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Dear Bloggers, I Apologise. Regards, the SEO Industry

This guest post is by Daylan Pearce of Next Digital.

There are three common reactions I get from people when I tell them what it is I do for a job.

  1. “What is that?”
  2. “Oh that’s cool, how does that work?”
  3. *Rolls eyes* “Oh riiiight, you’re one of those guys!”

So what is it that I do for a job? I’m an SEO. Each day, I work with businesses and websites to make sure their sites and Internet presences are in the best shape possible to be found in search engines.

A big part of my role is to respond to the first two of the reactions, which is something I actually enjoy doing. These two responses open up a door for me to explain something I really love doing. It’s the perfect opportunity to educate someone on how I can help make a website, author or idea as visible as possible online.

Yet it’s the third response I mentioned that I, and many others, am finding is becoming more common lately. SEO has become a bit of a dirty word (okay, it’s an acronym, not a word) lately. And one of the most vocal groups of this negativity is from you guys—the blogging community.

There is a growing perception that SEO is full of tricks and cheats. That it is an industry full of scammers who are trying to use your site for nefarious and dastardly reasons.

And why wouldn’t you think that? If you’re a frequent visitor to this site, then you’re probably someone who receives daily emails from SEO companies looking for a guest post or link on your site. You know the ones—those poorly written and often templated emails asking if you’ll publish their awesome, relevant, and completely unique blog content on your site. The ones that remind you to “please ensure you use followed links, oh and please use these specific keywords.”

It’s insulting to you and your readers and they always seem to come from people who are doing it for SEO purposes. After cleaning out your inbox each day with the same rubbish guest post outreach emails, I don’t blame bloggers for not trusting SEO and those who claim to do it. We look like lazy, condescending jerks.

But we’re not all like that, I promise. I believe you can divide up SEO today into three categories. Every single person within the SEO industry will fit into one of these no matter who they are.

The scammer SEO

These people understand SEO, no doubt. They understand what algorithmically makes words and sites rank well and they will use any trick or tactic necessary to get those rankings.

Black-hat SEOs and companies want wins at any cost, and unfortunately the people who do partake in these tactics do often get results at the expense of those trying to do it by the Google/Bing/Yahoo etc guidelines and rules. However, these wins are often short-lived as search engines target these methods constantly, penalizing those who use them.

How to spot them

A lot of the time these tactics are obvious—we all know what spam comments and emails look like.  Sometimes, though, the tactics can get a little trickier.

Domain cloaking and redirects from approved links already on your site are two common tricks. Perhaps check your analytics now and again for any abnormalities within your referrer data or link profile:

  • keyword stuffing
  • redirects
  • linking to doorway pages
  • comment spamming.

The lazy SEO

These are the people within the SEO industry which blogging communities are probably exposed to most.

They are the ones that fill up your blog comment threads with seemingly obscure and irrelevant content trying to get an easy link on your site. They are the ones who send you those poorly written emails exclaiming their undying love of your blog to get a link. They are the ones who keep those companies who sell 1000 links for $49.95 in business.

How to spot them

These guys often have a shotgun approach to blog outreach: send many emails and hope at least one gets a response. They:

  • follow a generic (template) format
  • perpetrate spelling errors
  • have no personality
  • wish to write about topics not relevant to your site
  • offer money
  • have specific technical link requests.

The genuine SEO

This group of people know that SEO is more than just about title tags, directory submissions, and spamming blogs in the hopes of getting one response that agrees to a guest post.

Genuine SEOs will and probably have contacted you because they believe that they have something that could be of interest to your audience and their client/site. They are first and foremost online marketers who are looking to effectively convey a message to a relevant and engaged audience. The link is a nice by-product, but forming the relationship and reaching an audience is the real goal.

How to spot them

These SEOs can be trickier to identify due to the sheer volume of rubbish emails that often surround them. But typical features of a good marketer is someone who is offering:

  • relevant content to your audience
  • personalised contact and information
  • an understanding of your blog
  • a knowledge of the topic they are talking about
  • enthusiastic and personable interaction
  • a genuine tone of voice.

