SEO Is A Scam? No, But Your ‘Marketing Expert’ Could Be (repost)

This week is a Smokehouse SEO flashback. I took a look at the stats for all the posts I’ve done over the years and noticed a certain trend – one post that rises above all other ones I’ve done, and its this one. Since this seems to be still of interest and is just as relevant today as it was when I first posted it, I’ve decided to repost it this week for those who might not have caught it when it was new!


I had a whole entry planned for this week but I scrapped it at the last minute.

Why?

Because of something I read on LinkedIn the other day entitled ‘SEO is a scam’ by someone claiming to be a CMO at a digital marketing consultancy.

I mentioned this post on the Smokehouse SEO Facebook page here:

smokehousefbss

At first, I thought that was enough but then I realized that this topic requires its own post.

Why? Well for the reasons I listed in the screenshots above and also:

  1. Because a ton of people out there are probably paying for ridiculous ‘advice’ from people who don’t know their 301 from their elbow.
  2. People seem to automatically believe anything they read on the internet, especially on LinkedIn
  3. Blanket statements like ‘SEO is a scam’ or ‘SEO is dead’ are flat out wrong and borderline offensive to real SEO and digital marketing professionals

Let’s begin and get ready for some more real talk from the Smokehouse because I can’t and won’t let this nonsense stand.

5. Do You Even Know What SEO Is?

If you’re sitting there in 2018 (ed. note: or right now in 2020!) and thinking SEO is a scam or SEO is dead or whatever other nonsense people have been pinning on SEO for the past 10 years, then you don’t know what SEO really is.

Let me repeat that.

If you think SEO is a scam, then YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SEO REALLY IS.

This is not to say there’s not a ton of scammy or just flat out bad SEO services out there on places like Fiverr and even from some big companies but, real talk, people fall for those because they also really don’t know what SEO really is.

If they did, they would know anyone promising ‘triple traffic overnight’ or ‘hundreds of quality backlinks for five dollars!’ or those ‘keywords! Keywords! KEYWORDS!’ ads are all complete nonsense that will get you nowhere fast.

Again, SEO is not the problem, people not really understanding SEO is the problem.

Clients falling for this is understandable, they’re not going around calling themselves ‘digital marketing experts’ and it’s not what they do all day but for someone who claims to be a Chief Marketing Officer at a DM firm to say something as irresponsible as ‘SEO is a scam!’ is just ridiculous.

The main ‘facts’ this article writer mentioned to ‘prove’ SEO was a scam weren’t even facts. It was basically just a rant saying ‘Google is holding all these websites hostage!’ and from there degenerated into a ‘rage against the machine’, ‘here’s mud in yer eye!’ whine-fest about the Google algorithm.

I mean the dude literally said people are, and I quote, ‘being abused by the world’s largest search engine’.

If that ain’t some old….never mind.

After the whole ‘old man yells at cloud’ moment, the guy’s solution is for everyone to just do PPC instead and also optimize your site for Duck Duck Go and Bing.

yellsgoogle

I didn’t make that up.

Dude really said to go ahead and give your money to the same evil corporation that has been ‘abusing you’ and then turn around and optimize for two other search engines.

Yup.

Stop ‘wasting time on scammy SEO’ by doing SEO for two other search engines that nobody really uses.

I’m going to stop this one there but you can see right there how fail that is and if you can’t…I’m sorry.

4. It’s Called SEO, Not GEO

Actually, I’m not going to stop there because this is crucial to understanding what SEO really is.

Let’s take the first idea that we can stop wasting time doing SEO by optimizing for Duck Duck Go and Bing.

What?

So you’re telling me that I should stop optimizing for the world’s biggest and most widely used search engine and instead optimize my sites and business pages for two search engines that almost nobody uses?

So I should do literally the same amount of work but just focus on getting way smaller audience bases?

Your clients must be THRILLED with your results, my guy.

Look, of course you need to keep Bing and Duck Duck Go (lol) in mind when you work on a site but we live in the real world and in the real world people use Google, whether or not you like the algorithm.

Yes, SEOs focus on Google for the most part but we don’t ignore Bing even though Bing only has about 3% of the search market.

Imagine if you went to work and only did 3% of your job. Happy clients or nah?

rocket3percent

Even if you think that stat is low, the highest estimate I can find in 2018 is from this site and this is even saying Google has a 93% search market share!

Yes, let’s just ignore that because we don’t like how the algorithms try to keep horrible sites from getting clicks.

Yes, let’s not do SEO for that search engine because it’s a ‘scam’ but let’s do it for ones that have less than an 8% combined market share.

UGH.

3. Yes, SEO IS Slow But It Is Also Reliable When Done Right

Another part of the epic outdated information whine-fest was the fact that SEO takes a long time to kick in.

Holy cow, the guy actually had a current and legitimate concern in there!

