It’s been a busy day, with me trying to provide some more balance and education about search engine optimization in today’s Why The SEO Folks Were Mad At You, Jason article. About two hours ago, I noticed it drew the attention of those on Digg. It jumped to the Tech News popular page, in fact. And about 30 minutes after that, it was gone.
Gone? Flagged as spam by some, which seems to be a euphemism for some on Digg to mean "I just don’t like a story that I didn’t bother to read." Let’s see some of the ignorance and absurdity, shall we?
Check out the story post on Digg. I’ve been in there replying to many of the comments made. If you’re unaware, many on Digg hate any mention of SEO, since their experience of it is mostly with people trying to promote sites through Digg.
As my original article explained — as Greg Boser explained even better today — much of that Digg spam isn’t actually down to SEO. But just as many bloggers have assumed that SEO = trackback and blog spam, you’ve got many Diggers also making mistaken assumptions.
It was kind of nice to see the article make Digg. I’d actually joked with someone that if I wanted to really try and educate many on Digg about mistaken notions of SEO, I’d need to redo the article next week into 25 bullet points. Then it became popular and I thought wow — maybe people at Digg will actually read it.
Clearly not. Clearly from the comments, it was a case anger toward an industry — much of that due to ignorance and misunderstanding — getting in the way of getting closer to the truth.
The comments speak volumes. RadiantBeing wrote:
SEO is a load of shit. Or, to put it finely, it is trivial next to the challenges of creating great content, designing user-friendly interfaces, writing code, managing a server farm, etc.
Sigh. My response:
Dude, read the article. Scroll down to the part where you’ve got the sex bloggers trying to figure out WTF with Google. Ah, but it’s so trivial. I mean a monkey could do this stuff. No idea why Google itself has to provide loads and loads of information and help. Answer? Some of it is trivial, and some of it ain’t. And when things go beyond the basics, suddenly having some skill to understand that search engines interact with sites in particular ways is useful. Not snake oil.
Marked as inaccurate, and would mark as spam if I could vote twice.
He disagrees with my article. That’s fine, though I have a strong suspicion he’s simply agreeing with what Jason said rather than reading anything I wrote. So, I don’t know how much to trust his view that what I wrote was "inaccurate." But at least he didn’t go with calling it spam.
Spam? Go back to the top of any story on Digg. You’ll see a button called Bury. If you click on it, options appear:
Here’s a closer look:
- Duplicate Story
- Wrong Topic
- OK, This is Lame
You can only use one of the options. carguy84 went with Inaccurate. If they read it, disagreed, I’m cool with that. If they thought it was lame — fine as well. But spam? I didn’t spam Digg with this. I didn’t submit it, nor was it even written with a Digg audience in mind (remember, no number in the headline, no bullet points in the story). At worse, I added a Digg button after I noticed it was getting some significant votes, exactly as Digg itself tells you to do.
The majority of the comments are like those of RadiantBeing and carguy84, people who clearly didn’t read the story and pretty much seem to know all they know about SEO from bad experiences on Digg. I’ll continue on.
The problem with the entire field of SEO is that many in the industry use practices that are considered unethical to achieve said results …. Continuing on this statement, most in the SEO ‘industry’ do things that tip-toe on the line of web ethics.
Wow. Clearly they thought a lot about the points I made in the article. Hehe – clearly they did not. From my response:
Really? I mean are you just pulling this out of thin air, like Jason did? If you actually read the article, it cites how Google (which sees a lot of SEO) does NOT say that most SEO work tip-toes. It says most SEO is just fine and that only a few give the industry a black eye. But what would they know, eh?
Well, no big deal if mtekk wasn’t that educated about the topic. After all, Digg describes itself as a "digital media democracy" That’s true enough, in that many democracies let anyone vote, not matter how uneducated they are. But then again, Digg also calls itself a "collaborative editorial process" where people are encouraged to Digg "the stuff that you like best."
As a result, if you have a mistaken, uneducated view of a topic — you aren’t likely to learn much through Digg. It’s sometimes touted as a replacement for Google News. Sure, to the degree that I might replace a balanced newspaper with a heavily slanted one. See the world as you want, and don’t learn anything to challenge your views.
