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# I think this is my main bugbear with the web industry at the moment....

(If any SEO has a problem with the accuracy of this data, I can guarantee that, like SEO 'expertise', I have based it entirely on anecdotal evidence from other web developers)

My Gallery
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 19:14, archived)
THIS. Also the employers that don't know the difference between a front-end web designer and a web-developer.

I do animation and design. "But we need a new database driven system for our website." NNnnnnnng
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 19:20, archived)
# Years ago, I had my job description
changed from "web designer" to "web developer", and then was suddenly expected to know everything about web development because my title had changed. I had been given no training in the extra knowledge I needed.
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 19:27, archived)
# Yeah but it's all computers isn't it.
All you've got to do is, like, click and the computer does all the actual work, right?
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 19:30, archived)
# I'm sure I could programme an SEO expert
10. REM SEO Expert
20. Make arbitrary HTML tweaks
30. Spam blogs
40. Spam directories
50. GOTO 20

(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 19:41, archived)
# But they should not exist because,
20 should not need doing.
Content, keyword selection and link cultivation, yes. Tweaking your HTML? Perhaps you shouldn't need it tweaking?

(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 15:23, archived)
# That's why he said
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 18:53, archived)
# Yes, I know
but his use of 'arbitrary' comes across a bit like 'which I don't understand' which may explain the difference in wages.

I don't actually believe this of monkeon, but I also do not believe that he thinks SEO is unimportant.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 11:09, archived)
# RE: Arbitrary
When I used to be given changes to make on behalf of an SEO as part of my job, they seem to change about monthly.

As far as I can tell, 90% of the job is link building, so these changes it would appear are only being made either.

1. Because they don't know what they are doing
2. They are trying to pretend there is something the client can't do in these tweaks (blinding people witch science), unlike the link building which doesn't *seem* to require qualifications and they could do themselves.

I admit in this case I am basing a practise on the evidence of 1 team, so it's not really an overly valid point.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 11:31, archived)
# I submit to you that youy may have a shit SEO
but at the end of the day I can demonstrate that the work I do produces far more money than it costs, which is why I am worth it.

I stopped being a developer a long time ago and have done pretty much none at all for 3 or 4 years, but I have developers working for me and a very deep and broad knowledge (deep in my discipline and broad in the field - I am a T shapes person!) I really think that I can do a lot of good and I have experience and practice in doing so.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 12:07, archived)
# Do you not think that your background in development
is a strong benefit over your rival SEOs?

Qualifications is one thing that many do not seem to have.

A background in the industry, honing in on the one aspect seems relevant, whereas coming from a sales background does not.

"I can demonstrate that the work I do produces far more money than it costs, which is why I am worth it."

Good point, though do some people not just buy AdWords and when their sales go up, say this is a sign of success? Would you say that is an honest practise?

As an un-argumentative aside, do you not think that link building is a somewhat sisyphean challenge - for as soon as you set them up, google discover them and knock them down.

Would you say a company is better approaching an SEO firm than a Viral Marketing firm to get links? If so, why?

Do you think there is a long future in SEO, or are you just in it while the going's good?

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 12:25, archived)
# If I might just answer your last question first,
I am a technical consultant - yes I am good, but there are quite a few good SEOs about. Maybe I am in the top 10 in the UK, but then I am SEO Director at the largest digital agency in Europe, so I fucking well ought to be good.

On the flip side of that, there are a lot of shit SEOs and, more importantly, a lot of good PPC chaps, media buyers, affiliates and so on who say they can do SEO in order to land a full service contract, which is what you are probably falling foul of.

AdWords is PPC, not SEO.

Sales people make shit SEOs, but they are good at selling it.

SEO should die - SEO should become part of D&B and not exist as a lone product, but that (and the hiring of shit SEOs) will only happen once marketing managers listen to professionals and stop building flashy poorly coded sites and developers learn to build sites well.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:48, archived)
# Fair enough.
Could you perhaps explain the difference between a bad SEO and a good SEO and how one would go about telling the difference. What questions should they be asked to prove their skill base?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:13, archived)
# As an employer of (currently) 23 SEOs
No, haven't got a clue. I take 'em as grads and keep the good ones. Sorry.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:13, archived)
# Also,
feel free to hire me and my team ;)
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:22, archived)
# You're beating
Rhys and his mystery men (a few posts down) in my opinion, anyway!
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:24, archived)
# Milt comes across as very good to me.
I'm really very expensive, so unless you are huge, maybe you should hire him?

That said, if he is as good as he sounds then maybe he is very expensive too?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:54, archived)
# You must have some way
of differentiating between good and bad?

Do they do more than link building? Do they do proper marketing to get real links to the sites, for example?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:23, archived)
# Technical SEO is a skill
how good someone is is borne out from their work, just as being able to code is a very minor part of programming.

Assessing someone's vision and understanding cannot really be done in an interview.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:53, archived)
# Pfft. Sounds familiar
I was expected to "learn on the job". I pointed out that people go on 3 year courses to learn what they were asking and compared it to learning French, fluently, from scratch, in a couple of weeks.

Would still like to learn though.

(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 19:40, archived)
# I'm a web manager right now
and do a bit of everything.

(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 19:24, archived)
# So...
How does one get a paying job as a Social Media Expert?
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 19:48, archived)
# If I was to generalise,
being middle class, female and pretty helps (if you have a male boss).

You certainly don't need any qualifications.
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 20:04, archived)
# a magnificent set of breasts
sounds like a qualification
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 1:20, archived)
# I actually went to a presentation
by a social media company where the "expert" actually said that qualifications are irrelevant (she had a degree in archaeology), and where the boss announced in his introduction that he was a technophobe. What great people to know about the web.

When my friend asked her why someone would follow a company on Twitter, when it is like asking someone to spam you, she mumbled something about it being "for SEO".
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 12:01, archived)
# I agree
We employed a social media/online marketing guy for about 8 months, he managed to post about 100 tweets a day (on his own personal account) and got us one customer in that time (who then went bankrupt owing us about £5k)
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 20:04, archived)
# This is perfect...
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 20:08, archived)
# Too true, too true
*clickity click*
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 20:10, archived)
# I love this
Also, Don't make me think' is a great read.
I still have unpaid library fines because of that book.
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 20:31, archived)
# Yeah, it's a great book, isn't it?
I usually regurgitate bits of it whenever I talk to a client about what they want from a website.
(, Sun 20 Jun 2010, 20:34, archived)
# To be honest,
It's the only website design book I've actually read, most of what I've learnt comes from the net as and when I need it, and hours of trial and error, heh.

Getting into PHP at the minute and could use a paper manual, any reccomendations?
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 6:53, archived)
# A classic
Welling and Thomson: PHP and MySQL for Web Development. Loved that book.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 9:03, archived)
# ^^ this
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 13:37, archived)
# I've not read their php one,
but I tend to find the Quickstart books are very good at giving a quick, simple overview (as the name suggests) and don't scare you off by starting with loads of pages about configuring servers.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 10:04, archived)
# tbh
the online documentation is the best. combined with the comments. better than any other language's documentation. you'll learn alot
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 22:35, archived)
# Oh so very very true
Already FP'd but *clicketh* anyway for good measure
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 12:07, archived)
# I would point out
SEO-ing is no exact science; it's constantly changing & evolving, and there really are no set rules how to do it. That's why some people are shit at it, and others are shit-hot at it; a good SEO consultant will charge by results rather than time, and get stinkingly rich doing it (rightfully so IMO).

I'm not a SEO but I know a couple of people who are, and I've been genuinely impressed with how in just days they can boost a site without even trying. I've also seen other self-proclaimed experts struggle to bring in 10 extra visitors over weeks.

Also a good web-dev needs to know about SEO if the site's gonna have any chance of being ranked well; there is some cross-over.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 12:21, archived)
# I think making a site Search Engine friendly
is necessary, but it's a simple task and it *should* be part of a web developer's tasks (as the optimisation side of it is ultimately not all that different to accessibility)

However, I've yet to come across an SEO who doesn't achieve their goals without trying to cheat Google with methods I'd regard as spamming (posting stuff on blogs merely for search engines to find etc)

I believe this article is on the money:

(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 12:30, archived)
# Cheating is half the game
In Googles' ideal world, it would rank everything according to unbiased relevance.

SEO on the other hand is as much about making your relevance stand out, as is about tipping the scales in your favour through whatever tactics necessary. It's not supposed to be fair, goodness me. :)

Also, you'll never know when Google et all will start to punish sites on certain underhand tactics. The rules change almost daily sometimes, and if you get caught cheating your ranking will be punished; often irrecoverably. It's a game.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 12:39, archived)
# That is spamming, though.
So, why do they complain about people using black hat techniques when all the "link building" techniques are spammy?

Link building isn't Search Engine Optimisation, it's Search Engine Cancer.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 13:01, archived)
# ^this
couldn't agree more
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:18, archived)
# "In Googles' ideal world, it would rank everything according to unbiased relevance. "
Sorry, but....bollocks....in Googles ideal world you'd rank according to exactly how much you've paid to rank.

If they get upset with people manipulating rankings it usually because the person hasn't paid them to do it.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 1:42, archived)
# I agree that making your HTML SEO friendly is simple
and should be part of a dev's job.

Trouble is they they are generally toss at it.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 15:25, archived)
# So why is someone
with no background in coding any better?

(And most SEOs seem to pass on the SEO tweaks for Devs to do anyway)
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:02, archived)
# They are not,
nobody with no background in coding can give good technical consultancy as an SEO.

Of course, I don't make the tweaks, I give them to the dev - it's his baby, not mine.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 11:08, archived)
# Surely to understand what the tweaks are doing,
a knowledge of code helps?

Another bad experience: An SEO once told me to remove the "javascript links" from my site. He thought they were javascript because they changed colour when you rolled over them... ie using CSS. A knowledge of basic coding would have helped there.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 12:53, archived)
# Again
shit SEO.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:49, archived)
# I'll take it as given that you are good at your job.
Do these shit SEOs not piss you off for bringing your business into disrepute?

It is experiences like this which have made me very cynical.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:26, archived)
# Yes.

Cunt them in the fucking murrays, the lot of them.

Seriously though, for a small site I was using to make money, I'd spam. The luxury of having clients who are big enough that the reputational fallout for the brand outweighs the ease of cheating is nice, but a challenge.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:55, archived)
# I signed in for this first time in ages...
... just to commend you on the awesome nature of this. GOLD!
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 13:39, archived)
# Its only the same as the dot com boom
Where the last panel would have been true for web designers (not even developers).

Give it a few years, and SEO and social media will cease to be black magic voodoo (in the eyes of the old codgers who hold the cheque books in most companies), and most people designing the sites in the first place will get it right when they build the site.

I'm writing this as someone works in all 3 fields of web development, SEO and Social Media... (but not in the cunty way described above - I just go in and fix the code that was written by retards who call themselves web developers and expect to earn the same social media experts... ;) )
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 14:08, archived)
# I completely agree with you.
SEO should just be the optimisation code-fixing side, which is a development skill. And a one off charge.

However, most companies have a monthly charge which is often more than the website is worth, for which they are merely paying for spam (which makes the company look bad) or AdWords which they could buy themselves for far cheaper.

They use "optimisation" as a slight of hand to disguise from their spammy techniques. They make changes each month to look like they are doing something technical.

Likewise, no companies *need* Twitter or a Blog, and yet they are being oversold them all the time, lied to that it is a great way to get new business. If you can write and enjoy writing, it perhaps is. If you are writing a blog because you have to... no one will read it.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 14:40, archived)
# nice stack of children's books.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 15:12, archived)
# I am willing to dispute it entirely.
I am an SEO 'expert' and I am not very good at Flash, but I can get by, I am not good at pretty, but if you cannot code HTML, CSS, JS and understand a bit of VB, ASP, PHP and, for example, CURL, ASAPI, server configurations and write a pretty damn mean regex then you cannot really do your job.

Essentially, I would say that a web developer is like an SEO expert who just does not fucking bother to think about making his dev good for engines or the disabled user.

SEO is linking and 'not shit' dev. The reason SEOs exist is because most devs cannot manage that.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 15:21, archived)
# Most DBAs have no idea about SEO - so that never helps.
And neither of them have ever looked at their site in Lynx. The rest have never sat down and read the Disability Discrimination Act.
The worst bunch are those that make inhouse webapps, THE EVIL UI bastards!!!

(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 15:32, archived)
# I agree that there are many developers who build bad code.
They are thus bad at their job.

However, since most SEOs have no background whatsoever in coding, I fail to see how hiring someone with less skills is more appropriate than finding a different dev who can do his job well.

It would be like if someone was still ill after seeing a homeopathist, sending them to someone who plans just to look up their problem on Wikipedia, rather than sending them to a proper doctor.

What qualifications would you say an SEO needs?
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 15:53, archived)
# ... and you'll find most developers are open
on their CV as to which languages they know as it is easy to test their claims.

I read this elsewhere...

"You know how they say the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt?

It's usually that.

A lot of webby people work their asses off to learn every relevant language, and every other skill that remotely applies to their field, then get out of school skeptical as to whether or not they can go tell an employer they're also an SEO expert (or replace that with any other skill that isn't their primary).