Yes, this is true. It’s very true. Anyone who does SEO knows that it is not an overnight process. It is not even an ‘over-month’ process sometimes. It is a long and drawn out process that can take months.

Yes, we know this. Yes, it sucks. Any reputable SEO will tell you this before you sign any contract.

Guess what, though – unless you did something completely wrong or if you tried to game the system with black hat nonsense instead of actually making improvements to your site, it will last way longer than just throwing money at something like PPC.

Go into 99% of your clients’ Google analytics accounts, click on ‘All Channels’ and tell me what you see. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Yup, unless your site completely sucks (and in some cases, even if it does) organic traffic is your number one channel and if you drill into that, I can PROMISE you it ain’t coming from Bing or Duck Duck Go.

With very few exceptions for specific sites or industries, organic traffic should be your number one channel. Period. If it isn’t, you’ve failed.

Yes, it takes a while to build up but most of the time, unless you or your IT team have done something ridiculous like deindex or block all your pages or you got them ranked through a nonsense, scammy SEO service that used black hat tactics, then it will continue to be your number one channel even when you’re not throwing PPC dollars at it.

So while this guy who claims to be a marketing expert is telling you ‘Forget SEO! Just do PPC! It’s faster!’ what he’s not telling you is that having all the pieces in place that would help get you towards an SEO-optimized site (high page speed, relevant content, mobile responsive, etc.) would also get you a lower CPC and a higher chance of winning the ad space in the AdWords auction.

At a previous day job, I’ve personally seen many people, from mom and pop shops to huge international corporations, try to do PPC without doing even basic SEO on their website first and yes, you can do it but you shouldn’t.

Do you really want to drop a ridiculous amount of money per click only to drive people to a horrible website that they won’t convert on because it’s awful?

Come on…be real. Stop throwing away money.

2. SEO, PPC, Social And Other Channels Are Not Silos

Speaking of trying to do PPC without good SEO practices in place, another thing this dude fails to mention is that Digital marketing does not exist in a vacuum and these things CANNOT be silos.

You just can’t have a quality digital marketing strategy for your business by saying things like ‘Well, I’m just going to do Twitter ads, forget everything else!’ or ‘I’ll just do SEO and email marketing, I don’t need PPC!’ or, in this article’s ridiculous case, ‘JUST GIVE GOOGLE A BUNCH OF PPC MONEY AND THAT’S IT BECAUSE WE HATE THOSE STINKY OLD ALGORITHM BOTS!’

whinescam

First, I’m still laughing at the very concept of ‘Google’s a big meanie but let’s give them our money by doing a bunch of Adwords’ and second, you need to realize that the marketing word of this decade is ‘multichannel’.

It’s all connected. All of it.

I mentioned a second ago about how SEO can help you with your PPC (that’s not the end goal of SEO but its more likely than not to happen), but it also helps with your content marketing considering how heavy the current Google algorithm is into quality on-page content.

If you made good content for your website for your SEO strategy, you also can use it for your email marketing, right? If you have quality email marketing people are more likely to come to your site and see what you have.

Guess what, all of that PPC, Email, SEO and Content marketing all feeds into your paid retargeting efforts.

The circle of life is complete.

What about trying to do the alternative, silo method?

If you’re only focusing on PPC or Social ads and you have a horrible site (and you probably do or your site is probably already ranking well organically), your spend (CPC) goes up and nobody is going to convert because you look like spam once they get to your site.

If you’re only focusing on SEO, you’re missing out because you can’t retarget organically and paid ads will always outrank you depending on search query.

If you’re only doing email, I laugh at you because you’re literally either only preaching to the choir (never reaching new customers) or you’re buying lists full of people who are just going to report you for spam until you’re kicked off your email service provider and violating the GDPR, CAN-SPAM, CASL and everything else you can name.

You need to do it all and if you’re not, you can bet your competition is and you’re going to have a bad time.

1. Seriously, Stop Believing Everything You Read On The Internet

The final thing in the article just put a cherry on this steaming pile of nonsense and let me know exactly what this guy’s overall goal and reason for this in the first place was.

Dude said Google should just ban SEO companies.

Yup. Just ban an entire business model – but keep his PPC based business, though, because why not, right?

He also said Google should just give all new sites first page rankings for a few months or free advertising.

howrank

Dude obviously has NO IDEA how many new sites pop up daily.

How is Google going to give everybody first page rankings by default? How long do you want the first page to be? How irrelevant do we want organic search results to be?

How many scammy SEO Fiverr companies that advertise to ‘make hundreds of new websites for your business for five bucks to always rank on the first page!’ does he want to bring into being?

Come on, man…

Free advertising?

Dude, Adwords is an auction based system. Imagine if you went into a store and said ‘Hey, I’m new in town, you should give me all this stuff for free. Yeah I know they all have to pay but I’m new, though!’

That’s just dumb. I’m all about democratic socialism but this is just silly.

