Black Hat SEO

How Companies like SearchDex are ruining it for the rest of us.

Black Hat

You may have heard of SearchDex, then again, you may not have. SearchDex is the company that was handling JC Penney’s “Search Engine Optimization” during their latest brush with Google. Notice I put Search Engine Optimization in quotes there. That’s because what this company does cannot be referred to as SEO. As a matter of fact, according to their own FAQ’s they are “an enterprise class software company”, not an SEO company and not an Internet Marketing Firm. They do not promote traditional SEO practices. They promote their software. There’s a pattern here.

SEO is an Art…

You can’t use software as an SEO solution and expect to get the same results you would get from using an SEO company or an SEO specialist. The human element is what makes true SEO success possible. The person that sits at a computer for hours at a clip staring at analytics data and making decisions about what will help rankings and what could be potentially disastrous is what makes for good SEO. No “enterprise software” on Earth is a good surrogate for human intuition and experience. Now I’m not saying this doesn’t exist somewhere in the universe, it is vast after all, but not on Earth.

There are a lot of variables in an SEO campaign and I haven’t seen it all, but it is important to be able to draw on past experience and realize that not all campaigns fit neatly into the same size and shape container.

Software has no vested interest in your site. It just does what it’s programmed to do. Why not just hire a programmer to SEO your site? Would you hire the guy at the deli, making sandwiches to build your house? Now, I know quite a few programmers and they’re great people but they’re not SEO people.

So what happened?

SearchDex Pledge to the Search Engines

SearchDex does not engage in or do business with companies that engage in any tactics that may cause a loss in effectiveness of search results, or in any methods that may cause a negative effect on search engine operations.

This is on their code of ethics page. But if this is the case, then what happened?

To their credit, somehow, SearchDex managed to woo a laundry list of brand name companies into their client list and then, when the story about JC Penney’s linking tactics broke, they pulled their client list from the news page on their site. Luckily for us, their client list is still alive and kicking in the good old Google Cache.

Why? Why, if they have nothing to hide, would they remove their client’s articles from their site?

I think they were too big for their britches and, frankly, out of their league. Clients of that caliber expect to see results. They want their results and they want them now. Feeling the pressure of a multi-million dollar client will make a company, that doesn’t really provide SEO as a service, do some pretty funny things. I’m sure using black hat SEO techniques was far from out of the question, especially since they aren’t an SEO, Internet Marketing, or even Search Engine Marketing company to begin with. They are an enterprise software company.

That is where TNX.net comes in. TNX.net is a link broker and apparently, not a very good one. My theory is, SearchDex was taking heat from JC Penney. The results weren’t coming fast enough and action had to be taken. So SearchDex outsourced the link building to a company that they probably should’ve researched better.

Brass Tacks

The bottom line is. If you need an enterprise software solution, you go to a company that specializes in that. If you want to rank on Google and Bing or any other search engine, you find an Internet marketing company that specializes in SEO. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”, well that applies.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t SEO companies out there that have a strong programming department. We have an excellent team of in house programmers here. But none of them claim to know how to do SEO, just like I don’t claim to be a programmer. I understand some of the concepts of programming, like I’m sure they understand some of the concepts of SEO, but you wouldn’t catch me trying to program a shopping cart and you wouldn’t catch them trying to run an SEO campaign.

What have we learned today?

We’ve learned that programmers can program a lot of things, but SEO is probably not one of them. We’ve also learned to be careful with who you trust with your SEO endeavors. They may have an impressive client list and references, but remember to ask questions. Your position on the search engine results pages may count on it.

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