Posts Tagged Google

SEO : the biggest con of the 21st Century?

It seems like an age now since Eoghan McCabe of Contrast wrote his controversial “SEO is Bullshit” blog article back in 2008. That article was followed up a few weeks late with an article titled “SEO is Still Bullshit” which included discussions and comments from some of Ireland’s most respected SEO experts.

At the time, Eoghan’s article and subsequent comments irked me quite a lot. He, like every other SEO sceptic totally ignored the value and definite “need” element of SEO and focused purely on the usability issues that were generated by poor techniques used by most SEOs in order to get websites ranked in the Google search results.

In hindsight and after many more years in this business, seeing the rise (and fall) of (too) many so called SEO expert individuals and companies; I’ve finally woken up to the fact that SEO is in fact total bullshit.

Yes that may sound quite alarming coming from someone who has sold the importance of Search Engine Optimisation for over a decade. But the simple fact is that SEO has probably one of the biggest cons of the 21st Century.

I say this with complete sincerity and assure you that this is definitely not an article designed to create linkbait as was suggested at Eoghan’s reasons for his original article.

Let’s look at the very basic facts surrounding SEO.

  1. Ranking a website is easy!
    Yes believe it or not it’s quite easy to get your website ranked on Google or any other search engine. Granted, the more competitive the key phrase wish to rank for, the harder it is to rank.

  2. Google wants to find Good websites with relevant content
    A very simple fact of the matter is that Google wants to rank websites that are relevant to the search being performed. Searching on Google would be a waste of time if the sites it ranked in the top results were not relevant to what you were searching for. A simple rule of thumb is to build a website that a user likes to visit and is easy for a search engine to find relevant content. That’s not rocket science is it?

  3. SEO is not Rocket Science
    I’m sure you’ve been there before, discussing search engine optimisation with a so called expert and he/she talks in riddles and makes SEO seem extremely complex. Well it’s not – there can be quite a lot to it if you are targeting a competitive key phrase, but in most cases it’s pretty straight forward.

  4. SEO only drives traffic!
    One major misconception I come across with people who know a little about SEO is that they sell SEO as a way to drive business through your company. Well the fact is that all is SEO does is drive traffic. Of course with more traffic, it should in turn produce more sales – putting more effort into focusing on building a website site that will convert as many visitors to your website as possible will in the long run be more useful than having a website that only a search engine can understand.

  5. SEO does not Educate!
    A lot of SEO’s sell SEO as the holy grail in terms of marketing your business. The fact is that SEO only targets people who already know about a service or product you provide. If you have a brand new concept or product that n0-one knows about – SEO will not help you get in front of the people that are likely to buy your product or service.

  6. SEO is just Good Web Design
    Every website we build now includes FREE on-site search engine optimisation – we just call it building search engine friendly websites. A lot of SEOs like to class themselves as elite God like beings that are more important than Web Designers themselves. But they’re not and the reality is that you should be thinking about making your website search engine friendly from the time you start building your website. I used to be shocked at how little HTML knowledge a lot of SEO experts actually have. Iif you don’t understand how a website is built under-the-hood, how the hell can you really understand SEO??

  7. SEO Forums / Blogs aren’t always right and are often taken out of context!
    One of my pet hates is discussing SEO with someone who has read up a little about SEO and automatically assumes that the information they have read is the Bible truth. If you happen to be reading an SEO article online, please check the date the article was published. Chances are the information you have is incorrect or well out of date.Also, please ensure you are taking everything in context and not just jumping at conclusions without testing. SEO is all about trial and error – NEVER assume anything!!

    For a classic example of how unconfirmed theories send shockwaves through a whole industry, read this article – a prime example of an out there theory… http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7594-is-email-reputation-now-a-google-ranking-factor

  8. Matt Cutts is not an SEO
    Yes I’m sorry Matt lovers, but have you ever seen any websites that Matt himself has personally performed a search engine optimisation job on? Well I haven’t, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t of course! 

    Yes, one thing he has got over us all is that he has inside information. How much is questionable as he rarely seems to throw out anything more than the obvious.

    He’s constantly being taken out of context, with a lot of people taking what he says as “fact”, without reading into the actual meaning of his comments in the overall picture of things.

SEO? The bottom is that anyone can can do it. That sole reason is why we now have a market saturated with SEOs that claim to be God’s gift to Number 1 rankings on Google.

The SEO industry has become one that preys on vulnerable companies who will never truly understood how the web nor search engines work, but believe the hype that is discussed at length at nearly every business seminar across the country.

