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Old 07-05-2004   #1
Chris Sherman
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Seth Godin: Most SEO Not Worth the Money

Online marketing guru Seth Godin takes a jab at SEO in his blog, saying "SEOs are not a shortcut to success, at least not for 99% of the companies out there."

That's a pretty sweeping assertion, but he goes on to make a number of valid points, both about the tentative and often transitory nature of SEO success, and the importance of other search marketing factors such as effective site design, paid placement links, and so on.

It's a thought-provoking read:
http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_b...oblem_wit.html

(and congrats to our own Andrew Goodman who gets the nod from Godin as an example of a good SEO... )
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Old 07-05-2004   #2
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Shortcut? Compared to what?

Quote:
SEOs are not a shortcut to success
No one ever said that SEO was a shortcut to success. Its a lot of hard work, and a core fundamental component of an online strategy.

I really enjoy Seth's writing, and I agree with much of it. But this is an oversimplification.

Seth has failed to grasp one of Einstein's core fundamental truths:

Quote:
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
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Old 07-05-2004   #3
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Saw Seth's post, and I sent him this earlier today:
Saw your recent post on SEO. Let me try replacing SEO with the word PR and a few other similar changes, to see if you still have the same feeling:
PR is the purported science of getting your story into the headlines of media outlets.

The theory is that a huge number of people find what they're looking for via media outlets, that virtually all of these people only look at stories in the top outlets and that if you don't reach out via PR, you're doomed.

I just got a note from someone asking me for a recommendation, and when I said I didn't think that most PR was worth the money, he asked me why. So here goes:

Because it's a black art, it's really hard to tell who's good and who's not. I know some PR firms that are good, there are people who are less reputable... no matter what, it's hard to guarantee you'll get your money's worth.

Lucking into (and it is luck) the top headlines is not a business plan. It's superstition. It's blind faith.

PR firms are not a shortcut to success, at least not for 99% of the companies out there. You won't win by fooling major media outlets into writing stories about you. You will win once you figure out the simple mechanics of turning strangers into friends and friends into customers.
OK, enough with the illustration. There's nothing wrong with SEO per se, and I hope you'll revisit your views. It makes just as much sense to pay attention to how search engines index your web site as it does to perform basic public relations by getting a press release out. A few simple changes are often enough to bring you free, lasting traffic from search engines. Why wouldn't you want to do that. And there are indeed plenty of good, reputable firms that can help you, if you can't master the basics yourself.

The REAL problem with SEO is when people depend on it entirely. I've long written and spoken to people that SEO is like PR, and companies in the real world generally don't do just PR. You can't depend on it. That's why they also do ads and other types of marketing. The two combined -- SEO and search engine advertising, that's search engine marketing. The combination is very powerful.

But SEO alone? Yep, no one should build a business around just that. And extremely aggressive SEO, where you might go after tricks and chase any small algorithm change? Not at all what I'd recommend to someone. But don't mislead your readers into thinking all SEO is like that. It's not. Good SEO starts with having quality content, then making the important changes that even the search engines will tell you to do. There's nothing wrong with that.
Got a quick response back from him:

Quote:
that's exactly what I was trying to say. Sorry if I was too hyperbolic,
but people have precisely the same (wrong) attitude about PR, as you
indicated below.

"If I could only get on Oprah, then everything would be fine!"
He also said he's working on a follow-up post. I imagine that will further clarify the type of hyperactive SEO activity he's talking about.
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Old 07-05-2004   #4
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Bang, Bang you are...

Wow, all the big guns lined up for me to shoot at. You guys talk like the "digital age" revolutionizes nothing... That the world must still function within the narrow inefficient confines and gave us a pennies worth of difference two-party democracy and network television. The digital age can change everything, if we allow it to. SEO, especially as it relates to creating "link popularity", is nothing but Spam... just like that dishonest useless Spam that has essentially ruined e-mail as a more efficient communication system.

Indexing and organizing digital information is about a million times easier than it is with traditional media. Content whether it be information, a product, or a service should no longer need a parasitic agent or agency to be accessible to its customers or find-able through a universal index. 30 years ago if I proposed a plan where we would shuffle the cards in the library card catalog based on "popularity" or based on how much a publisher or author was willing to spend on something as irrelevant as gold leaf on their index card-- I would be about as ignored as I am today for... for suggesting the opposite. ...Ironic, isn’t it!

