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PC Mag writer John Dvorak has written another bit of anti-SEO linkbait in which he claims that SEO "is killing the Internet if it hasn't already".

But what's that I see on PC Mag category pages? Surely they're not selling links for SEO reasons are they? Let's investigate.

John Dvorak's argument

  1. What SEO is: "tricking Google or Bing or Yahoo into ranking your particular Web site higher than the competition."
  2. The problem SEO causes: "the horrid results of certain searches ruin the enduser experience. Try and find the best cell phone deal on the Internet. Do it by using a search engine. Every hit is some commercial site trying to sell you something."
  3. Why he's angry: "The results hardly ever link to a PC Magazine comparative review or any objective analysis. Just faux reviews and fake objectivity leading you to some product for sale."

So what's PC Mag doing then ...?

I'm not going to dissect his article. Let's concentrate on one point. It's true that SEOers of a certain nature try to influence the results by buying links using the anchor text that they want to do well for (so if you want to do well for cheap digital cameras, you pay other sites to link to you using the term "cheap digital cameras").

This isn't illegal or anything. People can do this if they want. But it's against Google's terms of service unless nofollow is used on the links. And people who rant about SEO shouldn't do it ...

So what is this I see on some of PC Mag's pages?

PC Mag desktop computer links

PC Mag printer links

These are keyword rich links with no nofollow on them. Have the sites they link to paid for them? Who knows. It doesn't look good, though, does it Mr Dvorak?

One final thing ...

One of his complaints was that PC Mag weren't appearing in the results. As SharkSEO pointed out on Twitter, this might be because PC Mag doesn't really cover cheap cell phone deals as its own on-site search shows.

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Published 6 January, 2010 by Malcolm Coles

Malcolm Coles is Director at Digital Sparkle and a contributor to Econsultancy. He also blogs at malcolmcoles.co.uk. You can follow him on Twitter here.

16 more posts from this author

Comments (20)

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Ruben Lightfoot

The problem is not so much SEO as bad practice in the SEO arena. I agree that many Google searches are essentially ruined froma  user's point of view, but this is due to what I consider to be unethical link farming and not correct SEO strategy. 

over 6 years ago

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Vincent Roman

Dvorak has some good points, but at the same time his view is very short-sighted. 

He doesn't do himself any favours.  I am glad you have taken to reasoned analysis rather than the flame war that will errupt on his nonsense posts. 

It seems to me like its a case of the baby crying because it threw the toys out of the pram.

over 6 years ago

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Juan Fernandez, Technical Director at LUXSON ltd

Good article, but I'm tired of reading about another rant by somebody who knows very little about their subject matter.

Dvorak's first article was in my opinion extremely ignorant and the latest one doesnt fare too well either.

Eddy

over 6 years ago

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Wessel van Rensburg

I kind of agree with PC mags argument. We wrote about whether SEO as we know it is slowly dying.

http://www.wewillraakyou.com/2009/12/is-seo-dying-a-slow-death/

I also have to agree though that its riduculous to slag something off that your doing yourself.

over 6 years ago

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MikeTek

Dvorak is just playing the grumpy old man role.

His schtick is to be negative.

Last time around he brought in a bunch of traffic/links by bashing SEO. Looks to be working again.

over 6 years ago

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Rohit Sane

Caught Red Handed selling links man! I think SEO is not about tricking Google and other search engines but helping them help us better..

over 6 years ago

Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

I agree with others here that Dvorak has a point. None of us want the SERPS stuffed full of useless 'SEO by the numbers' websites.

Yet he's doing himself and his magazine no favours by jumping on the current anti-SEO bandwagon.

Good SEO companies and consultants have always, and will always, advise their clients to develop a long-term content strategy. It's the only sustainable way to maintain good SE positions and increase visitor engagement.

In defence of Dvorak, I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't know that the mag are selling links.

