SEOs: they don’t O SEs at all

I was called by an SEO the other day.  That’s a Search Engine Optimizer [sic] to those fortunate enough to be unware of their existence.  The call ended with me hanging up on him, such were his cock-like credentials.

I’ve never been happy with the concept of an SEO.  It’s basically someone who understands enough about how the internet works—or more specifically how search engines work—to advise on how best to write, tag and structure your web pages to get them naturally to the top of search rankings.

The offline equivalent would be some form of location specialist, advising companies where best to position their shops to maximise footfall.  But the online version has adopted somewhat legendary status, seeming to me to have invented an industry where one was not particularly needed.  The very existence of SEOs means that SEOs have to exist, to compete with their counterparts.

Seth Godin today wrote tangentially to this very topic, signing off with:

That’s one reason I resist the temptation to optimize this blog for traffic and yield. I’d rather force myself to improve it by having the guts to write better posts instead.

I’ve always agreed.  I need to make my service better and more attractive through its attributes and my reputation, as opposed to artificially improving my perceived quality by bumping my results up the rankings through clever tagging.

The very term search engine optimization makes my blood boil.  It isn’t about optimizing search engines.  It’s about frigging search engines such that they think you’re better than you are.  To me, SEOs are the scourge of the internet.


2 Responses to “SEOs: they don’t O SEs at all”

  1. Chris on July 4th, 2010 00:13

    I completely agree with you that SEO companies that cold call and push and over hype their services are scourge like.

    I just want to add something from my own experience of trying to help small companies with small (relative) budgets have a chance to get on the front page of search engines.

    I think it makes sense for them to use part of that budget to cover the expense of me applying some simple methods to what content we are able to create and so maximise the result of that content on the search engines.

    I wouldn’t refer to that as making the company seem better than they are, but I do agree that the top aim should always be trying to create the best content possible, and rather than have lots of visitors and low conversions, better to have low visitors highly engaged and pleased they arrived at your site.

  2. SLATFATF on July 13th, 2010 15:42

    I have a slightly different perspective on this. I have started up quite a few internet based companies in my time and get approached a lot by people with great ideas. ‘I want to build a site that does x,y,z’ it will be great! I explain slowly that opening a web company is not like opening a shop. Unless you open your shop in the middle of the Gobi desert.

    1) There is no passing trade
    2) Newspaper marketing does not work
    3) Google advertising (paid) is actually very expensive.

    Starting up internet businesses is hard. If you are not a geeky internet savvy person then you will simply not understand this stuff. Getting a good SEO or at least advice is key if you do not want your site to sit 500 pages down in google. Not everyone is an internet designer and knows how to do this stuff.

    When I start up a business, I do not interact with government, I get the accountant to do it. I do not try and code sites myself, I have a developer do it. I do not try and buy advertising space myself, I get a buyer to do it. So why should I not use an SEO.
    Well, I don’t because most of them are scum bag middlemen. But that does not mean that advice and help from reputable ones is not valuable.

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