Last edited by Elisabeth : 07-05-2004 at 04:39 PM. Reason: edited out url in sig.
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Old 07-05-2004   #5
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>Wow, all the big guns lined up for me to shoot at.

Yeah, barn door [you missed again BTW].

>Indexing and organizing digital information is about a million times easier than it is with traditional media

Its much much harder, there is a lot more of it about. Sorting 10,000 records is trivial, try and sort 10 billion.

> 30 years ago if I proposed a plan where we would shuffle the cards in the library card catalog based on "popularity"

Its a really old idea, transfer that sucessfully to the web though and with the right marketing you would be a billionaire.

>Ironic, isn’t it!

No.
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Old 07-05-2004   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arttworks
SEO, especially as it relates to creating "link popularity", is nothing but Spam... just like that dishonest useless Spam that has essentially ruined e-mail as a more efficient communication system.
so your suggestion is that we cry our eyes out and claim all of our competitors are spamming and file bankruptcy while they pad their pockets?

the problem with blanket statements is that they are usually made out of ignorance and have little to no logic behind them.
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Old 07-06-2004   #7
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I've moved the post from artworks about signatures and some follow up posts to the Signature Policy thread. That's the most appropriate place for them. Further discussion of signatures here will just be deleted as offtopic.

You're more than welcome to continue that particular discussion in the other thread. I'd also encourage artworks to see the post I added there -- in short, you can indeed have live links in your post as appropriate, and we're liberal about that. We just don't allow signature-style links.
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Old 07-06-2004   #8
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Perpetually wasted Motion

Seth Godin's rebuttal to your accusation of hyperbole is to spout the same old mantra... build a better mousetrap and... basically saying, the cream rises to the top, so be cream. The fact is the FAT also rises to the top and in some cases the fat is so thick that if you don't do something to cut your way through it you'll remain residue that will never see a ray of sunlight. For over three years I've had a top 5 [by any rational opinion] website on the keyword "Mendham". For over Three years google has rank the site no higher than 40 [a menu bar sub page] and as bad as 600th. Obviously, competing capitalist media isn't going the link to the site and it is also obvious, that unless the not-for-profit site magically falls into the money for a promotion budget, the only hope it has is the long slow road of word-of-mouth. The truth is "optimization" does work, the problem is it only works in the short term... in the long-term SEO is a zero-sum game that only forces everyone to waste time and energy on what is an irrelevant distraction. It's like we should all agree to flip a coin to decide who gets to be "king of the mountain" (that is if we can't be grown-ups and do it some rational logical way) and be done with all this stupid my-wallet-is-bigger-than-yours competition.


edit: fixed link

Last edited by arttworks : 07-06-2004 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 07-06-2004   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arttworks
Seth Godin's rebuttal to your accusation of hyperbole is to spout the same old mantra... build a better mousetrap and... basically saying, the cream rises to the top, so be cream. The fact is the FAT also rises to the top and in some cases the fat is so thick that if you don't do something to cut your way through it you'll remain residue that will never see a ray of sunlight. For over three years I've had a top 5 [by any rational opinion] website on the keyword "Mendham".
if this is true then you need to help other people find your site or idea. help it along. nobody owes you free distribution. its simply not how the world works.


Quote:
Originally Posted by arttworks
For over Three years google has rank the site no higher than 40 [a menu bar sub page] and as bad as 600th. Obviously, competing capitalist media isn't going the link to the site and it is also obvious, that unless the not-for-profit site magically falls into the money for a promotion budget, the only hope it has is the long slow road of word-of-mouth. The truth is "optimization" does work, the problem is it only works in the short term... in the long-term SEO is a zero-sum game that only forces everyone to waste time and energy on what is an irrelevant distraction. It's like we should all agree to flip a coin to decide who gets to be "king of the mountain" (that is if we can't be grown-ups and do it some rational logical way) and be done with all this stupid my-wallet-is-bigger-than-yours competition.

I don't buy that I have a big wallet idea. I have a site that ranks #1 for "search marketing" and ~ 5 - 6 for "search engine marketing"

in addition my new site (~7 months old) is already up to #13 for "seo" (last I checked) and I have not spent but a few thousand promoting it. most terms are not as competitive as "seo" per say.

I also have been on the web about 1.5 years with no prior knowledge of marketing, the web, html, or SEO, so it seems to me if you put more effort into promoting your site and getting others to want to help you then you would be doing a bunch better with your rankings.

rankings and search engines are not everything anyway. if your goal is to spread your message then it is up to you to find ways to spread it.

if you feel your idea is better and should rise to the top you need to either refine your idea to make it an idea that OTHER THINK IS THE BEST and / or find people who are well aligned with your opinions and ask them to link to you.