An idiot marketing major (not saying marketing majors are idiots, just that a lot of idiots are marketing majors) will get out of school thinking they're some techy elitist for knowing how to register a gmail account, having taken one class on internet marketing that briefly covered SEO, and not hesitate to boast themselves to a potential employer that they're an SEO expert. When asked to go in more detail, they'll cite their four years of school.

Ask that smarter techier person to go into more detail, they'll cite one or two classes they've taken on it, and mention that they go out of their way to build their sites to be search engine friendly, but haven't literally been paid specifically to do SEO.

To the employer, the marketing major who just sounded confident, rather than going into detail, will probably be their choice.

Of course, this isn't always the case, but I think it is quite often. Best thing to do is probably to just cite all of your skills, and just make it absolutely clear to every employer what you're really worth."
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 15:58, archived)
# What they have or what is needed to return a good SEO result?
If the project / team warrants it, an SEO person is needed to take the load off others. They should be getting on with other things.

Can the site be read by a text reader? Yes.
Can the site be used by a blind person? yes.
SEO over.

Is the site interesting and linked to a lot ? nope.
Don't worry google will find you.
SEO over.

(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:01, archived)
# Sorry, I fail to see what
point you are trying to make.

(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:06, archived)
# SEO is a big subject and the snake oil needs changing a lot.
I wouldn't pay a dev to be pissing about with all that when there are 1001 other features that need to be knocked out by 5pm yesterday. There is the "business point" more than anything else.

I've seen some fucking mental changes requested by an SEO that returns some nice results. The Dev that had to code them didn't like it at all. He can code; but didn't like getting out of his box.

If you can do bother Great! others cannot. I pro SEO as a subject on its own.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:30, archived)
# I wouldn't mind if SEO was a separate subject
if it wasn't entirely about blinding people with science and doing very little for their money.

It should perhaps be combined with Accessibility (a genuinely useful area) - which *does* require good coding skills.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 17:23, archived)
# we've been talking about different SEO
for me they are much the same subject as they overlap in many places.

I'd say build a site with magic Accessibility and you'll return very highly in google. The balance between SEO and DDA is always a business decision and the money wins that one.

You've had some bad SEO people haven't you.

(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 17:39, archived)
# To be honest, it became an annoyance
when I looked to see if it is something I could offer my clients, and the more I looked into it, the more of a con the whole thing seemed to be.

The books I have read on it are all about possibilities and never proven facts. No science whatsoever. There is also very little theory behind it, proven or not.

Which would be all okay if it was offered as a small job. However, it's the fact people then dare then charge monthly fees for SEO which costs more than the site is actually worth by pretending it's a really complex science. If it was, they would need a degree in statistical analysis to do the research.

Reaching a high accessibility level does take real programming skill, and yet SEO (the actually Optimisation side of it) which should be a sub set of that job same seems to be an unqualified position.

I think you'll find that it's a shockingly low amount of SEOs who could build a site which even validates, and making a site validate is rarely part of what companies offer as SEO work.

If SEO meant that the Accessibility would be improved for people, at least it would have some positives!
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 18:32, archived)
# I'd stick to knocking up cute graphics
You're good at that.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 23:23, archived)
# Validation is largely irrelevant to either SEO or accessibility
but I think that you have met a cowboy or two and so are slandering those of us who do this professionally.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 11:13, archived)
# Validation *is* important to accessibility
If bad code breaks a site in certain browsers, it could well break a screen reader, which is ultimately another browser.

It maybe not so important with SEO, but could confusing code not also confuse the Google spider, which is ultimately also html-parsing software?

There is also the cross-over with things like alt-tags.

Back on topic - I fail to find out what skill sets an SEO uses on a day to day basis which deserves the high price they charge. I'm not saying all the work is invalid, but do you really not think that a lot of people are abusing the fact that most business people have heard of SEO, think they need it but are ignorant to what they are actually paying for on a day-to-day basis?

I don't mean to slander *everyone* - and I am willing to admit that my own research hit a brick wall when I started looking into link building and felt dirty, so if I may have just done a bad job on the actual optimisation side.

However, I've yet to find anyone who can explain what it is they actually do that requires an expertise that people should pay premium rates for.

I like to think that I am willing to change my opinion, and it might be bad experience - but when I've asked why a theory exists or why a change needs to be made, it's rare that anyone seems able to qualify it with anything other than hearsay.

Again, a lot of them do not seem to actually use common "Would Google have any reason for doing this?" sense when they do optimisation. Eg The recent theory about page speed. You see blogs obsessing about milliseconds difference, when surely Google is only trying to weed out sites that are on a stupidly slow server and piss people off, rather than the rank a site that takes 0.5 seconds to load over one that takes 0.7 seconds.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 12:09, archived)
# Valid HTML is good, but nopt neccessary.
For example, JAWS often requires broken code to work effectively and it is a requirement that you make sure it degrades gracefully.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:51, archived)
# "I would say that a web developer is like an SEO expert who just does not fucking bother to think about making his dev good for engines or the disabled user."
Do SEOs really think of the disabled user when they change an image's alt tag to some non-descriptive keyword rich gibberish?
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:03, archived)
SEO VS DDA. Office meeting fight time.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:07, archived)
# No,
but then good SEOs don't do that.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:13, archived)
# Pretty Websites don't make companies money
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 15:37, archived)
# That is why you often separate
design and development.

The developer *should* be trained in areas of accessibility when they build the site.

If they are not, they are failing in their job.

What qualifications would you say an SEO needs?

(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 15:55, archived)
# What qualifications does a designer/developer need?
Reason I asked is the designer/devs I know, probably about 45% of them do not have any sort of formal qualifications but know a bit of PHP/Design. A lot of the training of them in UX/accessibility is done inhouse, which I'd imagine SEO is or will become the same

My training is through trial & error on my own sites, reading books - including the one you've used in your image - and a hell of a lot of blogs.

I'll be honest, there are some really terrible SEO's out there, and there's a lot of misinformation out there, so it takes a lot to get through it.

I will maintain my stance. Build a website & leave it there and nothing will happen to it. Don't tweet, don't link to it & nothing will happen. That's not what companies want. Companies want to make money, which is what a good SEO will do - provide a return on investment.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:04, archived)
# A developer needs
to understand at the very least html, css, javascript, one server side language, usability, web standards and accessibility.
If they want to move up in their job, then they'd need to learn more.

A designer needs a mixture of usability and the more abstract "eye for design", plus detailed knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator. They'd also need extra knowledge if they want to apply their skills to print work.

Out of interest, what is your opinion on the ethics of spamming blogs and directories? That seems to be the main way people do SEO.

How do you get through the misinformation when Google keeps changes to it's algorhythm secret?

(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:14, archived)
# PS I see you have tweeted about me
"terrible irony though - "I hate social media experts", then he has his twitter link in his signature"

- so you are admitting that *all* it takes to be a "Social Media Expert" is a twitter account?
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:20, archived)
# PPS Regarding your other tweet
"Guess what? Look at his website - bit.ly/9KdGxd - bottom right hand corner. Are those sponsored links?"

Yeah, I run a popular-ish website - someone bought advertising. Thats what happens if you try and write good content.

They are blocked by the robots file, which if you knew anything about your area of "expertise", you would be aware means that you don't need a nofollow.

And you are side-stepping the main point, which is a fallacious form of argument. My point is: You do what anyone could learn to do in a week, pretend it's rocket science and charge a lot for very little. Argue back to that point.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 17:46, archived)
# PPPS If you are interested in logic,
All your arguments are guilty of this fallacy...

(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 18:42, archived)
# Okay back on point
"My point is: You do what anyone could learn to do in a week, pretend it's rocket science and charge a lot for very little. Argue back to that point."

It is in essence simple. You're exactly right. SEO is all about the following:-

1. Producing a site that both looks decent AND is indexible in the search engines.
2. Write content that both is readable by users, and as well includes a range of keywords that you would like to be ranking for in Google. Again, it's not that hard!
3. Market your content to relevant people in the hope of getting links to it.

There we go, it's learnt. However, a good SEO will have a list of directories that AREN'T free for all & spammy (which are rarer & rarer these days). A good SEO will help grow bloggers blogs & their clients sites by being useful. A good SEO will craft contact that will both be readable by the search engines & not be drier than the Sahara Desert. Building a list of contacts take time & expertise, which people will pay for.

I sell advertising on my sites, they are sponsored links. I will not have an issue with anybody selling advertising on their website. I have an issue with two things:-

1. People who sell people paid links without explaining the risk.
2. People who have a go at SEO firms whilst - assumingly (and yes I'm assuming here) - profiting from them.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 19:24, archived)
# .
So you agree with me that SEO consists of producing an indexable site with good contents and then trying to get relevant links?

I don't believe there is anything more to it than this (excluding black hat SEO). You claim that the following are a skill set which is worth paying high rates for:

1) A good SEO will have a list of paid for directories to place a clients site.
As you do not know the algorithm used by any search engine today (let alone how it will change tomorrow), then surely you cannot possible asses the quality of a directory link? You can only fall back on anecdotal evidence, which is not evidence at all. Therefore if your clients were to cut you out and then randomly choose paid directories to list in, up to the value of your fees, then why would this not be better value for them?
2) A good SEO will help grow bloggers blogs & their clients sites by being useful.
Nice and specific, 'by being useful', what does that mean?
Can you link to an example of a useful blog post you have produced for SEO reasons?
Can you explain why anyone would ever bother to read, let alone link to, a blog article written by a person who's only role is to churn out blog articles without love of the subject matter? Without backlinks to your articles, you have achieved nothing more for your client than a single link from a page with infinitesimally low page rank.
3) A good SEO will craft contact (sic) that will both be readable by the search engines & not be drier than the Sahara Desert
Does that mean you have to have qualifications as a copywriter? If you do, fair enough. I will happily concede that is a skilled job in itself.
4) Building a list of contacts take time & expertise, which people will pay for.
Yet again more vagueness, mysterious contacts. Who are these contacts? Let me guess, if you told me, you'd have to kill me. I'm not one of your clients, and you are not going to be able to fob me off simply by saying that you are an expert and have contacts. What expertise? If you really have expertise then surely you should be able to be more specific about it.

As for trying to turn things back on me, which seems your approach to argument (pointing out hypocrisy is not a logical argument - everyone is a hypocrite about some things and at least I get self-hate for anything spammy I do). I admit that I have tried some spammy SEO techniques when seeing if I could use my viral work to promote my day job, though I felt cunty doing it, and so stopped. Sometimes it feels like "If you can't beat them, join them", though at least I try and link from things I have made for the right reasons and was charging no-one to spam on their behalf.

I'll try and link build for myself via making things that I hope people like, and still build things when there is no seo value in it, but the only 'SEO' I actually sell is based more around accessibility, and it's a low one-off charge for this, plus explaining the concept of link building so that their marketing teams can do it themselves. And even then, I won't go out of my way to sell it as a separate cost, the optimisation I try and do as part of building a site.

I have no problem taking money from an SEO firm who want to buy links. I don't see why it is hypocritical. I see you have worked on a tobacco site, so I assume you agree with all the ethics of the tobacco industry? The fact they can afford to buy the links just proves to me that there's silly money in it.

If you want accusations of hypocrisy, you starting a post with a title "I have an in built hatered (sic) for web designers" is hardly not trying to provoke on a forum heavily populated by designers, so you can hardly complain when someone does an equally heavy-handed criticism of SEOs.

If, for example, you said to me that you are a qualified copywriter (which you may well be), or a qualified statician (which, again, if you are - then all this post isn't aimed at you), then I would say that you are worth the £200 a day you boasted about getting, if you are *very* good at it.

If however, as any books I have read on SEO suggest, it can be learnt in a day, I can't see why it is so lucrative unless it is a confidence trick.

I promise you that I am willing to listen to reason and change my mind, I just find people are only ever defensive rather than explanatory (which hands up again, I was unnecessarily provocative in my above post for the sake of it). I'd just like to see actual evidence that it's decent hard graft and worth the money. Show me the evidence!
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 21:49, archived)
# Answering your points
1. I never said a list of "Paid for Directories", I said a list of "non free for all directories". There are directories out there that are free but don't allow porn/viagra/dodgy stuff out there. dmoz.org for one. We don't list in paid directories.
2. Of course no SEO knows what happens with Google. We are very careful saying that we can't guarentee results. But what we do say that we test any new work on own sites. If it works, great, if not, no. Testing takes time, time costs money.
3. I cannot divulge client blog posts that I've put out there, but I'm going to link to a blog post that I wrote to promote my blog - www.howtomakemyblog.com/marketing/how-to-get-mainstream-media-interest-in-your-blog-2/ - a blog where I talk about SEO & Blogging. Relevent links, n'est pas? Useful is in the eye of the beholder. I consider it useful considering the comments & the feedback I've receieved it useful.
4. I'm not on £200 a day. Nowhere near. Find me an SEO that's on £200 a day. Nowhere did I boast I was on £200.
5. Contacts are easy to find. Just look on my twitter feed & make contact with a few of them. They are people I've spent ages connecting with. Of course, they may not exactly treat you the way they treat me. That takes time. Time costs money.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 9:46, archived)
# .
1. Dmoz is huge and well known.
Please give an example of a decent free one.

