Part I - The SEO Gold Rush
My name is Joel Glenn Wright. I am a supporter of Patch.com as well as a personal friend of several of its reporters. I am also the founder/owner of Re-Evolution SEO, an Internet marketing and local SEO service firm. I decided to write this blog after being encouraged by close friends to speak up and talk a little bit about a lot of the corruption in the Search Engine Optimization/Internet Marketing field today.
And let me start by saying, “yeah, there’s a lot of it.” I guess that it is always that way in any industry where there is serious money to be made. Anytime there is an explosion of popularity and of profit, there are always charlatans and pariahs there to exploit and take advantage of it.
I was recently talking with John Crandall, a Patch reporter and old high school friend, who referred to SEO as the “New Gold Rush.” I thought that was a perfect metaphor for the field of SEO because it is so true. The search engine marketing industry has taken the world by storm and has now become such a vital part of the modern business model.
I mean 10 years ago, less than 35 percent of small business owners in this country had a website or even felt that it was an important key to expanding their business. As of 2011, it’s estimated that number has jumped to just over 89.2 percent and for good reason.
The statistics show that over 87 percent of the population utilizes the Internet to search for local products and services and 90 percent of those searches result in a monetary transaction. WIth numbers like that, it’s not that hard to see why businesses of all sizes anxious even desperate to be on the first page of the local search engine results. The way I see it, the front page of Google is the most sought after piece of real estate on the Internet today.
The other reason that I think that the “New Gold Rush” is the perfect metaphor to describe the SEO industry is that if you look at what happened in the original gold rush, you will see much of the same things that are occurring today. After the first pioneers struck it rich, more and more people started “jumping on the bandwagon,” heading out west to seek their fortune.
And the longer that continued to go on, the more and more the violence and the deceit and the corruption and the seedy underbelly of mankind crept in and gathered around the entire gold rush community. Then you see the emergence of deception, lying, cheating, stealing, and even killing just to make a few bucks.
Seeing those startling parallels and looking at the anticlimactic death of the original gold rush era made me realize that it was time for all of us in the SEO community to go beyond just trying to sell a service and make a profit and take a more active role in educating the public about SEO and speaking out against all those black-hat, "so-called" SEO expert firms that, whether through ignorance or intentional malice, are misleading, scamming and/or swindling desperate, small business owners out of their money and are giving all of us in the SEO community, who are honest and integrous, a very bad name. This blog is my first step toward that end.
You see, fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), I have worked for a lot of these kind of shady organizations in the past, both as a salesman and later as a SEO. Although I am glad that I left as soon as I discovered that the companies weren’t “on the level,” and working for them was an experience which I never want to repeat, the one good thing that has emerged from all of that was that is that I had seen and now knew every trick in their book.
Having listened to and, yes, even having personally used such deceptive and abusive tactics on many local business owners, I was now able to teach businesses how to spot and avoid those kind of snake-oil salesmen.
So to any business owners, executive, or CEOs who are reading this article, I promise you that by the time you have read and understood this article series, you will be able to spot the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and never be taken advantage of again.
Since there are a lot of things to share with you about the tactics these amoral SEO ompanies and how to avoid being scammed or taken advantage of, I’ve decided to divide this post in three or four parts, which will be posted successively one after the other in the coming weeks.
This will give me a chance to rest my fingers (which are cramping up at the moment) and also receive any comments and feedback from the readers about what you want to know about this subject and also to answer any specific questions that you all may have.
After which time, I will be posting part II of the “Local SEO Firms: The Good, The Bad And The Guy” series which deals with the anatomy of a bad SEO company. Until then, good luck to all of you out there in cyberspace.
Joel Gleen Wright is the founder/owner of Re-Evolution SEO - San Juan Capistrano SEO Company