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November 29, 2006

An SEO blogger critiques an SEO critic answering his critics

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Here we go again.

Everyone remembers our buddy Dave Pasternack from Did-it, right? In case you don’t want to click the link, I’ll summarize. Last month, our intrepid SEO critic pointed out that search engine optimization as an industry was dying because it’s not hard and a monkey could do it. (I’m paraphrasing.) Well, he’s back again this month. Mr. Pasternack’s new article is entitled, “An SEO critic answers his critics”.

In making his point, Dave likens all SEOs to quack doctors.

If your doctor behaved the way many in the SEO crowd believe SEO firms should work, he’d run some tests, come up with a treatment plan, but wouldn’t give you the medicine to rub on your skin. He’d keep this medicine (labeled "Super Secret SEO Sauce") locked up in a vault in his office. Then he’d make a series of appointments for you to come in so that he could rub this medicine on your skin, charging you hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars for each visit.

Can I just say that I liked my gardeners analogy from the first post way better? Mine had nice visuals of pretty flowers and neatly trimmed hedges. Who doesn’t like good landscaping? However, since he did go with the doctor analogy, I’ll play along. You may now call me Dr. Susan.

I diagnose Mr. Pasternack’s article with a severe case of link-bait-itis. This condition, often seen in certain Seattle SEOs that Lisa is fond of, is the insatiable need to create content that others can’t help but link to and comment on. It’s a wonderful skill for an SEO to have (particularly if you can pull it off for your clients as well as yourself) but I’m not sure that a PPC guy like Mr. Pasternack is going to benefit from it.

The article continues to suffer from the misapprehension that SEO is a one time palliative and not necessary for the maintenance of good health. From this we can deduce that the author probably doesn’t do much optimization himself and isn’t concerned about gaining and maintaining top rankings for competitive terms. (To be perfectly fair, my perception of PPC is much the same. Set up the campaigns, write a couple of lines of good script and let it go–why do you need a dedicated PPC person? Nick, our PPC guru, regularly corrects my wrong-headedness in this regard.)

In further examining the patient, I find that he still does have his original correct point from the first time he came through my office. SEO is still not rocket science. If you have the time and inclination, you can learn to do it yourself. Does it take skill? Yes, of course. Does it require dedication, absolutely. Like any profession, practicing (perfectly, natch) will make you better at it. If you don’t want to take the time to learn, then hire someone who has made SEO his or her passion. It’s really just that simple.

What I’d really like to see is a stop to the artificial PPC/SEO feud. Both pay per click and search engine optimization are valuable tools in your internet marketing tool box. They have different purposes and require different kinds of skills but neither of them are rocket science or medicine. They’re gardening and it takes care to cultivate a beautiful garden.

Now take two of these and call me in the morning. [/shameless newsletter plug]

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