The more the SEO community gets behind Aaron Wall‘s infantile competition, the more that community proves itself to be professionally suspect and childish. And if I am controversial in saying this, then SEO industry leaders and their disciples really need to take a long hard look at themselves.
Aaron’s competition has all the hallmarks of a child with a wounded ego’s dummy-spit in the direction of his offender… in this case Dave Pasternack, someone who seems to have given up on SEO (for PPC only) yet maintains it’s not rocket-science. Do you sniff desperate, low-yield, high-shock-value sensationalist self-promotion from Mr Pasternack as much as I do?
Despite his questionable search marketing credentials, Dave has managed to get under Aaron’s skin to the degree that Aaron has abandoned all semblance of professionalism and gentlemanly poise, and run a competition to try and wipe Dave’s brand (his name) off the front page of Google.
Aaron knows what someone’s name means to them… it’s the brand you have when all others have come and gone. And I think Aaron knows that by targeting Dave’s name, he’s making it personal. It’s no small deal.
And Aaron knows — on the surface at least — what is likely to come from this competition: over-sensitive, wound-licking, immature (or glory-hungry, or cash-strapped) SEOers will try to win, and if enough get close to the prize, no more Dave Pasternack at the top of the SERPs (or maybe even close).
However, there is a MUCH more important casualty here than Dave Pasternack: the professionalism and integrity of the SEO industry. Think about it: do you respect people who — when offended by a weaker also-ran — gather around to beat the poor wretch up with baseball bats? Do you respect an industry which, to date, has NOT had the courage of their convictions to, in chorus, tell Aaron Wall straight that this is not how “we” do things?
Yes, SEOers, he is one of your golden boys. Rightfully so. But if you stay silent now, or worse, participate in this competition, you are guilty as accessories after the fact to an act of petty retribution that is intentionally harmful to Dave Pasternack and morally bankrupt.
This competition, then, actually serves the purpose of testing the substance of character and moral vision of the SEO industry. Anyone who has chosen to participate is saying much more about themselves than a wise, mature and ethically finely-tuned adult would ever wish to have revealed about themselves.
So professional SEO person, here are your options, as I see them:
- Do nothing. It’s all most of you have done so far. Let someone else be the crusader.
- If you’re in the competition, stop. Pull out. Post to your blog explaining your change of mind.
- Email Aaron privately, and express your displeasure. (I am going public here to address the SEO community.)
- Post a story on your blog, expressing your desire to be part of an industry that takes itself more seriously, and acts more professionally than has been demonstrated in this competition, and make sure your link to Dave Pasternack points to his (new) bio page. There’s every likelihood he’ll always be an also-ran with a penchant for sensationalist self-promotion and noisy yet empty fist-thumping, but let him be.
I am fully aware that if the latter point about linking to Dave’s page were taken up en masse, Dave himself would win Aaron’s competition… a delicious irony and a fabulous vote of no-confidence in immoral, immature, self-defeating pay-back sillyness.
And to Aaron I say: please rise to the full stature of the man you are, and to the challenge of leading your industry with integrity and the kind of visionary leadership that everyone will applaud you for. While it sounds prosaic to say it, use your power for good!
Oh, and call off the competition. You’re better than that.