As far as I was concerned, as a SEO, my job was to improve websites so they did better in the Search Engines, got more traffic and made money. So why is it more and more people are tarnishing SEO’s as the bad guys.
Throughout time there have been a lot of bad guys, fictional and real, the ones we tell our children about to scare them into being good and the ones we protect them from. In fiction good needs evil, as without the bad guys there is no need for the good guys and you have to admit the bad guys make the story entertaining and we just love to hate them.
SEO’s are bad guys
As SEO becomes a better known industry it seems that more and more people are assuming SEO = bad guys.
I remember in the old days if I explained what I did for a living I would be met with blank stares, or people smiling and nodding. Now people respond in a different way; they understand enough about SEO, in their opinion, to taint us all as spammers and some people even think we are hackers. This kind of reaction I usually put down to ignorance but even forums and large companies don’t seem to know better.
SEO is not split up into black hat and white hat, good and bad, much as in life, it is very much shades of grey very few people are whiter than white in everything they do, but I can hand on heart say that I have never done anything that would hurt another site.
More and more forum and website owners are subject to spam from what I would consider bad link building from not very good SEO strategies, so it is understandable that they may be cautious of SEO’s, but what happened to being innocent until proved guilty?
A year or so ago I joined a popular parenting forum as I was a new Mum and thought the support and networking from over Mums would be useful, I made the mistake of using my main email account, which so happens to be a SEO account.
I participated in a few conversations, never plugged my business or any of my clients and never once posted a link to an external website. I did, however, come across some cyber bullying a group of mums were attacking another Mum for formula feeding and not breastfeeding, this was obviously upsetting the Mum and never one to keep my mouth shut, I posted that it was the Mum’s choice and they should leave her alone ( I did not say formula was better or recommend a formula, I did not link to any thing in this, I just wanted to stop the bullying).
This action led to the forum owners looking closer at my email account and they removed my posts and emailed me telling me I was no longer welcome as I was a spammer. The only way they could have come to this conclusion was from my email address (which they admitted) and although there was obvious cyber bullying going on I was perceived as the bad guy.
In reality most SEO’s that use spamming as a technique are not daft enough to use an email address that has their company name or details.
Companies that should know better
Well known companies should understand that SEO is a common practice and although a few black hat SEO’s may do something unethical, most of us are professionals who are trying to make the internet a better place. We are not hackers and we don’t use phishing methods yet when setting up accounts many companies will just decline your registration if using a SEO email.
A recent example I heard of this weekend was where SEO, Heather Lloyd Martin from SEO Copywriting, was automatically declined due to having SEO in her domain name. A company such as Paypal will make a lot of money from SEO companies, who use their service and help website owners make more money. It is understandable that some small business owners may not realise that not all SEO is spam but large companies really shouldn’t come to this conclusion.
SEO’s are good guys too
So, if we are to believe the hype, all SEO’s are spammers, hackers and would steal your babies milk if you let them close enough. Although SEO does have a few bad eggs these are not the companies and individuals that typically do well. Every industry will have the odd chancer and company that are not entirely above board with their business plan and methods. In these industries the individuals are marked as the black sheep rather than the whole industry becoming tainted.
Google has the mantra ‘don’t be evil’ and as people would perhaps see Google as being the good guys then I suppose SEO’s are the bad guys. This is not the case, SEO’s are helping sites do better in Google and we adapt everytime Google throws something new into the mix. Even Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts, admits Google does not hate SEO, he mentions that some people do use bad techniques but even lists a lot of ways in which SEO will help users and “make the world better”.
At SEO Creative we try to incorporate SEO with social media, inbound marketing, conversion rate optimisation and other internet marketing techniques that increase traffic and sales not just get your keyword to a high position in the SERPs and give you more links than your competitors. Long campaigns that help your whole site do well and secure lasting positions and traffic levels are more important than short term wins from spammy techniques yet until more people become better educated about the SEO industry.
Now black hat techniques and spammy link building are being identified by Google, it does leave us open to negative SEO, this is by using negative SEO techniques to bring down a competitor. This is another area that will continue to tarnish the good SEO name.
If your site comes under attack of a negative SEO technique then you could lose business, money, and jobs, the recipients of a negative SEO attack can address the issue bit once the damage is done they many not be able to afford to carry on. In these cases it is understandable that SEO’s are perceived as the bad guy, even though someone has had to pay for this work, the service being offered is not one that can claim to ethical.
Make some noise for nice SEO’s
SEO companies really need to start to make more noise about what they are doing, more transparency and success stories. We advise our clients to let people know the good things they are doing, case studies, unique selling points but SEO’s who can turn a small business into a large business can have data proving the turnaround their campaigns can make in turnover, as well as successfully building a client brand just takes these ‘wins’ as the norm.
Bad guys do well in movies, not in SEO
Villains and bad guys have their place, it isn’t in a reputable SEO company, so please people, stop assuming it is.
The fact of it is, as Google rolls out more and more updates that identify spam techniques, even the bad guys of SEO may soon be out of a job; letting the rest of us have fun creating innovative SEO campaigns that help your business. Even in the movies the bad guys have their counterpart hero. Although bad guys are essential for a good storyline in the movies I would not miss the bad guys of SEO from the industry, and even in the movies bad guys usually get their comeuppance in the end.