Derek Powazek Hates SEO :)

Hi Derek,

Nice to “meet” you. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

You wrote quite an attention grabber yesterday about the Evils of SEO. You called people who work in this business “brainless” and “soulless,” and proposed that in stead of doing “SEO,” we should all just “Make something great.”

Hundreds of comments later, you wrote a follow-up post explaining yourself a little further. I thought that was a classy move, and I was excited to have a little more discussion about why you would have a problem with someone specializing in “front end web dev” disciplines like ajax, javascript, flash, CSS, and yes…SEO.

But you weren’t having it.  You deleted my comment, because you were “not going to allow my comments to become ad space for SEO providers.” I linked back to this site (my personal blog – where there are no ads, there is no “hire me” sign, and from which I have never conducted any business, or tried to), and that got me busted. So let’s just chat here, shall we?

You want me to “Make something great.” And believe me – I do to! But can we talk for a minute about SEO?

Maybe we can see how it applies to you? Take your jobs for instance, all three of them. They look really neat. Next time I’m in need of a “Mag Cloud” I’ll be sure to hit you up. What does Mag Cloud do? Hmm…why don’t I google them and find out:

Mag Cloud's Google Search Results

Oh good! They have an “about” page listed on their Google search results! I’ll click on that…


Uh-oh…it took me to 404ville. Man that’s really a bummer. If only there was someone the knew how to change that “about” link in the search engine results. Someone that could…I dunno, “make the site better.” I think that should solve it.  It would also probably make the site show up if someone was looking for information about magazine printing.

Right? Just make the site a little bit better…that should make MagCloud show up there.

The awkward thing is that now HP got dragged into this. They’re behind MagCloud. They’re tied with Derek Powazek. It says so right on his site.

Derek: Congrats on your post. It clearly resonated with a lot of people – and the polarizing hyperbole has thrust you into the spotlight. You made me realize that when a person talks about that which they do not know, they run a high risk of sounding really ignorant and really “ass” like. I really did need that as a reminder, so for that I say thanks.

As a side note – I will allow comments from assholes in the space below, even though this is a blog-post which is generally anti-asshole (figurative, not anatomical).

Update: As I cooled off, I realized that I too was being an ass. Feel free to read the comment thread for the full version, but here is what I am really trying to say to Derek:

There is great value in educating people (marketers, web developers, designers, whomever) about how search engines read and understand websites. Your claims that people should have “better content” or “better web development” but that we should not call that “SEO” may just be semantics, but I believe it’s more likely that they are quite short-sighted, and do not place any value on researching which keywords to use (because you say it’s “obvious”), or which competitors are already in that space.

About a billion people have chimed in today about the “black hats,” and those who I would call “spammers.” And because they’ve given SEO a bad name, we all have to live with that. But if you’re implying that there is no value in understanding search engines, I’d call you foolish. If you’re implying that we shouldn’t call it  SEO – I’ll still disagree, but I would say this has been a very silly exercise in semantics.

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