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The Good and The Bad of SEO

Time and time again it seems that SEO consultants are having to help the general public understand the good and the bad of Internet Marketing & Search Engine Optimization. There is a wealth of website and SEO information out there that the general public simply can’t tell what is good useful information as opposed to silly ignorant and possibly hurtful bits.

I read various articles and posts yesterday about John Dvorak’s comments on The Trouble with Search Engine Optimization and Armando Roggio’s survey and findings on website merchants not knowing the difference between good SEO tactics and questionable ones. It seems many are upset with suggestions that SEOs are “modern snake-oil salesmen”. It is very sad when we “good” SEOs see the general public get burned by the “bad” ones. And sadly, we do see it way too often. We see too many out there able to use the correct buzz words or sell themselves well but simply cannot prove themselves when it comes down to the end results – better rankings, better traffic and better conversion rates (purchases, emails, forms, or items affecting ROI in a positive way).

What the general public needs to know, especially like John Dvorak and ecommerce merchants, is that good SEOs are able to find the problems with your site and its surrounding factors. They should be able to explain what is needed to fix those problems and why. The guys (I won’t refer to then as SEOs anymore) who just say “do this and all will be good” are not good enough for anyone to talk to, much less pay for! The “why” something should be done is the most important factor and should be easily understood and also easily verified with the incredible amounts of information online. If you cannot find consistent information to substantiate a claim for fixing an SEO related problem online then it most probably won’t work and may actually hurt your site.

Dvorak said that someone told him to make long URLs (page names) and that this was some special trick. Creating a good, static URL is no “trick”. Knowing how to create a good, static URL is a technique, and there are good techniques and bad techniques – and both can be explained. But what everyone should know is that there are no “tricks” or “magic” in SEO. What there is are clever, smart, good problem solving people who know what is expected of a site to perform well and can intelligently guide and fix things on sites in proper priority and focus and at the right time to a good end. That’s no trick.

The bad ones can sound good – there are definitely plenty of snake-oil salesmen all over – but they don’t know when to do things, where to do things or how to do them effectively and efficiently.

And you know where I see this the most, with those who are busy soliciting business, trying to find website owners who don’t really understand SEO and then using buzz words that sound cool but generally no one knows what is being said. I’ve seen many of the bad guys be the first to put down another SEOs work trying to prove they are better rather than acknowledging items that are good but others that could be done better. A good SEO can see the direction another SEO might have been taking. This doesn’t necessarily make it bad work it’s just a different way to solve the problems. But, then on the other hand, it is very simply to see bad work, bad SEO advice, and/or black-hat tricks going on too. SEO is a constant work-in-progress. Things are never perfect, there is always going to be something that can be done better. As long as your SEO is helping in a positive way, ROI is going up, nothing is going down inappropriately then you have probably hit a good one. I have always suggested to my clients that my job is not to take away but to add to your site and business.

Be careful who you talk to at the SEO conferences or seminars too. I’ve seen plenty flaunting themselves and handing out cards inappropriately. Truly, the good SEO consultants aren’t there to solicit business, they are there to share knowledge. They want as badly as I do to help the general public better understand the good information to be had. They want to help the general public be able to better distinguish between the good and the bad.

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