Saturday, July 26, 2014

SEO Myths

Recently, I was invited to attend a webinar (or Hangout On Air, in Google+-speak), hosted by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting, and Rae Hoffman of SugarRae.com.

The title of the Hangout? SEO Myths, and the Damage They Cause.


Since anything and everything SEO-related is pure, unadulterated bullshit—in my opinion—I was not sure I would want to spend approximately 60 minutes of my life, listening about SEO myths.

But the skeptic in me overrode my common sense self, and I joined the conversation (as a listener) to hear about what these two considered myths.

Now, when it comes to SEOs, there are very few people I consider trustworthy, and both Eric and Rae fall into that tiny group, so I figured I was bound to learn something. And I did.

Frankly, I thought that they would have some sort of "list" of myths and that they would explain each and every one of them, along with the advertised how to recognize them, and how webmasters can protect themselves against such things.

Well, the hangout was not organized that way and I had trouble figuring out when Eric and Rae would start going down the "list." I even asked the question, and Eric replied that he had already covered "at least seven myths" by the time I posed my inquiry.

Whaaat?

Okay, maybe I wasn't paying attention,or maybe he just skimmed over them. Then again, since I believe that everything relating to SEO is a myth, I thought maybe that's what he meant.

I left the Hangout before the show was over, since I had better stuff to do. I am not trying to be an ass. I understand that both Eric and Rae are true professionals, and they've most likely forgotten more SEO stuff than I will ever know. But that does not preclude the fact that most everything SEO-related is either a myth or a big black hole that no one truly understands. I believe Rae made a couple of comments to that effect.

Furthermore, I do appreciate their efforts to shed some light on the subject and to have the cojones (as some of my Cuban friends like to say), to talk about the subject.

We need more of that from reliable sources.

In my opinion, the biggest myth, as far as SEO is concerned, is that SEO works.

Sure, you can start talking about good content, the best title tags, the right number of characters in description fields, links from authoritative sites, and more. But that—at least to me—is like advising someone not to carry a handgun when they walk into a bank, in order to have a trouble-free visit.

But wait! SEO used to work back in the day. Right?

Well, first things first.

The SEO industry was created by SEOs.

Primitive SEOs (cir. 1995), discovered that keywords were powerful search engine ranking elements, much like fire was to the life of our stone-age Homo erectus ancestors, and soon, keyword bonfires started to rage all over the web.

Search engines did not like this, and they did what they could to keep these early "optimization" efforts at bay. However, SEOs are a crafty bunch, and soon things such as doorway pages and phony links made their debut. And that was only the beginning. Questionable techniques such as article spamming, link wheels, buying optimized links, article spamming, link farms, and more, were soon the things to do in order to rank higher.

So yes. SEO used to work. Now mind you, most of these are the exact things that the very same SEOs condemned as "Black Hat SEO" a few years later. Some people have no shame.

As I've said before, the only guaranteed way to get on the "first page" of most search engines, is through Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, as long as your business is legitimate and it qualifies. And at the end of the day, such approach may be a far more economical way to get what you're after. Traffic and/or sales.

You can "optimize" your own website in any way you see fit, and I can almost guarantee that—at some point in the future—what is acceptable today (to Google and others), will no longer be. But, if your paid advertising provides a good return on the investment, what do you care where your "organic" listing is?

If you are running a business, I am sure you are doing it to generate a profit, not fans.

So again, the biggest SEO myth is that SEO is a ranking guarantee.

And here are a few additional words of wisdom from yours truly, as far as SEO myths go.


Myth: SEO makes you money.
Truth: Only if you are selling SEO services.

Myth: SEO guarantees that your site will rank.
Truth: In most cases, your site will rank regardless.

Myth: All SEOs know what they're doing.
Truth: Hahahahaha...

Myth: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Truth: SEO stands for Snake E-Oil.

Myth: An SEO firm helped a friend of mine get his rankings back.
Truth: Your friend is an idiot.

Myth: My SEO offers a guarantee.
Truth: You're an idiot.

Myth: White Hat SEO will help my site come up ahead of my competitors.
Truth: Not if they're using PPC. In that case, they will show up first.

Myth: SEO is free.
Truth: Hahahahaha...

Myth: Okay. SEO is affordable.
Truth: Hahahahaha... stop it, please.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Amazon Difference

I have to hand it to Amazon. In spite of the many negative comments one hears about how the company does this wrong, or handles the other in an inappropriate way—which may all be correct for all I know—they really proved to me, as a customer, that they have mastered the way they handle problems.

I had ordered a book a couple of days ago, and as a Prime member, I received it two days later. The way they have that figured out is mind blowing.

However, they did manage to drop the ball on the simplest part of the whole transaction. They used the wrong packaging; in other words they used a flimsy—albeit insulated—envelope, and they used UPS to "handle" the transport and delivery.

Don't get me wrong, UPS is a great company, and how they manage to deliver billions of packages, both large and small, every year, is incredible. But, sometimes packages that contain more delicate items get thrown in the mix with larger ones, with disastrous results.

And so, my GM G-Body book arrived looking like a car wearing parking garage scars.

I do own a Kindle, use it often, and I could've downloaded a copy of this particular book, but I in some instances, only a "real" book does the job. Call me old-fashioned, if you will, but I prefer to read books printed on paper.

Anyway, I try to be practical and not get bothered too much by little details. After all, we live in an imperfect world. But the condition of this book went beyond the limits of what I consider okay, so I decided to return it.

Not being in the habit of doing so, I thought that the process would be a royal pain in the ass, but that's where Amazon surprised me in a very positive way.

I logged into my account and quickly found the item I had just ordered. I clicked the "return" option and selected the reason for returning it, and what I wanted Amazon to do for  me (send me a new book). That task took me only a few minutes, and then I printed the return label. I chose to bring the package to my local UPS store.

After that was done, I came back home to find an email from Amazon letting me know that they had received notification from UPS that the return was on its way, and that they had already shipped a replacement which should arrive today. The very next day!

There was no charge for me to send the damaged item back and no charges whatsoever for the overnight delivery of the replacement.

I know that this exercise probably cost them (Amazon) money. Not a lot, mind you, but still some, which could've been easily avoided had they chosen to use a sturdier, corrugated envelope.

But that aside, would I start shopping elsewhere because of the "inconvenience?"

Absolutely not.

In my opinion they made it so easy for me to handle the issue that, frankly, I almost feel bad I returned it. And they also reinforced my determination to buy more stuff from them. Heck, in most cases when I am searching for a particular product to purchase, I search Amazon (followed by eBay) before I even use a search engine.

I understand that many (maybe most) of their Prime customers were not pleased with the fact that Amazon raised the annual membership fee. I think that it is still a bargain and, until other companies figure out how to deliver product in a couple of days and handle returns without hassle, I will continue buying from Amazon.

And who knows... by the time others figure out the above, Amazon may be using teleportation to deliver packages to their Prime customers.

Luis to Amazon...

Amazon here. Go ahead, Sir.

Beam me down another book, Jeff.