• http://seoblog.intrapromote.com/ Erik

    Crap. Well, at least we have two more months. Did Jason say whether all our clients will leave right on 7/14, or will they trickle away all during the fall? I need to do some planning.

  • http://www.seo4fun.com/blog/ Halfdeck

    An SEO defending SEO is just not credible enough. Just from this article, readers get the feeling that SEOs are so busy defending themselves that they don’t see the other side of the picture.

    For example, when Wikipedia installed sitewide nofollow, SEOs tried to start a nofollow Wikipedia campaign instead of empathizing with a real problem Wikipedia has with spam.

    SEOs should have suggested solutions; offered to code up a viable alternative to nofollowing every outbound link. SEOs should have owned up to the fact that some people inject links into Wikipedia for selfish reasons.

    Instead, most SEOs attacked Wikipedia’s decision (I think Rand was the only notable exception).

    It’s that ego-centric view of the web where links you get matters more than what negative impact you have on communities like Digg or Wikipedia that turns people off to SEO.

    We need more SEOs that are able to look at issues from multiple viewpoints, and right now, that’s just not happening.

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    > Just from this article, readers get the feeling that SEOs are so busy defending themselves that they don’t see the other side of the picture.

    Read the other article I pointed to. It goes into depth beyond the defending to discuss the real problems that SEOs can and do solve for people and web sites.

    > SEOs should have owned up to the fact that some people inject links into Wikipedia for selfish reasons.

    Actually, there were some creative responses, such as Wikipedia perhaps coming up with trusted resources. It also wasn’t just SEOs upset with Wikipedia. Plenty of people dislike the fact that they benefit so much from inbound links but refuse to credit outbound. Nofollow hasn’t stopped people from trying to get links — there’s still value there. The problem, fundamentally, is they have a system that lets anyone do anything. Anyone — not just SEOs — can take advantage of that.

  • http://www.seo4fun.com/blog/ Halfdeck

    “Actually, there were some creative responses, such as Wikipedia perhaps coming up with trusted resources.”

    Danny, don’t you see that we are contributing to our own problems? Do you honestly believe people just wake up mistrusting SEOs for no reason?

    If SEOs are marketers, we suck at marketing ourselves.

    People need to get that we are here to help THEM, not ourselves. And by “them”, I’m not just talking about clients that have enough money to pay us, but everyone, including people in the Digg/Wikipedia community.

    I know you spent time helping Tony Comstock when his site tanked. When I was less busy, I used to spend time at Google Groups Webmasters Help helping out webmasters for free. But not everyone has the luxury to do that. Niel offering to SEO Jason’s site I saw as a big step forward. But that’s more an exception than the rule.

  • http://www.readermeetauthor.com Derick

    I just wonder if this is an argument that’s even worth having any more. Some folks have their minds made up already and no amount of defending or arguing is going to change that.

    I think it’s important to remember that some fights are worth fighting and some aren’t. Sometimes it’s better to acknowledge your disagreement on a subject and move on.

  • http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ Matt Cutts

    Hey Danny, interesting article! I figured maybe I should clarify my quote from yesterday to prevent any misunderstandings. I said “It’s not a manual change; it’s just a fresh push of our Googlebomb data. The algorithm doesn’t run every day.”

    That comment meant that the change for [greatest living american] was due to a data push, not a new algorithm. (I believe) all we did was re-run the existing algorithm and push the resulting data. We don’t run the Googlebomb algorithm as part of our daily indexing, and the Colbert phenomenon was detected the first time the algorithm ran again. We didn’t do anything manual for Colbert just like we didn’t for any other link bombs.

    Okay, now I’ll let everyone resume discussing whether SEO is/isn’t rocket science, whether we should/shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, and whether SEO will/won’t die. :)

  • http://www.kevinlee.net diditcom

    I continue to be perplexed. No one on the Did-it team ever said (to my knowledge) that SEO is dead or useless, that SEO is BS or that SEO isn’t worth doing. All Dave said is that it isn’t rocket science. I’ve weighed in as well in print, and my position continues to be that SEO should get the site the ranking it deserves, and assuming the site’s competitors are doing a poor job with SEO, perhaps even a ranking higher than it deserves. Anything more than that and a site owner risks the sustainability of their rankings as Matt Cutts and his contemporaries at all the engines do their best to maintain relevance.

    At Did-it.com, we aren’t in the SEO business with the exception of audit reports we do occasionally on special request. We refer SEO work out to those in the industry who we thing charge a fair, price, do a good job and know their stuff.

    Since we weren’t asked to be on any SMX panels relating to our core business, we didn’t feel like going out to participate on a panel that has is designed to create an artificial debate. To me the debate is should you expect to get undeserved rankings after hiring an SEO or could you get the majority of ranking for your content by following the basics covered in most books, conferences and the Google Webmaster site. It’s not a debate about whether SEO is bull.

    WRT site clinics, site clinics are useful when they are cooperative. I’ve done them in about 5 or 6 DMA conferences with Heather Lloyd-Martin, Detlev Johnson, Lee Odden, Andrew Wetzler, Chris Copeland, and others. I’m not sure an adversarial site clinic imparts more wisdom, but I can see an event producer thinking it will be more entertaining.

    SEO is an important part of an online marketing plan, no one disputes that, as a blogger Jason Calcanis would likely agree.