If you asked in a nice manner lots of people here would be glad to help you. I know I have helped a bunch of non profit sites (absolutely free of charge). You have to pick friends and build your name. You don't do a good job of that by telling everyone else that they (or their businesses) are full of crap.
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Last edited by seobook : 07-06-2004 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 07-06-2004   #10
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it's the vision thing, stup....

I never said you were "full of crap" ... but if the smell fits... Apparently, we have what is called "a failure to communicate". For reasons of principle I am a vegetarian, likewise for reasons of principle I oppose promotion and will never "optimize" a website I produce. This isn't about "free distribution" it is about "equal and fair access". Just as there is a big difference between the science of map making and the business of location promotion (travel agent) there the big difference between the current search industry infrastructure and the "science" of rationally, logically, and fairly indexing the Internet. If you can't see the principle involved we might as well start arguing religion.
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Old 07-06-2004   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arttworks
I never said you were "full of crap" ... but if the smell fits... Apparently, we have what is called "a failure to communicate". For reasons of principle I am a vegetarian, likewise for reasons of principle I oppose promotion and will never "optimize" a website I produce. This isn't about "free distribution" it is about "equal and fair access". Just as there is a big difference between the science of map making and the business of location promotion (travel agent) there the big difference between the current search industry infrastructure and the "science" of rationally, logically, and fairly indexing the Internet. If you can't see the principle involved we might as well start arguing religion.
the principals are that:

you have equal access to search databases and search results that I do.
you have been on the web longer than I.
you probably also have more money in your wallet than I do (I am not rich).
I have chose top rankings to be an important issue for me.
you have not made this choice.
I have learned a bunch about how to rank websites in search results.
you have chose not to make this a priority.
I have tried hard to get links and spread my ideas.
you have chose not to make this a priority.

equal and fair is a concept that never really works. your reality is not my reality. my reality is not your reality. as we can both clearly see.

we try our best to clearly articulate our opinions. it is basic human nature to want to spread things that interest us good or bad.

nobody owes you good rankings and if you do not want to learn how to spread your ideas that is on you, not the seo community.

to not be in support of any type of promotion and to be frustrated that other sites list above you is not objective on your part. what is your suggestion for how search engines should work? perhaps what we really need is for you to make a fair search engine.

the single biggest part of SEO right now is getting links to your site. if you do not contact other webmasters on your topic they probably are not going to link to you out of the blue unless they find something you say to be really interesting.

I am sorry that more people do not find your website interesting.
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Last edited by seobook : 07-06-2004 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 07-06-2004   #12
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Sorry I don't find you more intelligent

You wanna keep personalizing this with your "do not want to learn" and "more interesting" rhetoric and I will be happy to give you just what you deserve. I helped destroy the original "goguides" after Disney turned infoseek into absolute junk. I don't need to learn anything about search engine Spamming... I have been watching you all for five years. I know how to break into of my neighbor's house and I guess you think "strangely" I haven't chosen to do so. For me there are ethical lines I will not cross and supporting a "search engine industry" that has been corrupted by pop-culture, the SEO community, and just plain old dirty money is not something I'm going to do.

On the subject of links... get real! there is only one other SEO opposition site on the Internet. Without fair, honest search engines the "counterculture" on any issue is dead meat if they don't have a promotion budget.
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Old 07-06-2004   #13
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Quote:
You wanna keep personalizing this
Actually, I'll ask everyone to please step back, take a breath, and stop personalizing things. Otherwise, we'll assume this thread has run its course and close it.
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Old 07-06-2004   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arttworks
On the subject of links... get real! there is only one other SEO opposition site on the Internet. Without fair, honest search engines the "counterculture" on any issue is dead meat if they don't have a promotion budget.
if you knew me just a tad bit better you would see I am more aligned with counterculture than most

it is not what we can or can not do. it is what we chose to do that really matters. nobody is saying that we are better than the other, just that we all have different beliefs. I think diversity makes the world better.

I have no personal conflict with you and I do not think you have one with me. we both just have different ways we go about doing things. and so long as we both believe in what we are doing and are happy then the world is fine in my eyes.

sorry Danny
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Old 07-06-2004   #15
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This topic is on "Seth Godin: Most SEO Not Worth" so lets please stick with it. No more personal comments.
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