The shape of SEO

Unfortunately, we are all lumped under the one banner of SEO, a title that as an industry is having its reputations run into the ground because of quick wins and lazy tactics.

The ironic (and tragic) part is that SEO is all about building brand awareness and boosting reputation, yet the tactics that a huge number in the industry use to try and achieve this goal are destroying our very own brand and reputation. SEOs are hurting SEO.

Ultimately, it’s up to us as SEOs to help make the Internet and search results better. That may seem corny as hell, but we know how this search stuff works. We need to stop turning the Internet against us.

There is a reason that 19 of your 20 blog out reach emails don’t get a reply. Instead of coming up with tactics to get a link, we need to come up with and promote tactics to build an audience.  Otherwise it’s kind of like Superman using his powers to become the world’s biggest super-villain instead of helping those in need.

So, on behalf of all people within the SEO industry who do search marketing and optimization with the view to benefit users and readers a like, I apologise for those who don’t.

Daylan Pearce is search lead for Australian Digital Agency Next Digital. You can find him via his blog at DaylanDoes.com where he writes about all things search & social or on Google Plus.

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Comments

  1. Sami Cone says:

    You had me at nefarious… ;)

  2. Basheer says:

    I agree with your point. Now a days lot more companies growing up on the name “SEO”.
    I hard to find a genuine seo professional. Genuine professional cost more.

    A good read.

    • Thanks Basheer.
      It’s an uphill battle for both bloggers/webmasters and those that try to do search marketing well.
      Thanks for reading.

  3. John says:

    well, I think that SEO can never be finish but it is getting hard and hard. It is getting difficult. Only those SEO experts survive who works better and work on quality.
    I think if you vary your anchor text then nothing will happen to you.
    Thank you

    • It’s like the wild west days of email when everything you’d find in your inbox was spam – that didn’t kill email marketing. Email providers just got better at stopping the rubbish and marketers targeted and optimised their strategies.
      Search marketing is similar, those who work along side the algorithms rather than trying to game the algorithms are the ones who will be around longterm and get real success.
      Thanks for reading John.

    • Alessia says:

      I actually find it quite exciting that it’s getting more and more difficult. I feel like I work for the secret services. It makes it worth getting up every day to go to work.

  4. I have had a client actually leave me after I took them from page whoknowswhat to page 1 on all their major terms because “So&So Scammer said they could make me #1 on page one TODAY!” And of course, they believe it. We all roll our eyes at how often people get scammed, tricked and played … and yet it happens often enough to keep those BHW guys in business. I’m not sure who the smart ones are, some days. lol

    • sigh…
      I feel your pain Matt. Quick (dodgy) wins will almost always result in big losses. Just gotta keep fighting the good fight I guess.
      Thanks for reading.

  5. Rob Skidmore says:

    Amen my friend. Great post. As a fellow Genuine SEO I feel compelled to share this with everyone that has a website. Maybe I’ll even print it out and direct mail it to some people who don’t.

    Also I will automatically share any post hat has the words nefarious and dastardly in it. :-)

  6. Great post, Daylan. Thanks for reminding me that there are professionals out there. It can be frustrating dealing with all the emails at time.

    Keep making a good name for yourself and your industry.

    Kimberly

  7. That was a great article. i like that you used the word “dastardly”, but I like even more that you divided up the SEO industry. There is a negative perception to what we do and I totally understand why. However, as you point out many of us are just trying to connect the relevant audience with our clients used the correct tactics and strategies.

    • Thanks a lot Adam.
      I think one of the great aspects of blog outreach is that as SEO’s not only do we find good opportunities for our clients, but we can also provide a good experience for the site we’re hoping to work with. If it works for both parties then the entire blog outreach experience is good for everyone involved.
      We need to ensure that outreach is good for both the client and the site we’re trying to build a relationship with. That way everyone wins!
      It’s fun when it does too.

  8. Good article Daylan,

    However I have to ask.

    How many bloggers are considering the value of search traffic in the first place? Is it worth it?

