The SEO Community Boondoggle?
If you’ve been following the news this week, then you know TechCruch committed a massive faux pa by publishing an “anonymous” article this week about SEO being all “smoke and mirrors”. I’m not linking to it for the same reason others won’t: it’s simply pure rubbish. Not to mention it was a very weak attempt at stimulating traffic and a ridiculous way to coverage and name-dropping to a site that has gone downhill as of late.
But, yesterday, Jill Whalen, published an article on SEL (Search Engine Land) that reeks of the same tactic. Causing controversy for name-dropping. Plenty of folks were upset about it, enough people that Danny had to adjust the title of the piece. It’s more SEO cannibalism.
Do I agree that there are some mighty shady folks out there bilking their clients for all it’s worth. Yes. And should they be run out of town? Absolutely. But, publishing a piece like this has only one purpose: distrust of the whole community, except of course for the person that wrote it. That person gets a pass because they brought it to light, but the rest of us get the proverbial “thumb in the eye”. The rest of us are scum-suckers because we, at one point used nofollow on Matt’s insistence that it was a valid technique to draft linkjuice.
And, I do agree with many of Jill’s points in the article: there are plenty of CORE SEO techniques that are a must and should be required before moving into advanced techniques. But that’s just the point this article attempts to play down: advanced techniques are bogus. Frankly I think the article itself is hullabaloo.
The definition of Hullabaloo:
Great noise or excitement; uproar.
And it is, for the most part, just white noise. Uproarious clamor that is really a great disservice to the community at-large. SEL is an authority on search marketing and a destination for prospective clients who’ll read that. An article like that will only confirm their off-base beliefs that SEO, is for the most part, just a bunch of bullshit. The defense is far enough down in the article, that no one would need to get there because their suspicions were already validated. SEOs and SEMs have a hard enough time validating what we do is legitimate, the last thing we needed was an authority, an elite within the community, pulling out a shotgun and blowing ALL our toes off.
Am I really worried about how the article will effect our reputation. Yeah, I am. My work speaks for itself, so those that are with me now know SEM/SEO is the real deal. It’s those that are just waking up from skepticism that are going right back into the hole of skepticism. Then throw a shitty economy on top of it, and holding off another year on a search strategy that should have been engaged on six months ago, starts to look like a no-brainer.
Even the creation of XML sitemaps are for the most part, a boondoggle. For large ecommerce sites, these might provide some value, but they are certainly not a necessity for most sites
XML sitemaps are definitely not a boondoggle. In fact they should be SOP (standard operating procedure) for any site. They are easy to create, allow for fuller indexing of the site, and if used in conjunction with Webmaster Tools (for any of the Big 3) you can get some nice stats out of them to help identify indexing problems.
For instance, let’s say you submit 100 pages in the XML, and GOOG is only indexing 40 of them. Well, you’ll know which 40 and how to flatten your site architecture to get more pages relevant and indexed. Sound like a boondoggle to you?
And don’t get me started on H1 tags. Old school SEOs swear by them, and often suggest if you don’t have keywords in them, your page is doomed. Yet, take them off a page and you’ll be hard pressed to see rankings or traffic changes from Google.
I don’t necessarily disagree with your statement, but to pretend that H1’s aren’t weighted in the algorithm is just as silly as well. It may not affect your SERP position all that much, but it certainly helps to semantically structure the page for users, and to some degree the bots. And, why wouldn’t you throw your keywords in the H1? Give the bots and the users what this page is focused on. The algorithm looks at EVERYTHING, so to NOT put them in there is just as big a mistake.
I think any time someone feels like writing a bunch of hullabaloo use the old adage: location, location, location. If you have to write it, do it someplace that isn’t such an authority and read by SEOs/SEMs and business owners alike. If you want to trash shitty SEOs, you can do that too, but aim the gun.
How do you Know When it’s Time to Fire Your Clients?
On occasion, everyone deals with a difficult client. They might be very sensitive to keyword choices and hyper-sensitive to optimized content and internal anchor links. It’s understandable. Because, hey, it’s your brand and it has to be represented a certain way. As a search marketer, as someone concerned about their own brand and image, I get that.
And, yes, “difficult” can cost you profits if handled incorrectly, be a total time-sink, and in some cases, ruin your day. Yet, how you perform with difficult clients, in the worst of times, will only make you that much better with everyone else. It’s the easy, amicable clients that get you into trouble. After all, you can’t hit homerun everytime out, and the struggle is where joy arrives.
At what point does difficult turn to “fire-able”? That’s the question. And, everyone has a different answer. Every person has a varying tolerance level. Some could/can tolerate it forever because the client is the “Golden Goose”. Others, based on past experiences, have a extremely low threshold, won’t put up with the slightest rumblings, and pull the trigger. It all falls along the bell curve and standard deviations.
There’s Only So Much Shit You Can Eat.
Be honest, there’s only so much shit you can eat. Even the most easy-going, lax, and tolerant person has a limit. So I asked the question:
Clients do need to understand that this is the last resort. I don’t think anyone EVER wants to fire someone. You always think it’ll be better the next time around. Maybe just a phone call to explain my point-of-view on the situation and how it affects our partnership. But I’m learning: once an asswipe, always an asswipe. Clients don’t change. I think Ian Lurie put it best:
The McDonalds-ization of Client Service
“The client is ALWAYS right.”
Unfortunately, that is not the case. There is an overwhelming pressure to kowtow to the client’s wishes, one that has infiltrated businesses across the globe. And, with a global depression/recession in full-swing, the client knows they have an advantage. They’ll press you. They’ll barter, bargain, and attempt to de-value your services because there’s a global crunch and they think they can. They ignore you to avoid having to approve work they were so desperate to get.
The fact of the matter is, it’s NOT ok. The client is not right. They want filet mignon at chesseburger prices. If your search marketer is worth their salt, they completely understand you’re marketing budget got tighter. That every dollar needs to be accounted for, stretched, and maximized. But, that does not mean that I have to grossly de-value and debase myself and my services to fit your budget.
Time to Fire Your Client…
It’s time to fire your client when the relationship is completely lopsided and no mutual balance can be found. Or as Alysson Fergison put it:
[when the] need to understand that their decisions impact other people’s lives
Then it’s time to fire your client.