The SEO Crackpot Index

There have been a few funny posts and articles in SEO recently, that happened to be published right after I was doing some unrelated research into conspiracy theories (Did you know the world will end tomorrow? Wait, that was yesterday. Darn, I missed it...)

Anyway, the following is inspired by the original excellent Crackpot Index by John Baez - many thanks for the idea, John, and keep up the good work!

The SEO Crackpot Index

Begin with a -5 Point starting credit. We don't want to stifle new ideas, after all.

  • 1 point for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false.
  • 2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.
  • 3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.
  • 5 points for each such statement that is adhered to despite careful correction.
  • 5 points for using a thought experiment that contradicts the results of a widely accepted real experiment.
  • 5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those with defective keyboards).
  • 5 points for each mention of "Matt Cuts", "Sullivan" or "Mike Greham".
  • 10 points for each claim that SEO is fundamentally misguided/delusional/fraudulent (without good evidence).
  • 10 points for pointing out that you have gone to school, as if this were evidence of sanity.
  • 10 points for beginning the description of your theory by saying how long you have been working on it. 10 additional points if you claim to have been doing SEO since 1994 or before.
  • 10 points for offering prize money to anyone who proves and/or finds any flaws in your theory.
  • 10 points for each use of "over-optimized", "over-SEO'd" and the like.
  • 10 points for each new term you invent and use without properly defining it.
  • 10 points for using an existing term in a manner that is clearly different from the accepted definition.
  • 10 points for arguing that a current well-established theory is "only a theory", as if this were somehow a point against it.
  • 10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of a "paradigm shift".
  • 20 points for suggesting that you deserve a Nobel prize.
  • 20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined) ridicule accorded to your past theories.
  • 20 points for beginning the article or post by wondering how long it will take for you to get banned or the article pulled.
  • 20 points for talking about how great your theory is, but never actually explaining it.
  • 20 points for each use of the phrase "SEO Gurus" or "SEO Community" as a derogatory statement.
  • 20 points for suggesting a theory that, if true, would allow anyone to destroy anyone else's business or website rankings easily, instantly and without recourse, without clear evidence this is happening.
  • 30 points for suggesting that search engines are plotting against SEO's or webmasters in general. Another 10 for citing your own rankings drop as proof.
  • 30 points for insisting that if critics cannot disprove a theory, then it must of necessity be true
  • 30 points for showing (or admitting) no/little knowledge of other people's previous work on the subject.
  • 40 points for comparing those who argue against your ideas to Nazis, terrorists, or criminals.
  • 40 points for claiming that the "SEO community" is engaged in a "conspiracy" to prevent your work from gaining its well-deserved fame, or suchlike.
  • 40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on.
  • 50 points for claiming you have a revolutionary theory but giving no concrete testable predictions.

The higher your score, the more likely you are to be an SEO crackpot. Actually, if it's in the positive numbers at all, you should carefully reconsider your arguments.


Searching USA

Google just updated it's toolbar, and I was poking around and noticed something very interesting.

Under the Buttons tab, there is an option for "Search USA".

I've been messing around with this, and it really does work. Here is a REALLY interesting thing - I'm hosted in Canada and use a .com as my main domain.

When I search for "mcanerin" using Search USA, my .com site disappears, but my site shows up as #1.

So Google finally counts the .us TLD. Very interesting, and may have grave effects for many .com companies if this functionality moves into the mainstream.

Normal Google Search for "mcanerin":

Search USA for "mcanerin":,GGLD:2005-07,GGLD:en&q=mcanerin&meta=cr%3DcountryUS

I guess it's time to register a bunch of .us domains ;)


If You Market, They Will Come, If You Have Content, They Will Stay

The links VS content debate has been going on for a long time now, and I doubt it will go away anytime soon.

I was recently asked about which was the better method, by someone who clearly felt they should spend their time making content rather than pursing links. While I certainly sympathize with the philosophy, I had to disagree with it.

Now, I'm a big believer in the power of content. But that doesn't mean I don't understand the importance of links. You need both.

Let me give you an analogy I like to use. I used to do some work for a couple of record companies.

You are a music artist. What do you do to get people to listen to your music?

There are 3 basic approaches:

1) You can make the best damn music you can and let people find you and be amazed and delighted.
2) You market the hell out of yourself - interviews, videos, press releases, scandals, etc.
3) You combine the two methods.

Most artists start out preferring the first approach. It's the purest choice. They hope that by appearing at local clubs, the buzz will get out and they will naturally attract attention. It's also (not a coincidence - most artists are broke when they start out) the cheapest method.

While a commendable concept, it's also naive. The fact is that there are so many crap bands and wannabes doing the same circuit that it would be like winning a lottery to get noticed by the right people. Actually, I think your chances are better for winning the lottery.

Some of the best artists in the world are unknown right now, and will be unknown forever. This is a damn shame, but it's the way the numbers work. This is musics "long tail". They will often have a small but loyal following. Not many people come, but most that do, stay.

This is the equivalent of a content-only strategy.

The second approach is the pop-music approach. Build a huge buzz and push it like crazy. This can create one-hit wonders and the flavour of the week. Often the main talent of the "artist" is looking good, rather than their musical talents.

This can be very successful in the short term. It's also very expensive and behind the scenes is very time consuming.

The end result though, is that the flavor of the week disappears into obscurity next week. The people come, but do not stay.

This is the equivalent of a links-only strategy.

The third approach is the combination of the two. You create the best damn music you can and market like crazy. This is the hardest method, of course.

It's also the best. Think of the artists you were listening to 5 years ago, and still listen to today. I'll bet very one of them is a great artist, and also has great marketing (videos, concerts, news releases, website, etc).

These artists are the most successful. Their marketing gets people to come, and their talent convinces them to stay, and to tell others. In the first scenario, you have people telling others, as well, but since it's a small group, the word of mouth doesn't work very well, and tends to be local.

For the same artist with great marketing, there are more people visiting and therefore more people spreading word of mouth. Once it hits a certain critical level, it can actually be nearly self-sustaining. The people come, and they stay.

This is the equivalent of a content + links strategy.

In short, you can wish that people will just magically recognise your talent without marketing, but it's not likely to be very successful. This is fine if you are a hobbyist, but not so fine if you are a business.

"If you market, they will come, if you have content, they will stay."


China Search Marketing

I'm pleased to announce that the China Search Marketing Tour (which I'm a co-host of) is definately on. We will be releasing the dates, costs, etc as soon as the dates for the SEW China conference are announced.

In the meantime, here is the latest information I have on the 2006 Search Engine Market Share for China.