Posted on: October 15, 2009 by Syzlak
It’s been a busy week in the world of SEO. First, some ass-hat writes a piece on his blog calling all SEOs “Spammers, Evildoers and Opportunists,” and he refers to anyone that claims to be a clean “do-good” SEO as a web developer. Then, Danny at Search Engine Land offers a retort, highlighting some examples of proper SEO and the benefits, etc. Surprise, after a bunch of lame SEOs jump on the ass-hat’s post, he does another post and adds more fuel to the fire. Surprise, surprise, Danny offers another retort.
So, what did we learn?
I think that friend of the blog, Melanie Phung, put it best in a tweet yesterday:
Someone who’s clueless rants about SEOs, SEOs rise to take the bait, rinse, repeat, ad nauseam. *yawn*
Yes, that’s about right…most of the time.
The thing that made this little debate so much more interesting to me is that both sides are actually saying some truthful, albeit misguided things. Let’s start with the salvo from Mr. Powazek. Some truthful elements in his post:
- Make sure to use keywords in the headline, use proper formatting, provide summaries of the content, include links to relevant information. All of this is a good idea, and none of it is a secret.
- It’s not your job to create content for Google. it’s their job to find the best of the web for their results. Your audience is your readers, not Google’s algorithm.
- Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again. Then tell people about it. Start with your friends. Send them a personal note – not an automated blast from a spam cannon. Post it to your Twitter feed, email list, personal blog. (Don’t have those things? Start them.) Tell people who give a shit – not strangers.
All of these strategies are essential to being successful online, and should be heeded by anyone trying to increase traffic to their site. While this may seem obvious to Mr. Powazek, sometimes it’s hard to remember that this isn’t obvious to everyone. There are plenty of businesses out there that have no knowledge of how to be successful online. In Danny’s response, he highlights a few of these situations:
- A real estate agent selling real estate in one of the most competitive areas of the country, Newport Beach, California. Her friends aren’t all going to buy homes she’s listing. Her “community” congregates on Google and does things like type in “newport beach homes for sale.”
- She probably needs to kick [her individual listings] out into Google Base, in order to fully be listed in Google.
- Where’s her web site now? Is she running it off Blogger? Using her own domain? These have impacts on how both the search engines may see her as well as how she’s perceived.
- Does she have a local office? If so, has she claimed her listing in Google Local?
- Has she considered some unusual, creative ways to create content around real estate in her area, perhaps some catchy link bait, which may pull in the links she needs to rank better.
Danny offers a couple other examples, and then hints at some web developers being slightly shady too. However, these sets of arguments from both men are all we need to look at today. (I’m completely ignoring the mudslinging as it was frankly woefully out of date and misguided, the heart of the argument lies within these points – not in the bullshit).
I think the problem with both of these gentlemens’ posts is that they aren’t seeing the whole picture. Danny does stress that this “It’s not your father’s (or mother’s) SEO that you rant about, … But make no mistake, it’s SEO.”
Aside from the first, third, and fifth suggestions that Danny offers, would we really consider the rest to be SEO? While it’s true that leveraging Google Base and Google Local (Bing Local, Yahoo Local, etc) for a small business is great advice and could be seen as “optimizing” said company’s presence on Google, does it qualify as SEO. Technically, sure – as it’s helping to improve the site’s presence on Google. However, this is really more online advertising than SEO. There’s no code adjustments or link building or content massaging here. Nothing on site. Nothing that a web developer should be doing.
Frankly, Mr. Powazek’s SEOs shouldn’t be doing this either. In his eyes, they should be manipulating the site, creating drastically outdated spamming systems, and causing all sorts of irreversible grief for him. However, in his model, I don’t believe the web developer shouldn’t be held responsible for this either.
The truth of the matter is, both Danny and Mr. Powazek are wrong. Powazek is wrong because he believes that SEOs haven’t evolved past the shady tactics used in 2000, whereas Danny is wrong by using the ever expanding blanket term of SEO.
We are not SEOs. We are Search Engine Marketers, Online Marketers, Online Advertisers, Online Strategists, et cetera.
We do not spam sites.
