Friday, March 7, 2008

Why SEO is not a job

Let's face it: SEO is a joke, not a job.

Anybody today can achieve excellent search engine ranking for his own blog or website in his sparetime, working on the strength of contents or services offered. A little bit of social bookmarking, alittle bit of fuss on major social or professional networks, a little bit of impression exchange, a little bit of back-links here and there: it doesn't seem to me as a big deal.

Wether you're using white or black hats or not I don't really care: the point is getting noticed on the web is extremely easy, just with a little reading and even less intelligence. I'd rather throw money out of the window than hire a SEO consultant, or I'd rather pay someone who doesn't call himself Search Engine Optimizer. Why? Because SEO is not a job, and will never be.

I see SEO people as prodigal sons of the new economy trying to make a living out of big and small companies ignorance.

Let's look at a Search Engine Optimizer profile: they're usually wannabe-techies who don't have a clue about what's behind what they're optimizing. We're talking about people who like the thrill of a tech-chat based on total vacuum. The most sophisticated SEO strategy I've ever heard about is "remember to provide a back link whenever you put a link on you website". What's this, if not a joke.

People who claim to be SEOs are most likely to fall in one of the categories below:
  1. Web Designers gone BAD
  2. Web Designers who overrate themselves
  3. Web Designers who were dancers
  4. Web Designers with a tiny backpack
  5. Web Designers who suck at web design
Before closing I'd like to point out this link: SEO is bullshit, it's quite hilarious (and there's no backlink).

And that's about it, at least for today.


Sam said...

There are SEO things that are useful to know, but it isn't a career.

Johnny Idol said...

I agree: that's what I am trying to say here

Johnny Idol said...

By the well, nice restyle to your blog Sam ;-)

d said...

you have a developer's point of view, that seems right to me also. but i understand that since there is money raised from a successful web presence, it is nearly inevitable that some marketing is going to be involved.
you mentioned 'ignorance'. knowledge is always a product to be bought, especially by companies which may run on completely different industry sectors.

Johnny Idol said...

Hi D,

you certainly got a point there when you say I speak from a developer point of view, and I do agree knowledge is always a valauable un-material product.

At the same time we all know the net is dog-fight today, and imho whoever goes online these days needs to be informed, otherwise you're gonna take it up the "A" from anyone, top of the list SEOs selling fried air. Not that different from those people selling crap to our grandparents, no doubt SEOs will be around for a long time, selling their services to a number of crippled companies.

I know a lot of people will be offended by my hopinion, and I know that generalization is always wrong. I bet there are a bunch of techincally skilled SEOs doing a kick-ass job out there. But just a bunch.

Anyway a number of consumers associations are discouraging "companies which may run on completely different industry sectors" from wasting money with so-called SEOs. The same way you might discourage your grandparents from buying anything after they got fucked a coupla times.

Scuffia said...


Derek said...

I do agree SEO is not a job, and I also think it's a snake oil business.

A lot people preach techniques to increase your search engine ranking that are invalid to say the least. Most of what is considered SEO now a days is out dated and many of the so called gurus really need to stop selling this bad advice. It usually results in a banned website in search engines or Social bookmarking websites.

Just the other day I noticed that bookmarking websites have started implementing spam filters to block out some website types automatically.

SEO is not a job, but it is an addiction for many website and blog owners who want to take an active role in their internet life. Other than that I do not believe someone should be paid 200 dollars an hour or more for doing something anyone can do with maybe an hours worth of training.

Scuffia said...

In my youth I spent a lot of time searching fot techniques to increase search engine position, and usually I found nowhere a complete answer but only vain promises (and vain courses): from that day I stated that SEO IS NOT A JOB!

SEOContest2008 said...

Tsk tsk, what a waste. Ignorance... tsk tsk.

Johnny Idol said...

quite a cheap competition I'd say; working-class kids get more for their confirmation

SEOContest2008 said...

My second contest. My first contest I won a brand new car (Citroen C2 which I asked for cash instead and got a Honda Odyssey.) last year in the SEO World Championship.

