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June 12, 2007

What’s Your Biggest Optimization Grumble?

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I’m still getting caught up with all my feeds from last week so excuse me that I’m, oh, five days late on this one. .

Lee Odden had a fun post last week asking readers "what’s bugging you about search marketing?" You can only pick one thing and "Lisa & Susan" is not one of the listed options.

What say you?

Possible answers offered up by Lee are the amount of disinformation and rumor, duplicate content, personalization, trying to leverage social media, Google getting too big for its britches and more fun bashing points. Five days and 51 votes later, the current "winner" of Lee’s poll is the amount of disinformation, rumor, and division found within the search engine optimization space.

Yeah, we couldn’t agree more.

One of the best things about the search engine optimization industry is all the free information found in blogs and forums; however, it’s also one of the worst when youngling search marketers can’t pick out the signal from the noise and inadvertently spread false information. We’ve got Valleywag to spread rumors and speculation; we don’t need blogs and forums for that.

The fact is blogs and forums are often the first place optimization newbies go when looking for information. Speaking as someone who checks Bloglines before Gmail, I’m clearly a fan of this practice, but I realize there’s a danger there, even for me. As great as blogs and forums can be, they’re also a huge source of bad information. We all know what happens when a newbie search engine marketer hits up his favorite forum and checks out the latest line of crazy gossip that couldn’t possible be true — he believes it. And then he blogs about it without confirming that what he just read was actually true. This is bad. If you stop doing it, I promise to buy you all a cookie.

But it won’t stop on its own.

The only way we’re going to break search’s bad information cycle is through better search engine optimization training. Site owners, SEOs, and marketers must learn the basics if they’re going to make sense of the endless supply of new search engine optimization techniques, tricks and methodologies discussed every day. Without training, how can you really be sure that Rand Fishkin’s rankings aren’t entirely based on his Google rain dance? Why else would he be trotting around the floor like that? (We love you, Rand.)

And we’re not just advocating search engine optimization training because we’re trying to get you to take our course. There are a myriad of optimization training opportunities out there for search marketers to take advantage of. Besides our own SEOToolset Training, there’s SEO Class, David Temple’s Certification program, Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, Pubcon etc. It’s not so important to us which opportunity you take advantage of, as long as you’re investing your time in a quality program.

The ideal search engine optimization training class should focus on the fundamentals of search engine optimization (What’s an inbound link? Why do I need it? What are search engines looking for?), be clear about its philosophy (Why do they believe what they believe), have a commitment to ethics, and provide some kind of certification at the end. Of course, everyone is looking for something slightly different in a training course, but we think these are common factors that should be found in any worthwhile class.

If you’re one of Lee’s poll respondents who felt the level of misinformation and rumor was your biggest pet peeve in search engine optimization, realize it’s something you can help change. The quicker the industry gets on the same page, the higher we can collectively raise the bar, and then use it beat the naysayers into a bloody pulp once and for all. Huzzah!

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5 responses to “What’s Your Biggest Optimization Grumble?”

  1. Rhea Drysdale writes:

    I think you need a cape to go with that SEO hero complex. :)

    Seriously though, it’s exhausting trying to dispel SEO rumors and misconceptions. It’s nice to see all of the qualified organizations educating the masses (though those that volunteer are probably not those that need the most training). It’s also nice to see people like Jonathan Hochman trying to turn things around one Wikipedia entry at a time.

  2. Janna Berg | Prime writes:

    Speaking as one of the newbies out there, I would have to say that you are correct. I have found that I can get a ton of information on SEO’s from blogs, but as I am learning more, not all of it is acccurate. It is helpeful to have found your blog that is very respected so that I can trust your information to be correct. Thanx for providing that. Your information is useful to both new comers & the old experts.
    Your advice on what is good in a class is very helpful. Thanx again for a great post!

  3. shor writes:

    Misinformed newbies are hardly as dangerous as misinformed ‘experts’. You are far more likely to believe what an expert says – the influence they wield is much more damaging.

    A newbie’s knowledge will (hopefully) improve whereas it is harder to teach an old dog new tricks!

  4. pat writes:

    Rhea gets the “best sentence award” for hero in a cape. When I first was reading this, I thought immediately “not eough mirrors” but then Lisa goes and restricts our answers…
    There is already an existing system to sort bad information from good information.
    Search engine rankings.

  5. David Temple writes:

    I think its great your pointing people to the places they can get the right information about search marketing. There is plenty of misinformation out there and seperating the noise from the signal is vital if you want to succeed in this industry.

    Just a note though, I don’t provide a certification program myself but instead my blog focuses on sharing information about search marketing education. I would also like to let people know the recent article in Search Marketing Standard which details sem training and where to get it.



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