This morning I received a piece of SPAM that made me think of how difficult it can be to take SEO seriously if you aren’t a Search Engine Optimization Consultant, yourself. I’ve mentioned the SEO credibility issue before, alluding to a friend who alternately refers to Search Engine Optimization as Multiple-Level-Marketing (MLM) and Snake Oil.

And despite being an SEO Consultant, and getting consistently great results for our Search Engine Optimization clients, I understand why SEO is so hard to take seriously. First, the very fact that you can make Google’s search results change sounds fishy. And second, speaking mathematically there’s a pretty obvious disconnect between the number of sites seeking high enough SEO results to make their investment make sense and the number of high-results slots available. SEO can’t possibly really work, right?

Well, no, that’s not right at all, but as with many things—and especially something as complex and hard to truly understand as Search Engine Optimization—there’s an element of caveat emptor to contend with. And this spam I received this morning? The buyer had really better beware. Here it is:

If you read through that drivel—and I’ve left the message intact; you could even click through the links and buy the “SEO Software” if you were so inclined—you’ll see that despite a claim otherwise, there is a catch:

4. You make the changes on your web page

In the last step, you change your web page according to the suggestions of IBP’s Top 10 Optimizer until there are no further suggestions (IBP’s Top 10 Optimizer gives your site a 100% rating).

I have no problem with that “you make the changes yourself” thing. My problem with this magical we guarantee you top ten results for any keyword software is the part that comes afterward: “change your web page according to the suggestions of IBP’s Top 10 Optimizer until there are no further suggestions“.

I promise you: if you follow ALL the suggestions, the writing on your web site will be an incomprehensible mess of overused keywords. And if you want to “RANK IN THE TOP TEN SEARCH RESULTS!!!!” for really competitive keywords, you’ll have to spend so long tweaking that page and seeding spammy links back to yourself you’ll be very, very old before your SEO works.

And that doesn’t even account for the fact that being in the top ten isn’t good enough any more.

You might think this post is a thinly-veiled excuse to talk up SEO Consulting Services at Answer Guy Central, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that any time I get a chance to promote something we’re good at I happily take advantage of it. But my larger purpose is to point out that on the Internet, just as in real life, when something seems too good to be true, it almost always is.

Search Engine Optimization Works. But top-ten results every time by following a formula? Not gonna happen.

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