I can say SEO is mainly my bread and butter right now with the corporate clients I handle.

But at the same time, I am also a full time web designer and web developer so I play both hats. Which ever pays better for me.

So far 2006 and 2007 it has been SEO. 2002 to 2005 it was Web Development. 1997 to 2001 it was Web Design. Before 1997 I was a chemist.

And I am ready to jump into any field right away what ever gives me the most amount of money with the least amount of work. And can still jump back to anything I used to do if needed.

Gerda said...

Woah, the SEO world champion is driving an Honda Odyssey.

What about the bad ones?

Johnny Idol said...

SEOContest2008: The Citroen C2 is definitely impressive. You must be one of the good ones :-)

Anonymous said...

I have to agree completely. Some people find technical things so difficult they can only survive in an insanely narrow niche and cast themselves as 'specialists', even though it's typically something of which any decent developer should be capable. Long term, they're kidding themselves.

There's far too many idiots like this. Thankfully it looks like another industry shakeout is in the offing.

John said...

And one way would be to learn how to spell words like strength and whether and know that the plural of techie is techies.

Scuffia said...

I argue you are a SEO specialist...

Ryan said...

If "remember to provide a back link whenever you put a link on you website" is the most sophisticated SEO technique you've heard, then you don't know enough about SEO to make statements like this. Your "SEO is not a job" conjuncture has no backing.

To start, yes, there are a lot of people who bill themselves as SEO who are just salespeople with little technical backing.

But on the other hand, there are some very sophisticated schemes to get sites that normally wouldn't get high rankings on the search engines. And there are many ways your typical web developer may put up content that search engines can't read or index.

Considering that a lot of web businesses are only in business due to the search engine hits they get.. SEO IS important, and IS a job.

I'm not sure why such a worthless blog post showed up on my reddit screen.

paradoxbomb said...

Agreed with Ryan - the comment about "remember to provide a back link whenever you put a link on you website" really does show your ignorance on the subject.

There is a ton of BS purveyed by "consultants", and this is probably what you've encountered. Nevertheless, there are real techniques that actually do increase your rankings. Most people can learn these on their own with enough research and drive.

I see people pontificating on subjects like this often. In this instance, you ignore the number of business that are solvent long-term based on SEO strategies.

Johnny Idol said...

First of all thanks to people for teaching me grammar - hopefully some day they'll let me join the grammar club in my town.

I admit I am mostly driven by prejudice but I really did some research before putting this down (meaning top ranked SEO websites on google - if SEO is so good I should have got good samples, statistically speaking) and I really can't find anything more interesting than "word-density, "backlinks", "google SEO tools", "meta-tags" and other pretty basic and shameless shit like that.

I am going to quote myself from a previous comment that obviously people didn't bother to read being this such a worthless blog.


"I do agree knowledge is always a valauable un-material product.

At the same time we all know the net is dog-fight today, and imho whoever goes online these days needs to be informed, otherwise you're gonna take it up the "A" from anyone, top of the list SEOs selling fried air. Not that different from those people selling crap to our grandparents, no doubt SEOs will be around for a long time, selling their services to a number of crippled companies.

I know a lot of people will be offended by my opinion, and I know that generalization is always wrong. I bet there are a bunch of techincally skilled SEOs doing a kick-ass job out there. But just a bunch.

Anyway a number of consumers associations are discouraging "companies which may run on completely different industry sectors" from wasting money with so-called SEOs. The same way you might discourage your grandparents from buying anything after they got fucked a coupla times."

Anyway, I am happy to see I am not completely alone in this crusade against EVIL.

Dave said...

I disagree enough to write my own post on the subject:

Dave said...

Thanks for your reply...

I think SEO is unfortunately the same as many of the different web industries in that there is a big difference between the good and bad companies.

It happens in web-design, software too. Unfortunately the freedom of the web makes it too easy to say you are an expert on something when really you're not.
Wannabe SEO experts just give those who are actually put the hardwork in a bad name.

Cheers again.


Anonymous said...

it earns me money.
bud light is sold as a beer....are the people at budweiser brewers? now way. still they sell this urine to americans as beer. good for them.

