If you’ve been in the SEO industry for very long, you know by now that a lot of people out there don’t like you. They think you’re a spammer who is making the internet a worse place to be. And if you haven’t yet experienced the disdain many have for SEOs, just take a trip over to Digg or ReddIt to get a taste of it firsthand. Let’s just say, those crowds aren’t our biggest supporters.
So, why do people hate SEOs? Is it all because of a big misunderstanding? Or do they have a point?
• The industry is littered with snake oil salesmen—The sad fact is the SEO industry is overflowing with its share of snake oil salesmen and scam artists. We’ve all seen these companies before. They guarantee #1 rankings in Google, and their website copy and promotional videos come off like a bad used car salesman trying to take your money. I do feel like many of these shady SEO companies have gone away over the past couple of years, but there are still far too many of them around.
• To many, SEO is “gaming the system”—The biggest complaint I hear from SEO haters is that SEOs are gaming the system and creating artificial search results. They believe that whatever your natural search engine ranking is, that’s what it should be. If you try to improve it, you’re gaming the system. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of spammy websites out there with nothing of value to offer that really are trying to game the system using underhanded tactics. But I fail to see how following sound design principles and online copywriting principles that let your visitors and the search engines know what your website is about is “gaming the system.” SEO done right is all about making it easier for the search engines to accurately classify your website and improving the user experience for your visitors.
• They’re a little jealous—Even though they would never admit it, many SEO haters are just bitter that they’re being outranked in the search engines. Hell, I know I get a little jealous and upset when I see one of my competitors outperforming me in the search engines. They wish they could do the same for their website(s), but they either don’t truly understand SEO or just don’t know where to begin.
• SEO isn’t an exact science–Let’s face it: A lot of what passes for SEO advice is really nothing more than educated guesswork when you get right down to it. The search engines are routinely changing their algorithms, and they’ll never fully disclose their criteria for ranking websites. So, the best we can do is to go on the information given to us, and test out different techniques like crazy to see what works and what doesn’t. And honestly, I think this rubs some people the wrong way.
What do you think? Why do people hate SEOs? Share your thoughts in the comments.