We do not hide links.
We help create good content. We build a brand strategy. We understand how to achieve higher ranking on search engines without manipulating them.
This isn’t the first time I’ve stressed that the term SEO is out of date, and until that term is changed or updated, it surely won’t be the last.
Posted on: December 2, 2008 by Syzlak
Do you hear that? The last 15 people that used Pownce as their social media profile are crying. Meanwhile, the rest of us were confused when we opened an email from Pownce today. My morning went something like this:
Notification that Pownce is shutting down
Ask aloud “What the hell is Pownce?”
Yes, it seems that everyone’s favorite robust Twitter has gone the way of the bison. Why? Well, like the bison, Pownce was a bloated version of Twitter. It didn’t have the quick and easy updating options of Twitter’s multiple apps, mobile apps, etc. In fact, I knew more people that updated their Pownce via Ping.fm, thus catering their Pownces to their Tweets. Kinda how those of us in PPC advertising have always written ads catering to Google’s format.
Why does Plurk survive when Pownce dies? One reason is that Pownce was purchased, and thus didn’t really die so much as get absorbed by another company and deemed irrelevant (which it was). I’m sure if you were to (harkening back to Physics classes here) put them in a universe with the same condiditions, no competition but each other, et cetera that Pownce would win. Which may actually be the crux of their failure. Because they are better, they will fail. The cost of supporting users outweighs their investment.
Another reason is Karma. Many of us don’t give a shit about that little tally at the bottom of the Plurk profile, but enough teenagers (hypothesizing) do that they can remain popular, yet not too popular. Shit, they’re no Twitter.
And thus we see one of the endless amount of social media profile whore machines die today. Be sure to export all your Pownces so you can upload them over on Twi–oh yeah, you use Ping.fm, you’re fine.
Posted on: September 22, 2008 by Syzlak
These are the words of Barry Sonnenfeld (the man who brought you Wild Wild West and Space Chimps). Uttered last night during his acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards, these words stood out amidst the political discourse that other winners chose to litter their acceptance speeches. What did Sonnenfeld mean when he said these 6 words? Here were my knee jerk reactions:
Barry Sonnenfeld is against free speech
Perhaps, as a respected member of mainstream Hollywood, Sonnenfeld could be fundamentally against the tennets of the First Amendment. Anyone who would caution “fear the Internet,” must be in some way against freedom of speech; afterall, the Internet (Web technically) is simply a soundboard for anyone’s opinions, stories, trivia, or creativity.
Barry Sonnenfeld wants a controlled market
Where there is no Internet, TV would retain its former stranglehold on entertainment. Seriously, before the rise of the Web, who remembers what we used to do every night from 8-11pm? Personally, I would be watching TV for hours. Mindlessly sitting in front of a glowing box, digesting what advertisements and agenda was thrown in front of me. Today, I spend most of my day interacting with others (humans, bots, corporations) on the Web. Choosing which advertisements I want to see, versus which I’d be willing to pay not to see.
Barry Sonnenfeld hates creativity
Name all the decent TV shows that started in the last 5 years. You’ll probably come up with quite a few (if you need help According to Jim started in 2001, so you can’t count that…oh and it’s fucking horrible). Now, compare that with your bookmarks for the last 5 years. Clark and Michael, Homestar Runner, The Legend of Neil – on a quantity scale, the Web wins for me. The creatitvity inherent in a system with fewer rules and regulations, lower cost of development and production, and less reliance on advertising is astounding. While TV might have better quality from time to time, shows like Arrested Development had a hard time surviving on TV.
In the end, what I realized about Barry Sonnenfeld is this – he doesn’t get it. He’s not probably (hopefully) for or against any of these things; however, he doesn’t get how you could harness the Internet for good. Instead, he rails it from a fear standpoint. Unfortunately for him, it doesn’t look smart, it looks ignorant.
Posted on: April 16, 2008 by Syzlak
I was recently sent this article about “findability.” It’s a little cutesy for me, and all in all it riled me up a bit; however, I do think that some of the fundamental talking points were important, although misguided.