He wouldn't be the first person NOT to know what another person or part of the organisation is doing would he?!

over 6 years ago

Martin Dower

Martin Dower, CEO at Connected-uk.com LLP

Over the years I've seen a lot of "recommendations" from SEO companies and I would have to say that generally the aim is some kind of "spamming" by exploiting loopholes. Depressingly this works so we see more and more of this kind of activity and this can "spoil" the internet. On the other hand, isn't this the responsibility of the search engines? They created the (secret) algorithms that the SEO crew now exploit so they should fix the problem.

over 6 years ago

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triffid

ha .. that's hilarious Marco. I've been reading his blogs for a while and he certainly has an awfuly high opinion of himself. Arsehole is a bit harsh though. But I would say Malcolm Coles is one of the most irritating bloggers on the planet. If I type Malcolm Coles again, will this SEO any better? Perhaps he can do a blog to tell us that we're idiots too! I bet he's a multi-millionaire, he's so clever. Although if he is, he's the richest man in stoke newington. hohohoho....

over 6 years ago

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Hobo

At least Malcolm has an opinion, and has the balls to stick it out there. Unlike you two brave non entities triffid + marko vanbasten

Shaun

over 6 years ago

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Chotrul SEO and Web Design

It's definitely link-bait. I guess you'd expect a magazine of that sort to deal in sensationalism, or superficialities. I'm not sure how many people would take it seriously.

In any case, old school or black hat SEO is a very different thing to real SEO.

over 6 years ago

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Malcolm Coles, Director at Digital Sparkle

triffid: he's signed his name Shaun and linked his name to his web site (check the domain name). And if I'm so irrititating, maybe don't read my blog or work out where I live?

Marco: if you're going to do this sort of thing anonymously, maybe spell your name consistently?

Both: I think this has gone far enough. I could live with arsehole / one comment each. But twat is taking it a bit far ... So I'm going to ask econsultancy to remove or edit these comments.

Everyone else: Sorry for the two children. I agree with most of you that there are problems with some search results. My main point was about glass houses and stone throwing (and making sure you actually have relevant content before you complain about not appearing).

over 6 years ago

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rishil

@the two (?) anon posters - First off do you have any clue what you are talking about? I doubt these are two independent posters - reeks of trolling.

Secondly you have an issue, bring it to the table in a civil manner.

over 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Marko / triffid: I've removed your comments. If you can't debate without resorting to personal insults then I suggest you try a different blog.

over 6 years ago

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Andy Horne

I put the blame squarely in the search engines door, mainly Google. If there wasn't so much weight on inbound links as a ranking factor, there wouldn't be so much of this buying links to manipulate the results.

SEO's are having to do this to get any sort of ranking for their clients, when surly it should be about presenting a site with good quality relevant content about the subject that the user is searching for, its not rocket science!!

Google preaches on about wanting to list the most relevant results for any given search, but they have made a rod for their own back by putting so much weight on links.

This reminds me of a saying an SEO once said to me "Content is quality, links are everything" and it is so true.

Andy Horne

over 6 years ago

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Shane

Your right SEO has become more about the quality of links pointing to your website with backlinks and making sure your content is up to date. People are making a lot of money by having their website on the front of google. However, can you blame them?

Its more to do with google's algorithm needing a change than anything! People will then accustomed to the new changes and there are always ways around this.

over 6 years ago

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Kelsi

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over 6 years ago

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Max Harding

Guys,

Firstly good post Malcolm;

Surely we accept that the majority of high performing sites in lucrative SERPS buy links to some degree?

I would also bet my bottom dollar that most SEO firms buy links for their clients on one hand, while pretending to abide by the rules.

Noone really minds that, its the way it works. If Google dont like it then they can move the pitch posts, right? 

What gets to most professional SEO'ers is the way in which ill informed people just realize the basic rule games and start restating the rules to us all.

People buy links. Fact. Even, normal, decent nice people buy links. Thats just life.

Maoning will never stop that, poiting it out, even if you dont buy links is just bitterness. Google police google. They want us to abide by their business model. Some will, some wont. Some sites will rank, some wont.

My only wish is exactly what Mr Coles has pointed out:Dont throw stones if you live in glass houses.

It always come out in the wash....

over 6 years ago

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over 5 years ago

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about 5 years ago

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