In a blog so incendiary it may set your monitor on fire, the 14-year veteran of the Internet publishing industry — with stints at Blogger and Hotwired — rails against the search engine optimization industry, calling its purveyors “con men.” Going even further, he argues that they are poisoning the Internet by blanketing blog sites and the like with spam comments to increase planted links. Of course, he says this using far more ad hominem attacks.
The good advice the companies give, such as keywords in the headlines and summarized content, are mind-numbingly obvious, Powazek argues. While an SEO may be able to temporarily exploit a loophole in Google’s algorithm and increase traffic, the results will be short-lived and could warrant a lifetime ban.
Ultimately, Powazek says, the problem is that journalists and site creators are trying to appease Google’s search engine rather than attract readers with solid content. Using SEOs, however, has the adverse effect of maligning the actual product.
“It dumbs-down the content, which turns off your real audience, which ultimately makes you less valuable to advertisers,” Powazek writes. “If you want to know why there’s so much remnant advertising on online news sites, it’s because you’re treating the stories like remnants already.”
Powazek was named one of Folio’s top 40 “Industry Influencers” in 2007 and is the author of the book “Design for Community: The Art of Connecting Real People in Virtual Places” as well as “Chief of Awesome” for Hewlett-Packard’s Magcloud and an adviser for numerous startups. His bile has basis; although we doubt we’ll see it, a retaliation to this brutal attack from the SEO industry would be quite interesting.