SEO and the Police

Posted on October 27, 2011 by Gargoyle on LinkedIn

Judging by self righteousness screed emanating from countless SEO blogs, one might think that SEOs are a new era of police. Many certainly consider themselves to be. The saviors of the internet, occupying only the penthouse of the moral high ground.

Let’s go over a few key differences between the police and SEO professions.

Police are bound by a known and explicit code of conduct stemming from the rule of law. Yes, there are some grey areas, and cops may not always follow standard operating procedure, but at least one exists.

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State laws can differ, but there is general agreement among cops hailing from different districts about how to do their job.

On the contrary, SEOs are bound by the interpretation of ambiguous and sometimes indecipherable Webmaster Guidelines published by Google and Microsoft. The rule of Webmaster guidelines is not explicit because the algorithms they use are trade secrets, and they seek to avoid manipulation.

Yet there are a good deal of people who claim to know SEO principles as if they were scientifically proven fact.

It’s downright comical to see the countless, endless debates among “professional” SEOs out there.

Many of these debates are heated. This tells us a couple of things. First is that a lot of SEOs have no idea how to actually do SEO. Another is that many don’t have the best business sense. So what if someone says that link building is archaic and meaningless to organic ranking?

If they’re not working for you, they are your competitor. Let them proceed in their supposedly pointless endeavors, if you’re right then you’ll inevitably get more clients than they will. If anything, you should be feeding their misguided knowledge, help them on their way towards unemployment.


An unfortunate fact of the SEO industry is that there is no standardization. Things like SEO certifications simply don’t exist – and for this reason anybody and everybody can claim to be proficient.

We’ll be honest – there are a lot of completely inept self-proclaimed SEO experts out there. If you’re outside the industry it’s hard to distinguish the pros from the hacks. There are white hat tactics that work, and there are black hat tactics that work. Arguing about which method is “right” is frivolous.

There is no argument over actual organic positions, and maintenance thereof. Either a website is ranked #1 or it isn’t. That’s really the only indisputable fact in the world of SEO.


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  • Peter

    This has created a little bit of debate (go figure) – those who’d like to add their two cents, here’s the link to the original SEO and Police post.

    • Samuel Symes

      Thanks Peter. thought your post was so good I just had to use it here. Well done.

  • Marc Zazeela

    Interesting thoughts, Fanto.  I especially like your comment about self proclaimed experts.  In my experience, self proclaimed experts in anything, rarely are.  Their expertise is in their minds only, not the minds of their peers or colleagues.


  • Paul Bliss

    As someone who is an “seo professional”, I have a love/hate relationship with Google. For client work, I always tell them that they should use the Google webmaster guidelines as a best practice.

    For my own projects, I completely ignore them since I am the only one at risk. I can tell you that all my personal projects include cloaking (for the right reasons :-P ), paid links and completely ignoring all the nonsense Google spits out about too many ads.

    My personal projects are much more successful since I can also sell advertising and do whatever I want to the sites. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that search engines follow users. If you have the ugliest site on the web (like Craigslist), but millions of people visit the site, you can monetize your traffic in any manner you want and completely ignore what Google wants.

    That is a great feeling!

  • Anonymous

    “There is no argument over actual organic positions, and maintenance
    thereof. Either a website is ranked #1 or it isn’t. That’s really the
    only indisputable fact in the world of SEO.”

    Actually even rankings are disputable depending on your location, your search history, whether you are logged in or not, etc. Rankings are no longer the standard, conversions have now taken their place.