brief discussion to determine exactly where she was looking (browser location bar, search box, home page, MyYahoo, logged in or not, etc etc etc) it became clear that her domain no longer ranked for it’s own name (with the .tld) in Live.com. It ranked for important keywords, but not the company/store name.

Now that’s a common problem answered by SEOs, especially with Google during a good portion of the past year. It is frustrating, but usually by addressing the “cononical issue” we can fix it. Now it seems Live.com has an issue with 301 redirects (no big news there) and I will fix that for her. But that’s not the big story.

The big story is that conversation we had to determine the actual problem. Virtually all of the people consulted on this issue prior to calling me had “gone” to the website not through the location bar of a browser, but a search box. Associates, co-owners, family members, friends, contractors. They’ve done it, boys and girls.  The search engines have co-opted the public’s use of search via their incessant toolbars, home page settings, and distribution deals. They didn’t need to corrupt the SERPs after all.

Think this through. If some one gets a flyer that says “sale at www.MyStore.tld” and the customer “goes to mystore.tld” and it’s not there, but a selection of competing ads and websites are there, what happens? The lead is hijacked, that’s what happens.

Because users are no longer “going to MyStore.tld” via a location bar, but rather through a search box, the search engines are doing what we hated Crocodile/180Suspicions/Colarian for in the past. They are hijacking search and funneling YOUR traffic to  competing commercial web sites. Think toolbars aren’t malware? Think again. Think search engines are public utilities? Think again.

If you work on the Internet you not only know to use the location bar, but you force yourself to use it and avoid the middlemen out of security among other things. But you need to check in with your customers once in a while. They are now going to your website through a search box more than you probably know. It is just the beginning…. same old story about everyone stepping in to co-opt the commercial traffic, but this time it’s not MySpyWare.tld or BigdataAggregator.tld hijacking traffic and washing cookies, it’s the search engines themselves, and it’s already in place and working.

Why should MSN rank MyStore.tld for a search of MyStore.tld? There is no reason… if you want to go directly to MyStore.tld you should have used the browser location bar, silly. But since you SEARCHED for MyStore.tld, here are some related search reults you may want to look at…..

 

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January 17th, 2007 by john andrews

For Sale: My Undivided Attention

See John’s Undivided Attention. And for the budget conscious, there’s John’s Divided Attention.

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