Am I exaggerating? Across all of Digg, perhaps. On SEO, certainly not. Look further at the comments for proof. BrainInAJar wrote to explain to someone what SEO stands for:
You know when you accidently mistype a URL and get to one of those f*ing typosquatting spam sites? Or the shitty blogspam on the "upcoming stories" page about foot cream or whatever? that’s SEO in action
Sigh. The education attempt continues. I responded:
Actually, those domains are called Google AdSense For Domains, largely. They don’t get traffic from search engines. They get direct navigation traffic from people typing directly into the browser. Nothing to do with SEO at all, and easily killed if Google and Yahoo would better police the sites.
Again, if you actually read the story (I know, it’s hard. No bulletpoint, lots of references and explanations in an attempt to try and educate people), blog spam is not necessarily SEO. Some people do it entirely not for SEO reasons. But hey, you know when you get that email spam? That’s all email marketing, right? Let’s characterize and entire industry by one bad practice.
Now you know when you try to find some company, and you can’t get to them because they accidentally blocked their entire site from Google with a bad robots.txt file? Fixing that is SEO. Or you know when someone explains to you that giving each of your blog posts a unique title will make them more relevant to the search engines? And you do it? And that "simple" tip that was simple to someone who knows search engines but not you causes your traffic to skyrocket, causes people to find more relevant content in search engines? That’s SEO as well.
There Cynoclast wrote:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a euphemism for link spam in -all- cases.
That took me back to the entire "did you bother to read anything at all" question? My response:
Gosh, let me check what Google says about SEO again. I think they have a definition. In fact, it was in the actual article that you’re commenting on. You read the article, right? I mean, comments on Digg aren’t just a euphemism for I spouted anything I thought of based on reading just a headline and a one or two line description. I’d like to think you’re contributing to the conversation. But in case you missed it, good old Google says:
SEO is an abbreviation for "search engine optimizer." Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted. However, a few unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results.
Guess I missed the section on SEO as meaning link spam.
mpeters13 did read the article, apparently. Sadly, all they took away was the idea that I somehow tried to use women to say SEO is honest. I didn’t, but here’s what they wrote:
lulz. I love how that article sites the fact that the SEO hires women… like that’s the deal maker to the legitmacy or honesty of a business. PLEASE accept my token of appreciation at your nasty attempt to build pathos using women as your crutch. Marked as spam.
Spam. Nice. You disagree with a point of the article, so you choose an entirely incorrect option on Digg? Lame — Inaccurate, but don’t call me a spammer. My response, for those that care:
Thanks. Yes, I wrote this long look at SEO and really hoped that one sentence about women being part of the industry would really redeem SEO in the eyes of many. It was the backbone of the piece. Definitely deserves being marked as spam. Hey, thanks for the considered read that you clearly gave it.
Finally, I saved the best comment for last. masona3 wrote:
Well, here’s the thing. If you don’t know how to optimize your own website for search engines, you DESERVE to get screwed… because you probably shouldn’t be in web design in the first place. It’s not that hard to tag things.
Again, it’s hard to see anyone making a comment like this — unqualified – if they either read the article or actually knew much about SEO. masona3 clearly does not, as I explained in my response:
No, it’s not hard to tag things. Of course, only Yahoo uses the meta keywords tag, and it carries little weight. So if you’ve been thinking tagging your pages have been helping, um, you’re pretty screwed.
Look, I’ve spent 11 years now dealing with site owners big and small, with great content, who make lots of basic mistakes with even the simple stuff. They don’t necessarily build their own sites, and being a site designer doesn’t mean you are a marketer or an SEO or a conversion expert or many other things. People have all types of different skills. If you lack certain ones, you find someone that can help. And you don’t deserve to be skilled because you don’t know every single thing under the sun.
Like I said, this article wasn’t written for Digg. It was written especially for Jason Calacanis (who found it helpful and educational, he told me), plus anyone else who wants to comment about SEO from a position of being better educated, rather than being a kneejerk reactionary.
Sure, it would have been nice if more on Digg had a chance to be exposed to it, and even better if they actually read it. Of course, I’ve been through this occasionally before. Last year, when my 25 Things I Hate About Google article made Digg, I was amazed at the people who didn’t read what I wrote or flat out were wrong in their comments. Heck, poor old Matt Cutts from Google had to jump in on another post once to try and give me some backup to Diggers that rather than being some spammer, I was actually someone "worth listening to." (Thanks again for that, Matt).
In the end, seeing the story get dropped of the popular page at Digg was sad – but much sadder for Digg than myself.