03 Nov 2008

SEO Blogs Make You Teh Dumb

This may sound crazy coming from me, but someone has to say it:

All those SEO blogs you read are making you a crappy search marketer. Get out of your damn feed reader and live a little.

There, now I said it. Your torch is already waiting for you on the left. You’ll have to get your own matches, though. All I have is a snow scraper (Thanks, Jim!).

Truthfully, I love SEO bloggers. I love them so much that I am one. I get how we think.  We want to share information. We want our readers to be up-to-date on the latest search activity. We have opinions that we think are important for you to keep in mind when making weighty decisions about your search campaigns. Bloggers are awesomesauce. However, we’re often guilty of paralyzing you and trapping you under a mound of information too large for you to ever act on. Basically, we contribute to making you suck. Or at least we do when you let us.

(I’m sorry for that, BTW.)

There’s a great value to SEO blogging. Reading blogs is how a lot of upcoming SEOs learn the field. We can help answer questions, start interesting conversations and open your eyes to techniques you didn’t know existed. However, for every point, there is a counter point. For every failed way of doing something, lies four ways that are less talked about and more powerful. For every ounce of signal, there are four tons of noise. If you’re investing your entire afternoon reading SEO blogs looking for that golden nugget of information, you may want to head to your favorite SEO blogger’s home and smack them in  the face. They’re effectively stealing your day and putting you out of business.

Okay, maybe that’s a tad harsh (please don’t really hit anyone.  Hard.), but you are hurting yourself, your company and your clients when you get so bogged down in the research and theory of it all that you fail to act. You waste time worrying that the sky is falling when it’s really not. Or you become too afraid to try something because a blogger told you not to. At some point, you stop being a real SEO and devolve into someone like me. Someone who just reads an awful lot about it.

That’s something I’m working to change about myself, and it’s something you should work to change, too.  I’ve sat in on approximately 8,000 search sessions during my stint at a conference liveblogger and next week I’ll be sitting in on a dozen or so more (watch for the PubCon liveblogging schedule coming later in the week!). And while they’re great sources of information, not one has taught me how to be an SEO. I may have heard about all the upcoming techniques, but I haven’t applied a single one of them. I’ve never touched a live page. Personally, I think it’s about damn time I get my hands dirty and now that I have that chance, I’m jumping at it. I’d recommend the same for you.

You’re not going to become an SEO expert by reading about it on the Internet or fawning over those who have come before you. You’re going to become an expert SEO by actually doing SEO and investing your time in conducting tests and following patterns. The answers you’re looking for aren’t hidden on the popular SEO blogs, they’re in your server logs, in your rankings, and buried deep in your head. If you want to be an SEO, maybe you should start actually being one.

It’s Monday. I propose you do something crazy this week. Up for it?

I want you to leave a comment here saying how much you love me and then close your feed reader. Take the week off from obsessive feed-checking and use that time to conduct a new SEO experiment. Something you’ve long been interested in but haven’t had time to dig into because your favorite blog had 47 new posts to read.   You don’t have to tell anyone you’re taking the week off. There’s no need to Twitter it. Just do it. All of your favorite blogs will still be there when you return on Monday. I promise.

What do you say?


  1. paisley November 3, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    If you want to learn SEO i will teach you.. you just can’t blog about it… lol… hell umm.. someone i know you know, (see twitter DM), could teach you easy…

    “However, for every point, there is a counter point. For every failed way of doing something, lies four ways that are less talked about and more powerful.”

    i totally agree… i do read alot of crap on SEO blogs.. the good stuff i read.. i post on my blog.. like i will be doing with this post..

    Excellent observation!!! (either that or you were spying on me @Scaryseo and listening…)

    psst.. white chocolate cupcakes in a jar.

  2. Jacksonville SEO November 3, 2008 at 11:42 AM

    Wow! And AMEN! Thank you for having the courage to come out and say this. I have found that; doing~90% – reading about it~10%. Yes you can pick up some techniques and ideas… but you have to actually do it and experiment on your own.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Jim Summer
    Jacksonville, FL

  3. Sean Maguire November 3, 2008 at 11:43 AM

    And while they’re great sources of information, not one has taught me how to be an SEO. I may have heard about all the upcoming techniques, but I haven’t applied a single one of them. I’ve never touched a live page.

    Ummm…isn’t writing kickass content a method of SEO? Ummm…isn’t a blog post a “live page”?

    Personally, I think on-page SEO is highly overrated, tedious and boring. I’d much rather write content, gain links, etc… Leave the on-page stuff for the non-creatives.

    Never try to put a round peg in a square hole. It don’t work very well.

  4. Brian Mark November 3, 2008 at 11:43 AM

    Ok, so here’s the I love The Lisa part. 😉

    But you have to tell people to conduct tests? Wow… there’s a lot of lame people out there. Anyone who isn’t conducting some sort of SEO experiment should be ashamed. That’s part of the title if you ask me.

  5. MikeTek November 3, 2008 at 11:55 AM

    Couldn’t agree more – spend a day on Sphinn and you’ll see just how much waxing goes on on a daily basis. Can’t say I’m innocent of it, but there’s nothing like getting in the trenches and testing the “theories” you’ve come across. I’m sorry to say they’re quite often completely wrong.

    @Sean Maguire – Couldn’t agree more. On-page SEO is almost always a waste of time unless you’re dealing with mega levels of PageRank (i.e. NYTimes.com or something like that). It’s just not worth a damn to tweak on-page targeting for even a moderately competitive keyword if your site doesn’t have the juice to rank in the top 10 or 15 for it. Time is much more effectively spent on the creative – on building a better website that users find remarkable.

