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…

mag-cloud2

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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12 Responses to Derek Powazek – I’ll Leave my “SEO is Evil” Comments Here

  1. Derek says:

    Thanks for pointing out the error in Google’s index. I’ll do what I can to get that rectified.

    Believe it or not, MagCloud is made by a team of people, so I can’t take all the credit or blame for what’s good or bad about it. But I will pass your recommendations along to the team.

    Still, let’s not play the “who’s better at SEO game” because I have no interest in winning it.

    As for you comment, I said quite clearly that I would not allow links to SEO salesmen and given that your about page says that you “specialize in helping companies use search engines” I decided you fit the bill. If you’d like to comment, just leave your URL off.

    Finally, the photo you used is subject to copyright, so reposting it here is a violation. Please remove it. I hope, for your clients’ sake, that you know more about search engines than you know about copyright law.

  2. Hey Derek!

    Thanks for stopping by – I didn’t know you were a regular reader of my blog, but I’m thrilled to know that you are (wait…unless you found my article through some sort of search engine?).

    Yes, yes, Copyright laws…another subject on which you are clearly an expert! Would you mind writing a post on those too? Maybe you should make a blanket statement like “Hey World, Copyright laws are for douchebags!” or “If you practice fair use, you have no brain.”

    Anyway…back to copyrights, you’re gonna wanna look at some precedents around “fair use.” You know, like when an entity is using an image for non-commercial reasons and “in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment.” Here is some further reading for you: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

    You’ll probably need to issue a DCMA takedown on this site (my traffic topped 200 visits last month!). But before you do that – you’ll want to google (or use collecta if you’d rather) “the streisand effect.” You wouldn’t want to pull a Ralph Lauren: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/10/06/the-criticism-that-r.html

    By the way – I did comment after that first one, and I did leave my URL off. That comment was removed too.

  3. Derek says:

    Fair Use would allow you to use, say, a screenshot of my site in order to critique my site. It does not allow you to violate someone else’s copyright to critique me.

    But, whatever. You’re pissed. I get it. Just know that my posts were not attacking you personally. It’d be nice if you paid me the same courtesy.

  4. You know that’s a good idea, I’ll do that (done).

    And you’re right – I was pissed, and I think I crossed that line between “making my point” and “sounding like an ass.” I’m generally not someone who tries to be an ass – and I know you probably aren’t either…yet we both find each other reaching for that adjective to describe the other (or at least I did).

    So in the interest in making the point that I should have made earlier (and more clearly), what I meant to say is this:

    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 the discipline which I’ve described above, I’d call you foolish. If you’re implying that we shouldn’t call that SEO – I’ll still disagree, but I would say this has been a very silly exercise in semantics.

    I won’t apologize for getting “personal.” You see, you used your personal blog, to attack thousands of people today. You say it was an “industry” but that industry is made up of individuals, and I’m one of them.

    I would like to apologize for being an ass. That part was un-called for, and hypocritical, so I truly am sorry.

  5. Palapple Blog | SEO Solutions for your Business…

    Thanks for sharing. Search engine optimization is indeed one of the most crucial areas in Internet marketing, it is a perfect bridge between technology and business….

  6. [...] few people have responded directly to Derek’s outburst, including Danny Sullivan, who wrote a restrained, intelligent [...]

  7. [...] craigsanatomy I’d like to thank the interwebs. Skip to content About MeMusicMN CharitiesPhotoscontact « Derek Powazek – I’ll Leave my “SEO is Evil” Comments Here [...]

  8. I found Derek’s post quite B.S. and made a comment as such that he deleted because I am an SEO. The comment links on his blog are nofollowed so it makes little difference from an SEO perspective if he left them there or not. It seems like he just wanted to limit response from the SEO community.

    To be quite clear, I think he could have written that post about any service that is performed by a professional that a normal person could do as well if they just put the time into learning, like a…

    - Lawn Mower
    - Window Washer
    - Mailman
    - Nanny
    - Web Designer
    - Graphic Designer
    - Carpet Layer
    - Butcher

    All of these can probably be done by just about anyone who wants to, but we hire professionals because they can, and absolutely should, perform these at a higher level of quality than we can ourselves. They are probably quicker as well.

    I work on websites all the time that had been “Optimized” previously by the web developer. It is usually quite obvious that the developer did not know $#!+ about SEO and just sold their client an SEO “Snake Oil” primer to say that the site was optimized. It usually becomes evident the the site owner that this is the case and is whey they contact me. This is not always the case as there are many, many good Dev’s that actually Rock, but it happens more than it should!

    Cheers to all developers that take SEO seriously!

  9. Hey Palapple Blog,

    While I do appreciate your comments – I would say you are exactly the kind of “opportunist” that caused Derek to rant.

    Let’s use our names when leaving blog comments. Let’s be real people.

    Thanks everybody for your comments…I’m on the road, so moderation will be slow, but I’m honored to be having a healthier conversation with you all about this stuff!

  10. An update on Derek’s Post Ranking on the first page of Google for the keyword “SEO”: he is no longer on the first few pages. This was just another example of Google’s algorithm that gives a temporary boost for hot topics and news.

  11. Bruce says:

    Palapple Blog | SEO Solutions for your Business…

    Thanks for sharing. Search engine optimization is indeed one of the most crucial areas in Internet marketing, it is a perfect bridge between technology and business….

  12. Which is important, You are an exceedingly expert digg. We have became a member of ones feast and search ahead of time to help in search of a greater portion of the great write-up. Furthermore, We have discussed your web site during my web sites

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