Is this the tale of a copywriter who can't even rank for his name artfully link baiting some of the most widely read SEO blogs?  Who is in the 15-yard dash — us or him?  I deconstructed his arguments regardless, but you decide …

I found Breaking SEO Myths Part One: The SEO Experts by Daniel Dessinger via this article on SEO-Scoop.  I feel Donna was too easy on Daniel.  Daniel is seemingly misguided, and his article is fundamentally flawed.  Perhaps he's bitter after getting burned by an unscrupulous SEO, or maybe he's just a daft individual.  Regardless, he unfairly brands our whole industry as snakeoil salesmen, and his article has many, many holes in it.  I will enumerate my problems with his argument below.

First, let's see what I actually do vaguely agree with:
1. " … [SEO is] inflated by ego, misinformation and repetition … "
2. " … what can one expect from an unregulated industry?"
3. " … No SEO 'expert' or firm knows all of the search engines' secrets."

The above statements prove nothing.  There are cocky "professionals" in every industry.  There are cocky lawyers, accountants, and scarily enough doctors.  I once had a doctor argue with me about whether I was feeling pain.  Yes, he was that cocky, and he was that wrong.

So, certainly there are snakeoil salesmen and morons, but there are also real practitioners.  Daniel even agrees when he says "Many of them aren't [scam artists]."   Yes, the industry is unregulated and any idiot can start an SEO firm; perhaps there should be regulation, but I fail to see how that is relevant at all.

Bill Slawski and Dr. Garcia are brilliant SEO-practitioners gleening out information from the synthesis of patents and a priori academic knowledge.  They don't have the recipe for the secret sauce, but they're anything but snakeoil salesmen.  I have a bachelors in Computer Science.  I am not a snakeoil salesman.  I do, however, see SEO-practitioning as evolving into 2 different fields:

1. Site Architecture
This is the subject of my upcoming book, Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP.  Among other things, it contains code that assists an IT professional in designing a web site.  Architecture can make or break you, and there is some real knowledge involved.  I've seen many programmers who destroy a web site with regard to SEO.  I discuss this in detail here.  It's not just about meta tags, Daniel.  Lastly, as algorithms get more sophisticated, reverse engineering them becomes impractical, but knowing about a few patents and basic theory certainly helps.  I can make the claim of the latter.

2. Marketing
SEO is also evolving into a marketing field.  "Link bait" is just a shiny new word for being creative, and an SEO with marketing talent will thrive in this area.  I've been accused of writing some link bait.  The big players are Rand Fishkin, Aaron Wall, and lately, QuadsZilla.  They are not snakeoil salesmen.

Now let's examine where Daniel is flat out wrong:
1. " … if search engine specialists revealed all that they know to a client, they know that an intelligent cllient would not be impressed."
" … most companies could perform their own SEO and be quite successful." and " … such contracting of services only maks sense when a company either has enough money to throw around or they have much more important tasks for their own employees to perform."
3. "The lack of fresh information is fairly convincing evidence that search engine optimization and keyword research are not all that complicated."

Here's where I have a little field day.

SEO in 1996 required little knowledge except HTML and some general statistics regarding optimal tags and keyword density.  Duplicate content and site architecture mattered little.  Now, in 2006, SEO is more about designing an architecturally sound web site and using marketing to get the traffic flowing.  I'm impressed with what Aaron and Rand have to say about SEO.  I've also been accused of posting some great stuff.

Reading further, he demonstrates his total ignorance of management when he says that SEO should not be outsourced.  I bring my car to the mechanic not because I couldn't do it myself, but because a trained professional can do it more effectively and quickly.  Copywriting is painful, and it really is a skill.  Furthermore, I find that side-projects tasked internally frequently never get done.  And let's not forget potential opportunity costs (risk) from all the mistakes an amateur may make.  Just about every SEO reinvents some "clever" black hat technique at some point.

The nail in the coffin is driven in when he states:

Am I going to present clear-cut evidence here of my claims? Not a chance. I don't have to, and I don’t want to make any specific enemies. I learned what I know by studying SEO online wherever I could because I was trying to join the industry. 

So in other words, he doesn't have any empirical evidence.  In the comments on Donna's article, Egol rhetorically asks " … if it was as easy as ths guy says, why is he still writing copy?"  Why?  Where are your millions?  All I see is a bunch of e-zine spam content when I google your name.  SEOs may write a lot about the same, but they're all doing it so they can rank for the golden phrase, "SEO."  And many likely do have a few great secrets and techniques.

There is new information out there, and plenty of prerequisite knowledge to swallow.  I question the sanity of a copywriter who claims that a company should not employ more copywriters.

Do you copy me, Daniel?  I think not, but perhaps your entire article was artful link bait; if so, you win.  Despite making yourself look totally stupid in the process, you got some great links!  So welcome to our little snakeoil club — regardless of whether you're a genius or just plain retarded.  Bravo!

Moral of the story: Being really stupid can work too, but be prepared for an assault on your reputation. 

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