SEO Haters: Misconceptions and Misinformation

The following is a Guest Post from Melanie Nathan.

There is a harsh wind blowing through our industry. We all feel it. and if we don’t, perhaps we’ve got our heads in the sand. The truth is SEOs are, for the most part, loathed.

As a transparent and somewhat public SEO I personally receive at least one piece of hate mail per week. Whether it’s via email, a private message, a stumbleupon review etc; even though I’m an ethical marketer, people always seem to have a problem with what I say or do.

Most recently:

“Good job hurting the internet. Well done.”

“How does it feel to be evil?”

“I would love for at least one fucking “SEO professional” to say “content is king”, “don’t sell out by trying to trick people/systems to give you backlinks” or “focus on providing a good user-experience”.”

“DIAF SEO bitch!!”

I’m no crybaby and I can take criticism just fine but if some of these people knew anything about me they would know that I don’t spam social media sites, I don’t optimize for irrelevant terms, I don’t promote content that is crap and I never forget the end user. The problem is that they seem to make no distinction between “valuable marketing services” and “nefarious, unethical practices”. To them, it’s all the same.

What exactly is so bad about SEO?

I can tell you that there is a lot of misinformation out there. In fact, there’s an abundance of misinformation, exaggeration, and outright lies being spread. Some of the more common ones are:

All SEOs…

– devalue the search results
– are scammers/spammers
– steal pagerank and links
– don’t care where their traffic or links come from
– overpromise and underdeliver
– will do anything to be #1

No one disputes that there are some very bad apples in the SEO bunch (in which industry is the fruit totally fresh?) but people need to know that there ARE reputable SEOs out there who actually ADD value to the search results and CAN help online businesses achieve measurable success. This is because most public SEOs are in it for the long haul and the main way to long term search engine success is through a SE friendly website which publishes superior content and attracts natural links through the right promotion.

Pissing off the search engines or social media communities by using nefarious practices or trying to trick them isn’t on the agenda of most transparent SEOs. Why? The majority of us have clients to think of and it’s simply not in their best interests. We’re out to impress our customers with tangible results, not damage their (and our) reputations by bringing in the wrong type of traffic etc. An ethical SEO isn’t out to game the system. We’re about helping search engines understand what content is about, improving the overall user experience and helping people get the information they need. How exactly does it benefit us by having our clients, or even our own sites, penalized or worse yet banned from the SE’s? Isn’t it apparent that if we actually did what we are being accused of we would be doing more damage than good?

SEO’s have a responsibility to inform.

I recently, well, “conversed”, with one of my haters over a page I submitted to stumbleupon. It was about how to gain a backlink from by creating an app. for their iphone. Among other things, his main argument was that my submission:

“Never actually focused on the application, or content, it just said write app, receive awesome backlink”.

Excuse me? My great lead on how to get a link from was worthless spammy crap, because I didn’t go into details about *which* application you should write?

I won’t get in-depth (lest I get feisty again), but I defended the industry to the best of my ability and in the end he recanted his scathing public review and instead re-reviewed me as “engaging”. Although I considered it a small victory for SEOs everywhere, this is the type of attitude I seem to be dealing with all the time now and there needs to be more emphasis on correcting the misinformation.

Some people have become so focused on proving what they think they know about the SEO industry that they’re completely missing out on any benefit it has to offer.

And in the long run, this attitude isn’t helping the online business owner either, unless they’re prepared to pass up FREE organic traffic in favor of expensive ad campaigns and advertising.

SEO’s must combat misinformation.

A person who truly understands the value of an SEOs service is extremely rare and this makes our job harder than it should be. It’s frustrating having to first convince someone that a) SEO is real, b) you know your stuff and c) there’s actual benefit to them being listed for the products they sell or the service they offer.

This is the general misconception. That SEO isn’t needed. That it’s a scam. That you’ll do fine without it. Ranking is easy! Think so? Try hitting a competitive #1 spot without using some aspect of it (for something other than your domain name). Believe it or not folks, just because you have a pretty website all about jelly beans, does in NO way guarantee you a top 10 spot, in any search engine, for jelly bean related terms.

Defending the SEO industry’s bad reputation doesn’t exactly qualify as “good times” for any of us but it’s a battle we should all keep fighting. Especially if you’ve personally experienced, what really good SEO can do, for an online business.

Lastly, to all you SEO hater’s out there, why not focus your scathing blog posts, reviews and hate mail towards people in the industry who really *do* devalue the internet? I’ll do the same minus the scathing and hating of course.

And for Pete’s sake, please accept that there’s a big difference between ‘valuable marketing services’ and ‘nefarious, ethically challenged cheaters’.


P.S. tee hee how *stoked* am I to be the first guest poster here like EVAR?!

Melanie Nathan is founder of CanadianSEO, a Canada SEO company. Follow her on twitter to learn more about her.

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