Anonymous said...

I used to agree with you.

Until I sat in on a seminar by a real SEO professional.

I learned a lot about it. Granted, the technical techniques are simple to apply, but when done properly, I have seen confirmation of real results such as law firms actually getting huge increases in traffic for certain search terms.

It isn't so much about getting say, top results in Google for "cars". It is much more about getting top results for combinations of terms such as "2001 Honda Civic carburetors"
because that is what users type into Google.

Oh, and finding out _which_ combinations of terms are best for your web site is a simple but often overlooked idea.

Johnny Idol said...

Sounds like a reasonable point of view - but I am curious about why in the first place you signed up for a SEO seminar.

paradoxbomb said...

There is a lot more to SEO than word-density, backlinks, google SEO tools, and meta-tags. Of course, you don't read about too much more than that because there is an amount of secrecy: consultants and businesses that depend on search engine rankings don't want to broadcast everything that works for them, in order to keep a competitive advantage.

Johnny Idol said...

To Paradoxbomb:
I respect your opinion but honestly this thing about "secret SEO techniques" and stuff sounds like bullshit to me.

alison said...

So you're an internet billionare already, right?

DevTopics said...

Of course SEO is a job. A job is a service that people will pay for. And many people and companies are willing pay for SEO.

But I realize the true point of your article is that SEO should NOT be a job because one should be able to easily handle all SEO tasks in your spare time. That's only because you are smart and know what you are doing. Not everyone does.

People have actually paid me to create a forwarding web page. To me that's not a job, that's something you could do in your sleep. But the $50/hour I made from it sure felt real. :-)

Jason said...

Ironically, the title and tagline of your blog is exactly the reason why SEO is a job.

Developers focus on the code and functionality of the site, among many other things, and often lose site of the SEO implications of their design while they rush to meet their deadlines (and rightly so, since SEO isn't their job).

In the end, companies like the one I work for end up billing $250k just to get sites (enterprise level sites, mind you) to where they should have been when they were originally built. Of course, we also work with the dev side of our business to make sure that the sites we build don't make the same mistakes (and even for us, that's easier said than done).

lawrence said...

Hi your title tags are less than ideal. You may want to consider getting some SEO help, as it appears you are leaving organic search traffic on the table.

Owen said...

Wow, what a load of utter rubbish. I have worked full time in SEO since leaving university a couple of years ago. Having worked on some of the biggest SEO accounts in the UK I know just how much money there is in it. What major companies want is trackable results. By that I mean we gave you this much budget, you gave us X amount of sales. That is not 'vain promises' but actual SEO in the real world dealing with real clients.

Fair play to seocontest as well but as I'm sure he well knows, working with clients to find real world solutions is very different to being given free reign to SEO a site. That is where the skill comes in to make a career out of SEO. It isn't just about the technical ability, but about handling budgets, dealing with clients, working to a brief and a million other things.

Johnny Idol said...

I welcome comments and I am aware not everyone can agree on this.

No matter how much money SEO supporters can show me:
- "this optimization earned me 5 million $"
- "this contest earned me a new car"
- "I charge 400 bucks per hour"

it won't change the fact that bad SEO consultants managed to build a horrible reputation for the whole thing (I won't go as far as defining it a field).

Said so the article was conceived as a provocation - and I really think a business based solely on SEO is bound to failure in the long term.

Danielle said...

I whole-heartedly agree that SEO should not be a job title. What's especially frustrating is that these jobs are often classified as marketing positions, but SEM is distinctly different than SEO.

You have to forgive them, though. Without some silly buzzwords, marketing-types would never make it an IT priority.

SEO is a strategy, and one everyone who contributes to a site should be familiar with. It also overlaps almost perfectly with usability. Keeping the focus on making your content findable by external and site-specific search engines is absolutely important if you are a retail or content site, but you shouldn't hire a marketing firm for that.

