Hot At Sphinn: SEO’s Bad Reputation, Google ‘Pollutes’ The Web & More

A news article about Google from The Guardian was popular last week on Sphinn, as was last week’s member discussion about the SEO industry’s ongoing reputation management problems.

The Guardian article, Google is Polluting the Internet, says that “the danger of allowing an advertising company to control the index of human knowledge is too obvious to ignore,” and was tweeted 48 times last week — the most popular Sphinn story among Twitter sharers. It also picked up some comment activity, too.

But the most comment activity surrounded last week’s “Sphinn Discussion of the Week” about the SEO industry’s bad reputation. That produced what I thought was a fascinating conversation over the course of 28 comments, and it included our favorite comment of the week. It came from Sphinn member Terry Van Horne of, and I’ll edit it down a bit for brevity here:

Bad reputations are always earned…. The biggest problem is the industry has set no bar… and so anyone can call themselves an SEO. You can’t have it both ways… The fact there is no bar is our fault. Our inability to see the industry beyond the desk in front of us being THE biggest factor.

Agree? Disagree? You can join the conversation here and see the full text of Terry’s comment. Meanwhile, here’s this week’s recap of hot stories on Sphinn.

Most Comments

  • DOTW: The SEO Industry's Reputation Problem – Like clockwork, every few months a mainstream publication or a prominent online website/writer throws SEO and the entire SEO industry underneath a bus. SEO is all about "tricking" search engines and the SEO industry is nothing but unethical shysters out to make a quick buck while polluting Google's search results. And yet, for an industry that's filled with reputation management consultants, we don't seem to do much to make things better. So this week's Sphinn "Discussion of the Week" asks: What, if anything, can/should we do as an industry to improve our reputation?
  • SEO Audit Tool Comparison – Doing an SEO audit? Outspoken Media does a big review of five major tools.
  • The Essential DIY Guide to Successful Linkbait (Infographic) – An interesting visual look at the process of creating and promoting a successful linkbait campaign.
  • Who's The Most Influential Person Online? – Who would you expect to win a "most influential person online" contest? A Googler? Seth Godin? Ashton Kutcher? 30,000 names were submitted to Fast Company and the results are now in…

Most Tweeted

  • Google is Polluting the Internet – From The Guardian: "An advertising agency has monopolised, disorganised, and commercialised the largest library in human history. Without a fundamental rethinking of the way knowledge is organised in the digital era, Google's information coup d'état will have profound existential consequences."
  • Blekko, The “Slashtag” Search Engine, Goes Live – Blekko, the slashtag search engine launched by Rich Skrenta, went live today.  Danny Sullivan outlines why it's different and how to use it. 
  • Customer Service Scorecard: What’s Your Grade? – A really great overview of what goes into a user-friendly, customer service-oriented online shopping experience. Many small retailers may not have the budget/technical setup to implement all of these things, but it's something to strive for in any case.
  • Search Behavior Has Not Changed With Google Instant – A study by Conductor compares 880,000 visits from 10 high traffic sites by search term length over two weeks and shows virtually no change in search traffic distribution.

