Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists

My boss passed this article along to me after a discussion about the BS of SEO

Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists

Search Engine Optimization is not a legitimate form of marketing. It should not be undertaken by people with brains or souls. If someone charges you for SEO, you have been conned.

First came the web, and it was a mess. Servers went up everywhere, the net connected them all, pages bloomed like flowers, and no one could find a damn thing.

Then came the search engines. First primitive indexes of dumb keywords, then Google with its rankings of most-linked pages, we were finally able to find the pages we needed, mostly.

The ascendency of Google has meant that, if your goal is to get the most eyeballs possible (as any ad-supported media business’ goal is), then prominent placement in the search engine results became a top priority.

And so, like the goat sacrificers and snake oil salesmen before them, a new breed of con man was born, the Search Engine Optimizer. These scammers claim that they can dance the magic dance that will please the Google Gods and make eyeballs rain down upon you.

Do. Not. Trust. Them.

The problem with SEO is that the good advice is obvious, the rest doesn’t work, and it’s poisoning the web. I’m going to tell you about the problems, and then tell you the one true way to generate traffic on the web, based on my own 14 years of hits and misses.

1. The good advice is obvious, the rest doesn’t work.

Look under the hood of any SEO plan and you’ll find advice like this: make sure to use keywords in the headline, use proper formatting, provide summaries of the content, include links to relevant information. All of this is a good idea, and none of it is a secret. It’s so obvious, anyone who pays for it is a fool.

Occasionally a darkside SEO master may find some loophole in the Google algorithm to exploit, which might actually lead to an increase in traffic. But that ill-gotten traffic gain won’t last long. Google changes the way it ranks its index monthly (if not more), so even if some SEO technique worked, and usually they don’t, it’ll last for a couple weeks, tops.

And when they do reindex, if they determine that you’ve been acting in bad faith (like hiding links or keywords or other deceptive practices) they’ll drop you like a hot rock. So a temporary gain may result in a lifetime ban.

In the end, you’re sacrificing your brand integrity in a Faustian bargain for an increase in traffic that won’t last the month. And how valuable was that increase, anyway? If you’re tricking people into visiting your site, those visits are going to be bad experiences.

2. SEO is poisoning the web.

Google’s ranking algorithm is based on links. So the most effective way to game their system is to plant links on as many sites as possible, all pointing to your site, linked from specific keywords. This is called Google bombing.

SEO cockroaches employ botnets, third-world labor, and zombie computers to blanket the web with link spam. 99% of spam comments to blogs are these kind of links. The target of these links is not the blog readers, it’s Google.

SEO bastards are behind worms that attack blog services like Blogger, WordPress, and Movable Type. Some hack into the blog templates themselves to insert links that are hidden from the readers of that blog, but visible to a Google crawler.

And they create programs to grab expired domain names, automatically create websites, filling the pages with content stolen from RSS feeds, creating billions of bad results for users.

It’s a game, and every link is a score for the SEO jerkwads and their disreputable clients. And every time they win, those of us trying to create quality work and good experiences on the web lose.

Worse than the hackers are the competent journalists and site creators that are making legitimate content online, but get seduced by the SEO dark side into thinking they need to create content for Google instead of for their readers. It dumbs-down the content, which turns off your real audience, which ultimately makes you less valuable to advertisers. If you want to know why there’s so much remnant advertising on online news sites, it’s because you’re treating the stories like remnants already.

Remember this: It’s not your job to create content for Google. it’s their job to find the best of the web for their results. Your audience is your readers, not Google’s algorithm.

The One True Way

Which brings us, finally, to the One True Way to get a lot of traffic on the web. It’s pretty simple, and I’m going to give it to you here, for free:

Make something great. Tell people about it. Do it again.

That’s it. Make something you believe in. Make it beautiful, confident, and real. Sweat every detail. If it’s not getting traffic, maybe it wasn’t good enough. Try again.

Then tell people about it. Start with your friends. Send them a personal note – not an automated blast from a spam cannon. Post it to your Twitter feed, email list, personal blog. (Don’t have those things? Start them.) Tell people who give a shit – not strangers. Tell them why it matters to you. Find the places where your community congregates online and participate. Connect with them like a person, not a corporation. Engage. Be real.