2. According to your website, there are over 100 variables google takes into account, others say as many as 500. These change hundreds of times a year. If you do testing, what statistical techniques to you use to keep your variables constant? How many sigmas is the confidence level of your results? If your tests are not scientifically valid, then the testing time is pointless.

Indeed, how do you test?

As for not giving a guarantee, your website says "We will get you high positions on Google searches (SEO)" without any qualifier, does it not?

3. Why can you not divulge client blog posts?
That suggests they are not up to scratch and you are scared I will point out their failings, or they don't exist.
Of course your own blog isn't relevent, unless you say that all it takes to be qualified is to have your own blog?
As Christopher Hitchens says, "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."

4. Sorry, you "charge" £200 a day (http://www.b3ta.com/questions/professions/post738019#post740174). My mistake.

5. Why do you need to be Twitter friends with an SEO client? As for contacts, that's called building a business. Everyone has to do this, so it is not an SEO qualification.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 11:25, archived)
# Going on the offensive
1. www.freeindex.co.uk/. Yes huge & well known, but like DMOZ it's not known by everybody. Sure a little bit of research can get you the links, but how many business owners want to do that? Not many from my experience.

2 & 4. The examples you give are from a company I no longer work for. I did recently change jobs. £200 was the going rate for SEO in my old work, which included my wages, rent of the building, heating, leccy, etc. Most business guides mention this. Yes I know you got the examples from my CV, which is on my website.

3. I can't divulge due to non disclosure agreements signed between the clients & myself. Not unheard of in business.

5. I am not twitter friends with many (indeed I'd say any) clients, but you asked for my contacts list. That's right there.

The reason we can justify charging what we charge is that we can track that our work is earning the client far much more than what we charge them. Again, with knowledge of Google Analytics - this can be proven. Can you justify your earnings?

I'm assuming you've done research on me. You will also see that I know PHP to an adequate level, I admit I can't design for toffee, but I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable when it comes to SEO.

Anyway I'm prepared to take this discussion into private messaging, feeling it's getting vitriolic.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 15:29, archived)
1. You could just link reverse a site which had been SEOd by someone to find an easy list of directories, surely?

2. Fair enough, but you said you still test, so how do you test, and what is the accuracy of those tests?

3. "I can't divulge due to non disclosure agreements signed between the clients & myself. Not unheard of in business."

Seems unlikely, but could you tell me what your non disclosure agreement you give to clients says?

5. So, why did you bring it up as a qualification?

"The reason we can justify charging what we charge is that we can track that our work is earning the client far much more than what we charge them."

Is this not like homeopathy - the placebo effect sometimes works, so it's fine to charge a fortune for very little?

"Can you justify your earnings?"

Yes, I breakdown costs and explain exactly what I'm doing. If a client thinks it excessive, they will go elsewhere. I will offer them a range of options. I will talk them through their site and see what they actually need. Do you explain exactly what it is you are doing for a client or do you say it is all Top Secret and thus must be worth it.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:23, archived)
# SEO's are just spammers with a better job title
it's the sort of job you do if you don't mind ruining the internet for everyone else, as long as you get paid.

Bunch of cunts
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:04, archived)
# they sure are :)

Do sporomex know you're spamming the shit out of their site, monkeon? Is it a service you're charging extra for?
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:51, archived)
# Yeah, it's my
Dad's site. I built it for free, so he doesn't mind me advertising on it. It's standard practise to link to your own site on websites you build, it was even before SEO was an issue (although I imagine you were in business-school then).

My main point is that SEOs are paid a lot for nothing ie snake oil, annoyance with spamming is an aside.

I assume you are an SEO - how do you justify your fees?
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:53, archived)
# If you want to say it with links...

Your accessibility page doesn't validate, the "accessibility" link has green text on a green background, and many of the images have alt="". Your accessibility page is therefore inaccessible.

Do your clients know that you are selling them non-validating pages as accessible, widdy? Is this something you are charging them less for?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 13:57, archived)
# Oh FFS, if we're going to play that game
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:37, archived)
# I was making a sarcastic dig more at the original's
form of argument, in the hope that he'd make a more valid point, rather than trying to go down that path, which I agree is childish.

Thanks, for pointing that out, though. I shall fix it.

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:49, archived)
You're welcome
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:00, archived)
# 8uy ch£@p3r gen€r1c \/iagr@
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 17:01, archived)
# £0£
$30 1$ 34$¥.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 17:15, archived)
I submit that real engineers feel the same way about Java developers as Java developers feel about SEOs and Social Network non-entities.

Java, Javascript, HTML & associated technologies are all dumbed-down abstractions created by real engineers for use by idiots, so that any pants-on-head A level Maths drop-out can go ahead and create pretty websites with templated, unindividual, un-inspiring, high-level functionality. The internet should be banned.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 16:56, archived)
# mind if i say...
that that's a pompous load of twaddle? ta.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 1:02, archived)
# You may...
....but, of course, you would not be correct.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 13:24, archived)
# I don't develops any webs
but I always love visual humor mixed with moral outrage. What an absolute shower, good show!
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 21:50, archived)
# I feel like I've poked a hornet's nest!
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 21:57, archived)
# I think I work in exactly the same type of place as you.
However, my "SEO Expert" also has a proper job which takes up 90% of his time, and the horseshittery (this is from what I've seen of what he does) takes only 10% of his time. 90% of his SEO time is spent doing one of the following:

1. Set up a Twitter and Facebook account for [company]
2. Post update to [company's] Social Media accounts

This should not be a separate job in my opinion.

I fully agree with you regarding what SEO Expertise should be about is accessibility and good code. Companies simply don't need a Twitter or Facebook page as it will purely be spamming nearly 100% of the time. Link building is essentially cheating and I can't bring myself to do it as I feel people probably don't respect companies they find doing this. However, properly indexing your site with (for example) dmoz is something quite different. It's enabling your site to be found by search engines and then indexed as you would like.

However, the same logic also applies to websites themselves. Some companies that I've built websites for simply don't need them. It is equally hocum to sell websites to companies that have no need for them as it is to sell other companies SEO rubbish.
So as long as I don't have to sell my soul to this kind of nonsense, or get involved very often with what s/he wants done, I don't mind them having that job title. I can live with it.

The salaries will probably equal out over time as every time a new job title comes along it always brings large salaries, then bosses realise and it'll come down. It's just the computing cycle I'm afraid. You should see the wages Ruby developers get.

I for my part produce accessible websites, but often forget to properly index them as there's usually time constraints and everything gets pushed out slightly before it's ready.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 22:49, archived)
# You "forget to properly index them"?
What are you talking about? Search engines do the indexing.
(, Mon 21 Jun 2010, 23:27, archived)
# You can help them along.
Sitemaps and submitting them to Google and various other places speeds up the process.

www.google.com/addurl/ is but one example.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 0:43, archived)
# This is why you need an SEO expert
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 12:05, archived)
# We need someone who does all the niggley little things that don't normally get done.
This would cover "SEO Expert" as has been mentioned here, but millions of other little codey things that just don't get done too. I'm just not convinced it needs to be a separate job on its own.
As for the pay, I'm suggesting it will probably fall dramatically in a couple of years like all new technology jobs do once the market gets flooded with people pretending they can do it properly.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 12:19, archived)
# SEO is not really new tech.
We have been doing it here for 9 years now, which is a long time in agency terms.

My point was rather less 'you need an SEO to do these things for you' and more 'you need an SEO because you think that these things are worthwhile'.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:16, archived)
# Ah right, fair enough.
We could do with a general web lackey though (who's permanently doing the bits no one else wants/has time to do) and taking the "SEO Expert" title away from the guy who's currently got it.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 21:03, archived)
# Often this is the case.
I am being glib, of course, and almost everything that you need to know to be a good SEO is available through a mixture of common sense and Google.

If you are a small business then you are best off doing it yourself, but if you are a corporation or an SME then it is not unreasonable to pay an agency, rather than paying someone in house, since the cost is a hard one, the expertise is instantly available (as it the experience of starting new campaigns and with a variety of platforms and sites) and relationships exist already.

In the long term the ideal is to have someone heading up the site who has a broad understanding of all disciplines, but any large CMS comes with its own problems and short of having an entirely bespoke solution these will have to be navigated.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 21:24, archived)
# "If you are a small business then you are best off doing it yourself"
Do you think this is what smaller companies should be telling their clients, rather than pushing for a monthly fee (which can often cost more than their website)?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 22:06, archived)
# I qualify out more work than I accept
and I often pass on this sort of advice, or recommend smaller agencies (http://www.puresystems.co.uk/ for example) so yes, you are right.

Of course it does depend on the size of the work, the dependency on web and the abilities of the individuals available - if you have to hire someone to do the work then we are back in small agency territory again.

The aim of any engagement is to provide the best solution for a client - sometimes that is micro managing their campaigns, but on the flip side even some larger clients (particularly within traditional press) only really require a technical review, with recommendations and some training.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 9:12, archived)
# What's the main difference
in skill set required by a client you think needs an expert and one you think just needs some training?

Also, with so many inconsistent variables to consider, do SEOs you trust actually do proper testing, or are the ones that say they do just bullshitting to people? I'd have thought that an SEO who is aware of the impossibility of testing and admits to working on likely theory is far more knowledgeable than someone who claims to do tests, or even does tests which I cannot see have scientific value.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 10:04, archived)
# Oh, there are some tests which are valid.
The results may be short term and one can never prove a negative, but there are valid experiments.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 11:01, archived)
# Please give an example of a valid experiment.
I really can't imagine one.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 14:28, archived)
# Okay, really basic stuff and not real example, but:
I want to know if a Search Engine follows plain text links, so I write www.somesite.co.uk/manleys-new-test/ and then I link to that page once with a plain text link from an unused but indexed page.

After that I know if it does.

Of course I can never know if it doesn't.
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 10:44, archived)
# I'm sure you're going to say "bad seo"
but so many companies claim to test all of the small theories as part of their skill base.

eg testing for keyword density

There are so many variables to keep constant that I think it would be impossible to prove anything about this from any test.

Your test makes sense for the job, but when I worked for a company whose SEO team who passed all their work onto the developers, we were never once asked to build any sort of testing sites or tools. I'm sure the root of my cynicism comes down to that!

Ultimately, I'd have thought that an expert would know the limits of what is testable, though I suspect many SEOs get work by saying "we know this through testing...", rather than "no one can know this but it makes logical sense in theory because..."

(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 17:32, archived)
# Ha Ha! Now I can really throw the cat amongst the pigeons!
I work for a business developing applications in a system called Pega Rules Process Commander. It's a BPM suite made by PegaSystems. I am not qualified in anything at all, but I'm a bit of a self taught geek who has occasionally dabbled in HTML and Java, but not to any real level that I would consider 'programming'. The combination of a logical brain, genuine business experience, the stamina to work through techy books to expand my knowledge and a system to work with that makes sense to me has led me to call myself a 'system architect'.

Having browsed the internets for information to further my knowledge of PRPC, I know that there is a growing level of hatred for people like me from traditional Java developers. I don't fully understand it, but they seem to struggle with the principles and simplicity of PRPC and seem to really resent its presence. They want to be able to suck air through their teeth like a mechanic about to make a big quote when they are presented with any development work. I just say "give me some requirements and I'll let you know what I can do". On the whole, I can have a proof of concept test model ready within a week for any new application or enhancement, and I normally end up expanding on the requirements themselves since I have the business knowledge to do this as well. On the whole, this POC model goes into production within a month, and so far I have not had any failures.

This is causing a bit of friction with all the old IT crowd. They want to go through endless 'high level' requirements that somebody being paid a lot of money can then turn into 'detailed requirements' that can then be passed onto somebody else for an impact assessment including costings, that can then go on to a steering committee for further approval before engaging the technology team who can then assign several developers to work on it whilst a change team produce reams of planning documentation before we enter 5 stages of testing, including largely unnecessary regression testing, and then after a year or two, the change might me implemented, unless the budget has been blown and the whole thing has been dropped.

Developers don't like me and my application, and understandably so. Last change I made to the main business application cost them less than 10k, but estimations from the traditional route put costs at a minimum of 150k!

This is not necessarily relevant, and I do understand the irritation with the whole SEO thing, but times move on, and systems and requirements change, and sometimes, it's better to bite the bullet and go with it.

One thing I completely agree with is the Social Media 'Expert' thing. I've never really 'got' twitter, and as far as I can see, facebook is all about making a fool of yourself after a heavy saturday night. Why is there a need for an 'expert', and why do people (the media) care?!?

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 0:48, archived)
# Speaking as an SEO...
I wouldn't have a job if web developers were perfect, but they rarely are.

I have written ASP code for professional ASP developers that could implement what I needed them to. Same with PHP.

I have written reg-ex based URL mappings for mod_rewrite when the Apache server "expert" couldn't.

The same goes for CSS & HTML. A good SEO will have very deep knowledge of very narrow and specific aspects of web development; deeper than most web developers.

I have acted as intermediary between user experience people and the web development team - usually backing the devs side of the argument and getting the decision swayed in their favour.