    Search traffic is by far the weakest performer in my experience when you compare it to referral, email and direct traffic.

    Add to it the fact that at a moments notice some google animal could attack your blog.

    I tell clients to focus on REFERRAL traffic and you’ll get plenty of search traffic on accident if you do it right.

    • I think it depends on your audience and content.
      Personally, I find social is where initially my traffic comes from, but then once the social hype (for want of a better word) dies down, then the organic referrals start to really kick in and bring a steady stream of traffic continuously. This search traffic also gives great insight into the content people are looking for, which then turns into other topics and posts I can create to grab that traffic. Supply and demand.

      Some site’s (with blogs) I do work for get almost all of their traffic from non-paid search, others get very little. It varies on site and audience intent.

      As for the Google algorithm attack – as an SEO, it’s my job to ensure all those who entrust me with their site don’t end up using tactics that will get them stung by an algorithm change. Stay away from dodgy and spammy tactics and stick to legit content promotion and marketing and an algorithm change won’t often be a problem.

      Thanks for reading Darnell.

  9. Spot on, Daylan! The title of SEO has been dragged through the dirt especially over the past few years as more people have stepped into the online marketing game. I love your quote – “Forming the relationship and reaching an audience is the real goal” – and that is exactly what people should be doing now. The people that keep trying to play the short-game are getting taken out with the garbage by the search engines, and it is now more than ever an essential vital sign to explore social media and build real tangible relationships with people.

    • Thanks Ryan,
      I agree, but the problem is the people that play the short game end up burning their clients so as they won’t touch those who can offer them long-term search benefits. It’s a shame.
      But I figure if you keep on being able to prove great results through great strategy, then that speaks for itself. Most people want results that last, not ‘scorch the earth SEO’ for a couple of months of minor wins. If you can do that, you’ll never have trouble finding clients.
      Thanks a lot for reading.

  10. Cranvas says:

    As the seo work now a days become tough after Google panda’s new update,So according to this post i think we must have to focus over the content over-the site and keywords proximate and keyword efficiency are the other two important factors.

    Thanks

  11. Michael Sato says:

    Just a new blogger here so your tips on SEO is very much appreciated. Ever since starting my blog last December I am getting a lot of emails promising immediate huge traffic to my blog. Which I find unusual as that’s not how it works for most successful startup sites.The pointers you gave here just made newbies more aware how to spot these SEO scammers. Thanks!

  12. Tracy Brown says:

    Hi Daylan – excellent post.

    I cannot count the number of prospective clients who are shocked when I tell them: “No, you’re not going to be #1 on Google in a day or two. It, er, doesn’t work that way.”

    While they’re quick to hang up on a telemarketer selling monkey-shine, or perfectly fine with directing “This single mom makes $800 a day by stuffing envelopes in her home!” junk mail to the garbage, it seems they get a little fuzzy when a spammer sends them email promising them the Google Holy Grail.

    It’s up to us to educate clients – and maybe even provide a little help to prospective clients shopping around for SEO services. I believe your article is a good one to share with them to get the conversation going. :-)

    Thanks for your post! Have a great day!

  13. Hey Daylan, SEO is long gone, actually the SEO industry is turned down because of blackhat methods. I think natural writing will work at last. Interacting, engaging will build relationship that leads to build audience. I some times do we really need an SEO export for our blogs? If you are looking one, finding genuine SEO export is way difficult. Think about long term benefit, as you said those tricks will work for short time of period then will penalize.

    • SEO is long gone? It’s an interesting statement, Hemanth, but I don’t think it’s true. Yes, certain back-handed ways of doing SEO are long gone (meaning, they don’t work anymore), but as long as there are search engines, there will be ways of ranking in those search results that work better than others.

      I agree with you that “interacting, engaging will build relationship that leads to build audience” – as Daylan also effectively said in his post – but SEO is not long gone…not by a long shot. As long as there is an “SE”…there will always be an “O.”

      LOL

    • I gotta agree with Chris here Hermanth.

