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3 Painful SEO Conundrums

Posted in Search & Social — August 31, 2012


I, at one time, promised myself I’d never post a list. “They’re cheap,” I said to myself. “I’m above that sort of behavior.”

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that anytime I promise myself anything, I’m lying.

Search engine optimization is a career that keeps you on your toes. You are at once an educator, a mediator, a diplomat, and a (figurative) ditch digger. You have to know how to write, and write well. You have to process data and communicate results. You have to simultaneously think like a marketer and analyst. It’s an exciting life that requires a fair share of grunt work. My parents are not stupid people: they both hold advanced degrees in demanding professions (medicine and engineering). I’ve tried multiple times to explain, but they’ll never really get what I do. I tell them to tell relatives I “work with computers.” That’s all they need.

There comes with every profession a set of inherent headaches, issues that, if you care at all about the job you’re doing, you can’t avoid. SEO is no exception. Although there are likely far more than three (and I welcome additions in the comments), following is a distilled list of unavoidable annoyances encountered by the professional search engine optimizer:

1. Cheaters Who Prosper –  You work hard to do the right thing, to apply ethical practices, to work with the strengths rather than to exploit the weaknesses of the search engines. You educate your clients as to why you’re doing what you’re doing, what’s right and what’s wrong, and why that crazy thing they heard is not a sustainable practice. Then your client does a search on a key term, and in the top three positions is a site that’s not only not obeying the rules – they’re outright flaunting them while laughing in your face. Your client, understandably, says “what the hell?” And all you can say is “it’s not a long term solution.” Because it’s not, right? Right, Google? Cause I’m looking at you on this one. And this topic naturally leads to…

2. Sleazebag SEOs  – Every industry has its less than ethical practitioners, people who trample the rules and proper business etiquette in their unapologetically ruthless quest for success. There are sleazy doctors, sleazy administrators, sleazy travel agents. There are probably sleazy Salvation Army bell-ringers, sleazy Santa’s Helpers, and sleazy Kindergarten teachers. SEO, though, is a calling that seems to call more than its fair share of dirtbags. And, inevitably, they’re the people who’ve previously sunk their greasy talons into your client’s site prior to your involvement. You not only have to undo the damage they’ve done to your client’s campaign; you have to undo the damage they’ve done to the very idea of SEO in your client’s mind. Thanks, sleazebags! You’re almost as bad as…

3. Ignorant SEO Tubthumpers  – I recently read a blog post, a recent blog post, by a currently practicing member of a currently operational SEO firm; in said blog post, the SEO “expert” discussed the importance of maintaining a certain keyword density by percentage in copy. For real. They said that. In words. Face. Palm. And one of the drawbacks of educating your clients (which, to my mind, is an absolutely necessary component of SEO) is that they’ll start paying attention to SEO and start coming to you saying things like “I just read this blog post and this SEO expert from a currently practicing SEO firm said we need to maintain a certain keyword density by percentage in copy! Why aren’t we doing that?” This is what’s known in educational circles as a “teachable moment.” I should thank that SEO expert for living in 2004 and publicly stating utter drivel. Thanks, SEO Expert!

Please don’t get me wrong. I truly like what I do. There’s a lot of grunt work involved in SEO, but there’s also a lot of discussion, communication, and forward thinking. When, after a long conversation, you know that a client knows that you’re doing the right thing with their site, that the myths have been dispelled, the garbage has been swept up, and that they trust you, well, it’s a good feeling. When they start seeing their organic traffic increase and, better, see their sales and/or conversions increase due to proper traffic targeting, well, that’s Flavor Country, right there.

But, man, some days…


  1. In my humble opinion SEO is really just good marketing. Cheaters no longer can win. Even if they find a new way to cheat it won’t last long term. Instead of whining about shady SEO’s why don’t you write about the sleazy techniques to avoid and the right techniques to incorporate?

    Posted by JakeSEO, August 31, 2012 | Reply

    • Hi “JakeSEO”:

      Thanks for the comment. Were you a regular reader of our blog, you’d likely know we have devoted many posts to doing SEO the right way. Here’s just one you may find instructional: http://www.bigdaylight.com/analytics/filtering-subdomains-in-google-analytics/. There are plenty of others.

      Sometimes it’s healthy to let off a little steam. (Or “whine,” in your language.) In my humble opinion.

      Posted by Admin, August 31, 2012 | Reply

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