In an ideal world, there would be no need for SEOs, but the world is far from ideal and web developers (as a whole, not individually) are far from perfect.

The world is also full of shite SEOs, just like it is full of shite "web designers" who have done a distance learning course and have a "webmaster" qualification. Just like it is full of people who think they know PHP because they read a book and can do a few basic things.

The main difference is that a professional organisation with an existing skill-base can pick out the shite developers because they are easy to spot. I can pick out a shite SEO, because I know the subject, but your average organisation wouldn't be able to; hence, the snake-oil salesmen manage to survive.

As the industry matures, it will be harder and harder for shite SEOs to make a living and they will drift away. Maybe one day, web developers will get enough background knowledge in SEO not to create god-awful sites that don't perform. Don't get me wrong, we already turn away business because a site is good and needs little doing to it, but these are in the far minority.

There are developers that have specialisms. There is the go-to guy for PHP if you are stuck, there is the CSS guru. In a similar vein, there will one day be the developer that knows SEO. It will become integrated into web development and there will be someone that knows more about SEO than your average dev to turn to. Until then, SEOs will be sticking around.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 10:02, archived)
# .
"A good SEO will have very deep knowledge of very narrow and specific aspects of web development; deeper than most web developers."

Do you not think that most SEOs do not have this knowledge, and are therefore bad SEOs? Does that not annoy you?

Out of interest, do you include link building in your definition of SEO?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 11:47, archived)
Yes, they are "bad" and it annoys the shit out of me. But every industry has them.

We do include link building as a service, but I would rather we did not. We get better results encouraging the client to product content that is naturally worth linking to, but the reality is that many don't want this, they just want link building; if we turned this business away, we would be poor as pure consultancy gigs are quite rare. We strive to not generate shit spam links that piss off other web users, and see it as an opportunity to educate the client in better ways of going about pushing their site's authority. This is often a slow and painful process though.

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 12:09, archived)
# .
"Yes, they are "bad" and it annoys the shit out of me. But every industry has them."

To such an extreme? It may be just who I've come across, but how many do you find have come from a relevant background, rather than a sales background seeking the gold?

edit: would be interesting if you could respond to pedandichrist's post SEO to SEO...

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 12:14, archived)
# I'd say yes, to that extreme.
SEOs would not exist were developers not so often stuck in a rut and producing hakapu.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:17, archived)
# I don't think I need to respond really.
It seems that we are in fair agreement with each other.

I know his work and would say he would be a safe choice if contracting an SEO.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 20:17, archived)
# For some reason I'd misread his post
as saying you don't need an appropriate background skill base.

You are right.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 22:11, archived)
# Jacob Nielsen's books
...must be off the top of that stack.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 13:12, archived)
# And hidden on the middle pile?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:18, archived)
# nice image
but I prefer this one and the interesting footprint it's left around this website

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 14:24, archived)
# Yeah, I tried putting a small link to my site on my popular posts
when I was experimenting with SEO for a month, felt dirty and spammy and so stopped.

Hence, why you'll see it was only over a period of weeks.

If Rob gives a shit about this, then I thoroughly apologise as I respect him. I'd imagine, however, that he doesn't give a shit about link juice. And if he did, any I get for my posts is mostly brought to b3ta, even if I'd tried syphoning some off to my site seeing if that would work, which it didn't.

Ultimately, he's a viral man, so knows how to get links for the right reasons without all the nonsense SEO.

My actual posts had no spammy reasoning behind them - I've been making stuff for years, I was just seeing if I could get any benefit out of the work I do for pleasure. I was hoping it would tell google that this popular picture was made by this designer.

I have admitted all this. My point is that the experiments I had with SEO suggested that this all there is to it.

Hence, I'd say THROUGH MY OWN EXPERIMENTS that the linkbuilding side of SEO *seems* to be the main aspect as well as being pretty black-hat.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 14:29, archived)
# Fine
Though I think it's quite unfair for you to tarnish all SEOs as overpaid spammers based solely on your two weeks experience of what you thought was SEO, effectively questioning the very livelihood of many people on these very boards.

Good SEOs can make a company millions of pounds and have every right to be paid well for that. Return On Investment and all that. Bad SEOs will be quickly spotted and won't keep a client for very long.

Why complain about others getting paid more than you want them to be paid?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 14:49, archived)
# It wasn't the pay.
My point is that

*SEOs *seem* not to do much
*My experience and research on the subject *seems* that not much is involved, and what is involved is often spammy.
*I worry it is blinding people with science - a confidence trick

Admittedly, my main post was deliberately inflammatory as I thought it would amuse developers who bitch about SEO all the time. Which it seems to have done. I didn't expect people to care all that much, in the same way as everyone just ignored Rhys' post here: www.b3ta.com/questions/professions/post740198 which is the same from the other site.

What questions would you say I should ask an SEO expert for them to prove that they know their stuff over a charlatan or a black hat guy?

As I've said before, I'm willing to change my mind. But everyone seems to be going for the "you do it too" fallacy, rather than explaining what it is they do that takes skill, why link building isn't spamming disguised with a buzz-word and why I am wrong.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 14:55, archived)
# This post on twitter says different:

though I can appreciate the need for inflammation (that sounds wrong) to get the laugh. Maybe I'm just taking it too personally, as I would happily laugh at this which is in a similar vein:

As for proving the quality of your work, it's admittedly difficult at the point of sale which is why you get so many snake oil salesmen. How does a good car mechanic prove himself better than a dodgy one? (well actually there is accreditation - something the SEO industry is badly in need of, but a whole separate topic of conversation). I suppose a portfolio of previous results is all I can think of right now.

Edit/ In that QOTW post you linked to Rhys is quick to point out that he only has a problem with *some* web designers, whereas you're labelling *every* SEO a spammer and saying their very existence is unnecessary. It's difficult not to take it personally.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 15:32, archived)
# The expanaition on my tweet
was because people were taking it as a moan about a dev's salary.

"How does a good car mechanic prove himself better than a dodgy one?"
A broken car comes out fixed, and has an engineering degree. The car can pass it's MOT.

"I suppose a portfolio of previous results is all I can think of right now."
Again, how can you prove that it is because of your work and not some outside effect?

To me SEO seems like homeopathy in that it pretends to be a complex science but isn't, which, again - I would happily concede if someone would actually point me to some valid testing they have done. Homeopathy takes any placebo effect as proof that it works. SEO *seems to* take increase in sales as proof that it works, when this might just be from the purchase of Adwords, which the client could buy themselves.

Back to a point everyone has been avoiding: is link building not spam? I admit I've tried it, and I admit that I felt like a spammy cunt.

I *don't* label people who improve a site's link structure and keyword relevance as spammers. However, it's the link-building thing I have a problem with.

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 15:46, archived)
# I'm rubbish at online debate
so I'll let Google answer that themselves with a post they coincidentally published yesterday:

Another great post that hopefully goes some way to justifying the expense:

Stop changing your posts! :P
On your homeopathy analogy, that's quite a stretch! Do you honestly think it's not possible to monitor results? You can produce reports on traffic sources, keywords used to get to the site, daily/weekly/monthly rankings.

I don't understand how an engine tuner might improve my car's performance, doesn't mean when he's finished I'm going to put the increased speeds I'm achieving down to having a shit that morning making me lighter.

that analogy may have been funnier in my head
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 15:55, archived)
# .
"Just keep in mind to contribute in a positive way, rather than spamming or soliciting for your site." - Google

I'd agree with that. However, this seems to be a tip for people promoting their own site (who know their business and could contribute to relevant discussion), rather than people promoting it on their behalf.

Most link building you see tends to be very badly written - which may be just that the good stuff I don't notice. Do you have an example of any link building writing you have done for a client?

And, obviously, a lot of people just use paid links. What is your opinion on that?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:12, archived)
# Paid links is an awkward one
Definitely not great as a long term strategy and in an ideal world shouldn't be used at all. Unfortunately in a lot of competitive industries (e.g. loans) for every 100 natural links you build through link bait, participation, etc. your competitor will simply buy £1000 using their bottomless pit of a marketing budget (some companies have in-house SEOs whose sole job it is to contact websites offering to buy links). So in these instances it's easy to go down the route of 'if you can't beat them, join them'.

I'll gaz you on the other point.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:30, archived)
# *waits for the gaz*
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:56, archived)
# *got the gaz*
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:49, archived)
# Paid links are against the terms and conditions of search engine indexing
...and therefore are to be avoided.

Saying that, the definition of a paid link is full of shades of grey. Arguably a company paying and agency to build links by hand is "paid linking", as is sending someone and iPad to review and saying they can keep it.

I draw the line at actual exchange of money (or goods with a monetary value) for a link. If the link is optional (ie: "here is a phone, keep it and review it - no link required"), I wouldn't say it was paid-for.

The key thing that you need to look for is transparency. An SEO should provide on demand, if it is not already part of the reporting, all activity that you have paid for (you have paid for it after all). SEOs that claim that they can't reveal their trade secrets and try to hide things from clients are charlatans.

There are no secrets in SEO - it is not rocket science. All the knowledge is out there to find, the challenge is staying on top of it and keeping up to date. The main difficulty is that it cuts across multiple disciplines; development, usability, hosting, copy-writing and accessibility all play a part in a quite eclectic specialisation that not everyone has the ability to master within the scope of their job (it can happen though).

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:20, archived)
# .
"development, usability, hosting, copy-writing and accessibility"

If someone is qualified in those areas, then I'd agree that it is a skilled job.

However, very few people seem that qualified (from my small sample of data).
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:31, archived)
As I mentioned in my first foray into this thread, a good SEO has a deep knowledge of specific aspects of each of those fields, but will have a far from complete knowledge of each of them.

I know a lot about specific parts of an Apache install (mod_rewrite for example), but I doubt my ability to set up load-balanced servers.

Deep, specialist knowledge.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:51, archived)
# So asking an SEO
their qualifications *is* a relevant question?

Other people are suggesting it is an irrelevance.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 18:22, archived)
# Qualifications no,
Demonstrable knowledge, yes.

There are no qualifications (that I am aware of) that focus on the precise areas of interest.

You can gauge knowledge through demonstration tasks though, just like many developers do at interview.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 20:03, archived)
# Demonstration tasks such as?
This is another area where it seems hard to prove.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 20:40, archived)
# Some examples off the top of my head...
Given the following URL to URL mapping list, write a regular expression for Apache's mod_rewrite in order to 301 redirect from the URLs in column A on the URLs in column B.

Brand X uses a corporate font for branding purposes and as such uses a lot of imagery on their site to convey content; create one example using just JavaScript and one example using pure CSS of a text/image replacement system that allows the imagery of a clickable link to be used for the majority of users but also presents the textual content to search engines and screen readers. Comment on which you would choose and why.

Describe four common methods of page redirection and include their advantages and disadvantages in relation to search engine indexing.

These are more technical examples. For content development, ask them to look at a site and recommend three content changes and three suggestions for new content development, complete with reasoning/justification.

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 22:08, archived)
# I guess the dead end here
is that you actually seem to have decent standards to work to and can justify your position.

I sincerely believe that most SEOs I've come across would fail the first two parts of your test.

I may just have met a bad bunch.

What percentage of SEOs do you think are charlatans?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 22:21, archived)
# I really have no idea.
I tend to mix with peers in the industry and they tend to be pretty good. The best SEOs will be expensive and you won't be likely to find them working for Mrs Miggins' pie shop.

Charlatans might be a bit of a strong word (I know that I started it). A little local web development company won't cope with a large corporate site with a complex technology stack that integrates content serving, back-end warehouse control and an inventory count that runs to millions of products.

SEOs are the same. There are little outfits that serve local businesses - I wouldn't likely rate many of them on a corporate business scale. Then there are the big players. Some are good, some are not so good. Their credentials and case studies should let you judge them against each other.

As for individuals, it is impossible to tell what percentage are worth their salt. We have had people apply to us claiming to be experienced SEOs and they have just copied an essay from the internet as "proof" of their skills; a quick quoted search revealed him for what he was. Then again, we have had some great people apply who have stood up to scrutiny under interview and worked out very well.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 22:52, archived)
"You can produce reports on traffic sources, keywords used to get to the site, daily/weekly/monthly rankings."

- so can a small script.

edit: my homeophathy argument was badly phrased...

Is this not like homeopathy - the placebo effect sometimes works, so it's fine to charge a fortune for very little?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:27, archived)
# My point about reports was simply to point out your Adwords argument was irrelevant
At the end of the day it's your choice not to believe in the merits of SEO.

I was in the middle of writing a gaz about examples of link building work but if you believe it's all a placebo effect there's not really much point.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 16:57, archived)
# Sorry if I'm being arsey.
Please do show me proof.

"At the end of the day it's your choice not to believe in the merits of SEO."

Is it a question of belief, though? Is there no way of proving it?

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:01, archived)
# BTW My *actual* opinion is a more moderate
one that SEO *can* be done well if working with a client, rather than attempting befuddle them.

I'm taking a hard line stance mostly to play devil's advocate simply because I would like to hear a strong pro argument.

