One way to tell if an “expert” is bogus is to ask them a question. It should be a fairly accurate question, not too broad to answer. If their response, no matter how detailed you make the question, is, “Well, it depends” followed by half an hour of bullshit, the person is not an “expert.” One of the things that makes a person an expert is knowing the answers to the questions in their field, at least on average, and having the knowledge and experience to go deeper into the issues as necessary. “Well, it depends” means “I don’t know.”
One field that spawns experts by the thousands is “Search Engine Optimization” and related areas. The world is absolutely full of self-proclaimed SEO experts, blog experts, Internet experts, and their Webified ilk. While I am sure that there are indeed experts in the fields (such as the fields are), I am equally sure that at least 95% of the “expert” claimants have no idea what they are talking about. You can tell by their answers on their ubiquitous blogs, seemingly all copied from one another, none of them imparting useful information. You can tell by their unwillingness to discuss their credentials. You can tell by the all-pervasive bullshit.
I’m not sure that “Search Engine Optimization,” which equates to “Sucking Up to Google,” qualifies as a science or even a craft. It is an ever-changing Black Art, meaningless in the main, about which much is written but little is ever decided. I will admit that there is nothing easy about putting up a successful site. Doing so in real life, however, has much more to do with publishing a high-quality site than it does with endlessly tweaking your permalinks. It is apparent that these self-proclaimed “experts” do not care much about quality just by looking at their haphazard sites and their misspelled, poorly-phrased words.
I have rarely seen Google say much about quality sites, although they seem to have always been generally in favor of them. Even if they are not impressed enough by quality to rank you highly in their search engine, your audience will find you one way or another on their own if your site is of high quality. You have to impart some useful information, or respond to some sort of need that people have, in order to have a successful non-mercantile site. In fact, for non-mercantile sites, it may be difficult to define success. I guess it is pretty simple; if the people that you’re trying to reach find you, you’re probably succeeding. Often, word of mouth is enough.
I suppose you could always put up one more cookie-cutter site about Internet marketing. Everybody else has. Inasmuch as any marketing is really worthwhile in the grand scheme of things, there are almost certainly a few companies that understand Internet marketing. There may be four, or half a dozen, companies that know exactly how to spin your message, if you want it spun, so that people come to your site. To me, that’s like favorably comparing a Chevrolet to a Honda, which is the one thing that marketing companies are good at, which is to say that they know just how to lie without getting you sued.
I don’t care about spinning anything. Well, some days I wish that I could spin silk or cobwebs, but that’s about it. You can probably tell right off that I don’t much care about being a spin-meister. Maybe if I did, I would get more than my several hundreds of hits per day. But if I did, what of it? I see no reason to pay somebody to lie about my wretched little site in order to entice people to come look at it. If they came because of spin and left in disgust, what good would that do? Worse, if they came because of marketing spin and stayed, what I would end up with is a site viewed by stupid people and sheep. I don’t want to attract either one.
By the way, one thing that you may notice about marketing is that Chevrolet has been doing slick marketing, using the techniques of ultimate marketing spin, for years. So have Ford and Chrysler. You may also notice, however, that customers are deserting them in droves because they make generally inferior products. On the other hand, Honda and Toyota have generally produced fairly simple ads that say why their cars are good cars. Their ads are not full of scantily clad women and hunky guys. Then the Japanese companies have built the cars they advertise, instead of lying about what they build or trying to distract people with spin. Please notice, in this case, that they are taking all of Chevrolet’s business.
That is because General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford have been relying on bullshit for years, probably because it is easier than designing and building quality cars and the American automakers have gotten very lazy. Meanwhile, the big Japanese carmakers have been designing and building quality cars and telling the mainly un-spun truth about them. People are not nearly as stupid as Detroit, or American manufacturers in general, think they are. At least not all of them. If you give most people a choice between quality and crap, they will buy quality, even if the price is a little higher.
The same is true in most fields. Even though America does not make much quality any more (if ever it did), it has gotten very good at manufacturing a wide variety of crap differentiated only by unique “branding” marketing campaigns. If you doubt that, go to a Wal-Mart, a Target, or a big supermarket. Look objectively at the shelves. What you will find, in most cases, are a lot of competing products in each niche, most of which are, at best, mediocre. Marketing people define this as “giving people a choice.” It is actually no choice at all; you can buy either brand “X” crap or brand “Z” crap. That’s just more spin. You have to go someplace else to buy a superior product, because all the big companies care about is profits and spin.
Search Engine Optimization, like all marketing techniques, is like that most cases. Not all, but most. I would much rather spend my time trying to build a good product than putting spin on a bad one, or even a mediocre one. I may succeed and I may not. But I will do it without lying about it.