Then do it again. And again. You’ll build a reputation for doing good work, meaning what you say, and building trust.

It’ll take time. A lot of time. But it works. And it’s the only thing that does.

Courtesy of powazek.com

Bluetooth Stereo Headset

Review: Motorola MOTOROKR S305

For last two months I found myself needing a pair of wireless/Bluetooth headphones for my iPhone 3Gs. I found traditional headphones too cumbersome with addition of the relatively large iPhone for activity’s such as working out or running. Nearly every review I could find online slammed the current line up of Bluetooth stereo headsets. While browsing my local Apple retail store I came across a pair of Motorola MOTOROKR S305 for $69.99. I recalled the aforementioned reviews claiming the S305 was uncomfortable, unbalanced, distorted, and a poor hands-free device. I decided to ignore the less than desirable reviews and try the S305 for myself.

Design:

Fit and design was the first concern I had, and that’s where the S305 stands out. The S305 has a band that wraps behind the head. The S305 band is lightweight while the earpieces house the battery and such without adding excessive bulk or affecting comfort at all. The battery life on the Motorola S305 is spot on, it has not run out on me once.

Sound

While The S305 gives exceptional comfort it does not sacrifice in the sound department. The seal on the headset is a bit lose allowing for some sound to leak out, aside from that the quality is outstanding. The range with the Bluetooth far exceeded my expectations. I can walk from the treadmill to the water fountain without a hint of audio degradation. The bass response on the S305 is also above average compared to other wired headsets I have owned. When used as a hands-free device, call quality is respectable as long as you aren’t in an excessively noisy environment.

Overall Impressions

The blend of comfort, styling, sound quality and wow factor makes for a winning combination. If you’re looking for a pair of Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, the Motorola S305 is a great and affordable solution.

Watch out for Haiti earthquake scams

(CNN) — As the world looks for ways to help the victims of Haiti’s earthquake, the FBI is now warning that there are also those who are looking for opportunities set up scams surrounding the latest disaster relief efforts.

The FBI advises that people should be very skeptical of any unsolicited appeals they receive or find on the Internet.

One month after Hurricane Katrina, the FBI said it was suspicious of most of the 4,600 Web sites soliciting money on behalf of those victims. Within an hour of the World Trade Center attacks, scam sites popped up on the Web according to ScamBusters.org.

At CNN’s Impact Your World, you can find a list of list of Web sites of charities highly rated by CharityNavigator.org, an independent, nonprofit organization that evaluates and rates thousands of charity groups based on effectiveness and financial stability.

But Web sites are not the only way criminals try to get their hands on charity funds — they might also send you an e-mail, a letter, phone you or even knock on your door.

Here are some tips from the FBI, Scam.Busters and the Better Business Bureau on how to make sure your money goes to people in need.

• Be skeptical if someone e-mails you or contacts you through social networking sites claiming to be a quake victim or a government or charity official and asks for donations, the FBI says. Also, the agency says, do not click on any links within those e-mails. And do not click on attached files labeled photos or video because they may contain viruses.

• It’s OK to be suspicious. Ask for the name, phone number and address of the charity. The American Institute of Philanthropy says honest charities encourage you to know about them and respond to your questions. Also, request that they put the information in writing.

• However, do not give them your personal or financial information, because that may leave you vulnerable to identity theft.

• Don’t be misled by a charity name that “sort of sounds familiar.” Scammers may change one word in the title to trick you.

• Ask if the charity is registered with any organization and get the registration number. Check for the organization on Web sites such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, or Charity Navigator.org.

• Ask what percentage of the money you give actually reaches the needy. You also can designate how your donation is to be used.

• Don’t ever donate cash. Make the check out to the name of the charity, not the person asking for money. And get a receipt with the name of the charity on it. Do NOT give your credit card number to telemarketers or use it on a Web site of a charity you have not checked out.

• If the person seeking your donation asks you to give more, that may be a sign that something is wrong. Legitimate charities are grateful, not demanding.

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