  6. CJ November 3, 2008 at 11:57 AM

    I think that it’s not about not reading the SEO blogs, I mean as an SEO I think you should be reading IR blogs as well, and PhsyOrg because science is cool.

    The trick is to be very selective about what you read. I have 50ish blogs in my feedreader and I skim through super fast picking up what I want to see and what I can’t be bothered reading.

    Keeping up with the news in your industry and area of work is really important, it’s part of your job. You have to make time for it, stick to that time, and if you don’t get round to it at work, then read in the evenings in front of the TV.

    I agree with you though, the important part is to do SEO rather than theorise all the time. To be good you have to work hard, and reading hard is part of that too.

  7. Brian Chappell November 3, 2008 at 12:11 PM

    So true though, you have to test things and actually get things DONE before you really know what the H*** is going on.

    I have stopped using my reader all together. I would rather let the crowd tell me what to read via services like twitter, and friendfeed.

  8. Posicionamiento web November 3, 2008 at 1:46 PM

    I think it’s important to keep abreast of changes in the search engines. Similarly, there are good blogs about seo., in english, in french, and spanish …I write in one of it, I do my tests and although the rest of the world does not agree with them I don’t care. In seo, it can challenge everything you say, but we all know that Seo is easier than people think

  9. Darren Slatten November 3, 2008 at 1:56 PM

    Personally, I think on-page SEO is highly overrated, tedious and boring. I’d much rather write content, gain links, etc… Leave the on-page stuff for the non-creatives.

    Never try to put a round peg in a square hole. It don’t work very well.

    Hey! I love on-page SEO… AND I’m creative. So THERE!

    BTW… you CAN put a round peg in a square hole. If you put it in sideways, it might even fit perfectly.

  10. don November 3, 2008 at 2:53 PM


    Thanks for saying this. I’ve wondered, for several years now, how some SEO people find so much time to write about SEO – cuz I’m too damn busy working on clients’ sites to keep up with it all! I find out about the latest secret sauce – or the latest drama scene in our bitchy industry – weeks after all the hip kids, just because I have little time to glance at my 50-odd SEO/PPC/SN feeds in Netvibes. Feeding my family is a lot more important than becoming an A-list, or even a B-list, SEO celebrity, so I need to impress my clients instead of my Twitter audience.

  11. john andrews November 3, 2008 at 4:01 PM

    Interesting. So now that you’re at We Build Pages (the link company), you’re going to start building pages. Good for you! Will you be able to separate the impact of links-for-linking’s sake from links from organic SEO? That might be tough…

    ..and will you be able to keep your URLs under wraps? You’re so used to the Social Media environment… pubic “friends” often send private “spam” reports to Google…another challenge…

    .. and then there’s the draw of the conference circuit…. once you build 2 pages you’ll be qualified as an expert speaker on SEO at (insert your favorite SEO conference here). That might distract you as well…

    Gotta love the down economy… lots of room to explore new directions!

  12. David Jaeger November 3, 2008 at 5:43 PM

    Hmm… I think it depends on who it is. I’m personally jealous of the social media power users – who get to get much of their work done for them, while lurking on their favorite (or random) content.

    Me? I use sphinn primarily as an outlet after my head is fried from doing too much work… My google reader gets about 100 additional unreads a day, I look at it perhaps once a month for an hour (all purely to relieve stress:) ), and then it gets empty… Twitter sits as a cute little twitterfox on the bottom of my browser, which i typically ignore…

    OK OK, so I’m making excuses. But seriously, there’s a certain (non) experience point where one can allow themselves the luxury of just some social media

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  14. Singapore SEO November 3, 2008 at 7:07 PM

    I love SEO bloggers too. They are trying to outdo each other by giving away SEO “secrets.” You don’t need to subscribe to SearchEngineWatch or SEOMOZ anymore. 😀

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  16. Therese November 4, 2008 at 7:21 PM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE you! I can’t tell you how much I love you! okay… seriously- love your candor, transparentcy, kick you square in the teeth approach! Say it like it is sistah! I needed this tonight… I have vision, plans and possibilities– however, they aren’t great website designers let alone SEO managers! Don’t try to contact me, “I’m taking the week off.” (thanks to you!)

    Lovin it!

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  18. Patti Fousek November 5, 2008 at 7:11 AM

    I couldn’t agree more. I used to work for an SEO agency who would simply supply the client with an on-page SEO report and leave it to the client to implement. No matter how many times I suggested new techniques, or that we implement the changes our selves, they just didn’t go for it.

    I now work for myself, not only suggesting SEO techniques, but implementing and testing them as well. I’m 9000 times more successful by doing so.

  19. November 5, 2008 at 9:00 AM

    Lisa I think there should be a balance, getting information and practicing it. Thanks for the article.

  20. Christopher Regan November 5, 2008 at 1:04 PM

    Yes, Lisa, SEO is not a conjecture game. It’s hard stats from initiatives/tactics followed from *honest* examination of detailed stats (not just Google Analytics, BTW) from which you then take additional steps. Waaaay too many people are SEO/SEM experts — it’s a joke (companies *are* catching on after having been burned so many times).

  21. john andrews November 5, 2008 at 1:46 PM

    @Christopher Regan: absolutely… well said. More and more SEO has to be done close to the business, and if this keeps up, generic external “SEO Services” will be commoditized out of existence. Just like some were saying 5 years ago.

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  23. Jack November 10, 2008 at 6:15 AM

    Great advice Lisa. Well, see you in a week and after I got some links…

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