There’s no doubt SEO is important, but its value in most cases has been greatly over exaggerated. For any website to be a success, you must create a search engine friendly website at the very least – whether you should go further depends very much on the competition in your field.

SEO is in the gutter as far as I’m concerned – from the companies that offer you “guaranteed No. 1 spots on Google” to companies who offer “link building services” from websites with little or no value. And of course we have the SEOs who think 301 redirects are the solution to all your problems, it just gets more ridiculous as time passes.

Maybe Eoghan saw all this long before the rest of us, one things for sure… he certainly seen it before me.

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My response to your emails about Web Design & Development Costs


I recently turned our Google Adwords campaign on to get 2bscene out there and drum up some more business. It’s not that we’re not busy, but more the fact that I’d really like to see us grow this year after being too worried about consolidation last year. The more business I get in, the more staff I can employ and the feel good factor of that would be just amazing with all the doom and gloom that fills our lives because of the recession.

My Google advert states clearly “Professional Web design from just €1,499″. There are a number reasons we push that price. The main one is that it’s a very competitive price for a professionally designed, custom website and the other key reason is to stop people that aren’t serious about their web presence from contacting us.

I’ve outlined in detail many times before how we cost our websites and why they cost the price they do. But for some that message doesn’t seem to sink in.

Now, more than ever before, we get the “is that really how much it costs? You know we’re in a recession don’t you?” response when someone is presented with an estimate or proposal on the costs involved in developing a website.

The reason for this is simple. Most people just don’t fully understand what is involved in designing and developing a website. The work a professional company puts into designing a custom designed website is not comparable and cannot be compared to a website that costs €300. They are just two totally different things – it’s like comparing apples with oranges.

Some sad person is so ridiculously consumed by it all, feels it’s his duty to inform me that websites can be purchased for as little as €300.

Already he’s filled in the form on our website twice to let us know how he feels about our charges, the economy and how backward he thinks we are. Yet unfortunately, both times he has left non-existent email addresses, which means we can’t respond to him.

We’re pretty confident we know who this person is, I just hope he reads this… so I can let him know that I understand my business, the market place and that we don’t and don’t want to compete with those cheap and nasty web design firms.

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Google Keyword Tool goes mobile

Google announced last month that over the past two years, mobile searches have grown five-fold. An even better indication of growth in the use of mobile devices for searching is that in the third quarter of 2010, mobile searches jumped again by another 130%. This is a clear indication of the massive and rapid growth of the mobile internet.

I have in the past discussed how I feel it’s time to get your website mobile to make it easier for users to use your website, but more importantly, it’s probably time to start optimising your website to be found in searches by mobile device users.

Google are already a few steps ahead of us all and have added a new key feature to their much loved Google Keyword Tool. You can now use the Google Keyword Tool to build keyword lists for targeting mobile users. As part of the new feature the have given the ability to search for keywords searched for by “mobile WAP browsers” and “Mobile devices with Full Internet Browsers” or of course, just any mobile device at all.

Google Keyword Tool Mobile Search Options

Without doing proper analysis, I can’t tell you for sure if there are many differences in how people search by mobile device compared to a PC. I’d assume there are some significant differences and plan to do some proper research over the coming days.

One things for sure, it’s time to take mobile seriously….

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BlackBerry overtakes Apple in Mobile Web Browsing Wars

Hot on the heels of my article yesterday – Mobile Website Design – Is it time to offer a mobile version of your website?, StatCounter Global Stats have released a press release with some interesting news.

As expected, Google’s Android platform is seeing a significant growth in it’s usage, with an increase of over 290% on last year. Android is now accounting for 23.8% of the Mobile Web usage market share.

Interestingly, in the US Apple’s iPhone has fallen from a high of 51.9% last year to just 33% this year. This means that Blackberry’s 34.3% share in the US makes them market leaders in terms of mobile Internet usage.

This trend however isn’t replicated worldwide, with the current statistics leading with Symbian OS leads with 31.9% followed by Apple iOS (21.9%), BlackBerry OS (19.3%) and Android (11.6%).

So I guess it’s safe to say that targeting just iPhones in terms of your mobile website, is not a good idea!

You can read the full StatCounter report here : http://gs.statcounter.com/press/blackberry-overtakes-apple-in-mobile-wars

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Online Marketing has gone to the dogs

It’s been nearly 8 years now since I started online marketing company 2bscene. At the time, there weren’t many dedicated online marketing companies around. Most companies offering online marketing services were either web design or advertising agencies trying to cash in on what was clearly going to be a massive growth area of business.

Search Engine Optimisation was still pretty much in it’s infancy and I had built up 4 years experience of search engine optimisation of websites before I started 2bscene. God, in those days it was a hell of a lot easier to rank than it is today.