If that tone's wrong for you, then I apologise.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:10, archived)
I'd say all the top ranking sites for competitive keywords kind of prove it - chances are they're there because they've been optimised by someone (or a team of people) who describe their job as "SEO".

Surely you see the merit / value in a #1 ranking for something like "car insurance"? Well so do moneysupermarket, swiftcover, go compare, more than, kwik fit, swinton et al, all of whom I would bet my salary (the one that you suggest I don't deserve) on having ongoing search engine optimisation, and rank quite comfortably on the first page of Google. However, if they were to follow your advice of "build your own links and let Google come find you!", chances are they'd be earning appoximately £0 from natural search referals to their websites.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:12, archived)
# I can see the merit in it, yes.
However, I can't help feel that it's ultimately pointless when Google are constantly catching up and blocking SEO tricks.

Would other marketing techniques that improve the client's website not be more effective in getting permanent links?

I think many people are told that a monthly SEO fee is the only way to do well on their site, when their own marketing ideas would often be just as effective if they could provide interesting content for their site.

I guess, ultimately I think that link-building is a poor-man's viral marketing.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:19, archived)
# "I guess, ultimately I think that link-building is a poor-man's viral marketing"
I completely agree. Well, maybe I don't agree with the term "viral marketing" - things that "go viral" are successful in their own own right - "marketing" suggests it is deliberate, which a true viral shouldn't be really. But this is a semantic argument at best.

But SEOs will do link building as a service while there are poor men out there with the lack of imagination to make that viral content. It doesn't have to be viral either, just interesting and useful; people link to useful resources, it doesn't have to be a wildfire explosion of a successful viral.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:29, archived)
# Hear hear.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 17:21, archived)
"However, if they were to follow your advice of "build your own links and let Google come find you!", chances are they'd be earning appoximately £0 from natural search referals to their websites."

If their marketing department were explained the theory behind and the benefit of link building, surely they could do it themselves? Larger companies could just buy advertising.

What is the specialist skill that an SEO brings to the link building side of the job? Someone said a list of sites you can post on, but is that all?
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 18:02, archived)
# From a link building perspective
you can do it yourself or pay someone else to, much as you can buy your own PPC or buy your own media, but why not use a hard cost agency to do it beter and cheaper?

Also I need to learn to spell 'better' it would seem.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 19:10, archived)
# .
"but why not use a hard cost agency to do it better and cheaper?"

Is it that much cheaper?
How would you define better?

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 19:13, archived)
# It is a shorter term benefit
and I cannot really improve on milt's response below, much as I do like a good bicker.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 20:39, archived)
# You might not believe it,
but I hate an argument.

I'm amused that no one has defended working in social media, though. I was even ruder about them.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 21:05, archived)
# Some of my best friends work in social media
and that's all I am willing to say.

Except, of course, that it is not. I think that there are areas where social media can be leveraged just as bill hoardings have their place, or advertising in the local rag. I think tat it is an important and valuable resource which can be used as a superb and targeted channel.

I also think that every man and his dog want to jump on the band wagon and that the sort of marketing director who wants 'social media' because it sounds good is a lot more likely to be charletonized (yes I do make words up, what of it?) than the same man in traditional media channels (including organic search).

I also really like battered chips.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 22:28, archived)
# I think our main difference in perspective seems to be that you
work with large businesses, and I work with small. As such, I get pissed off when I see people who, say, run a dog walking company who have been sold a blog and twitter by a social media 'expert'.

Social Media is fine for large companies (even though it backfires all the time), but lots of blog posts with "comments(0)" is a waste of everyone's time if they don't have or need a big client base.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 22:34, archived)
# Actually, I think a dog walking service is a prime example of
a business which could benefit from social media engagement within a local vertical, but yes, in general your point is a valid one.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 9:15, archived)
# Things like Twitter feeds...
...need a reason to exist. It needs to be part of the service and it needs to add value to the customer in some way, shape or form.

For a kennel, I can see there being an argument for a feed to allow the dog owners to keep tabs on their animal, when it was walked, fed, etc. As well as a way for owners to keep in touch with the kennel in a fairly simple way.

A dog walking service? Maybe there is an argument for it, but it would have to serve a purpose.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 10:19, archived)
# I wouldn't say better and cheaper.
I would say that an agency can do it well from contract start (as long as you have picked a good agency) without having to go through the pain of recruiting staff that you are not geared up to assess the skill-set of.

This is ultimately why agencies exist. They have specialists on tap and (presumably) can pick a decent candidate at interview. They can also hit the ground running.

It takes time to build a competent in-house team. They can be just as good as an agency. They are likely to be cheaper in the long-run though.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 20:04, archived)
# .
"It takes time to build a competent in-house team."

Is there really that much knowledge to the link building side that an SEO consultant couldn't teach a marketing department in a day? I appreciate that there is skill to code optimisation (which I suspect should be a one-off job to someone who knows what they are doing.)

However, as I mentioned before, I'm sure that it's going to be the in-house team who are more able to write interesting content about their area of expertise to post on relevant blogs and article collection sites, which seems to be a far less spammy approach to link building.
(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 20:45, archived)
# But where do you distribute your content?
You could achieve something in a day, but I doubt you will create anything lasting. We have a three-month probation period for our link builders (although we usually have a pretty good idea if they are worth keeping after two months).

Yes, in-house people are often much better placed than a third party to write authoritatively on a subject, but they often crank out very formulaic material and marketing or PR departments are often geared up for offline writing; the jump to engaging an online audience is quite often beyond them (sweeping generalisations but still).

I deliver training courses to people like this on a semi-regular basis and am astonished at how unimaginative these in-house writers can be. We often come up with a small raft of suggestions about how to create new and interesting content and see a look of dawning realisation cross their faces, accompanied by "oh yeah, I hadn't though of that" - and these are ideas we come up with after spending less then an hour with them and their brand.

There needs to be someone who is responsible for some sort of creative input into the writing process, but they need to be divorced from the writing process - someone responsible for the content strategy - and some sites have this. Those that don't will see the benefit of hiring and SEO, even if it is difficult to justify a new hire.

As for link building, they need monitoring. It is too easy for a team to get stuck in unimaginative ruts. They need an oversight system to poke them out of their comfort zones. A culture of idea sharing needs to be cultivated and innovation needs to rule the team.

Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with in-house teams. They will be just as susceptible as agencies to charlatans; the defense against this is someone knowing their onions doing the hiring (difficult if you are building a function from scratch). But if you want work to start with professionals doing the work, and you want them started by the start of next month, you will be lucky to get job ads live by then; you call a good agency and say I need this resource starting on the 1st July, as long as the money is good, you will have those people working right on time.

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 21:35, archived)
# Do you have some examples
of a good articles written for link building by an SEO?

Everytime I ask this, people seem to only link to their own blogs writing about things they care for personally, rather than a link to an article for a client.

(, Tue 22 Jun 2010, 21:41, archived)
# Should SEO not therefore
be performance related pay?

If the value of SEO is in the increased sales (and thus is okay to charge more than the skills involved in the actual work), then surely you can't reasonably charge for a site for which it didn't increase their sales?

(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 14:34, archived)
# Performance related pay is not unusual, but there are complications...
Over what time from do you base the judgment? SEO consultancy will improve a site's ranking for potentially a lot longer than the time you are working on it. Clients tend to disagree with payment terms lasting for 12 months after cessation of work. It isn't PPC that it neatly wrapped up; traffic doesn't stop when work stops.

Another complication is separation of traffic. You can never discretely measure uplift from one activity in a multi-variable system. Traffic rises and falls of its own accord, with seasonality, with natural growth, in response to TV advertising, special offers and more. It is impossible to completely isolate the traffic or sales generated by SEO activity.

This is one of the reasons SEO gets a bit of a bad reputation, because it is not possible to directly measure its value (not with any degree of transparency and honesty anyway). This is a strong part of your argument and one that we have with clients a lot.

PPC and Banners are tracked and each click can be accurately accounted for. SEO just doesn't work like that.

It is more like information architecture or design. You cannot attribute a traffic or sales value to the colour-scheme design of a site, or the icons used, or the content hierarchy. People just accept this though without question, claims of quack science or snakeoil selling.

You can give approximate upflit and indicative figures, but not attribute every click. People find PPC easy to buy into because a clear return on investment is easily demonstrable (if the campaign is run competently). SEO is much more complex because it is not easy to ring-fence traffic.

So yes, performance related pay is quite common, and is being requested more frequently by clients who are trying to protect their investments (or more commonly, need to build a business case to justify the spend). But the client needs to be very aware that there are some generalisations involved and predictions are very hard to make. Some clients have a massive mental block and cannot see why there is any difference between SEO and PPC traffic; we never work with them because the performance related pay is going to be either unfair to us or the client.

I put a performance model together once based on 80% of projected PPC cost per click (the client wanted to see a 20% cost reduction against PPC costs); they would have been much better off paying our ratecarded costs. Silly really, but they insisted in spite of us trying to persuade them otherwise.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 20:12, archived)
# .
"Clients tend to disagree with payment terms lasting for 12 months after cessation of work."

Would it ever actually take that long for link-building to have an effect? I thought that links were supposed to lose value over time, and so are likely to peak pretty soon.

With regards to the actual optimisation - why are there no standards towards the actual optimisation of the site a la accessibility standards? Surely there must be an agreed approach towards things like creating a decent link structure.

If there is not, then surely the whole thing is guesswork, and thus all you can offer is to make sure that the site validates and the relevent keywords are present and correct. Which should be a very cheap job.

I personally think that it's the optimisation of the code which is where actual skills lie, but the book I read on SEO was full of utter guesswork and nonsense (including such gems as saying that since Google own YouTube, then you might do better if you have a YouTube video on your site).

If this side of it has no standards or consistancy, what hope is there for someone to learn the appropriate skills.

How should someone learn the skills?

At what point would you say that you became professional? What type of knowledge do you have that a bog-standard SEO doesn't?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 1:33, archived)
"Would it ever actually take that long for link-building to have an effect? I thought that links were supposed to lose value over time, and so are likely to peak pretty soon."

You can base performance related pay on achieving specific search engine positions and link building tends to target a small cluster of specific search phrases. However, this is a very shallow look at what SEO does for a site.

With personalised and universal search results, measuring positions is becoming not only difficult, but pointless. We can measure a search result at a specific position, but 30% of your users might see it in a lower place and 40% in a higher place. Search engine positioning is becoming a pointless metric.

Also, where consultancy is concerned, with technical improvements to the site, you will see improvements across all positions the site holds in the search results. I for one, am not going to put a performance model together based on the overall average improvement of 100,000 search phrases; it is a reporting nightmare and would take more time than the actual work being done.

We tend to focus on traffic. Specifically, non-branded organic search derived traffic. Non-branded search has an impact on branded search, so there should be indirect uplift there too, but we largely ignore that.
Our typical aim for an SEO campaign (tech & content consultancy and link building) would be to increase non-branded search traffic by X%; these are our usual KPIs and we sometimes tie performance models to these.

However, we can conduct six or twelve month programme of work on a site and then walk away. The traffic benefits of this work will exist long after contract end (until they tear the site down and replace it), so performance-related pay based on traffic can be a little unfair, especially if the client wants a cost-per-click model so that they can compare SEO ROI against that of PPC. This is a common request from clients, but there are fundamental differences between SEO and PPC activity; traffic gains from SEO work does not go away when the spend stops (like PPC does).

A lot of what is written is "SEO books" is out of date, or just shite. I have never read one that is worth the paper it was printed on, apart from as a basic beginner's guide (but I wouldn't even give one to a trainee as they can learn faster from our internal training programme).

A lot of our knowledge came from trial and error (not on client sites, but testbed sites we control). A lot of it was driven from hypothesis and testing, and we do use control pages; it is a little hard to do proper blind testing on this kind of thing though. We use testbed sites to confirm or refute other SEOs' assertions - we don't much like taking things as read, we need to see some impact before we take methods to clients.

We tend not to publish our results very often - this is the stuff that gives us a competitive edge over our competitors.

Link building is fairly bread-and-butter work, and to some degree, content optimisation and keyword research is as well; I tend not to get involved in that very often (the people that do this earn a lot less and have a lower rate-card cost). I tend to stick to the in-depth tech stuff and the overarching strategies and supporting new site builds.

Everyone in my business is self-taught or trained internally. You start out by reading everything you can find. With experience and testing, you learn what to discard as conjecture or nonsense. This is where a lot of the best people come from. Sometimes we cannot satisfy someone's ambitions and they leave to become a "head of" at an agency that is keen to build a search offering and start training their own team. It isn't an easy industry to break into on your own.

Of the people I would field to handle any question or problem a client could generate (this includes myself), I would say it took at least three years of on-the-job learning to get to that point. But like development, it is a constant requirement to stay on top of changes in the industry, and this isn't just they way search engines rank pages, it is changes in HTML, CSS, CMSs, server platforms and other elements of the technology stack (you don't want to know the problems an Endecca information access platform with guided navigation introduces).
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 10:51, archived)
# I'm currently a 'social media expert'
and i'm getting paid nigh on minimum wage.