Hot On Sphinn: November 1 to November 7, 2010

  • Mayo Clinic & What Happens When a Facebook Wall Goes Terribly Wrong – A firestorm erupted on the Mayo Clinic Facebook Fan Page when allegations against one of their doctors got ugly.  Here's a look at what happened and what the Mayo Clinic did to bring the situation under control. 
  • 3 Steps To Mid-Tail PPC Profitability – Article suggesting 3 key PPC strategies for taking advantage of less relevant keywords. Firstly, the separation of keywords into campaigns depending on their level of qualification. Secondly, the qualification of ads to reduce wasted clicks. And finally, the persuasion in ad messages to capture flexible searchers and increase conversion rates.
  • Facebook Becomes Lowe's Black Friday Marketing Tool – Black Friday is *the* biggest shopping day of the year, why not use Facebook to push it?  A look at how Lowe's is leveraging Facebook ads to push Black Friday sales.  
  • Facebook Like Numbers are Inflated – When a Like isn't a Like. The Like number shown to users around the Internet is actually the total_count – “the total number of times the URL has been shared, liked, or commented on.” Large Like numbers throughout the Internet make it seem like the functionality is being used frequently. Yet, here we see that the specific Like feature isn’t as popular as we might have suspected.
  • 4 Tips For Search (And User) Friendly Design – Ian Lurie offers SEO-friendly design advice that should help bridge the communication gap between the two sides that have frequently divergent interests.
  • and top 2010 USA IYP Rankings – I just published an update to the IYP rankings. Many of these sites have done better in the few days since Google released Place Search.Here is my Top 10, although the article ranks the top 26: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
  • 5 Custom Google Analytics Reports: Track Changes in Traffic, Page Views, Bounce Rates, etc – We all know that tracking and analyzing our traffic is critical. And we sure know the major metrics to watch. But what's even more important is how they change over time. Here's an easy way to create custom Google Analytics reports that let you do just that: keep track of the change.
  • The final nail in coffin for Net neutrality – Before Tuesday's midterm elections, there were 95 House and Senate candidates who pledged support for Net neutrality, a bill that would force Internet providers to not charge users more for certain kinds of Web content. All of them lost — and that could mean the contentious proposal may now be all but dead.
  • Basics Of SEO Infographic – Inspired by a tweet from @Avinash, this is a very simple infographic that explains exactly what SEO is all about.
  • It's Time to Stop ICANN's Top-Level Domain (TLD) Lunacy! – Lauren Weinstein writes: "It's time to end the TLD madness. It will take both time and some heavy lifting. But there are alternative methodologies — more efficient, extensible, and far more economical, much better suited to the Internet of the 21st century, and we need to start working on them now."
  • 5 Ways To Fix SEO’s Reputation Problem – Great discussion here & good tips for SEOs and how to clean up your image as an SEO.
  • Report: 7% Of Mobile Internet Users Do Location-Based Services – Greg Sterling breaks down the data in the most recent Pew Internet Project report, including compelling reasons to not ignore this young but growing field of services. From the article: The Pew Interenet Project published findings from a recent survey about usage of “location-based services” (LBS). According to the Pew data, 7 percent of mobile Internet users are on location-based services and 4 percent of all internet-using adults “use a service such as Foursquare or Gowalla that allows them to share their location with friends and to find others who are nearby.”
  • How Google may Manage Reputations for Reviewers and Raters – Bill Slawski: "Do reviews of businesses and products at Google influence how well those might show up in Place searches or product searches? It’s possible that they may, and a bigger question might be how much weight might Google give to each review that it sees. An answer, in part, to that may depend upon a reputation score associated with the people leaving reviews."
  • What Is Social CRM? – This article is handy for guiding clients from old school CRM to new school CRM through the social web. Includes helpful graphics and data.
  • The 2010 SEO Industry Survey Results – The 2010 SEO Industry Survey from SEOmoz unveils fascinating trends about salary, gender, priorities and more from over 10,000 marketing professionals. Plus there's a cool infographic on "The Anatomy of a Search Marketer"
  • PayPal Beats Google Checkout To Local Space – PayPal released a new iPhone app that allows users to find businesses near by that accept PayPal, the feature encourages merchants to post deals and promotions as incentive for customers to visit their businesses
  • The Google Holiday Update Conspiracy Theory – Does Google engineer changes to occur right before the holidays to drive up ad revenue?Michael Gray doesn't think so, "Google makes its decisions based on what it thinks is best for users … not publishers" .
  • Facebook SEO: The Definitive Guide to Facebook Search (so far) – With the implementation of the Open Graph, the focus of your Facebook efforts should shift to search engine optimization. This isn’t about optimizing your ‘fan’ page to appear in Google search results, but instead is about optimizing your own site and pages to appear in Facebook search results.
  • Information Architecture 101: Techniques and Best Practices – Cameron Chapman provides a ton of useful information to help you create the  website hierarchy that will best meet the needs of your particular website.
  • What Is Google Boost? – Google Boost is a new online advertising product that Google is offering. Google Boost allows business owners to create ads directly from their Google Places account. These ads will appear in the Sponsored Links area of and in the results page.
  • Trick or Tweet: Meet The New Twitter Styleguide – Brian Solis reviews Twitter's new styleguide and recommends all brands do the same "to officially define its voice and persona".
  • Google Analytics: Event Tracking vs Virtual Pageviews – Assume that visitors are arriving at a landing page of your website, what’s their next step? How do they interact before leaving that page? In this article we focus on how to use the 2 advanced tracking options that Google Analytics provides: the Event Tracking and the Virtual Pageview. Both are useful, but it is important to understand why and how to use them.
  • On Google Growing Up, Losing Employees & Being The New “California” – Bye-bye Google, hello Facebook, seems another high profile Googler has jumped ship.  Danny Sullivan writes: " Another sign that Google’s slipping or an an inevitable part of a company becoming older?" Good outline of who's coming and going and why.

This is the latest in a weekly look at the stories that were “hot” on Sphinn in the past week. We’ll post these recaps every week.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Sphinn


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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