Of course, Google Adwords wasn’t around then so there were fewer online marketing opportunities. We did have a number of online advertising options, but they were limited generally to banner advertisements and advertorials.

There was nothing as popular, nor as effective as Google Adwords is today. Banner advertisements were beginning their steep decline of impressive CTR and search engine optimisation was hardly heard of.

In fact organic search engine optimisation was the only real option for many businesses to get found online, yet little knew about this little secret never mind recognise it’s potential.

I have to admit, I didn’t come from a marketing background when I started 2bscene. I naively opted to study music and live my dream rather than contemplate choosing a college course that would enhance my career! However marketing was something that always interested me greatly.

I had gained significant marketing experience (and interest) in the companies I had worked with before setting up 2bscene and felt I could effectively build and grow a company selling online marketing services. Online marketing was a new and exciting way for businesses to promote their brand and there were very few companies offering the service in Ireland. Therefore the only thing I could be judged on was the results I got for other businesses.

Fast forward 8 years and oh how the landscape has changed.

I had many reasons for setting 2bscene up as a solely online marketing services company. One of the main reasons was to distinguish my business from other web design companies.

At the time web design companies were popping up all over the place, everyone you talked to knew someone who was a web designer. Of course, you could still only count the good ones on one hand, but the surge in growth of these cheap and nasty web design companies was rapidly helping to deteriorate the web design market. From students working from their parents bedroom to the fly by night web designers who have disappeared off the face of earth, they all did little to enhance the reputation of a “web designer”. In fact, they did the complete opposite.

I get it all the time from new clients “we had a falling out with our web designer” or “we can’t get in touch with our web designer”. The perception of a web designer followed through in many advertising campaigns with the likes of IBM featuring web designers off snowboarding while their was a disaster taking place at the office.Web designers became a breed of people who could simply not be trusted to be there in a time of need.

The student type web designer brought web design to a level where a lot of people expect them to work for free or next to free. In their naive approach to business, they’d undertake to do a job only to realise they would bore with the client and their requests quite rapidly. In some cases, they thought the best solution was to do masses amount of work for free to get the client off their backs. Then of course there were those who simple said the job is too big for me and disappeared, never to be contacted again.

Now the same thing seems to be happening with the online marketing industry. In fact, everyone wants to be or claims to be a search engine optimisation expert nowadays. I’ve never in my life encountered so many people in any other industry I’ve worked in that claims to know more than the expert they have hired to do the job for them.

A times it can be a major struggle to have a reasonable discussion with a client/potential client about how best to market their website, because most feel that they are near experts in search engine optimisation because they have done “a lot” of research on the subject and therefore they are pretty much experts themselves at this stage. A little knowledge is probably the most disruptive of all.

It doesn’t help much when businesses like “Snap Printing” decide that they are all of a sudden web marketing and web design experts because they now offer these services to clients. Pretty much all of our clients have been approached by UK online marketing companies offering to get their site listed at the top of Google for €x per month which is clearly a total scam. Yet, clients still question and compare the work we do, to what these shower offer.

Look let’s face it, search engine optimisation is not rocket science and is not hugely difficult when you know what to do. Anyone who has done even the most basic research on search engine optimisation could possibly rank a site for a non competitive keyphrase, that’s fact. But there is one key skill to search engine optimisation that I feel is the most important strength and that is… experience. Because search engine optimisation is changing all the time, having the experience to notice the changes that have occurred and why makes the job a whole lot easier.

Google Adwords and other pay per click solutions are similar. Pretty much anyone can get an account set up and get your site listed in the top results, but the value add from a professional comes in when they help you get the most bang for your buck. Experience is what makes the pros stand out from the rest.

I find it incredibly sad that the industry has come to this as I feel like the bubble is about to burst on the whole industry. In the past, there was a massive burst bubble for the web design industry. Web designers admittedly charged well over the odds for a simple website that never had a chance of generating a return on the investment. This led to many businesses believing that having a website was not a worthy investment for their business and opted not to have one at all. Web designers in the past year saw a massive rush by the companies without websites finally realising that the web was the way to go, but again a lot opted for the cheap option rather than choosing a true professional to do the work.

When I look around at the new so called experts that are leading the industry today, I find it hard to see any real quality. It seems to be the same old faces who you can rely on and trust. The problem with that is that a lot of these are too busy to handle the smaller clients and therefore the smaller online marketing companies are picking up the pieces and doing a pretty woeful job.

A recession is no better time to weed out the poor companies, but I just hope it doesn’t take too long for these guys to get found out!

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