Though I do appreciate your point, there isn't too much expertiese. It has given me a wee insight into how internet marketing works though, and I'd like to move further into web design because of it.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 8:44, archived)
# Out of interest
what does the "expert" side involve?

I've only ever seen it used to sell small businesses blogs and twitter, which I rarely think they need. They never seem to have been taught what to write on them, or merely told it has mystery "seo value".

Indeed, one of my clients who'd been sold all this functionality in the past told me that he felt he was just blogging to no-one, but had been sold on the fact that it was a necessary part of business nowadays.

Is there more to it than this?

And, I'll ask you what I've been asking the others - what qualifications do you need to be a Social Media Expert?
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 9:43, archived)
One of my clients has just started out in the last 6 months, we recommended starting a blog and it's already the highest generator of traffic to his main site. Fair enough, we're talking faily low numbers right now as he's in a particularly competitive area but blog traffic should grow alongside traffic to the main site.

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. If your client honestly didn't see the benefit or value then he shouldn't have swallowed the sales talk. If he had been convinced that there could be some value but doesn't have the creative capacity to develop interest in his blog then that's hardly the agency's fault - he's the one doing the writing!

Also, don't make the mistake of assuming that comments = readers. Some blogs have a hardcore user base of a few hundred, many of whom comment. Some blogs have a readership of thousands thanks to being included in Google News, for example, but recieve very few comments (other than the usual "thanks for posting!" shite).

When you say "they don't need blogs or twitter"... perhaps they don't need it, but they see it as having potential to help market their services? Perhaps they don't need a website, given that they can now have an online presence at absolutely no cost by setting up their own twitter / facebook? Would you ever turn down a clients business because you thought that perhaps they didn't absolutely, 100% need a website?
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 10:39, archived)
# Could you give an example of a
small non-internet related business' Twitter feed which a real human being would follow. It does not have to be one of yours.

Following a company Twitter feed just seems like asking someone to spam you. Hardly "social".

As regards "Would you ever turn down a clients business because you thought that perhaps they didn't absolutely, 100% need a website?" - I've told people that they didn't need elements which they were asking for. I don't think I could sell to someone who couldn't see any benefit in a website, they would ask questions and see right through me. People seem to understand what a website is, when they are still confused about social media, so they can easily be blinded.

edit: I *can* see the need in a blog, but only if someone has the time and the desire to write for it. Successful blogs are written for love. If they are just written for sales, they will only be read if found when answering a specific question - and then the chances of the reader being someone who wants to use the companies' services is still slim.

The only benefit of such blogs surely is for SEO, in which case they are doing their own link building and shouldn't be paying for that seperately.

Is the time taken writing blogs really that productive for a business in terms of the sales it generates? How do you measure that?
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 14:38, archived)
"they will only be read if found when answering a specific question"

Ding! you've hit on an excellent point there.... people use Google as a Q&A engine as much as a search engine, and often link to a page if it answers their question (think forums and other blogs). They also clearly have an interest in what you're writing about to be asking in the first place, so while they might not buy then, they may in future, or perhaps refer someone else to your site.

I also see a company blog kind of like an online version of the magazines that are given away in some stores... I think Superdrug has one, for example. You can discuss/promote specific products or services you're selling in less formal way than you might on your website, and attract people back to the site with regular updates (like some people will pop into superdrug to pick up the newest copy of their magazine).

So a blog *can*
1) encourage people to return to an otherwise static domain
2) encourage links
3) provide an easy way to add content which might in turn attract new visitors from search

It's a big *can* though, this won't happen by just throwing a blog up and churning out a post each week. I wouldn't say the writer needs to love the blog, but they do need to have a personable writing style and an insight into what they're writing about. The agency in question might not have made that clear, or the client might have chosen to ignore it, hard to say.

I'll have to get back to you on the small businesses that are benefitting from Twitter / a blog as the only ones I can think of right now are my own clients which, to be honest, I don't want to discuss here.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 17:34, archived)
# .
"They also clearly have an interest in what you're writing about to be asking in the first place, so while they might not buy then, they may in future, or perhaps refer someone else to your site."

When you read a blog post, do you remember the adverts around the side?
I can see people linking to your site if someone asks a question you have already answered on another part of the internet, which, fair enough is actually ethical link building (a rare thing).

However, I'm sure most users searching for a question aren't going to stay and look around when they've got their answer. They'll google a question, find an answer and leave. That's certainly how I use google. I'd only stay to look around if it stood out as brilliantly written.

Do you trace people's clicks from the blog to see how many people click through to the main site, or use cookies to see returning people, as that would show results?

edit: examples are the best way of proving a point, so if you could find some, that would be good.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 17:56, archived)
"When you read a blog post, do you remember the adverts around the side?"

That depends on the blog. And who says the ad has to be around the blog? Anchor text links in the blog text itself can be very tempting to the reader if done right.

"I can see people linking to your site if someone asks a question you have already answered on another part of the internet, which, fair enough is actually ethical link building (a rare thing)."

You'd be surprised how much effort goes into "ethical" link building, and this usually results in the best links - relevant, freely given and often likely to result in actual traffic from the link.

"However, I'm sure most users searching for a question aren't going to stay and look around when they've got their answer."

Most won't, some will. Most won't link to it, some will.

"Do you trace people's clicks from the blog to see how many people click through to the main site."

If we're managing the blog for the client, then yes, absolutely!

"edit: examples are the best way of proving a point, so if you could find some, that would be good"

Here's one, shows how it can work for a fairly small, niche online business, www.kapow-toys.com/. It's nothing to do with me by the way, but I can totally see how it'd be benefit them. They have a blog at kapowtoys.blogspot.com/ (shame it's not self hosted as it's attracted a couple of links, but as I say, nothing to do with me!) and a Twitter account at twitter.com/Kapow_Toys/, with over 800 followers, many of whom seem to be real people.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 9:54, archived)
# .
Might be a nice blog, but unfortunately, it's recieved no inbound links, and no comments.

They are following 1,944 people. How many of the 857 are not just auto-follows. How would you test that?

They have had no re-tweets which means that even with over 800 people, when you tweet, surely it's a very small amount who actually see it (who are viewing the feed for the few seconds).

Also, their posts all seem to be marketing based, so why would someone follow it - it's like asking for spam.

I think if they were sold twitter, then they were failed by not being told to use it as a friendly voice for customers to interact with, rather than a place to post adverts.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:07, archived)
I had a quick flick through the followers... obviously some are auto follows, but you quickly get a nose for those that aren't. Lets say that even three quarters of them are auto followers, that's still over 200 people that have opted to recieve a real time feed from that store on the products they're selling. If they're regular buyers, that could make a signficant impact.

The blog HAS recieved links - here's one right here! www.transformersanimated.com/news/9407/Further+confirmation+of+Japanese+released+including+images+of+Rodimus. And seriously, like I've said before, don't worry too much about comments. Do you really want to comment on *everything* you read online?

Why would someone follow it? Same reason you might ask for an email newsletter - you're actually interested in the store and their products.

I can't account for the way either the blog or the twitter feed is run and I agree it could be done better... doesn't make it a waste of time or money though. That's assuming he's even spending money on it - he may be doing it off his own back, which would explain the oversights.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:19, archived)
# .
"Why would someone follow it? Same reason you might ask for an email newsletter - you're actually interested in the store and their products."

Well, I'm not one to follow advertising advertising newsletters either, so I'd probably ask the same about them.

I know some people do (though often it's through forgetting to check the box that says not to).

Which companies' tweets do you yourself enjoy recieving?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:50, archived)
So you'd advise websites stop sending email newsletters too?

Thankfully everybody likes using the internet differently.

Off the top of my head, IDW publishing, I enjoy their comics and want to know when they have new ones out.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:58, archived)
# Okay, I'll concede that
entertainment is an area that twitter can actually sell product.

But what about duller products such as Double Glazing?

Do you really think that such companies could benefit from twitter?

You might have a decent approach to who you sell to, but do you not think that there are many people who are getting sold twitter and a blog who really do not need it?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:08, archived)
As I say, it's hard to judge the "need" of any online promotion. It is what you make of it. Double glazing you say? renegadeconservatoryguy.co.uk/

Mind you, that same guy says he thinks Twitter is a waste of time, although he links through to his facebook. As I say, it's what you make of it.

I'll concede that there are doubtless cowboy companies indiscriminately selling blogs to people that they're probably confident will be of no benefit to them. Just try not to tar us all with the same brush. Besides, it's not like cowboy web developers are in short supply.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:34, archived)
# Fair enough.
Although his blog does seem a success because he wants to write.
There's no sales-talk on it, just things he finds interesting.

Which was a point I think I made earlier - the only successful blogs are ones which are written by someone with a love of writing.

A businessman forced to write something is not going to be read.

It's usually hard enough to get clients to sit down and write normal content for a website, they have better things to be doing - so writing a blog is going to be a chore to most.

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:54, archived)
True, but do you think the idea was originally his or that of Motionlab Marketing, linked to from the footer?

This is what I mean - if a businessman buys a blog and then writes nothing worth reading, who's fault is it really, when you can see right there that it can work so long as you put the effort in, even for something as tedious as double glazing? Should the company they're dealing with refuse to set them up the blog, or refrain from mentioning it as a possibility, because they don't think the client is interesting enough to sustain it?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:04, archived)
# .
"Should the company they're dealing with refuse to set them up the blog, or refrain from mentioning it as a possibility, because they don't think the client is interesting enough to sustain it?"

They should ask him whether he thinks that he has the time and desire to write decent content, they should then help guide him in his articles to avoid him going down the sales talk route.

I may be wrong, but this does not seem to happen very often. Most corporate blogs I stumble across have nothing to them. There is no guidance there, and they are scared of offering opinion through fear of damaging brand.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:13, archived)
I only used the term 'expert' as that was what was billed in the image, my offical (bollocks) title is 'producer of social media'.

Generally my job entails of upkeep of my company website, it's subsidiary websites, including facebook, twitter, myspace, flickr etc, policing them, updating regulary with new content which either i create myself or is supplied by my bosses, etc. I do agree that it's more about the time and effort to be putting in, rather than expertise.
I have, however, been to many seminars which have focussed on the rising importance of social media in regards to selling a product. Advertising is becoming less and less effective when it comes to selling a product, in the current climate we live in, with the ease it is to talk to folk all over the world it would be silly not to exploit that.
One lecture I went to stated that from a study made of internet users, 17% said they actively listen to advertising, though 73% would follow a peer reccomendation. Thus, if you're making a conversation directly between the company making the product and the market you're selling to, you're far more likely to make a sell, and also for those individuals to pass on their reccomendations to their friends.
All and all it can be quite a time consuming effort to do this work, and when you work for a business with only a couple of producers who have enough on their hands, you do require someone else to manage all this stuff.
You are right though, my job doesn't require as much expertise than a web developer. I am however being trained up to actually manage the more technical aspects of website management. I don't know how you guys do it.
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 17:48, archived)
# my 2p
* Monkeons 1x1 pixel stuff. Wasn't aware of it and not overly keen but Monkeon has given far more to B3ta than he's ever taken so I'm not annoyed by it. (But if it was something we noticed loads of people doing we'd might put it a stop to it)

* Interested that this has pissed off SEOs far more than social media experts. It kinda suggests that SMEs (if they're called that) aren't actually online enough to notice this link flying around twitter.

* I love Monkeon. Even if loads of SEOs disagree with him. He's da best.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 21:33, archived)
# I am far from pissed off.
I think in some respects, he has a point. I can see that many SEOs servicing the SME (small & medium enterprise, not social media expert) market are not going to be very good and this will leave a whole swathe of bad experiences across a wide spread of business.

And for all of Monkeon's antagonistic tone, his questions and arguments are good. To be honest, a lot more people should be more like this, it might thin the crowd out a little and leave less room for the shit SEOs.

I only really joined in the thread because I know that this isn't the complete picture and that SEOs can be damn good at their jobs and be very beneficial to a company.

We work our nuts off to fight this perception of our industry, by being good at what we do, and I saw this as an opportunity to further that fight just a little. We are not all overpaid, under-skilled shits.

* "Interested that this has pissed off SEOs far more than social media experts. It kinda suggests that SMEs (if they're called that) aren't actually online enough to notice this link flying around twitter"

*cough* Or they can't defend their position, so haven't tried. *cough*
Maybe that is a little mean.
(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 21:58, archived)
# Can I be antagonistic again and ask
which of the people answering on behalf of SEO on this page would you say appear to have the relevent skills from what they have said?

(I would ask the other way round, but it's probably easier to say who seems good than who seems crap.)

You are one of the few who hasn't skirted around questions. As soon as people avoid questions about what it is they actually do ("It's confidential!"), as so many seem to do, it's hard to have confidence in them.

Has any SEO said anything on this page that made you think "bullshit"?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 1:38, archived)
# That is a question with some potential for industry comeback.
If I am honest, I haven't read every post. There is too much and it is growing in a tree-like fashion and I gave up reading sub-threads because I couldn't keep track. I have mainly focused on answering specific questions or point made by you.

Nothing Pedantichrist has said would I criticise (apart from that one bit about link building being both better and cheap from an agency - although he broadly has a point). The comment about DDA was a good one as well; you don't co-opt things that are there for other reasons (like ALT tags).