      SEO morphs. What it was 7 years ago is completely different to what it was 3 years ago, and even more different than what it is today. It’ll be something else in 2 years from now too. Tactics and best practices change as user needs, search behaviours and algorithms change, but it’s always going to be about using search engines to promote your site – call it SEO, search marketing, inbound marketing, website optimisation, online promotion or whatever.
      I think the term ‘SEO’ brings with it certain conotations that people associate with dead tactics and redundant practices (which are often spammy or black-hat) – which I guess is what I was hoping my post would try to dispell a little.
      Thanks for reading guys.

  14. Very well said :) I’m employed full-time as a content writer by an SEO agency that uses legitimate digital marketing techniques to achieve good results for its website clients. I know how hard these guys work, so it’s always frustrating to see their industry dragged through the mud by those who lump all SEOs in together.

    Sure, there are plenty of shady people out there doing stupid things, but there are those who approach the practice the right way as well. Thanks so much for making this clarification public!

  15. Tony Nguyen says:

    I wonder why BlackHat SEOs still exist. Google clearly penalize doing wrong methods, but still many people are into black hat. Anyway, maybe Black Hat has its place in the SEO world.

    • It’s the same with anything online – or almost anything in life – if there is a way to game the system, someone will always be there to do it.

  16. Eugene Erwin says:

    I operate a plumbing business in northern California and I do my own search marketing and web design and I constantly get call from low life seos’ that say something about my business that I absolutly know are untrue. They must have a script that they say to everyone. I also do local business promotion for other local businesses and get all my clients by referral.

  17. Rahul says:

    its a very good post about seo we can get high rank by seo but bad seo decreses the ranks for more tips you can also visit my blogging thanks for sharing..

  18. Eric says:

    Its funny the same time your writing this…my blog got hammered with well over 40 spam comments that took a good little while to trash. I guess there is always spam to go around and that will continue. It’s like an never ending game! Though, for the true solid white hate SEO guys do sometimes feel bad but know I am always on your side!

    • Thanks Eric.
      Seems your site is on wordpress, if you haven’t alredy, check out Akismet. It’s a free plugin (or you can donate) that’ll trash almost all those spam comments.Occasionaly one gets through, but it’s pretty good.

      It baffles me why people still do commetn spam when the search engines have clearly stated that not only does it have no benefit (for search), but it can be straight up negative for SEO.
      Oh well.
      Thanks for reading.

  19. rososusilo says:

    i think all depends on the search engine it self. there is no guarantee in the SEO industry because search engine is always changing

  20. Daylan,

    Thanks for this post. Much needed at a time when a lot of changes are happening yet again in SEO and naturally, once again, people are looking at it as something very fishy and trickster-kind of a thing.

    I work as a writer and I am amidst a bunch of folks who often fall into the first two types and I’ve tried hard to drive home the fact that real SEO is about building credible relationships with fellow experts and all the time focusing on producing quality and value for our end-user but sometimes I just get tired doing it.

    Coming from India, I can clearly see why people look at SEO in a negative light. I don’t mean to say all Indians and Filipinos and whoever does cranky and bad SEO but we all know the truth. There’s a huge majority that always takes every little technique, overuses it, spams it and makes things just go bad for the rest of the genuine crowd.

    I don’t think the negative shades people have about SEO would go away soon but articles like these are very much needed from time to time. It’s good that you took time to write this and thanks to Darren and the team for getting this published here :)

  21. john says:

    Now a days its very difficult to find out the right SEO person.Most of the people grow up with fake SEO company name’s.
    And the right SEO cost more.

  22. Ricky Shah says:

    Email outreach is on the rise. Consider this as a side effect of guest blogging. It would be easy to sport genuine and fake people. I usually try to catch them through their email. If they have studied my blog, content and few other stuff, I accept their request.
    Welcome to the new SEO world and content distribution ;)

  23. Many times you might have observed while explaining the work we do to others. They feel interested in our part of work but think a lot in investing for their business :)

  24. Why don’t we just rename our industry and call it

    RCPO
    “Real Content Publishing Optimization”

    btw, what DID C3PO stand for?

  25. That’s good idea nice title