• http://www.brickmarketing.com nickstamoulis

    Wow, I am surprised that a professional news reporter with a major media outlet does not truly spend the time doing their research on the SEO industry, before they accuse all “optimizers” to be scammers or spammers….this is a crazy thought!

    Yes, there are non reputable people in our industry (and most industries!) but that does not mean that every SEO company, consultant and expert is a search engine scammer…it is like make an un-true statement that every lawyer is sleezy or an ambulance chaser…

    Fox News, go learn your facts before you report the so called news.

  • calgreg

    One of the biggest and most laughable myths about Fox News is that they are a news station.

    I doubt any good journalist would be caught dead as a Fox News “journalist” or any other position at that trashy network.

  • http://www.terryhoward.net Terry Howard

    How close to libel of a profession is this that a class action suit could be brought? Not saying that should be a consideration, and I think Oprah v The Beef Industry is evidence of how far that would go. But, I have to wonder how an editor could not consider the whole theme of that story to be a potential legal problem. Without research or investigation to defame industries pointlessly, that’s what passes for journalism now?

  • Shari Thurow

    Hi Danny and everyone,

    Outstanding article, as usual. But you know what caught my attention in the headline? Not the Fox News part. It was the “SEO is Not Search Engine Scamming” part.

    Of course, I do not agree that all SEO professionals are scammers or “worthless, shady criminals” as you teased, tongue-in-cheek, awhile back. But many of them are, and they give our industry a bad name. They have been giving our industry a bad name for many, many years.

    I agree that Fox News seems hypocritical for publishing this sort of story. And kudos to you for calling them on it. But it still bothers me that our industry is still viewed as one of “scammers”.

  • http://arthurofsun arthurofsun


    A bit of a tempest in a teapot, don’t you think? There are always going to be ignorant people. As I recall, Danny, at SMX Advanced, you didn”t feel comfortable (or thought it not worth your time) reporting folks who engaged in grey hat tactics. So if intentional bad actors don”t get you energized, why waste your energy and page space on foolish writers and those who are silly enough to publish them? Unless it’s to clear misconceptions – but the folks who read Fox probably don’t read SEL.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Arthur, this isn’t a “reporting” article on Fox’s tactics. It’s dissecting their bad reporting on SEO. And yes, I said for the most part, it’s tiresome and not worth the time any longer in many of these cases to keep correcting the mainstream media, when they get it wrong. In this case, I decided it was worth the time. I also emailed Fox directly. But I’m not really expecting they’ll correct the article.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    I wanted to add that Ben Cook (“skitzzo”) has been pretty upset (it seems) that this is somehow an “outing” article on Fox News and paid links. It’s not. I’ve had an email exchange with him, and here’s some of that discussion:

    In my first email to Ben, I said:

    “You’re harping that it’s a public spam report. That wasn’t the purpose, and I think anyone who looks at it fairly would understand that.

    You’ve got a major news organization putting it out there that SEO is scamming. It’s not. You know that.

    Since they’re making that allegation, it’s fair game to look at whether they’re doing SEO themselves. And they are, as the article explained.

    Then it turns out that they’re selling paid links. Now remember this is the same article, same organization, saying that SEO is nothing more than putting nonsense out in the search engines. Paid links are public enemy number one to Google, right? You know that. Not saying I agree with that. In fact, I’m on record as saying I want Google to give up the war on paid link. Judge a link on its merits, not solely if it is paid.

    But that’s how things are now – worse thing you can do to Google is buy or sell links, as far as Google’s concerned. And here’s a news organization doing it while at the same time suggesting all of SEO is worse.

    That’s fair game. I didn’t go out of my way to somehow spot them. I got drawn in by the article they wrote.”

    Ben then pointing out me tweeting about the paid link aspect, to which I responded:

    “That was one of three tweets about the story, and I thought it was worth highlighting. Matt should look at it. More important, if Google’s supposed to be as hot on catching paid links in the way they talk about, why the heck is that home page sitting with a big PR8? You know why – because they’re not that good, part of the double standard. Here’s an excellent example of a big publisher getting away with stuff that Google says don’t do but doesn’t really seem to enforce against people who are big enough, as you well know.

    The paid links didn’t overshadow the point, I would say …. most people wouldn’t read that story and come away that I was on some campaign to get Fox banned much less see this as part of some general outing campaign.

