Alister Cameron // Blogologist

Changing the world. One blog(ger) at a time.

The SEO industry needs to grow up

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.

Knifing the frog...

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:

  1. Do nothing. It’s all most of you have done so far. Let someone else be the crusader.
  2. If you’re in the competition, stop. Pull out. Post to your blog explaining your change of mind.
  3. Email Aaron privately, and express your displeasure. (I am going public here to address the SEO community.)
  4. 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.

dave pasternack, seobook, aaron wall, competition, google, search engine optimization, SEO, SEM, SMO, search engines, optimization, ethics, morality


Note: Commenter website links are not no-followed, in case
you were wondering... I believe in rewarding commenters!

  1. Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Hear hear!

  2. Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    How the hell did you read my mind? Very well said.

  3. Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I’d love to blog this, but I don’t have time right now…

    I’m not going to kick the boots into either Aaron Wall or Dave Pasternack…

    But what I will say is from a pure SEO perspective.

    I love watching SEO competitions – and this one’s going to be no exception. They’re real life case studies on what works well “in the real world”.

    Both Pasternack and Wall do the same thing – lead generation. One through PPC, the other through SEO. So both want to prove their point.

    In the red corner, Dave Pasternack says SEO “isn’t rocket science” – anyone can do it… and “just about every marketer who invests a bit of time, research, and elbow grease can realize its benefits without paying a fortune to an SEO firm”.

    Furthermore, he claims SEO is a “Fix-it-Once Task, not an Ongoing Service”

    In the Blue corner, Aaron wall is challenging these two claims directly

    If SEO *isn’t* rocket science, then we’ll be able to see complete “nobodies” ranking among SEO gurus in this competition.

    Secondly, if SEO is a “Fix It Once Job”, then presumably Dave Pasternack’s site would rank at #1 for this term – OR one of the many other (non-SEO) sites who mention his name.

    If either of these occur, then Dave Pasternack wins the argument outright – TKO.

    He’s got the “Weight Advantage” – with Aaron Wall choosing his name as the keywords, the SEO’ers are starting on an uneven playing field. (Normally SEO competitions are run around nonsensical or made-up word combinations to provide a level playing field).

    Plus, all of this publicity for Dave Pasternack is making the SEO’ers jobs more difficult… So there’s every likelihood that the SEO’ers might lose.

    And I doubt Dave Pasternack is anywhere near as worried about this threat as what others may be.

    A) If he was, he wouldn’t have discredited the value of SEO in the first place;
    B) He doesn’t leverage off his name to make money;
    C) And.. He believes PPC is more valuable as a lead generation strategy than SEO.

    As for Aaron Wall – I think he’s dead-right for putting his money where his mouth is to prove his point.
    Whether or not he’s right to use Dave Pasternack’s name, I think this is in a big grey area – not a simple black and white situation.

    But in many respects, it’s no different than someone out-bidding Aaron Wall’s Google Adwords on the keyword “Aaron Wall” or “SEOBook”.


    P.S. – Here are the comments which lit this fuse:

  4. Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I think this time it’s even deeper than your blog post goes into as Did-it’s Kevin Lee is a director or something of SEMPO.

    How does his business partner claiming SEO is nonsense reflect on them members of SEMPO themselves?

    Additionally, Kevin Lee played the CANCER CARD to get others to link to Did-it and do their SEO job for them, which as a person with cancer, I find completely despicable and distasteful, and they get what they deserve.

    I agree we’d all be better off without such a contest or a rip in the industry, but Dave and Kevin have a LOT of apologies to make before that happens.

  5. Alister Cameron
    Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    @Bill – I agree Dave/Kevin are in hot water. I agree they’re being very silly. But what do you do with silly people? Descend to their level with equally silly antics? That’s all I see in this competition. And I’m waiting for others who care about SEO/SMO as I do, to stand up and tell everyone here to grow up.

  6. Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    I totally re-inforce what Brent said – buddy you took the words right out of my mouth

  7. Pete
    Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Most of the SEO community are young men with big egos who start to believe their hype thus this nonsense.

  8. Posted 12 years, 4 months ago // Permalink

    Of course a cynic might point out that as one of the web’s more prominent bloggers and someone who is bound to get a lot of links to such a topic – perhaps this thread will end up at the top of the rankings by being well written (optimised) in the text and by default due to the breadth of readership.

    Of course that would be cynical and I am sure you are about post another solution – link to my blog post, get me to the top and I will instruct Aaron to pay the money to charity.

    Or perhaps you are not as above the contest as your writing suggests?


  9. Posted 12 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    But it does provide for SEO professionals to test themselves. You wouldn’t believe how many quacks are hired for SEO purposes without any experience and proof of what they can do. Dave Pasternack contest at least allows for that. Until the search engines provide for some ways to measure SEO capabilities of SEO professionals, contest will be the only way to measure yourself against others

  10. Posted 10 years, 6 months ago // Permalink

    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.

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