Meanwhile, back at the charlatan post. No, apparently, I can’t even write a short comment. Surprise, surprise.
Reposted here because I hope it clarifies any unanswered questions about why a semi-successful, plantation-owning internet dick is so seemingly selfish about the pitiful and beleaguered Steinbeck characters who claim a humanitarian need for the smiley pseudo-spam peddled by many SEOs.
Merlin does make some broad accusations. I probably agree with many of them.
There’s one word that Ed mentions that Merlin does not. This word is analytics. Since analytics is a big part of SEO, I would like to know why he thinks it is selfish and harmful.
Dude, I’m all about analytics. A champion of analytics, actually, for reasons I’ll explain below. Man, I tell anyone who’ll listen to drop those couple lines of Google Analytics into every page and then just let er rip. Even if you don’t look at it for months, just start letting the data pile up. It’s the single smartest thing a web person can do, IMO.
Two big points:
1. Wanting traffic and success is universal and good.
I want it, you want it, everyone wants it. I’d hate for people to think I’m saying “don’t try to be successful on the web,” because, Lordy, I’m not. It’s my job to do those things. Clearly.
What I am saying is that success and traffic should, wherever possible, be organic, sane, honest, and based on doing strong work that merits the kind of attention that Google et al typically use to assign importance and relevance. It’s why Google beat Alta Vista, but it’s also why so many people are obsessed with this cargo cult of rising in the SERPs.
"Link building," overly ambitious comment spamming, stuffed keywords, and all the other tricks that many black- and grey-hat SEOs use is cheating. Period. This stuff harms users and it also harms the companies who are foolish enough to do it. It hurts their credibility for chump change, and exposes them to the dreaded Google ban.
Part of the problem, from my perspective, is that “SEO” used to mean something pretty different when I was still doing web development. It meant making it easy for sites like Google to love and promote your real work; it didn’t mean, as it often does now, doing everything possible to gin up your results right to the point of penalization.
So maybe we’re just using a term differently. But, my gut is that people are not paying SEOs big bucks to learn the importance of [
<h1>]1 and a good title tag. I could certainly be wrong, and am open to the correction.
2. Smart analytics let you be a thoughtful host. If you choose to be.
Analytics, to me, are about much more than ego surfing, intelligence about ad-buying, and marketing effectiveness, although they’re awesome at all three.
Analytics, when used well, also let you learn what works (for now) so you can periodically kill off the stuff whose useful-to-annoying ratio isn’t cutting it. For this very reason, I LOVE A/B testing. It also lets you learn, for example, where conditional presentations might be effective and useful and helps you evolve a better experience for your visitors as well as a more profitable business for yourself.
Thing is I look at a site like HuffPo (via my blog: http://bit.ly/14JVP), for example, and I see nothing like that. A glance at their code shows they’re using analytics by Sitemeter, ScorecardResearch, BuzzFeed, plus, of course, Google Analytics — which they are using to also track every outgoing link (very smart, by the way)
All swell, but how’s it helping their users?
I see a spray and pray approach to throwing every conceivable cheesy traffic-builder onto every page in a way that says, “Eff You, reader.” They could easily determine which of the many social sharing badges work best, which self-linky promotions work best, which chrome most or least helps anyone. But they don’t. Because they’re desperate for empty, dumb traffic. And it shows. Horribly so.
Anything that helps a business make smarter and saner decisions is swell. But I see a lot of sites of all sizes going down the tubes by playing ridiculous (and, yes, ineffective) games that insult the intelligence of every person who actually cares about what’s happening in that tiny little postage stamp of “content.” It implies that a business can only succeed by attracting people who don’t mind being tricked or somehow enjoy having their time deliberately wasted.
I’m all about figuring out how to be successful and well-trafficked. I just get the sense there’s a lot of terrible advice out there that’s driving people, businesses, and publishers toward the dark side by encouraging them to pee in the village well for what amounts to a handful of cold nickels.
And I think that’s a shame for everybody involved.
Again: way open to correction on any of this.
And I am. Correct away.
Snipped off by the parser in my comment on Ed’s site; added back here. ↩