    If we had been offered a spot to impart wisdom to the SMX audience regarding our business of paid search and auction media (even is bid management dead), we would have considered also doing a panel on how SEO fundamentals are critical to a site’s success.

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    If Did-It wanted to speak at SMX, you should have pitched to speak. I had plenty of openings on several paid search panels. Did-It made no outreach at all, that I can recall. Apologies if I somehow missed that. Other good, qualified paid seach companies did.

    In contrast, I reached out to Dave personally to see if he wanted to be on the debate panel. His response was that he wasn’t attending the show, period. It wasn’t “maybe he would, if he could to a paid search panel.” I can understand that position and would have considered it strongly. But instead, I was left with the impression that Did-It wasn’t going to be attending at all.

    Dave has argued that, and I quote: “most marketers can achieve significant organic rankings without resorting to anything more mysterious than applying the basic optimization principles outlined in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

    It won’t go into more depth again arguing this other than to say it is not that easy. Nor was I suggesting an adversarial site clinic. I was offering a chance to easily demonstrate whether that basic knowledge Dave (and Jason) assert can be gained from published guidelines is enough for most people. I know from experience, from having answered hundreds of questions, that it is not. It is simply not the case that you just build it, and the traffic comes. It is not the case that you read some help pages and somehow that magically solved a signficant crawling error you didn’t realize you had.

    In the end, I was pretty much done with the entire debate with Dave. He’s made his points; I’ve made mine, and I tried twice (now three times) to involve him in a further discussion. Apparently, Did-It wasn’t up for that for SES NY when you were on paid search panels. Now, the excuse is you weren’t up for it at SMX because it’s my fault for not offering you a spot on paid search panels that you never pitched for.

    If your marketing manager can watch my agenda enough to know when a session has been dropped, and then take a swing that I’m somehow hiding something, I assume he can watch it enough to see when I’m asking for pitches. At the very least, he can at least acknowledge that rather than me trying to do something one-sided, I asked your own company from the very beginning to be involved.

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    To add further, Kevin, since I was sort of dashing out the door when I posted above — I’ve written that there are indeed plenty of people who can rank well without any particular efforts or from using general information out there, including the Google information. But there are plenty of people who end up having problems especially from a search friendliness point of view.

    I’ve especially long described search engines as a “third browser” that you need to consider, because so many people come to your web site via them — and how they see your site can have an impact on your “natural” or “deserved” ranking, as you like to call it. Of course, when Google’s results themselves seem to change from day to day — not to mention are now getting personalized — the idea of a “deserved” ranking makes no sense. In fact, we actually had a court case that ruled there is no deserved ranking a page can expect.

    But the main point is this. Things can and do go wrong, and oftentimes what seems like easy, simple changes for those who are aware of SEO can fix them. An SEO professional is someone who sees these things and knows what to do, in the way a design professional can built a great web site.

    Dave’s various posts have frankly suggested that there’s no need for SEO professional at all. I don’t disagree that there are some firms that will try to make SEO seem more a mystery that it needs to be. But then again, it really can be a mystery for people.

    My intention with either a site clinic or a debate was to better illustrate this. Both Dave and Jason, I feel, have demonstrated an deep ignorance of just how perplexing many people find SEO. I’m not talking black hat. I’m talking even the “easy” stuff. Having them on a site clinic — heck, having them sit in the audience of one — is the best way to illustrate for them that most of the SEO issues many of us hear are how to spam blogs but everyday, ordinary site friendliness issues.

    As for the actual debate, whether is was SEO Is Bull or some other exploration of the topic, I didn’t particularly care. I simply wanted to get two sides exploring the general issue and would have altered things more from the original debate idea, if I thought it would have been a more constructive way (Jeffrey Rohrs, however, had assembled a very constructive debate format, I felt).

    The SEO reputation issue isn’t going to go away, but neither is the demand for those same services. In addition, like it or not, SEO is an equal half of the search marketing house with paid search. It’s not as nice and neat as paid search, but neither is PR compared to advertising. I’m all for cleaning up the reputation or extending the education. And that brings me back to the original point of this entire post. Jason’s about to embark on a new search-oriented product, it seems, and is latching on to it being anti-SEO as some selling point.

    Well, I’m tired of SEO being his whipping boy for attention. If it’s a good search product, it can stand on its own without yet another frenzy happening over SEO.

  • egain

    “The SEO reputation issue isn’t going to go away, but neither is the demand for those same services. In addition, like it or not, SEO is an equal half of the search marketing house with paid search. It’s not as nice and neat as paid search, but neither is PR compared to advertising. I’m all for cleaning up the reputation or extending the education. And that brings me back to the original point of this entire post. Jason’s about to embark on a new search-oriented product, it seems, and is latching on to it being anti-SEO as some selling point.”

    Yet again Danny think you hit the nail on the head.

    That said I do have to agree with some of halfdecks comments, in particular his reference to the ‘Wikipedia issues’ and his comment ‘If SEOs are marketers, we suck at marketing ourselves.’. We do as an industry seem to have a ‘herd mentality’, (with obvious notable exceptions), however apart from key speakers in the industry, there are many ‘SEO’ers’ out there, who just follow the majority, and don’t as Halfdeck put it don’t ‘look at issues from multiple viewpoints’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1022902039 Delton Childs

    For the love of all that’s good!  Why do you blow my mind like this!!!! :) Great Article! Found it on SEOmoz.