    I can’t stress this enough. You’re making it out like I’m outing sites all the time. I’m not. Go to my author page, read through all my stories, go calculate the percentage of sites you think I’ve outed. That’s also why when you think I’m getting a free pass, I think you’re just being unreasonable. I think most of my readers know that I don’t make a habit of highlighting sites that are violating guidelines. I could. Heck, I could have an article every day. I don’t.”

    Ben then asked more about my “outing policy,” to which I responded

    “I don’t have an outing policy, Ben. If I did, there would be a steady stream of articles from me outing people for all types of things. I don’t do that. I don’t think it’s fair for you to suggest that. My view, of course.

    As for the sites that purchased the links, where do you see in the article that I suggest they be at fault? Nowhere. I said this is something that Fox News should look at. Didn’t say hey Google, go get People – go get Bankrate, etc.

    Google might, of course. But let’s also get realistic – they won’t. They’ll won’t ding Fox News or if they do, it’ll be like for a day or two. The sites that bought links, the big ones, they aren’t going to be penalized. You know that. And aside from that, wasted their value? Seriously – they buy links on a major site, you think Google doesn’t already know that – isn’t already perhaps penalizing them?

    And down the line, when Fox is just sitting there able to do whatever it wants, it further highlights the absurdities for Google’s “justice” for you or I or others to point out.”

    Ben then suggested anyone might use my arguments to out a site. I responded:

    “All I can say is that I think you’re focusing far too much on the mention of paid links and turning this into some type of outing exercise. That’s not what it was about. It was about a major news site suggesting that SEO=scam. Bad reporting. Actually, no reporting. My response was to demonstration what SEO means by examining their own site – that you do meta description tags, that you do sitemaps and that if you’re looking to avoid trouble with Google, you don’t sell links. You can disagree whether Google should have a policy against paid links, but I think you would agree any SEO worth their salt, regardless of the hat they wear, would understand that selling links is a risky business.

    As for justifications to “out” a site, some people out there don’t worry about that at all. They’ll mention stuff just to out people. I can only tell you that if I mention a site doing something that goes against search engine guidelines, I feel I have a really good reason for doing so. In this case, Fox was stupid enough to call into question all of SEO. In doing that, they put their own SEO activities into the spotlight. They’re a major media company – and as a major site that covers search, we’d almost look stupid by ignoring the paid links being there.”

  • kernul

    Hey Danny,

    Just to clarify, the in-house SEO team you mentioned was not affiliated with Fox News. My name is Bill and I ran that previous department. News Corp, is a very large corporation and they have many different divisions. Fox News was a part of the Fox Broadcasting Group.

    My team worked as part of the Fox Interactive Media division (which included MySpace, IGN, Askmen and a few others). We never touched Fox News. I know the “Fox” part of it gets confusing but this really was an entirely different division with it’s own P/L that we were not a part of.

    If you could please remove this from your postscript we would appreciate it (“Via SEO Book’s write-up of the Fox News article, I came across this long interview about Fox’s SEO efforts — multiple people, each assigned to a different division.”).

    My team feels a little weird being dragged into this as we never we even a part of Fox News. We have long respected SearchEngineLand and have attended your conferences for many years. I hate to have my past team members cast in this bad light as they weren’t a part of Fox News.



  • the-jack

    Link Bait tatics: Create controversy. HEY! Fox News just got a link from you, Danny! After all, they are the SEO geniuses, getting links from dozens of PR-rich upset SEOs :-)

  • http://alphonseha.com alphonseha

    I think a Google Bomb should be in effect.

  • esteeh

    I’m disappointed that you didn’t correct your blog, as per the new info provided by kernul on August 24th, 2009 at 7:47 pm ET (above)

    Particularly because it sounds like their team are fans of searchengineland.com, so it’s just kind of unfortunate.. unless I missed something.

    All in all, I think Fox news cast the generalization too widely, but I can’t tell you how many of my client’s emails are flooded with scamming “SEO” experts who promise #1 spots and more. They do a lot of damage to discredit many of the legitimate practitioners of SEO.

  • http://www.liveambitions.com liveambitions


    I agree with you completely. It’s unfortunate that so many authoritative media outlets don’t report the facts, but instead report garbage like this.

    Sure, there are scammers just like in any other industry, but to put all SEOs in the same basket is a slap in the face.

    I never liked Fox News because they are so damn biased.

    In response to “the-jack”: I don’t think Fox News is smart enough to purposely do link baits. But, I guess it’s working for them anyway.