SEO Mistakes: believing all emails

My all-time favorite spam email about SEO came back in 2001:

Drive Your Web Counter Ballistic!! “New” Information… Discovered By A Computer Illiterate Man in Massachusetts Can Practically Hand You the Top Search Engine Positions…And Add 2,350 Hits a Day to Your Web Site Overnight!”

I just imagine some savant syndrome man pecking away, then clicking a big red “Submit” button, and suddenly a number at the bottom of his screen just starts counting up faster and faster until it’s spinning so fast that it melts. Gradually the screen pulls back to reveal a cube that represents a keyphrase. With a “cha-ching” like a pinball game, the cube turns green and a “#1” appears above the block. As you pull back further, you see a grid of hundreds of keyword phrases. Another cube turns green with a #1 as you top the search engines for that phrase too. The green starts spreading like a virus outward and now it almost sounds like pachinko as more and more keyphrases appear at the top of search engines. With a final “ching” the last cube turns green and a #1 rolls into view like a slot machine. Trumpets play. The screen splits down the middle and opens, revealing a bright white light. The SEO stares as the screen turns brighter and brighter. The camera pulls back, and just before the screen goes entirely white, the SEO exclaims “It’s so beautiful!”

It’s a wonderful mental picture, isn’t it? But if you’re looking to do well on search engines, I wouldn’t trust your SEO strategy to a computer illiterate man in Massachusetts. Maybe he’s selling you his SEO secrets because he’s made too much money from them, and now he just wants to share out of the kindness of his heart?

15 Responses to SEO Mistakes: believing all emails (Leave a comment)

  1. BP

    Soooo, what you’re telling me, Matt, is that John Kerry was an SEO in 2001.


    Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

  2. Aaron Pratt

    I find it hard to believe that anyone from MA would have such a system. πŸ˜‰

  3. lots0

    I want to know where they came up with the number “2,350”.

    If all you want is hits, I’ll set one of my bots to give you a million hits in a few hours…. for only $999.99 Oh ya, and I am computer “llliterate” too…

    “Computer Illiterate Man” I think who ever wrote this is just plain illiterate.

  4. Haha wow Matt, you sure know how to paint a picture in our minds. I guess since they tried to tell people they are professionals in their field and discovered that didn’t work, they decided to take the opposite approach and say its some miracle person who can magically increase your traffic.

    People these days, gotta love ’em for the things they try.

  5. Matt

    BP, are you here all week? πŸ˜‰

    lots0, the funny thing is that I’ve seen that spam email starting in 2000, and the number of hits promised in the next spam email would always increase. It was like inflation..

  6. Huvet

    Haha, you know that blogging and drinking often makes for very strange blog posts right? πŸ™‚

    *watches green monitors spin around my head*

  7. Heh heh, this stuff is indeed funny in a pathetic way, Matt.

    But on a serious note, what bugs me is that you’re sort of preaching to the choir here. I’d guess 98.6% of the folks visiting your blog are SEO people or savvy geeks and such. The people who really need to get the iistgtbtipi* pounded into their heads in this context likely aren’t reading your blog.

    From what I recall, Google’s Webmaster guidelines are pretty thoughtfully drawn up. But I’m wondering if there’s more that Google / Yahoo! / Microsoft etc. could do to educate small-business and aspiring small-business folks?

    Some ideas:
    1) Work with FTC to get a judgement against one of those spammers and make sure the case is highly publicized, complete with straightforward quotes from SEO experts about there not being any trustworthy quick fixes

    2) An occasional info-blurb on G/Y/M SERPs “Want to get your site listed high… for free? Learn important dos and don’ts” or something like that which leads to perhaps a shared education campaign at an agnostic site ( or whatever).

    3) Have G/Y/M public relation folks or even a G non-engineer person in his/her 20% time work with small business organizations and other groups in person and via e-mail to provide basic Webmaster / SEO education and encouragement.

    These spamjerks continue to peddle their instant-rankings crap because there are enough gullible folks who want the best for their small business, but aren’t yet web savvy enough to spot related pitfalls. Foster an environment where there are fewer “suckers” and more educated Webmasters and the online world’ll be better for those Webmasters, for the search engines, and for searchers.

    * iistgtbtipi = If It Sounds Too Good To Be True It Probably Is

  8. The other Adam is dead right about preaching to the choir (must be something about our first name…I think Adam is derived from the Latin “Adamus”, meaning “hyperintellectual super genius and extremely cool guy.”)

    Matt: what if you put these comments and thoughts under the Google “Webmaster Guidelines” section where people could read them? The one problem with the Webmaster Guidelines section is that it speaks in general terms, and a lot of people just don’t get general terms because they’re too abstract.

    Doing so would provide the ounce of prevention that is worth more than the pound of cure. If half of the aspiring webmasters/SEO types read in Google that these SEO tactics are wrong, then you’re not dealing with millions of reinclusion requests from naive webmasters who trusted a computer little rat (not a typo) man from Massachusetts and got taken to the cleaners.

  9. Matt

    Good suggestions, both Adams. It’s tough because the webmaster guidelines are translated into lots of different languages, and the informal stuff that I talk about here might not always translate as well into the webmaster guidelines.

  10. Ledfish

    “Good suggestions, both Adams. It’s tough because the webmaster guidelines are translated into lots of different languages, and the informal stuff that I talk about here might not always translate as well into the webmaster guidelines.”

    Sorry Matt, but I have to call you on this one…..that is simply a cop-out

    First you started the subject, then the two Adams suggested some highly beneficial things that could be done to help prevent these kinds of scams from taking advantage of the unknowing and then you simply dismiss the great ideas by saying it can’t easily be done because of language differences and translation problems ?

    ….come on Matt, you know that is a bunch of Goobly Gook.

  11. Aw man…! That was such a wonderful vision…too bad you brought us back down to Earth πŸ˜‰

  12. Matt, it’s easy, just say this:

    Einde dat mijn onderzoeksmotor spamming!

  13. Ledfish: as one of the Adams, I think Matt answered me as well as he could have, given the statement that I made and what I really intended to say (but never quite came out). So no harm, no foul on his part.

    My deeper point was that sometimes people need to see spam clearly defined before they know it’s spam. There are a lot of naive people out there who would read something just as Matt has posted and believe it to be gospel from Heaven.

    So what I was ultimately suggesting wasn’t so much that Matt post his comments on the spam (although they are rather entertaining), but the spam itself.

    In other words, post the emails, verbatim, that these idiots generate and put them somewhere that webmasters can see. “Oh, so for $19.95 I won’t get hundreds of thousands of visitors from the Go0gle (sic) search engine.” Some people need that.

    In other words, Matt, take what you’ve done here a step further. Sorry if I didn’t explain myself clearly the first time (I do that quite often…my girlfriend won’t let me speak to cashiers and store employees anymore.)

  14. Huvet,

    I think blogging and drinking makes for a very entertaining party!