SEO = Spam?

Some guy named Stephen Arnold of Arnold Information Technology (that’s a name that covers a lot of territory) apparently stood up at some Search Engine Meeting in Boston and said that search engine optimization is like spam.

Stephen Baker at Blogspotting makes a compelling point about the resulting uproar:

[SEO supporters] think that they’re simply working to give the public a view of their sites, which they naturally believe are relevant and useful. But don’t many spammers make the same claim?

Exactly. They are doing us a favor, and the fact they get paid to do it is just a happy coincidence.

seoevilI have stated before my discomfort with SEO. It feels like gaming the system. On the other hand, some people I respect have defended SEO to me in Comments and via email, and many of their arguments are logical.

Having said that, while I do not have a huge problem with SEO rightly applied, I want my search engines to find relevant content based on the relevant content- not based on who is smart enough to SEO their way to the top of the listings. Stated another way, I expect my search engines to ignore a lot of SEO and find me the best data based on some algorithm that levels the playing field.

The person who knows a ton about a topic I am interested in may not know anything about SEO. To the extent that SEO pushes lesser content above better content (and no one can convince me that isn’t at least a by-product of SEO), then I don’t like it.

It’s not nearly as bad as spam.

But it’s a second or third cousin.