As I imagine it is for anyone who has a blog, helps maintain a website or spends a lot of time on social media, unsolicited SEO spam is a fact of life. Dozens of phone calls, emails and forwards from coworkers and colleagues (who are trying to be helpful) come my way almost every day with the promise of magically making my website or blog rise to the top of search engine listings.
My response is usually to hit delete or hit reply to the friend to say something to the effect of “for future reference, please forward messages like this directly to your email trash can” but because I work constantly to try and improve the standing of the sites I work on with search engines I can’t help but be offended with the way many of these emails and sometimes phone calls come across. I realize that’s the nature of spam, but it’s still kind of insulting to be constantly told that:
1. Despite the fact that I know nothing about your website or organization and haven’t even taken the time to research your real name, I’m going to tell you all of the things wrong with your site.
2. You don’t know me, but trust me, I’m way more awesome than you.
3. Here’s a bunch of jargon and statistics that prove I’m more intelligent than you.
4. If you don’t hire me, you might as well just shut down the whole operation now.
Does this sound familiar? The more I think about it, the more I realize that SEO spam angers me as much as it does because I have a tendency to do those same things – even if I’m not committing them to a mass unsolicited email. I’m judgmental. I think I know it all. I judge people and organizations based on split-second research. In my good moments, I think I’m way more awesome than I really am.
Whether or not SEO is a scam (the volume of spam certainly doesn’t help its cause), there’s a lesson in there somewhere. Terms like relationship-building and engagement have become cliche by this point in our social media-dominated landscape, but they are as applicable as ever.