In fact SEO and DDA go together rather well and we often use DDA compliance to reinforce arguments for site changes. I am not sure waxdart is assertion that there should be an "office fight" over the two disciplines.

Some people's arguments do seem very defensive, but saying that, I have been arguing on the internet for about twelve years and I like to think that I am pretty good at it. Some answers could have been better structured or more detailed, but I have read nothing that would make me shout "bullshit" at anyone, but conversely, there are plenty of people defending SEOs that I wouldn't say have demonstrated deep skill.

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 18:40, archived)
# .
1) I really do sincerely appologise for that as I do feel I let you down by doing it at all. I'd have enjoyed the arguments here so much more if that hadn't come back to bite me.

As I mentioned above, I soon realised that since I felt it was it was dishonest, then it probably was, and so it was a very short lived experiment and I felt much better when I stopped doing it.

I'd justified it to myself via *very* flimsy logic, and was clearly in the wrong.

It was part of a general experiment with SEO, which left me feeling that the whole link building thing is just spamming, which is why that is a side of it that I decided ultimately not to get involved in work-wise.

Interesting that all the people who make the "you do it too, you hypocrite!" are basically admitting to being spammy themselves, as I'll admit that's exactly what I was. You'd think they'd actually try and separate themselves by saying that such a thing has nothing to do with what SEO is, rather than "Look here - you were spamming! That's SEO, you hypocrite"

*Feels reputation has been soiled*

2) I'm interested that people are so unwilling to point to examples of their work when asked for it.

Perhaps next week's "things we'd like to see" - evidence of a well written blog post by an SEO on behalf of a company for their link building campaign and some proof of scientifically valid SEO testing.

3) Thanks. I'm really glad you have commented on this. I was worried that you'd think I'd let you down. Feel free to post me a link to your spammy cunt song. I probably deserve it.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 0:39, archived)
I'm happy to admit I've pushed limits with link building. Don't think I've ever gone as far as hiding links on a very popular forum hosted by web geeks that would almost have certainly found them sooner or later, but I couldn't honestly say I've never "spammed". Wouldn't do so for my clients though.

However, I wouldn't then go on the very forum I had spammed, complaining about how SEO is mostly unqualified spam based on by own failed attempts at being a spammer. That's the reason it was pointed out - the tests you're basing your assumptions and arguments regarding link building on are inherantly flawed. That, and the fact it's pretty funny to see someone getting called out like that.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 9:06, archived)
# I fail to see your point
except that you enjoyed some schadenfreude.

So, please link to some non-spammy link building that you now do for your clients.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 9:58, archived)
Yeah, the schadenfreude was my point. Also, to make it clear that, for my part, it's not about comparing what you did to what an SEO would do for their clients. It's about laughing that you'd grumble about SEO and spam on a forum you'd spammed. I mean, did you really not see it coming?

And I'm not going to be drawn into linking to links to my clients. If you choose to believe they don't exist it's no skin off my nose!
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:06, archived)
# .
"If you choose to believe they don't exist it's no skin off my nose!"

-What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

Interesting that it does seem to be a matter of belief to many. Like religion or homeopathy.

Also, would you say that someone who has had unsucessful attempts at SEO is really not in a better position to ask questions.

If I'm wrong, prove it to me with evidence.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:12, archived)
Yes you're in a good position to ask questions and my experience of people in SEO is that they love to answer them. They're not quite so happy to see their job written off by someone who tried it once and got it wrong so seems convinced it must be bullshit. I tried affiliate marketing once, made about $3. Doesn't make it bullshit - there's people out there making a buttload from it every day. I could write it off because I only have anecdotal evidence that it works for anyone, and I went into it unprepared and therefore sucked at it. Or, I could read, listen and try to understand what people are telling me.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:49, archived)
# "Or, I could read, listen and try to understand what people are telling me."
How am I not doing that?

I am asking questions, I am trying not to resort to mud-slinging and point scoring.

I admit my initial post was deliberately obnoxious, but that was merely to make developers laugh. This is the sort of talk that goes on with developers.

If SEOs weren't so secretive about what it is they do, then surely this myth (if it is) that there is not a lot to it would not exist.

My own experience with working with SEOs was that if you asked them why they were doing something, they could not explain it logically. That is why I am cynical.

"once and got it wrong so seems convinced it must be bullshit." - I got to number one in yahoo, 3 in bing and page 2 of Google for a while, so it can't have been that wrong.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:56, archived)
Really? For what?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:00, archived)
# .
"Web Design Leeds" / "Website design leeds"

edit: Can I point out that I am happy to show my own results here when asked. I see that I've gone back up to number one in Yahoo if you want actual evidence. Which seems very different to most people here who are unwilling to point to any examples of their own work.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:09, archived)
Wait til you're talking about your clients. They tend to be concerned with confidentiality and not being drawn into internet forum arguements.

And trust me, noone will ever judge your ability as an SEO on your Yahoo rankings. I only ruddy wish!
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 14:12, archived)
# What sort of confidentiality
is it?

Sites often list they have been SEOd, with a list to the company. So what sort of thing is confidential?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 14:26, archived)
yeah, well, we don't do that, not for SEO anyway...
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 15:13, archived)
# What is the reasoning for
a confidentiality agreement?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 15:46, archived)
Well, I have access to a lot of information that my clients, for various reasons, would not want divulged. I'd like to keep that their trust, and I think I'd be risking that if they were to look at their referrals and see visitors from an endless b3ta thread about the merits of SEO. Call me paranoid.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 17:08, archived)
# Before b3ta.com went nofollow?
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 10:50, archived)
# It was always no-follow.
So, I suspect that that made no difference whatsoever - which makes it more annoying for it to have been used in so many Ad hominem arguments and for it to have sullied my name.

I sold my soul for nothing!
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 17:21, archived)
"Perhaps next week's "things we'd like to see" - evidence of a well written blog post by an SEO on behalf of a company for their link building campaign and some proof of scientifically valid SEO testing."

SEOs shouldn't be writing a client's blog posts, just advising on the desireable elements to include. We do have social media people who do copywriting for blog but only to flesh out briefs that have been thoroughly discussed with the client.

As for scientific proof... not sure how you'd go about that without risking revealing confidential information. I could show you generic graphs that show search engine queries, traffic and conversions going in an upwards fashion in line with the time spent over their SEO campaign if you'd like?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:01, archived)
# So, if everything is confidential,
how on earth does anyone learn to be an SEO?

Is there a special school for the chosen few?

". I could show you generic graphs that show search engine queries, traffic and conversions going in an upwards fashion in line with the time spent over their SEO campaign if you'd like?"

I was meaning the optimisation theories. EG if someone said that you should have no more than 2 H2 tags on a page, how would you test that?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:09, archived)
You learn by either doing it yourself on your own projects and testing the various theories and practices that anyone with the time and inclination can read from the multitude of blogs and websites on the subject. And / or, like I did, you get a trainee position like I did and go from there.

I doubt many pages ever failed to rank because it had more than one H2 tag so I wouldn't bother myself too much with that to be honest. Problems with site architecture, repeated title and meta tags, duplicate content and other issues usually left behind by developers tend to be far more damaging to a site than semantics like that. How do I know without testing? Well, I've seen and fixed problems like these myself enough times and read enough from others who have had similar experiences to draw fairly solid conclusions. Probably not exactly the science you're after but then I'm not a statistical scientist, I just make website rank better.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:28, archived)
# .
"anyone with the time and inclination can read from the multitude of blogs and websites on the subject." - surely if the bloggers also have confidential information, it is not going to be on the blogs? You must admit there's some ridiculous theories on the blogs.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:37, archived)
And that's why it's not as easy as you'd think to get it right first time, because there's a whole lot of bullshit out there. As you've found yourself, you've got to try different things... see what is right, see what is wrong, and see what is going to come back to bite you in the arse.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:39, archived)
# Why does there not seem to
be good trusted reference material out there, or a strong set of standards, as there would be in any other technical skill eg accessibility?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:43, archived)
Good question - I think it is, at least in part, because the "official" advice given by Google is largely contradictory to people's experiences of what actually works, especially when it comes to link building. So you've got a mixture of approaches, from the blackest of black hat hackers, through your cloakers and spammers through to your white night agencies that want to be best buddies with Google. I think this will probably only stop when Google or the search engine of the day manage to find an unspammable algorythm. I won't hold my breath.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:06, archived)
# Is personalised searching not going to be unspammable after
enough data has been harvested about a user?

"Google is largely contradictory to people's experiences of what actually works, especially when it comes to link building."

Does it not 'work' ultimately by cheating Google's aims. Google's advice is surely to tell you how to make sure that you rank for your chosen keywords.

They see it as their job to then rank in order of relevence, they aren't going to want to encourage people to try and cheat.

A side of SEO I do see as good is making sure that clients remember to do things like mention locations they work on the page, as they often forget, and so are missing out on lots of areas where they may be the most relevent.

Google's idea of SEO is surely this sort of thing?

SEO seems now to mean more to try and cheat the race, rather than just making sure that you start from the best vantage point.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:18, archived)
Yeah but I care more about my client's aims than Google's aims. Google want you to rank where they want to rank you. My clients want to rank higher than that. Of course they aren't going to encourage people to do it.

Making sure you're targetting the locations you serve is just part of the initial keyword research and planning, that definitely should be a standard part of any SEO strategy!
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:23, archived)
# Is it not a sisyphian task?
Any methods to cheat are surely going to be found out if Google want to retain their reputation.

Would you not admit that 50% of doing well is down to this cheating side?

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:32, archived)
"Any methods to cheat are surely going to be found out if Google want to retain their reputation."

You'd think...

"Would you not admit that 50% of doing well is down to this cheating side?"

I wouldn't like to guess at an exact percentage but you just have to look at the link profiles of the top ranking sites for competitive keywords to know that "cheating" Google, when done right, can help you rank much better than just letting the cards fall where they may. Of course, do it wrong and you'll get shafted.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:55, archived)
# So you would use the verb
cheating to describe much of SEO?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:04, archived)
Not really, hence the quotation marks.

I'd call it competitive advantage.

Anyway that's more than enough for me for one day, sure we both have actual jobs to be getting on with.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:24, archived)
# .
"competitive advantage" - I had to look up the term, but "Competitive advantage is a position of a company in a competitive landscape that allows the company earning return on investments higher than the cost of investments. Competitive advantage should be relevant, unique, and sustainable."

I don't quite see how this relates.

"Sustainable", when all un-earned links are built on sand and "Unique", when link building is available to anyone.

Why aren't black hat techniques "competitive advantage"?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:32, archived)
# Would you then disagree with
Milt that it comes from having "very deep knowledge of very narrow and specific aspects of web development; deeper than most web developers", or do people not need a strong coding background?

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:41, archived)
I'd say, over time, you need to develop a

"very deep knowledge of very narrow and specific aspects of web development; deeper than most web developers"

that's what I've done, and I came into the job as a trainee having built a few sites in dreamweaver. Make of that what you will.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:54, archived)
# Could you give 3 examples
of a specific aspect of web development that you need to know deeper than most web developers?

"I came into the job as a trainee having built a few sites in dreamweaver." - depends if you used the code view to build them or not, I guess. Ultimately, SEO is about the code, not the look and feel.

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:59, archived)
Bits and bobs of both. I started constructing using the WYSIWYG interface and then got into fiddling with code to make changes that Dreamweaver was rubbish for.

I can't speak for most web developers but I'll give you the three problems caused or overlooked by devs I come up against most;

1. Duplicate content caused by different URL paths to the same page. This can usually be fixed by reviewing the navigation, redirects and / or canonicalisation.
2. Duplicate title or meta tags - this can kill a site but the amount of devs who are happy to just put the site name as the title of all pages is amazing. Same goes for the description tag.
3. Over reliance on flash, tables, on page CSS commands, java and all sorts of other goodies devs love to drop into the code.

Now I'm not saying that I'm a better coder in any of these departments than the majority of devs. I just tend to recognise their importance more than the developer who put them together first time round and take more care in making sure they're done right.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:18, archived)
# .
A dev who builds 2 and 3 is a bad dev. They need training.

However, do tables actually effect SEO, it's messy code for sure, but I've been told that's only an accessibility issue?

I felt Milt was more referring to the likes of the ability to configure server settings and implement these changes on difficult sites, rather than awareness of theory with things like duplicate tags (which is useful knowledge, but not technical knowledge).

If you could make a huge site built on a rickety CMS SEO-friendly (which I suspect is sometimes Milt's job from what he says), then that is a very skilled job.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:28, archived)
Yeah I wouldn't argue that what I do is half as technical as the devs I work with. They'd laugh at me if I did. But there's still times they need to talk things through with me when they're doing development, just as I need to speak to them when I'm trying to develop a solution to a specific issue on a site.

Perhaps Milt was referring to other elements but I can only speak for myself :)

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:52, archived)
# But that goes straight back to my initial point
My post was unfair on people who can do all the tricky stuff like Milt. His skills are probably beyond mine, though he could laugh off my joke and wasn't piqued at all.