Generally speaking, it's up to your IA to come up with a friendly taxonomy, page titles, and descriptions. It's up to your server administrator to make sure that the right HTTP headers are coming across and monitor error reports. It's up to your web designer/front-end web dev to make sure they are writing semantic code that is easy for anyone on any device to use. It's up to your copy-writers, editors, etc. to know how to write for the web and keep the important words near the top. But hey - guess what? That's all stuff we should have been doing anyway. Nobody should be paid that much for coming in and telling other people how to do their job correctly. Take that money and hire a competent site manager who knows the site and team inside and out, and your return will be infinitely greater than hiring some SEO company that doesn't know the first thing about your technology or processes.

Nowhere does Google or Yahoo or Live tell you to stuff your page with keywords or participate in unsavory linking schemes, or any of this other stuff SEOs have told us to do in the past. Google's guidelines are fairly simple and straightforward, and overlap very nicely with the WCAG (you have the little things in their documentation, like they prefer hyphens over underscores in URLs, but this is all stuff you could read over in a day or two). Of course, most companies don't see value in hiring an accessibility strategist.

Agencies that come in and give directives like, "We think you should develop a pointless facebook application for your financial executive services site whose primary demographic is the opposite of facebook's" will hopefully die off in a few years, after everyone realizes what a load they are. Maybe.

Big D said...

""secret SEO techniques" and stuff sounds like bullshit to me."

That's kind of the point, we keep what works between ourselves so that it continues to work.

If it was as simple as you say you would have the number 1 spot for buy viagra, payday loans and poker and not be working 9-5 in front of a computer screen.

Johnny Idol said...

@Big D:

This is all BAD SEO people do: talk about money.

How do you get to learn the "secret SEO techniques"? you get your penis and family jewels cut off at early age and they let you in the elite club of SEO eunuchs? Or do you simply join an expensive SEO master?

I highly doubt you know what you're talking about.

Anyway - I am lucky enough to actually enjoy my job and make an honest living out of it.

Big_d said...


You learn SEO by developing relationships with people who have been doing it a lot longer than you and then experimenting, testing and learning.

You voraciously read everything you can about the subject. You create highly controlled test sites to look out for algorithm behavior and changes. You test everything and you pay attention to those who do the same as you.

You also look to adapt existing marketing techniques to the faster pace of the internet world.

You obsessively measure every conceivable metric and look to devise your own. This is a new world and as such you have to be the one who innovates. By the time you read about it things have moved on.

You become an expert in creating content that others wish to see and you try to be the first one to look at new sites, new platforms and new technologies.

Your job (particularly in our new social web)is to think like potential customers and find where they are.

There are no "secrets" but there is experience, practice and understanding. There is a huge difference between those who talk about it and those who have to deliver results for themselves and clients.

And as for talking about money, I defy anyone to deny that they would like to be able to choose to work rather than have no choice.

The problem with this kind of post is that it is written by people who do not understand the subject. This then perpetuates the idea that what we do is somehow dishonest.

You would have done well to look up SEOmoz, seobook, Danny sulivan, Jim Boykin etc etc (the list is long and distinguished) before making assumptions.

Johnny Idol said...


Have a look at the following link and tell me what you think about it, this guy's English is way better than mine and his approach to SEO deconstruction is way less simplistic than mine:

Even if I worked in marketing, I'd never invest solely on SEO because imho it's a soap bubble that's gonna explode in people faces sooner or later.

Johnny Idol said...


have a look at this link:

Quote: "If you do SEO for a living, you will be out of business or irrelevant in 3 years."

This better explains what I mean when I say that SEO is not a job.

sneha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Neha said...

Hello Friends,
Wonderful posting in your blog. I like to explain your giving information.
Thanks and Regards.

Swarjit said...

I have to say that its a art, its a mater of how well you think innovative ideas, its not like a developers job, in-scripting in coding to get the results. In SEO one should come up with different innovative ideas to get business.

Bob said...

Fully Agree.

Good web designers takes care of SEO...

Rajeev Mehta said...

Hi . Your Blog Is Great , And I really enjoyed this article.Thanks For sharing Great Information

i am waiting for your next Article.

Rajeev Mehta

Website Designers in Kerala said...

Keep up the great WORK.