back to article My parents don't know I'm in SEO. They think I play piano in a brothel

Search Engine Optimisation is desperately seeking respectability, with “creativity” being the main buzzword at the industry’s big get-together – with the dark arts of “black hat” SEO scarcely being mentioned. More than 1,700 search engine optimisers and digital marketers gathered last Friday (18 September) in the UK seaside …

Wait... Search engine optimisation is an industry!? What a shit job.

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Waddaya expect? Most houses are doubleglazed by now, all those salesmen from that reputable field need to think of something else. So given the rather limited amount of opportunities in Solar, SEO looks like the next best thing.

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Snake oil for websites

After all, explicitly, Google, Bing and friends do not want to be 'gamed', the entire value of their business is in giving better results than the other guy. To do this they use proprietory algorithms, as if they weren't proprietory they would give away their business advantage. As such, anyone promising insight into SEO is at best probing a black box with a really slow refresh rate, and guessing.

A whole conference based on guessing. The smart move was selling tickets.

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Mushroom

Double glazing sales-people

> Most houses are doubleglazed by now

That's not stopping them - my last 3 houses have been new builds, complete with double glazing, and I'd still get calls within months of moving in.

Icon: the only solution

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Re: Snake oil for websites

There are things you can do to optimise your site like having the text on your website as actual text rather than as an image. I'm pretty sure Google et al don't object to you doing that.

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Re: Snake oil for websites

...like having the text on your website as actual text rather than as an image...

Indeed, and this had been the case since the first days of spiders, hardly conference-worthy. Basic honest design is fast more important than 'tricks'!

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I'm not surprised many SME businesses don't know what SEO is. Whilst this may be a big problem for the SEO companies is it actually a problem to the majority of the local market focused SME? My experience is that searching for "<placename> <businesstype>" seems to work pretty effectively, and even more effective is following links from business directories/rating sites.

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Anonymous Coward

Whilst this may be a big problem for the SEO companies is it actually a problem to the majority of the local market focused SME?

Isn't this SEO "industry" digging its own grave? After all, their existence is based on rigging search engines in their customer's favour, which implies that those that play it fair suffer the effects of what they do. The SEO industry appears to be part of an arms race, with on the other side Google trying to stop them rigging the game because it wants those rigging fees for itself (but it calls it "advertising").

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Anonymous Coward

I think the point was

That it does not have to go as far as "rigging" but simply properly presenting you web presence to the 'bots via you website code and content.

A crawler is not going to read a nice brand message embedded in an image, they dont like images without tags for example. Similar rules apply to sites that are accesible to being read out loud to the blind in making them machine readable.

You cant even think about rigging the results without getting through the presentatino baseline which, as discussed, can result in rebuilds of poorly implemented or ill considered websites.

Edit: Its the bit after this where the "Snake Oil" comes in. fixing a standard list of technical challenges will get your ranking up by default even if your content is still rubbish or irrelavant. You cant pay someone to make your marketing team make sense ater all...

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Re: I think the point was

Surely the very nature of SEO means that it can only work when most people aren't doing it? Once most web sites are using some form of SEO, it goes back to a level playing field where no-one has an advantage. It's a long term zero-sum game.

If Google is working to block these botton feeders, more power to it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I think the point was

Yes, SEO can get you "unfairly" ranked higher, but the point is that search engine crawlers are computer programs and if you think ranking is important, even if you don't want to game the system, you'll at least want accurate classification.

It's like being small print or paying for an larger ad in a telephone directory: if you are going to pay for the larger advert, you really don't want it to be shit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I think the point was

"Surely the very nature of SEO means that it can only work when most people aren't doing it? "

This is exactly the point about hedge funds and poisoned mortgage tranches, which caused the 2007-8 financial crisis. Hedge funds only work if everybody else is not hedging; poisoned senior debt only works if most senior debt isn't poisoned.

It's basically the same as farmers and golf courses; when everybody starts doing it, time to get out.

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Vic
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Re: I think the point was

You cant pay someone to make your marketing team make sense ater all...

You can try...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I think the point was

"A crawler is not going to read a nice brand message embedded in an image, they dont like images without tags for example. Similar rules apply to sites that are accesible to being read out loud to the blind in making them machine readable."

You know that. Lots of people know that.

Does the same not apply to Flash as well as images?

Yet there are still idiots designing Flash-centric websites...

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Re: I think the point was

"If Google is working to block these botton feeders, more power to it."

Eh, that's only because Google wants the business for themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Search Engine Optimisation is desperately seeking respectability

lol, good luck with that.

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“People still see SEO in a negative light.”

Er no. People see SEO companies in a negative light.

Because they are cold-calling fraudsters only interested in money.

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Anonymous Coward

They think I play piano in a brothel

Which is the sort of venue where Brahms started his career in Hamburg.

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Spam filter

I only have one spam filter set for emails from my website's contact form: "SEO". That word is enough to delete the email on the server without downloading it.

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Re: Spam filter

That's not very polite. I always reply thanking them for contacting me. I also point out that since they found me (probably via a search engine), I have no need of their services since my sites are obviously well optimised.

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Re: Spam filter

My response as well. Also I point out to them that they probably found me not the first search page too, negating their claim that my sites are not highly visible on search engines...

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Re: Spam filter

My response is to ask them which site they're referring to. They never seem to be able to quote a URL. Odd that as I have a number of sites. Well, zero's a number isn't it?

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The number of unsolicited submissions I get from the 'contact' form on my personal blog seems to belie the assertion that these companies want to be taken seriously.

Anyone who even so much as casually glanced at the site would notice that it's a personal blog and contains the sum total of zero advertising.