However, if someone is just selling the well known stuff such as not to duplicate title tags, then anyone can be an SEO.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:02, archived)
If it's so well known why do I have to deal with it so ruddy often?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:12, archived)
# bad devs.
You don't get companies existing whose entire sales pitch is to fix work by bad builders. You get bad builders and good builders.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:27, archived)
# .
"I'd say, over time, you need to develop a
'very deep knowledge of very narrow and specific aspects of web development; deeper than most web developers'
that's what I've done"

"Yeah I wouldn't argue that what I do is half as technical as the devs I work with."

Isn't that contradictory?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 13:06, archived)
No, it just means I'm still developing my own technical skills, and that the aspects that I do concern myself with (moreso than your average dev) are not necessarily that technical.

It seems to me that you consider that to mean that what I do is therefore worth less and I'm not sure you're ever going to be convinced otherwise.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 13:31, archived)
# But if
you need 'very deep knowledge of very narrow and specific aspects of web development; deeper than most web developers' then surely you can't work backwards to achieve this aim?

Otherwise, you have less skills then a web developer and thus fail the criterion of needing the 'very deep knowledge of very narrow and specific aspects of web development; deeper than most web developers'

Otherwise, you'd have to say that SEO requires considerably less deep development skills than a web developer, which is not what you said and not what Milt has successfully persuaded me that a good SEO needs.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 13:40, archived)
It's simple. I work with narrow, specific aspect of web development.

I believe I know how these aspects should be used better than most web developers.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 14:06, archived)
# Please can you
confirm which specific aspect of web development this is.

What skills are required? As far as I can tell, this is what you do for your clients...

1) Tweak the code more or less according to the Google guidelines [performed once at the beginning of the project]. You might pass this work onto a developer, I do not know.
2) Link building by listing in many directories such as:
www.littlewebdirectory.com, uk.linkedin.com, www.0155.jp
www.whichwebdesigncompany.com, www.counterdeal.com
info.isearchclick.net, www.roask.com www.diverselist.com www.addurl.co.in www.addlink.co.in www.suggestlink.co.in www.webdiro.com www.getlistedrightnow.com www.hotfroguk.co.uk www.tamesidebusiness.co.uk www.fatinfo.com
[sign up taking less than 5 minutes per link]
3) Request reciprocal links sites from relevant sites.
4) Creating wordpress blog and show clients how to use it.
5) Forward free stats from google, explaining what they mean.

I am not aware of anything else. Books, blogs and the above posts I have read seem to confirm this.

I find it hard to see a level of education required for this work and in particular I can't see how this amount of work can justify the monthly fees.

If you could point me to aspects of your work where ability beyond this is required, then that is how you will persuade me otherwise.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 14:39, archived)
Well you completely missed out any form of keyword research or mapping right there, which is pretty essential before you move on to any of that stuff.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 14:52, archived)
# Again, there are simple tools for
keyword research, and is relevant to anyone.

Keyword mapping increases the time taken in the initial cost of optimising a site (if the site is particularly large), but why should someone then pay a premium monthly fee when this should be done in a single go, especially if it is a static site?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 15:01, archived)
Yep, everyone has access to the keyword tool... mind you, most people don't even know to turn broad match off to get an accurate number figure, let alone how to use it to determine the best keywords for a given page on their site.

If it's a static site then yeah you'd hope to get the keyword mapping right first time but business aims can change over time, and keywords with them. Other than that you might find you overreached yourself with your original targets and go back and refine them further. But yeah, keyword mapping shouldn't be the major focus in the ongoing work, unless it very active site with content changing on a regular basis.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 15:21, archived)
# Again, I have no problem
with reasonable initial costs.

It is the on-going side of it which I feel there isn't much skill in.

Could you break down what is involved in the work clients get for a monthly fee?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 15:43, archived)
Not really, we charge an hourly fee budgeted to whatever the client is happy to spend. We only set a fee for the setup as that will take a finite amount of time, wheras we can do as much or as little monthly work for the client as they need or are happy to pay for - although obviously the more work we do, the more of an effect we can have. The hourly fee is the same as we charge for dev work, we don't discriminate. It's probably multiples of what you'd charge but then that's just the difference between agencies and freelancers in any profession.

So, we'll have a set number of hours to work on a client so we'll often have to prioritise at the start of the month what needs doing - if there's been some new products or content adding we'll make a point of ensuring it's all in order and the right keywords are on there. If the site's remained static we'll work on link building - sometimes just carrying on trying to improve rankings for the clients main phrases, or we might target some specific pages to help a client promote a particular item, for example. In some cases we work purely on a consultancy level regarding on site work, so we have to spend that time guiding the client's developers through any work that needs doing.

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 16:47, archived)
# As long as the client is aware of what they are getting
for their fee, and understand why things are being done, then an hourly fee actually seems far fairer than most I've come across.

So, fair enough.

Going to bow out of the debate now, as it's rather too time consuming.

And I never even got on to ranting about the sheer amount of spam I get from people asking for text links and link building scams...
(Although I suspect that no one is going to come on here and admit to sending them)

(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 10:20, archived)
"It seems to me that you consider that to mean that what I do is therefore worth less and I'm not sure you're ever going to be convinced otherwise."

I don't know what you do - you rarely give examples. If you can point to work which is as skilled as the work Milt seems to do, fair enough.

If, however, you cannot, then my original point stands that the skill base is very small.

I have conceded loads of points to Milt - so I am able to be convinced by a convincing argument. You seem to just fall into the logical traps of Special Pleading and Straw Men.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 13:45, archived)
Okay I have a question for you.

How do you think you'd do, working as an SEO? Do you think your current knowledge and skill base covers everything?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 14:10, archived)
# I'm scared off by the link building side.
If I wasn't, then I do believe my knowledge and skill base covers everything (in your definition of an SEO, not Milt's)

I have read books on SEO as that is how I would learn a new development skill. If you don't think this is enough, what are the available books missing?

The fact that the books are so sparse on knowledge in an area which has existed for ten years suggests to me that there is not much more to learn.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 14:44, archived)
And when you consider that, at the end of the day, an SEO (or at least the amount they're worth paying) is judged by the rankings he or she has achieved and maintained in the past, what level do you think you'd enter at?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 15:07, archived)
# As I mentioned earlier
I believe it should be performance related pay if it is going to be judged on rankings alone.

You know the industry better than me, so what skills do you think I'd be lacking from books and blog research?

I'm not arguing that I am better at SEO than you, or that you don't get results. I'm sure you do. I'm just interested that people seem to suggest there is a big skill base in the monthly cost side of it, then not pointing me towards what any of these skills lie.

If I had you and someone else come in and pitch to me, and the other person was a fraud, what questions should I be asking to tell you apart?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 15:41, archived)
"You know the industry better than me, so what skills do you think I'd be lacking from books and blog research?"

I can only go from the work I can see from your site, and really I think all you're lacking really is experience. There's some rooky errors going on that won't effect the site's performance all that much but kind of explain why very few of them have particularly good rankings right now.

I know you weren't arguing who's best, and that wasn't my intention, I just wanted you to think about why your sites aren't ranking when other sites, most likely handled at sometime or another by someone who calls themselves an "SEO", are ranking well. Could it be that they're doing something you aren't? And wouldn't the know how to do that be worth paying good money for? I think so. The problem comes when you get people selling the service without the know how to back it up, which leads us on to...

"If I had you and someone else come in and pitch to me, and the other person was a fraud, what questions should I be asking to tell you apart?"

That's a really good question. I'd consider the following...

- do they offer any guarantees, and on what basis? if it sounds to good to be true, it is
- they should discuss with you the keyword targets / target group rather than dictate what they're going to be
- watch out for phrases like "ranked in 48hrs" or "we'll submit you to 1000 search engines"
- ask them about their techniques... if i was talking to you in person i'd be much less cagey than i am being on this here public bulletin board, and any decent SEO will be happy to talk you through what they'd do
- can they take the work away? i worked for a company once that would actually reinstate the non-optimised version of your site if you stopped paying the monthly fee! Fuck THAT for a bag of chips - i didn't stay for long.
- ask to see work and rankings for existing clients... again, they'll be less cagey in person and if they refuse to show you anything then it's probably not a good sign
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 16:36, archived)
In other news, I see you did some of the games for the computers episode of Look Around You. I'll happily concede that that is fucking awesome.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 17:09, archived)
# I use a text editor for everything and have built software for major automotive companies
as well as a number of corporate websites before I became an SEO.

I also wrote some crackingly bad caravan sites as a trainee web developer - www.bancroftleisure.co.uk/

Back then I used tables to lay our content. What was I thinking? Well, I guess I was probably thinking that the different browsers were shite, but also that I was a lazy toad.

I can look back at this kind of bedroom web design and, rather than shame, I realise that I should not ridicule those who are not good, because we all shit our pants at some point.
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 10:55, archived)
# "SEOs shouldn't be writing a client's blog posts"
so, you'd disagree with Rhyss Wynne that one of the three jobs of an SEO is to

"2. Write content that both is readable by users, and as well includes a range of keywords that you would like to be ranking for in Google. Again, it's not that hard!" / "3. I cannot divulge client blog posts that I've put out there, but I'm going to link to a blog post that I wrote to promote my blog"

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:21, archived)
Personally I'd rather the client write content for blogs (assuming it's going on their site) as it'll better reflect the nature of that business.

But then Rhyss is a successful blogger in his own right so if he's comfortable blogging on behalf of other people / companies then I wouldn't say he's wrong to do so, just different ways of working I guess. But I'd say he's in the minority and that I probably agree with you that most blogs churned out by SEOs purely for SEOs sake on behalf of their clients are probably going to drek. Better to inform and educate, IMHO.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 10:38, archived)
# .
"Personally I'd rather the client write content for blogs (assuming it's going on their site) as it'll better reflect the nature of that business."

In which case, is the client not better being trained in the basic concepts of link building and left to do it themselves, rather than pay a monthly fee.

If the client writes their own content, what does this monthly fee involve (assuming that is your approach - it seems to be the common one)?
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:36, archived)
Link building from other sources, monitoring, reporting, consulting with the client regarding any updates to the site, new products, new keywords they'd like to target, link opportunities they've been presented with themselves or sometimes even entire site migarations. All sorts really.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:44, archived)
# .
"Link building from other sources" - you mean directories?
If not, please give examples. This is vague.

"monitoring, reporting," - can be done via simple scripts, wherein daily, hourly or whatever reports can be given.

"consulting with the client regarding any updates to the site, new products, new keywords they'd like to target, or sometimes even entire site migarations." - again, why monthly unless this is a monthy occurance? Most sites aren't updated that often.

"link opportunities they've been presented with themselves" - surely that is doing the link building themselves?

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 11:57, archived)
Directories are one of them, yes. Perhaps link outreach, where you find a site related to yours and actually ask them if they'd like to link to you, or what it would take to do so (occasionally, shock horror, this might even involve payment, although I can't remember last time I had to do that) or article marketing which I know you've seen.

You can send automated reports but without someone to go through them and explain what all the numbers mean these are useless to a lot of clients.

There are right ways and not so right ways that a client can set up a link. They might fail to use keyword optimised anchor text. They might set up a reciprocal link where the otherside decides to set up a sneaky 302 redirect instead of a direct link. They might agree for their link to go on some crappy buried page while returning it on their homepage. You'd be surprised how challenging something like setting up a link can be for anyone who's just been told how to get them but doesn't know the details and potential pitfalls.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:11, archived)
# .
Why not just provide them with a list of directories as part of the consultancy so that a minimum-wager could enter their details?

As for related sites, most companies have many contacts, so why don't they just ask them for links when the concept of link building is explained (including what 'optimised' anchor text to use)?

As for the 302s thing, just tell them not to post on the arse end of the internet where these exist - deal with real companies and clients. Explain to them that any "link building" spam emails are just scams. Or just explain that if there's already 100 links on a site, then it's probably not worth it.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:43, archived)
# .
"You can send automated reports but without someone to go through them and explain what all the numbers mean these are useless to a lot of clients."

- does this going through them really not follow a set pattern?

When you have explained the results once, what sort of thing do you explain the second time?

Surely a nicely laid out stats page could have enough explinatory text for the layman to understand.

Reports I have seen just involve telling someone where they are in Google and for what keywords. I imagine that if someone is doing well for an irrelevent keyword and badly for a targeted one then it would not be explained to them as to why it is irrelevent, which is the sort of information they need to know.

(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 12:49, archived)
# Too much to read!
As someone who should be a web designer/developer but gave up due to the amount of new stuff constantly having to be learnt just to stay at the same salary I agree with the original point but got lost in the ensuing comments...

(, Wed 23 Jun 2010, 23:46, archived)
# This is interesting

Somebody wanted a bigger version I guess, so they made it themselves.
(, Thu 24 Jun 2010, 20:30, archived)
# Blimey. I might go on that thread
and argue *for* SEO, just to be contrary.

Had enough of playing devil's advocate the other way.

(I suspect someone has just made a bigger version to email, and that's been doing the rounds too. I'd be bothered if they'd tagged it as their own, but they haven't.)
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 10:22, archived)
# This.
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 13:56, archived)
# Hello you!
(, Fri 25 Jun 2010, 14:08, archived)