Not an SEO…

Today is Sunday and I’m looking out the window at snow covered trees in the mild light of a cold day. I like the snow on the pine trees, I always like pictures of that. The sun isn’t fully up yet, it’s just coasting over the the tops of the trees, showing each branch against a light background while all the branches themselves are in shadow.

I’ve been trying to come up with where I fit in and what I can do as my business. I considered web design and then SEO but neither are really good fits for who I am, what I can do and what I’m willing to do. SEO was interesting but each time I look at their sites and their practices I feel they are missing the point. They focus on search engines, not people. They focus on tricks to get sites ranked high but they forget that a business doesn’t need to be popular in a search engine, it needs to be found by customers. SEO’s use a lot of spam tactics to promote sites which will alienate the very people the business needs, it’s prospective customers. Creating garbage sitess to link to garbage sites to show a search engine how popular you are is not cost effective for a business. Impressing a search engine is not going to make sales, it’s not going to build a good impression of a business and it won’t do much to get your name out there to people who don’t use search engines.

I know this may surprise some people. But, there are quite a lot of people who don’t use search engines. They aren’t really all that important. If you really want to find a business there are better ways than looking them up in a search engine. In fact, the only time I look up a business in a search engine is when I’m just too lazy to type in the URL. Instead I type in the name of the company in my Googlebar and let it find the site for me. I know where I’m going, I’m not looking for anything. The site I’m looking for comes up first every time cause I looked for it by name.

I found the site without a search engine. Imagine that you silly SEO’s. You’re all so focused on appeasing the search engine gods that you’ve abandoned all other options. You’ve convinced a lot of people that your services are essential, when they really aren’t. In fact, in my opinion as a Dmoz editor of seven years, your services should be avoided. Your services can get a site banned from being listed at all. Your services promote spam and clutter instead of real original content which would bring people to the site. People, not software, not robot spiders, not automated popularity checkers, but people real humans.

So, this morning while watching the snowy trees get lighter I am looking at how to start a business as in web promotions, not focused on search engines but on the business itself. How can that individual business better market itself to the people who would shop there? It might mean less focus online and more locally even. Not every business site needs to be found by people around the world, even on the world wide web.

SEO Today was conceived and developed to create and collect timely and informative content about search engine optimization. This site was created by search engine optimization experts – we are in the trenches day in and day out insuring that our clients achieve optimal search engine placement. Our search for a site that was focused on SEO and only SEO came up empty – so we created one.

Our hope is that SEO Today will become the focal point of online SEO knowledge – where a community of search engine optimization professionals come to share experiences, learn new methods, and experience the camaraderie of the SEO society.

The Wiki page for SEO

Search Engine Optimizers from Google

SEO is an abbreviation for “search engine optimizer.” Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted. However, a few unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results.

I need to come up with something else for the business proposal. Both web design and helping seniors get online are out. Seniors I had to eliminate cause it was just getting too complicated to deal with all the potential problems. I think someone would have to have a background or a professional credit/ course in Health or Personal Care.

I am putting web design on the back burner, more as a personal interest. I feel kind of relieved about that actually. I love web design and putting a site together but I don’t (yet) have the skills and am not comfortable with the technical skills (CSS and HTML code) to put up a site for someone else. That doesn’t mean I won’t do it, just that I will keep learning and practicing on my own sites until I am ready. When I feel good about what I can offer rather than thinking I have to downgrade myself cause I don’t know it all.

So, I have been thinking about what to do. Today I even thought about packing it in, the whole idea of doing anything. But, I didn’t stay there for too long. I want to do more than be a cashier zombie, selling credit cards, being threatened if I don’t comply with every directive from the company, no matter what.

At first I did think about SEO but I think of SEO’s as those idiots who get paid for spamming Dmoz and other web directories. I have a very low opinion of SEO’s and what they do. Most I have encountered are a pack of liars. No one can make promises about being listed on the front page of a search engine. Anyone believing that is just inexperienced. I have spent seven years working behind the scenes at Dmoz. I have fixed the garbage SEO’s submit. I have checked and deleted their mass submission and spam filled descriptions for seven years. So, I am not at all impressed with what I have seen.

But, today I read that definition of what an SEO is from Google and that is what I can do. I can provide information and experience with site architecture and search engines. I can also provide content and I can handle some HTML too. Just cause I don’t know it all doesn’t mean I don’t know enough to make things work better.

Maybe this is what I will do then. I need to find more information. But, I only have a very short time now to pull it all together for a new business proposal.

Here is more from the Google page, I’m leaving it here so I can find it later as I get writing the proposal.

* Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of the blue.

Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”

Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

* No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or through the Google Sitemaps (Beta) program, and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.

* Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.

Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or “throwaway” domains, your site could be removed entirely fr
om Google’s index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to “help” you.

* You should never have to link to an SEO.

Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of “free-for-all” links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don’t affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines — at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.

* Some SEOs may try to sell you the ability to type keywords directly into the browser address bar.

Most such proposals require users to install extra software, and very few users do so. Evaluate such proposals with extreme care and be skeptical about the self-reported number of users who have downloaded the required applications.

* Be sure to understand where the money goes.

While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they “control” other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn’t work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you’re considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.

* Talk to many SEOs, and ask other SEOs if they’d recommend the firm you’re considering.

References are a good start, but they don’t tell the whole story. You should ask how long a company has been in business and how many full time individuals it employs. If you feel pressured or uneasy, go with your gut feeling and play it safe: hold off until you find a firm that you can trust. Ask your SEO firm if it reports every spam abuse that it finds to Google using our spam complaint form. Ethical SEO firms report deceptive sites that violate Google’s spam guidelines.

* Make sure you’re protected legally.

For your own safety, you should insist on a full and unconditional money-back guarantee. Don’t be afraid to request a refund if you’re unsatisfied for any reason, or if your SEO’s actions cause your domain to be removed from a search engine’s index. Make sure you have a contract in writing that includes pricing. The contract should also require the SEO to stay within the guidelines recommended by each search engine for site inclusion.

What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?

One common scam is the creation of “shadow” domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. These shadow domains often will be owned by the SEO who claims to be working on a client’s behalf. However, if the relationship sours, the SEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor’s domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the SEO.

Another illicit practice is to place “doorway” pages loaded with keywords on the client’s site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO’s other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.

There are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rogue SEO. It’s far from a comprehensive list, so if you have any doubts, you should trust your instincts. By all means, feel free to walk away if the SEO:

* owns shadow domains
* puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
* offers to sell keywords in the address bar
* doesn’t distinguish between actual search results and ads that appear in search results
* guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
* operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
* gets traffic from “fake” search engines, spyware, or scumware
* has had domains removed from Google’s index or is not itself listed in Google

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