Based on that criteria, why on earth would I want to (and I quote) "improve my search engine rankings to drive greater sales and profit to my door"?

Scumbags ... all of them.

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No adds on your blog??

If you aren't running adds on your blog, then you are doing it wrong. You are missing out on tens of pennies each and every month, after a few hundred years that'll start to add up.

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Re: No adds on your blog??

Arseholes to a man. My site advertises web services and simple logic would dictate that I'm the last person to need website help; despite the fact that they usually claim to have looked at the site and sent an email from the webform (I suspect there's some sort of contact form bulk ninja-ing tool out there).

Often different (western sounding) names but the exact same text too. Time-wasting twats.

The basic point of SEO is to blag Google into listing a site higher than it otherwise would, so the whole industry is bent from the start.

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The marketing departments love it!

Here our marketing dept is always on at me on how we improve our search engine rankings. They then say this person/business is going to get our rankings up for £XX is it worth it. They seem only to be after the quick fix.

They are never impressed when I tell them to submit their pages mentioning as much as possible in normal context the thing/phrase you want to be found and that is all this person/business is going to be doing and they can save themselves that £XX.

I'm unsure of how all these SEO companies can all offer to have you in the top X for a certain phrase. If they all do it who wins? Snake oil in my opinion.

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Re: The marketing departments love it!

Yeah, all sorts of muppets like that fall for it. I remember when I worked for a local authority the marketdroid equivalents telling me we should do this and that to improve our SEO ranking. As we were already first for any google query involving xxx County Council I found it difficult to get excited...

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Trollface

Oh dear.

Content, Content, Content. Lots of it, relevant with quality and more each day.

Otherwise folk are just annoyed when they land.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that most SEO is snake oil. Certainly most spam selling it is.

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Re: Oh dear.

Not only are the SEO emails spam, but they "work" by spamming forums, facebook and everywhere else they can post a link to the site they are trying to promote. Much of the temporary boost in popularity in the site being promoted quickly fades as the site admins clean the spam from their sites. I spent time working as a moderator on a large internet forum and my first job of the day was to clean out all the new fake accounts, posts and links created by these bloody SEO companies. SEO == scum.

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No promises we can keep, or guarantees it will work, oh and we might be doing the same thing for your competitors too. All for a low monthly fee.

Where do I sign up?

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Anonymous Coward

Past "don't make your site completely out of images" SEO has no credibility because it is all about distorting search result to give users worse results in their searches!

The true way to get better search results and click throughs is to make better content.

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Anonymous Coward

The true way to get better search results and click throughs is to make better content.

.. or pay Google..

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So its at the top of google... how many sales is that?

SEO companies treat the the concept of "Sales" as a dirty word that is someone else's problem.

As a web developer and owner, I have had far too much contact with these charlatans who really can't seem to connect the dots... it is the nebulous business model sites (like facebook and twitter) that only care about traffic... most of the SMEs are looking for SALES, CUSTOMERS... traditional things like that.

Its like marketing, but even less accountable (if that is possible).

I hope they all disappear up each other's butts.

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SEOs - the homeopaths of the internet ....

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I read that wrong and started to mount my high horse. My horse then promptly shook me off and trampled on me to shame me.

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Anonymous Coward

It's an entire skillset?

A few moons back when working for a SME, the higher ups would frequently chime in with link farms, black hat SEO practices, trading databases of people's info for spamming people. You'd explain why the stuff they spouted was a bad idea but they would railroad the stuff through anyway. I would have hope things have changed by now but reading this I wouldn't bet on it.

This new 'skillset' is what? Content, Keywords, Adwords, "using Social Media" & SeoMoz if your company pays for the licence? Can't say I'm convinced, but happy to add the caveat that I'm nowhere near this stuff anymore.

Did I miss something or am I getting old?

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Re: It's an entire skillset?

It's the skillset of a scam-artist.

Not a nice skillset, but nevertheless a skillset.

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Anonymous Coward

Nigritude Ultramarine

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FAIL

All SEO is bullshit

To be honest you may as well wave a chicken at your computer when the moon is full and chant to the great god google.

Amazing that there's enough money around for these idiots to confer with each other.

My wife got an email from a SEO muppet about how her website was 'non optimal in the search space'. So I replied back asking how come he managed to find the site in the first place if it was so much 'in the dark space' (real quotes) and how come my wife's business is managing to do so well even without the benefit of Mr SEO Twat Face's input.

Reply came there none.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: All SEO is bullshit

Reply came there none.

Not from them, no. But your email address suddenly became worth a lot more to spammers.

Personally I think these people fully deserve severe physical percussive attitude correction.

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Okay...

So the S is 'Snake' and the O is 'Oil'. What does the E stand for?

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Re: Okay...

Embrocation. Just rub it onto your website.

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Coat

Re: Okay...

Enema?

I'll get my coat.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Okay...

Embrocation. Just rub it onto your website.

LOL. Funniest comment this week, I don't think anyone is going to surpass that :)

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LDS
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The 20 years old who became "rich" overnight displayed on stage...

... isn't the same tactic used by pyramidal/Ponzi scheme sellers to lure more idiots^H^H^H^H^H^H investor/partners/whatever onboard?

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Get all their email addresses & add them to every spam list known to man or beast. Especially beast.

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Anonymous Coward

Especially beast.

You must stop reading these libels against our beloved Prime Minister.

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Pirate

Black Hat SEO?

Is there another kind?

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Anonymous Coward

It's gotta be respectable

After all that bloke off the Apprentice last year won it and Lord "Amstrad" Sugar funded him.

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Mushroom

Wait a minute

So there were a whole bunch of SEO scumbags together in one place? I spot an opportunity similar to a meeting of similarly principled individuals in Brighton in the '80s

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