Captain Aaron Walter (I’m calling people Captain now, it’s new…don’t expect it to last) writes the melancholy tale of the woeful little boy, Findability. Apparently Findability is supposed to help people find websites, find content and be able to help people rediscover content they’d already found (no one told Findability that he was made obsolete by bookmarking). Findability would use the following techniques to help people achieve their goals: planning, writing, coding and analysis.
Well holy shit! So he used proper SEO tactics to setup a great site? Thank God! Wait there’s more…
Apparently, he worked at an agency and was therefore pushed around and not listened to. I can relate (although Findability seems to only work with males, which is a bit hard to believe). So what happened to poor Findability? Oh, apparently he was sent to “his sketchy uncle SEO, who tied him up and fed him keywords all day long. He spent so much time at uncle SEO’s that everyone started to think Findability was SEO, and subsequently became a little dubious of his importance.”
Captain Walter continues to libel SEO calling it “search engine duping.” Afterwards, he details a process that (aside from design) almost every good SEO does or should be doing for their sites.
So why the hatred for SEO? I would suspect that either Capt. Walter has had a bad experience with an SEO or SEO company, or he’s never looked into SEO. At the same time, his cutesy-assed story gave me pause. Should we look into re-branding SEO? Obviously, I’m being very extreme here, but it is true that SEO gets a lot of bad press and is greatly misunderstood because of some nefarious SEOers. However, if we were to sell people on being Findability Optimizers or FO (maybe Specialists in True Findability Usability ) would we be looked at with a greater level of respect and dignity?
I guess my point here is that I do all that little Findability does at my Agency, hell I do even more than he does! Most of the SEOers I know do too, yet if I’m to be perceived as being sketchy uncle SEO that just focuses on keywords and inappropriate touching…wouldn’t I rather be associated with the concept of Findability?
Posted on: March 11, 2008 by Syzlak
After 3 grueling days of recording, I ease my way back into being a search professional by attending SearchFest at the Oregon Zoo.
Ok, so I’ve been gone for 4 days (only 3, but I’m lumping in this morning since I was hungover) and I’m a little behind at work; thus, we’re going to do the review a bit differently (as if I have a fucking standard for anything over here).
March 9, 10:30pm – Sunday night (always the best night to hit the bars – very few Christians (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and very few hooches. Mostly old men that absolutely have to get their drink on) I finish doing most of the tracking on the new Donerail album. Upon returning home, my old co-worker calls me up for a drink as he’d just got into town (time change made him miss the flight). 20 minutes later I’m able to finally meet Stoney and Rebecca! This was a thrill for me because I was finally meeting personalities whose work and character I respect, but I only knew from the wide world of search & blogs. I always meet somebody, but usually I don’t care.
An hour later I’m drinking at Kelly’s Olympian downtown. It (like always) was great.
March 10, 9:30am – I think people ask me “where are you from?” more often than other people. Perhaps it’s because I have a subtle midwestern accent, maybe it’s because I’m an loud, arrogant, asshole in a city of gentle folk (for chrissake no one here uses their car horn! You paid for the horn to be in the damn car, it’s a form of communication since you honestly can’t be heard yelling at the car in front of you. So when someone cuts you off, use your words). Whatever the case, I usually answer this question “Iowa.” Enter the age old and ever continuing debate about the meaning of the question “where are you from?” There are generally 3 4 takes on what this could actually mean:
- Where do you live?
- Where were you born?
- Where have you lived most of your life?
- Where do you call “home?”
The last one is bullshit to me, because the other 3 answer it, but I added it anyway. So, I was born in Iowa, but I only lived there for around 2 years. We went there for vacation every summer (screw Disney, we got corn!!!) and most of my family was there. At the same time, I’ve lived in Portland/Oregon for most of my life. Therefore, some people force me to say that I’m from Portland or Oregon. I find this irritating whilst understanding their point; after all, I don’t really have any ties to Iowa anymore, nor did I grow up within the culture, etc.