Also, I bet this dude’s PPC firm isn’t covering the first couple months ad spend for ‘new’ clients and yet he wants Google to foot the bill…just sayin’.

Wait, there’s more…

This guy spends two paragraphs talking about totally inaccurate and outdated ‘ranking factors’, complains about how long it takes to do them and how much it costs and then he says in the very next paragraph that all SEO is just gaming the system.

So wait, you’re saying working to accomplish all these (completely wrong, but whatever) ranking factors for websites is gaming the system?

By that stream of logic, when a doctor performs an eight hour surgery, he’s just gaming the system because the patient should have died anyway. Right?

When anyone spends time actually doing things to make something happen, that’s gaming the system.

So, by that definition ‘working at any job in existence, ever’ or ‘actually taking an action to do a thing is gaming the system.

“YOU USED YOUR FEET AND LEGS AND ACTUALLY RAN TO WIN A RACE?!?! DISQUALIFIED!!! GAMING THE SYSTEM!!!”

The Bottom Line

Realistically, if you read the article, it sounds like some dude who had no idea what SEO really was, tried it for a client, failed hard and couldn’t explain why.

He then got reamed by said client and then went to a website, found out what SEO actually was, went ‘THIS IS TOO HARD!! I DON’T WANT TO DO THINGS! CAN’T I JUST THROW MONEY AT IT??” and decided to rant about it and call it a scam because he doesn’t understand it or doesn’t want to put in the work.

Either that or he’s losing a lot of business to digital marketing agencies that either do everything, including SEO or to strictly SEO firms and wanted to say something in the hopes people would go, ‘Yeah! Scams!!! I’ll give YOU my money!’

Look, I get it. I’ve worked at three different companies, large and small, as an SEO guy where I was the only person in the building who knew what it was I did all day. The PPC guys had no idea, the Social guys had no idea and until I started doing those things myself, I had no idea what it was they did all day either – and I still barely understand PPC even though I’m fully certified in multiple AdWords areas!

Basically, if you don’t do SEO (or haven’t in the past 2 years as it changes so much) either learn modern SEO or just stay in your lane and ‘keep my name out your mouth’ but definitely don’t try to come for SEO as being a ‘scam’ because you have no idea what SEO actually is.

Also, I totally Googled this guy’s business name and unsurprisingly – nothing came up on the first page of the SERP and I even tried business name + city and STILL nothing came up.

No wonder this guy is bitter and making up things! A CMO of a Digital Marketing Consultancy that can’t even rank for their own business name even when someone is actively trying to find specifically them.

Yup. Think about that for a minute, my guy.

The point isn’t just to rag on this guy but to let you all be aware that:

  • Anyone can write anything on the internet and post it on a ‘respected’ site like LinkedIn.
  • Anyone can claim to be a ‘Digital Marketing Expert’ or a ‘Consultant’ and charge you a bunch of money for nonsense
  • Most business owners do not properly vet these so-called experts or agencies and they end up getting either completely burned or not nearly the results they could have had if they had a robust strategy

Look, every day for the past fifteen years, someone out there is saying ‘SEO is dead!’ or ‘SEO is a scam!’ and they say this and that but really, it isn’t going away just because some people don’t understand it or want to do the work.

I’ve seen nonsense like that article so many times, I normally wouldn’t have given it a second thought but the reasons being just so asinine coupled with the fact that the guy is calling himself an ‘expert’ in digital marketing, I couldn’t help myself.

expertscam

The facts are as follows:

People find things via search. People find things via Google search. Google changes their algorithms to make the search experience better and this is NOT a bad thing, no matter how inconvenient it might be for some people.

SEO is like a truck: either get on board or write horrible articles while being smashed under the wheels.

PS: You might be wondering why I didn’t link to that article. Well, I didn’t for two reasons. The first is because it’s just so bad I won’t help spread the idiocy and the other is that, well, the guy said in the article he doesn’t like SEO so I won’t help him out with a backlink….I did him a favor.

If you really want to see it, you can find it on LinkedIn if you search and you’ll know it when you see it. My suggestion is to not waste your time. There’s no point in reading it. Just find someone to say, ‘Google’s a big meanie-pants!’ and you’ve got the gist.

I searched this guy’s name on LinkedIn and he’s written a total of three articles and they’re all just him complaining – SEO, Social (where he whines about automation tools, how it doesn’t work, and how everybody on social is fake and yet I’ve had past clients and my current day job making a TON OF ROI on Social, but that all must be my imagination because internet random guy says so) and…bitcoin, of all things.

Seriously, people, RESEARCH ANYONE WHO CLAIMS TO BE AN EXPERT. GET THE RECEIPTS. TALK TO PREVIOUS CLIENTS AND NOT THE ONES THEY ‘RECOMMEND’ YOU TALK TO.

Don’t get stuck with a know-nothing, pretend ‘expert’ – and there are a lot of them.

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