I'm the Snidely Whiplash of SEO?!

Ian Lurie
My evil plans...
Courtesy of Wikimedia

Yesterday Michael Martinez wrote a post about Real Advice from Bad SEOs. It’s a bit of a rant, and you know how I love internet marketing rants and SEO mythbusting, so I loved the sound of his new post.
His overall point is great too: If the search engines start bouncing your site up and down like silly putty on a grill, RELAX. Don’t start taking rash actions. Wait and see how things shake out.
But I do have to differ with a few of his examples, ’cause if I don’t, then I’m an “amateurish” and “ill-informed” SEO professional. I might even be evil. Eeeevvviiiillll…
Here are a few of Michael’s pet peeves, and why I think they’re actually OK:
Michael: “Submit links to directories” is Bad Advice
Michael doesn’t say why this is a bad idea, but I get the sense he really doesn’t like it (cough). I’m not sure why, though. Not all directories are bad. Submitting your site to niche directories is a no-brainer for me. It’s easy, it builds a small amount of link happiness for your site, and it’s generally free or very inexpensive.
Plus, submitting your site to local directories like Yelp can help you gain traction for local search listings.
No reasonably intelligent SEO will tell you to submit your site to 40,000 directories. They’ll carefully pick and choose. But saying all directory link submission is bad seems rash to me.
Michael: “Put links in CSS galleries” is Bad Advice
Again, I wonder, why not? If you’ve taken the effort to build an XHTML- and/or CSS-compliant site, why not get recognition?
I’ve never seen this hurt someone’s search rankings, the links are free, and why the heck not? Doesn’t seem like this is bad advice to me. Does that make me evil?
mwahahahahaah. What, you're surprised?
Michael: “Get links from social media sites” is Bad Advice
Again, I think Michael’s gone a bit too wide on this one. No, you don’t want to spam social media sites.
But submitting a particularly good story to Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon or Sphinn is a great way to get visibility and potentially build links; creating a profile on these sites builds your brand and gives you a chance to tell folks what content you like or don’t like.
My advice: Use the social media sites the way they’re meant to be used. Post all kinds of links, not just from your own sites. Contribute to the community. When you write something that’s really top-notch, go ahead – submit it.
Worst that happens is the community disagrees and votes your post off the island.
Best that happens is other bloggers see what you wrote and link to you from their sites. They likely ‘dofollow’ their links, so even if the initial link from the social network is worthless from an SEO standpoint, the additional links it generates are priceless.

And Yes, Onsite SEO Matters

Of course onsite SEO – great content, good structure, good code and high search visibility – is critical too. That’s why we’ve spent so much time building fancy tools to test sites for problems.
But remember, SEO requires relevance and authority. The latter comes, in large part, from links.
So please folks, no torches and pitchforks. I’m not the Snidely Whiplash of SEO.

I wrote a book about internet marketing. Betcha didn’t know that. You can read it online or buy it here.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. If I hadn’t submitted a project of mine to a selection of link directories, I would have missed out on thousands of visitors and hundreds of downloads (some of which I hope to convert into sales).
    I’ll be checking out Michael Martinez’s website, but I’m going to respectfully ignore that bit of advice (and the design gallery point too).

  2. @Alex: Michael’s central point is 100% correct. But yes, a few of the individual points go too far this time. As always, take any blogger’s advice (including mine) and balance it against your own experience and common sense.

  3. Maybe I’m being too picky. I see his point (that those points of advice are bad if offered as a solution to a downturn in pagerank), but by trying to make a strong argument he seems to be advising the reader to never do those things.
    The way some people are using the comments thread to try to figure out just what he’s saying makes the post looks like a valid point, poorly articulated.

  4. There is no magic bullet in SEO anymore. I agree with your assessment of this post. Marketing is so much more than SEO, and the exposure that he says is worthless, such as social media sites, can lead to fruitful backlinks in the end.
    There are are many SEO theories as there are SEO experts. What testament this gives to Google that none of us seem to really have them pegged.

  5. I think what Michael is saying is don’t rely on your social media profile pages to help as far as back links are concerned. Most have nofollow or other forms of tracking.
    Myself I see social media as an indirect help to your websites overall marketing goals. Offering social media buttons on your content can only help “get the word out” about your content which can lead to bookmarking of your web page/website, subscribing to your RSS feed or adding a back link to your blog from theirs.

  6. I’ve used directory submitting and social media networks with reasonable success. I haven’t really put in a whole lot of effort with SMM, but I’m going to take Ian’s advice and use Social Media sites they way they’re meant to be used. Great post!

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