Wherever, I’m supposedly “from,” the fact is that I’ve lived in Portland/Oregon for most of my life. This is important to note because for some reason I couldn’t find the Oregon Zoo. I’ve been to the damn place probably 10 times in my life too, so it’s not like the area is foreign to me. After driving around, lost in the West Hills, I find the zoo and make it in time to have missed Rand’s keynote, which at the time I thought nothing of. Yeah, I like Rand, but I thought for sure I was going to hear some variation on the proposal/social media speech, which I’ve heard a few times.
What it was, was apparently nothing short of spectacular – it even ragged on Bend, which makes anything spectacular.
10:00am – I’m late to the first session, and only hear half of Stoney’s speech on site architecture. Very well done, some of it old news, some new, some advanced, some basic pretty much the formula for speaking at an SEMpdx event. We’re not SMX or SES (my mind immediately jogs to a Simpson’s ref: It’s not your fault, you can’t control the birds. You will someday, but not now). My favorite piece of advice from Stoney was that not every page needs a META description. He said that some pages are better off when the search engines are left to “write” the description for you. I definitely think that’s true and adhere to that rule myself, but it’s nice to hear someone else say it.
During Aaron Kahlow’s speech about usability someone has thrown something at me, but will not own up to it…and honestly, aside from that and when he said “irregardless” (genius) I have no other highlights. Next however, was Ian Lurie. I liked this speech a lot. All about analytics, how to review, what to look for, etc. Awesome. I’ve never actually been in a session where someone was talking so directly about what I do and how I could do it better. My favorite takeaway was about how some sites, pages, etc. should be expected to have a higher bounce rate. Again it’s a common sense thing, but it’s not one I’d thought of yet.
I had to work the next 2 sessions, running around with a microphone and trying to keep doors quiet. I don’t remember being very interested in anything outside of Rebecca’s speech on link bait and Paul Colligan’s speech on…well, basically all things social (oh, and not letting the robots win).
2:00pm – Managing your online reputation with Marty of aimClear. This is gonna be good. If you’re a regular here, then you’re aware of my fundamental disagreement with how Marty presents himself online. Well, out of left field he fully admits that he handled his rep in the wrong way. Well shit, how am I supposed to grill him now? Throw in the fact that later he barely stepped on my toe and then apologized profusely for it, and now I’m starting to like the guy. That being said, the truth is that I don’t know him and if I did, I may like him, but I still don’t care for how he carries himself online. I wasn’t a big fan of the fact that after coming out of his SU experience he gives a speech about how to manage your rep online, owns up to some mistakes, but then calls social media “bully pulpit channels.” I also didn’t like that he still seems to think that he’s done nothing wrong in the situation. Had he taken the time to interview one of the Stumblers that “attacked” him, he would have learned why he was “attacked.” Instead he feels that he’s done no spamming, no self promotion, no mis-categorization, nothing that would irritate the community…while plugging his Sphinned articles 4 times.
In the next speech I heard one of the most ironic utterances ever, when Lisa Williams talked about what to do when you’ve “gone off the reservation and said something stupid.” Really? Was that the example of something stupid to say?
3:15pm – Hot Seat with Rand, Stoney and Marty. Damn this was good. The SEMpdx Hot Seat is a remarkably simple and brilliant event, that should really be marketed more than it has been. Hot Seat’s are always fun, and usually seem to provide something for everybody. This Hot Seat was friggin’ epic. Personally, I loved the fact that the minute Rand stood up to speak, I leaned over to a friend and said that he was going to plug one of his tools…and then he did. Can’t blame him though, I’d have done the same. I left the Hot Seat early to expel urine and was pleased to see that the bar had been setup, and drinking had begun. This is why I always leave conferences a few minutes early. That way you can get to the bar before everyone else and have 1 or 2 drinks before the line is outrageously long.
Later – The memory fades very quickly nowadays. After about 3 drinks, I seriously can’t remember things clearly at all. I’ve lost days (mostly nights ) from having a few drinks. Beer’s more gentle than bourbon, but all in all the end result is always the same, so here’s what I can remember.
- I went to drink with EngineWorks in the Pearl, talked about figure skating and the Blazers.
- Was almost convinced once again to join SecondLife.
- Met with David from Business.com
Then I headed home form more drinking with an buddy from middle school.
He’s from here too.